I got a new Bible this week. It’s “The Voice” translation, upon referral of an artist friend, as if I didn’t own enough Bibles already. Upon my first reading just now, I am gobsmacked by the strong, clear voice of a Dad who loves me to heaven and back.
You might not know this, but I have this weird emotional block when it comes to reading or memorizing scripture, from being raised in abusive Christian schools in 3rd through 7th grade. Reading the Bible can still sound like “blah blah blah” to my brain. God is bringing me tremendous healing in stages. It’s slow, but it’s awesome. If you feel like praying for my healing to accelerate, that would be swell.
So I cracked my new Bible open for the first time this morning. Looming on my to-do list: “Schedule instructors for Art Fruition.” Gulp. Feeling scared out of my wits, I felt like I should grab my new Bible, sit down, and ask God to talk with me before reaching out to these highly skilled teachers of art and ministry who are scattered around the nations. Many art ministry teachers have already contacted me whom I must make hard decisions about, and there are some teachers still to contact. Back of my mind: Does God truly care about the visual art we make? Will God help me with these ten millions decisions I need to make for Art Fruition? And… AAGGHH, I’m scared!
I opened a page toward the beginning of the Bible. Chances were pretty good it would be about a war or lineage or something, but no. It was Exodus 28:15.
Yeah, I started crying.
“Have your skilled workers make a chest piece to be worn for seeking a decision from God, out of the same quality materials and in the same style as the vest. Use finely woven linen; blue, purple, and scarlet thread; and gold. Make it square and fold it over to double the material, and create a pouch nine inches by nine inches. Attach four rows of stones to the breast piece. The first row is to be a ruby, topaz, and emerald; the second row is turquoise, sapphire, and diamond; the third row is jacinth, agate, and amethyst; the fourth row is beryl, onyx, and jasper. Attach all the stones to the breast plate with ornamental gold settings. These stones stand for the twelve tribes of Israel…” [The Voice and NLT combined]
Colors and jewels and fabrics and prayer and God wants me to ask him my big decisions. Tears, gratitude, and the feeling of the biggest hug in the world. Thanks, Dad.
In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, it says about this passage: “The chief ornament of the high priest was the breastplate, a rich piece of cloth, curiously worked. The name of each tribe was graven in a precious stone, fixed in the breastplate, to signify how precious, in God’s sight, believers are, and how honourable. How small and poor soever the tribe was, it was as a precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest; thus are all the saints dear to Christ, however men esteem them. The high priest had the names of the tribes, both on his shoulders and on his breast, which reminds us of the power and the love with which our Lord Jesus pleads for those that are his. He not only bears them up in his arms with almighty strength, but he carries them in his bosom with tender affection. What comfort is this to us in all our addresses to God! The Urim and Thummim, by which the will of God was made known in doubtful cases, were put in this breastplate. Urim and Thummim signify light and integrity.”
Lord, wow. Thanks for being the author of all artistic meaning and beauty in prayer and worship.
Thanks for faithfully guiding us, not in our ministry, but in your ministry.
Make us vessels of light and integrity.
Banish fear, doubt, and hesitancy as we enter the work you’ve created us to do.
And teach us to hold your people close to our hearts, the way you lovingly carry us all.
Do you have any other insight into Exodus 28:15? I’d love to hear it!