Friday, November 12, 2010

Abiathar, the Priest

Abiathar, the Priest

The author of our lesson states that we're not told how Abiathar escaped the slaughter of his family. We're told only that he escaped and made his way to David. However, before fleeing, Abiathar managed to save the ephod (1 Samuel 23:6), one of the most important objects of priesthood (a sacred vestment worn by the priests; see Exodos 28:6; 39:2–7), which was used to seek God's will when making decisions. On at least two occasions, the biblical author reports that David called for Abiathar and the ephod (1 Samuel 23:9–12; 30:7, 8)

What is the ephod?

The ephod was a sacred linen garment worn by the high priests of Israel.  It was in two parts-one covering the back, one the front of the body to the hips-and was fastened at the shoulders by two clasps of onyx on which were engraved the 12 tribal names, six on each.  This probably symbolized that the tribes were to be their burden since they were on their shoulders.  The vestment was held in at the waist by a twined linen girdle of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet; on the ephod was the breastplate - with four rows of gemstone (totaling twelve – one per tribe) and with the Urim and Thummim - hung by golden chains and rings.  It is possible that since the twelve gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel were on the breastplate this then symbolized that Israel should be close to their hearts. 

What were the Urim and Thummim?

The Urim "lights" and Thummim "perfections" were gemstones that were carried by the High Priest of Israel on the ephod / priestly garments. They were used by the High Priest to determine God's will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. Others propose that the Urim and Thummim were kept in a pouch and were engraved with symbols identifying yes / no and true / false.

It is unclear whether the Urim and Thummim were on, by, or in the High Priest's ephod. No one knows the precise nature of the Urim and Thummim or exactly how they were used. The Bible simply does not give us enough information. References to the Urim and Thummim are rare in the Bible. They are first mentioned in the description of the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8). When Joshua succeeded Moses as leader over Israel, he was to receive answers from God by means of the Urim through Eleazar the High Priest (Numbers 27:21). The Urim and Thummim are next mentioned in Moses' dying blessing upon Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8). The following Scripture likely also speak of the Urim and Thummim: Joshua 7:14-18; 1 Samuel 14:37-45; and 2 Samuel 21:1.

Abiathar escaped with this ephod providentially, in other words: by Divine design.  God used Abiathar and the ephod to speak to David.  David now had a way to know God's will himself.  God now had a way to speak to David, his persecuted chosen one.   According to Ellen White, "Still hunted by the king, David found no place of rest or security. At Keilah his brave band saved the town from capture by the Philistines, but they were not safe, even among the people whom they had delivered. From Keilah they repaired to the wilderness of Ziph" (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 660).  God saw that Abiathar and the ephod were available to David.  David was not left to run alone without any help.  What was meant for evil God worked for good. 

After a whole week of study we are left with not much knowledge about Abiathar.  Abiathar does not speak in the Holy record.  From the time he runs away to David all the way to when Solomon banished Abiathar to his house we do not know what motivates his actions.  Paul says in Romans 14:23 "… whatsoever is not of faith is sin."  If Abiathar's escape was motivated because he feared for his life and not because of faith in Jesus then to Abiathar it is Sin.  We do not truly know his heart. Being faithful to David cannot be taken as an assumption of loyalty toward God. 

We do know that at the end of his career Abiathar makes a choice.  He chooses a man God did not choose, which to God it is a rejection of Himself (1 Samuel 8:7).  This choice expresses what is in Abiathar heart already.  But, at what point, how and why did Abiathar switch loyalties we do not know.  Abiathar who was high Priest because he was Aaron's descendent, who for most of his life was entrusted to the precious ephod, now finds out that it takes more than lineage to serve God.  As Jesus told Nicodemus, "you must be born again" (John 3:3).  Could we be like Abiathar or even Nicodemus? 

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 05, 2010

Commentary: Uriah the Martyred Light

Uriah: the Martyred Light

Light is electromagnetic radiation of a wavelength that is visible to
the human eye. It is perhaps because of this that our visual system
depends on this radiation to work. It is because of light that we can
see ourselves, where we are, what surrounds us, and where we are going.
(We can also see colors partly because of light.) Without light there
is darkness and night. Our vision is not equipped to work under those
circumstances effectively.

The Bible equates God's Word with light. David says in Psalm 119: 105,
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." However
the Apostle John goes a step further. We read in John 1: 4-9 (King James

John 1: 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 1: 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness
comprehended it not.

John 1: 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

John 1: 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light,
that all men through him might believe.

John 1: 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that

John 1: 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh
into the world.

John says Jesus is the Word, therefore the Light. This is something
Jesus said of Himself on several occasions (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35;
12:46). When Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night Jesus told Him,

John 3:17-21 (King James Version)

John 3: 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the
world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3: 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the
name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3: 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the
world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
were evil.

John 3: 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither
cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3: 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds
may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Those who are in Sin, as David was in 2 Samuel 11, walk in darkness.
Those who walk as Uriah walked, walk in the Light. Now, just as Nabal
acted as his name - foolishly- Uriah acted as his. Uriah is a Hebrew
name that may mean: God is light, God is my light, The Lord is light,
light of the Lord, or my light is Jehovah. The meaning of the name is
derived from the prefix 'uri' meaning light, fire ; and the suffix 'ah'
meaning God, powerful. Uriah proved to be, by the grace of God, a man
of principle that frustrated David's scheme. Uriah showed him up badly.
David, who was once a man of integrity, now cannot seem to understand
Uriah's integrity.

We could argue that Uriah was a martyr. The light of God shone through
Uriah, exposing to David his Sin. David stood condemned, at that
moment, because he loved darkness rather than light, because his deeds
were evil, and Uriah's Light was a reproof to David. Uriah was killed
to shut off the light that exposed David's Sin. So, Uriah died because
of his unwavering belief in God. Do we have that kind of faith?

Raul Diaz