Judgment versus Righteousness–Two Breastplates

Breastplate: (Dictionary): A piece of armor worn over the chest, the breastplate of righteousness, a gold framed square of linen worn by the high priests of Israel.
Breastplate: (Bible): Breast piece, sacred pouch, a breastplate, (root-thorax)

Matthew 26:63-65: 63Jesus kept silent. Then the Chief Priest said, “I command you by the authority of the living God to say if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus was curt: “You yourself said it. And that’s not all. Soon you’ll see it for yourself: The Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, arriving on the clouds of heaven.” 65-66 At that, the Chief Priest lost his temper, ripping his robes, yelling, “He blasphemed! Why do we need witnesses to accuse him? You all heard him blaspheme! Are you going to stand for such blasphemy?” (MSG)

The high priest was so angry he was unable to see THE Messiah standing right in front of him. He felt there was a need for judgment and he was the authority. He had no idea that the giver of authority was standing there!

Isaiah 59:15-17: 15Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.  16And He saw that there was no man and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. (NASB)

The righteousness of Jesus was shown to be like a breastplate. The breastplate protects the heart. We need that breastplate too and the only source is Jesus. But the Scripture also talks about a breastplate of judgment which we saw the high priest wearing (figuratively) when he stood face to face with Jesus.

Exodus 28: 15-21 and 29: 15-20 Now make a Breastpiece of Judgment, using skilled craftsmen, the same as with the Ephod. Use gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen. Make it nine inches square and folded double. Mount four rows of precious gemstones on it.

First row: carnelian, topaz, emerald.
Second row: ruby, sapphire, crystal.
Third row: jacinth, agate, amethyst.
Fourth row: beryl, onyx, jasper.

20-21 Set them in gold filigree. The twelve stones correspond to the names of the Israelites, with twelve names engraved, one on each, as on a seal for the twelve tribes. 29-30 Aaron will regularly carry the names of the sons of Israel on the Breastpiece of Judgment over his heart as he enters the Sanctuary into the presence of GOD for remembrance. Place the Urim and Thummim in the Breastpiece of Judgment. They will be over Aaron’s heart when he enters the presence of GOD. In this way Aaron will regularly carry the Breastpiece of Judgment into the presence of GOD. (MSG)

Leviticus 21:10: 10The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes. (NASB)

As we look at this we see:

  • Jesus the Righteous One standing before the judgmental one
  • One has the breastplate of righteousness-the other the breastplate of judgment
  • We see the high priest breaking the Law by his action of tearing his priestly robes-so we see how damaged the Law had become and the damage had gone right to the top. Maybe tradition had crept in and over-rode Scripture?
  • Maybe, wearing the breastplate of judgment caused the high priest to operate only within that parameter. Maybe there was no room for the righteousness or right thinking within his self- righteous paradigm.
  • It is also interesting that the temple veil was torn-just like the high priest! The old ways were about to leave and the new enter. The high priest was therefore somewhat prophetic in his actions with the priestly garments. There was to be a tearing apart or a rending.
  • We see ourselves clothed with the breastplate of His righteousness-not of our own. We must be careful to never place another breastplate over our hearts. To replace our breastplate with a judgmental one based on an offense or a critical spirit is to become as critical and blind as the high priest! If we do, we will miss what God is doing right before our eyes- we’ll miss Jesus!
  • We are to make sure we are always wearing the correct breastplate. We will not be able to minister as prayer warriors or intercessors otherwise!
  • Finally, remember that God reserves judgment for Himself.

Philippians 3:9: 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,…(NASB)

The breastplate of judgment has been replaced by the breastplate of righteousness through Jesus. Those who wear judgment over their hearts shall reap what they sow. Let us ask God our Father to help us put on the breastplate of righteousness as a key part of our armor-every day!

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