“And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.”Exodus 39:3
Just two books into the word of God, and we are already dealing with post-modern technology. Circuitry in clothing! This first and only reference to ‘wiring’ in the Bible reveals that the primary use of electronic networks is communication. Physically wearing the device is becoming less fashion, and more necessity.
A brief shopping search of wearable technology will lead you to watches, headbands, rings, eyeglasses, goggles, earpieces, even ‘smart’ shoes. These things can:
locate you anywhere in the world,
connect you to the internet at a thought,
give you a voice,
be your personal orchestra, jester, or cook,
augment what you see,
replace what you see,
summon your car,
monitor your heart health,
put you to sleep, and
wake you up again.
I think it’s safe to say we are beyond wired. But what are we connected to?
The ‘newest’ novelties on the market are considered their own network, called the internet of things, or IoT. Marketing technology company Oracle gives these statistics: “The IoT describes the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. These devices range from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools. With more than 7 billion connected IoT devices today, experts are expecting this number to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and 22 billion by 2025.” (https://www.oracle.com/internet-of-things/what-is-iot/) These estimates say that every person on the globe may have 2 or more “things” in their possession or on their person in just a few years.
In a world that soon will be all connected- people with people, people with things, and things with other things- we must be careful to use this world, as not abusing it. When we become ‘united for the common good’ (see Genesis 11, Psalm 2) we risk losing touch with the God who’s power is not measured in volts, who’s intelligence is not measured by the terabyte, and who’s relevance and reliability is at 0% risk of obsoletion. We need to get ‘wired’ to him.
Wiring- from the ancient practice of acupuncture to modern fiber optics, wiring has served to connect people via communication. (While acupuncture may seem a stretch, think of how pain, mental acumen, and the effects of stress have been addressed by all of our modern technology, our ‘wearables’. Music for the mood. Videos for the amusement. Alarms for the schedule. Lenses layered over the eyes to help us see ‘more’ while we are seeing less. Although very real pain may be addressed with metal inserted into and upon the body, most men’s uncomfortableness is a phantom pain caused by an aggravated conscience. Paul said, “ye did communicate with my affliction.” [Philippians 4:14])
The first global communication network was completed with the laying of a rubber-coated copper cable strung along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Telegraph messages marked via Eastern could swiftly transfer in Morse code from an operator at one end of the strand in Sydney, Australia to the the other in London, England, at the speed of electricity. A monumental achievement for sure. Ironically, the first major news item this cable would carry was the massive eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, an explosion so forceful, its shockwave traveled completely around the world seven times. God needs no technology to get a message out globally.
What of this wiring in the Bible? This verse at the end of Exodus is the only reference we have, but its context is rich with modern application. The ephod was a kind of wearable device. It is made a circuit board with positive and negative contacts (Urim and Thummim) and various light outputs to allow for a direct communication to the Heavenly world. (See 1 Samuel 30:7-8)
What connectivity does God approve?
The allegory in this passage is deep- too deep for this study. But two very clear purposes of the priests’ wearable technology are obvious.
For A Memorial
“And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.”Exodus 39:7
This uniform was unusual, it was reserved only for service to God, and it was valuable. When it was worn, all knew why.
Electronics ought to serve to focus, not distract. Sometimes we are wired to too much. Just because your tablet CAN handle a video playlist embedded into a web search side by side with a report you’re working on doesn’t mean it SHOULD. You ought to impose some limits on what your tech is FOR.
An old-fashioned typewriter will not tempt to watch videos or go shopping on the internet- it can’t. If you sat down to type a report on it, you have to channel all focus to that. Modern devices don’t have limitations built-in. They have the memory, the connectivity, and the screen space to do too much. You will have to rewire yourself to use your tech wisely.
The wires reminded the priests it was time to worship. Can your technology serve to remind you of important dates, times, events, or information? It can- if you wire it to be that way. If it distracts instead of reminds you, if it confuses you or causes you to lose track of time, it is not serving you- you are serving IT. Isn’t that the definition of idolatry?
“And the made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”Exodus 39:30
The other kind of wearable technology was the mitre, set with a single message on the head of the priest. This message never changed, unlike the messages received from the ephod. The message on the mitre was: “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”
Technology in the Old Testament service to God was not only a reminder, but a reconciler. It put God into man’s thoughts. The ephod aided the memory, but the mitre displayed the message. One drew attention to the other.
There is nothing particularly spiritual about a piece of paper, a plastic sign, or a LED screen. But display on them the words of God, and they become supreme technology- a communication with and from the Eternal God Himself. The crisscrossing of wires on a circuitboard can put Scripture before the eyes, and in a real way declare the holiness of God.
The weaving and wiring on the ancient priest’s garment were meant not only for the observer, to remember and to move to holiness. That was the external communication. The wiring was mostly for the wearer- an internal communication. The wires God referenced only one time in the Bible was that of connecting the HEAD with the HEART. How crucial a connection that is!
Apollo 16 astronaut and moonwalker Charlie Duke said it this way: “I knew Jesus, but Jesus was in my head and not my heart… My family was raised in church, but we had no real relationship with Jesus. After a Bible study, I realized I had to make a choice that Jesus really was the Son of God, and he would be the king of my life and lead me by the Holy Spirit. And so I asked Jesus to come into my heart; not into my head with that knowledge, but come into my heart. And I experienced the peace of God.” (July 24, 2021)
The men that went to the moon had advancements in technology that amounted to less than the power of the smartphone you have in your pocket. Those men didn’t have the head to take on the challenges, but they did have the heart. Today, we have all the knowledge, without any of the courage. Even in worldly achievements, the head can’t go any farther than the heart.
Technology that severs the head from the heart is destructive. The Holy Spirit connects what we read in his word with what we think in our head, with what we believe in our heart. And what we believe in our heart determines where we spend eternity. How are you wired?