Psalm 115; Exodus 28:29–38; Philippians 1:3–11
The Holy Spirit as gift can often lead us to wonder if the Israelites ever had the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts of any sort. The answer is some did and some didn’t. The Urim and Thummim were used by the high priest to make decisions regarding the will of God. They were devices of some sort. Some think similar to coins that you tossed. Yep, so-called chance items.
In the Scriptures, they aren’t even mentioned as being used until…the return from exile. It wasn’t until Ezra and Nehemiah were working with the priests that the Scriptures mentioned the Urim and Thummim actually being used. Does this mean they weren’t used? Probably not by those in a prophetic role. It makes sense, as those in a prophetic role moved by the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the other oddities of the priestly uniform is the flower ornament with the engraving of “Holy to the Lord.” The Church of the Nazarene has a similar saying on its seal, “Holiness unto the Lord.” This seal (whether the Israelite or the Nazarene) is to remind us (or the people) that we are sealed to God (which means something different to Israelites and to Christians). In both situations, it is God who calls us to holiness and it is God who declares us holy and sanctified (set apart) for God’s work.
As the Psalmist says, it is all to bring glory to God. The Lord remembers his people. Those that honor and trust the Lord will receive blessings.
And when Paul writes to the Philippians, he observes that they are being blessed as God continues working on them from the inside out. Paul knows that God will continue this good work.
God does the good work through all those who follow God, as long as they are receptive to it. Paul says, “…sincere and blameless…,” and our sincerity in regard to being changed is crucial to our being transformed into being more like Christ. Paul continues on with being filled with the fruit of righteousness. Note that it isn’t producing fruit, but being filled with it. It is an odd turn of phrasing, but it is a reframing of being transformed, just a different image to convey the same message.
Fruit can also be filling and sweet. So, perhaps Paul is implying that the sweetness of God’s righteousness can fill us spiritually, keeping us from succumbing to temptations. For if we truly filled, then we will not hunger. If it is sweet, we will not be tempted by those things that seem sweet at the beginning but are truly only bitter fruit.
- Why do you think the fruit of righteousness is internal, rather than external such as we expect with spiritual gifts?
- How might internal versus external fruit affect our lives differently?
- How might our internal and external fruit affect the lives of others differently?
Holy Spirit, shape us from the inside out to be more like Jesus. Amen.