Photo Credit Flickr/ernestkoe

Photo Credit Flickr/ernestkoe

FRIDAY MORNING MANNA                                       

Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE – Part XXXIII  “Three Mediums of Communication: Visions, Urim & the Prophets: Lessons for the Nation and the Church(es) Today – Part A”

 “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1: 1, 2, N.K.J.V.”

The different ways God spoke in time past include three specific mediums by which He communicated His will for the nation during the first and last theocratic form of human church government on earth till He returns to eternally install His kingdom of glory in the earth-made-new. Now we live and move and have our being under His kingdom of grace.  These three divinely -chosen mediums were (1) dreams (2) Urim, or (3) prophets.

DREAMS. – “To the ancients a dream often had portentous significance, which however, was not believed to be obvious except to one gifted or initiated into interpreting dreams (cf. Gen. 41: 11, 12; Dan. 5: 12). The Bible records such beliefs as being held by the Egyptians (Gen. 41), the Midianites (Judges 7: 13, 15), and the Babylonians (Dan. 2). God communicated with men through dreams (Num. 12: 6).   Yet the Bible clearly teaches that not all dreams are of divine origin. God gave specific directions as to how certain false dreams might be detected and their dreamer exposed (Deut. 13: 1-5). In Job 20: 8 dreams are used to illustrate that which is fleeting and transitory.

    “The terms ‘dream’ and ‘vision’ are at times used synonymously. ‘Dream’ stresses something seen while a person is asleep, whereas ‘vision’ stresses ‘an appearance,’ a ‘sight,’ ‘sometimes seen.’ The ‘vision’ may come in a dream at night (Dan. 2: 19; cf. Acts 12: 9), in which case either term would correctly describe the experience (see Isa. 29: 7). In Joel 2: 28; Acts 2: 17, the two terms appear in poetic parallelism and are probably synonymous.”- SDA Dictionary, art. “Dream,” p. 279.

 

Jesus warned His disciples that before His second coming there would be false christs, false prophets, and deception of every kind. So did the apostles. All essential truths including present truth, will be corrupted and counterfeited:

     “Before the last developments of the work of apostasy there will be confusion of faith. There will not be clear and definite ideas concerning the mystery of God [1 Tim. 3: 16] . One truth after another will be corrupted.” – Signs of the Times, May 28, 1894. . . .

     “In the future deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed [from the fundamental pillar doctrines] from which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith.”- Evangelism, p. 224.

     “There will be false dreams and false visions, which have some truth, but lead away from the original truth[defined in the fundamental pillars of the faith]. The Lord has given men a rule by which to detect them: ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’ (Isa. 8: 20).”- 2 SM 98. “As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. . . Those who are guided by the Word of the Lord will discern with certainty between falsehood and truth, between sin and righteousness.”- Maranatha (devotional), p. 192.

URIM AND THUMMIM. – These two Hebrew words literally mean “lights” and “perfection,” respectively. There were two objects attached to the breastplate worn by the high priest upon the ephod or the sleeveless linen waistcoat as the emblem of their sacred office which was artistically embroidered with gold, blue, purple, and scarlet. The high priest used these two objects to ascertain the will of God in doubtful situations involving the welfare of the nation [not of individuals], when requested by its leaders. While the Bible does not explicitly state what material they were made of nor specified exactly the means or ways each certified the divine will, God’s messenger, Ellen G. White reveals the following:

         “At the right and left of the breastplate were two large stones of great brilliancy . These were known as the Urim and Thummim. By them the will of God was made known through the high priest. When questions were brought for decision before the Lord, a halo of light encircling the precious stone at the right [the Urim?] was a token of divine consent or approval, while a cloud shadowing the stone at the left [Thummim?] was an evidence of denial or disapprobation.”- Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 351.

The word “Urim” [“lights”] is used alone twice (Num. 27: 21; 1 Sam. 28: 6). After God had rejected Saul as king, He refused to answer him by this method [Urim & Thummim] (1 Sam. 28: 6). Both Ezra 2: 63 and Neh. 7: 65 indicate that God did not communicate through this means immediately following the Exile, and there is no record of their later usage.

PROPHETS (AND PRIESTS COMPARED AND CONTRASTED). – SDA Dictionary, p. 879. – Prophet, “one who has a vocation from God.’ The prophet is a person called and qualified as a spokesman for God. Whereas in OT times, the priest was the people’s representative before God—their spokesman and mediator—the prophet was in a special sense God’s official representative to His people on earth. Whereas the priestly office washereditary, the prophet’s appointment came only by divine call. The priest, as mediator of the [typical] sacrificial system, led Israel at worship, though his secondary duty was to devote a portion of his time to instructing the people in God’s will as already revealed to the prophets, especially Moses. On the other hand, religious instruction was the prophet’s primary duty. The priest was largely concerned with the ceremony and ritual of the sanctuary, which centered in public worship, in the mediation of forgiveness of sins, and in the ritual maintenance of right relations between God and His people.

     “The prophet was chiefly a teacher of righteousness, spirituality, and ethical conduct, a moral reformer bearing messages of instruction, counsel, admonition, warning, whose work often included the prediction of future events. In the case of Moses, one of the greatest of the prophets (see Deut. 18: 15), the prediction of future events was comparatively minor function.

     “A prophet first received instruction from the Lord [by dreams or visions as defined above] and then conveyed it to the people. These 2 aspects of the prophet’s work were reflected in the names by which prophets were known in OT times: seer (chozeh or ro’eh) and prophet (nabi). The title of seer was more common in the earlier period of Hebrew history (1 Sam. 9:9). The term used more frequently in the OT wasnabi, ‘prophet,’ which designated him as God’s spokesman. As a ‘seer’ the prophet discerned God’s will, and as ‘prophet’ he conveyed it to others.

     “In the broad sense of the term there have been prophets ever since the early days of the world. Abraham was specifically called a prophet (gen. 20:7) as was Moses (Deut. 18: 15). During the period of the judges the prophetic office seems to have languished, and the ‘the word of the Lord was precious [rare] in those days’ because ‘there was no open vision’ (1 Sam. 3:1).

     “The rise of Samuel the prophet at the close of this period was epoch-making. He was the first ‘prophet’ in the more strict sense of the word, and may be thought of as founder of the prophetic office.  He went from place to place as a teacher of Israel. (see ch. 10: 10-13; cf. ch. 7:16, 17), and after him, down to the close of OT times, various chosen men spoke to the nation for God, interpreting past and present, exhorting the people to righteousness, and ever pointing their eyes to the glorious future God had marked out for them as a nation.Samuel seems to have founded what have been known as the schools of the prophets. Young men who received training from these schools (ch. 19: 20) were known as ‘the sons of the prophets’ (see 2 Kings 2: 3-5). The first such school mentioned was at Ramah (1 Sam. 19: 18, 20), Samuel’s headquarters (ch. 7: 17).

     “The ‘sons of the prophets’ were not necessarily direct recipients of the prophetic gift, but were divinely called, as are gospel ministers today, to instruct the people in the will and ways of God. The schools of the prophets were a powerful force to restrain the tide of evil that often threatened to submerge the Hebrew people in a flood of idolatry, materialism, and injustice, and provided a barrier against the vast-spreading wave of corruption. These schools provided for the mental and spiritual training selected young men who were to become teachers and leaders of the nations.”-ibid, p. 879.

 Q.  Where are the antitypical schools of the prophets today? Whose work is it today to restrain the flood of idolatry, materialism, injustice, and corruption that have been overspreading the world and the churches? Even the secular authorities, social scientists, and politicians are at a loss on how to put a significant dent on this global spiritual and moral epidemic!

I’m quoting in part, for your verification a powerful article in the internet titled, “MAINLINE PROTESTANT DENOMINATIONS IN FREEFALL, TOUTING SECULAR AGENDA AND MASQUERADING AS CHRISTIANITY” by John Stonesteet(/author/john-stonestreet) Jan. 27, 2016. cnsnews.com(/).

      “It may look like a church, sing like a church, have stained glass like a church, call itself a church, but be careful: It might not be a church.

     “The big religion story last year? Christianity is in decline in America [itals. in the original]. The sensational headlines were based on data from Pew Research Center. But as Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research observed in USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/05/13/nones-americans-christians-evangelicals-clolumn/27198423/), the folks writing the headlines must not have read the study.

     “It turns out that almost all of the reported decline took place not among evangelicals, but in mainline Protestant denominations, which have been in freefall [the prophesied falling away!] spiritually and numerically for decades. And no wonder. The ‘Christianity’ preached in many of them sounds more like the Huffington Post opinion pages than the Bible.

     “Take the Episcopal Church, which in 2003 began ordaining openly gay clergy, and in 2015 created a marriage ceremony to bless same-sex couples. Earlier this month, a majority of bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion at a meeting in Canterbury voted to suspend the Episcopal Church’s voting rights over its support over its support for homosexuality. This decision, along with statements from the primates reaffirming one-man-one-woman marriage [website provided] was due in large part to the leadership of the African bishops. As Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America explained to me and Ed Stetzer on ‘BreakPoint This Week’ [website provided], African Anglicans retain the traditional, biblical beliefs of the missionaries who planted their churches generations ago. And they feel abandoned by their American and European counterparts.

     “And it’s not just sexuality. Faithful believers in the United Methodist Church might wonder why UMC leadership recently rejected and application {website provided] from the Discovery Institute to exhibit in their upcoming General Conference. Discovery, the think-tank at the heart of the Intelligent Design movement, appealed the decision, [website provided] insisting that it isn’t a creationist front-group intent on teaching religion in schools ‘[Intelligent Design],’ Discovery said, ‘is a science—not a faith-based idea.’ And though compatible with Christianity, it doesn’t rely on the Bible or even identify the ‘intelligent Designer.’

     “In response, Unite Methodist leaders reiterated the ban and refused to offer any further information, striking an odd discord with their denomination’s slogan: ‘Pen Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.’ Evidently the UMC is open to all ideas—except the idea that creation gives evidence of its Creator.

     “But the mainline denomination chucking historic faith with the most flair is the United Church of Christ, which recently declared on its Facebook page, ‘The Bible is like GPS—a brilliant guide. All-knowing. Occasionally wrong.’ Another meme announced, ‘God is a transgender,’ and a third featured a picture of two men kissing with a verse from 1 John that said, ‘God is love’. . . . .”

(To be continued next week).