Exodus 39:24-26 – They made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen around the hem of the robe. And they made bells of pure gold and attached them around the hem between the pomegranates. The bells and pomegranates alternated around the hem of the robe to be worn for ministering, as the Lord commanded Moses. (NIV)
In the little Pennsylvania town where I grew up, every Sunday morning, church bells could be heard from miles away, calling the faithful to worship. In addition, during the Roman Catholic mass, I recall the gentle ringing of altar bells inviting parishioners to prepare their hearts for the Lord's table. Years later, I joined a small community congregation where the resounding toll of a one-hundred-year-old cast-iron bell could be heard throughout the community just prior to the weekly service. Moreover, I could not help but notice the excitement of the young boy who held the time-honoured position of ringing the church bell as a symbol of faith in our community.
Sadly, I no longer hear the sound of church bells on Sunday mornings — I think this tradition has become a thing of the past. Nevertheless, according to Scripture, bells were associated with worship as far back as Old Testament times. So, in light of today's passage in Exodus, bells of gold as well as decorative pomegranates were sewn alternately on the hem of the priestly garments. The pomegranates signified the fruitfulness of the Lord's ministry and the ringing of bells could be heard as the priests went about their daily responsibilities in the temple.
Interestingly, last year, a tiny golden bell was found in an archaeological dig in the old city of Jerusalem. This rare find was in close proximity to where the temple once stood. The ancient bell, dating back to Jesus' day, has a loop which appears to have been sewn on a piece of clothing similar to the biblical description, indicating that it may have fallen off the robe of a temple priest. Even today, this bell still works, bearing testimony to the truth of God's eternal Word.
One commentator said that each of those priestly bells had a distinct mellow ring, yet amazingly, they were in full harmony with one another. As a reflection on this thought, the bells of gold are a gentle testimony of God's grace and mercy in the lives of individual believers. Hence, together, our witness — an offering of love and adoration to Christ — makes up the sound of the old church bells, never ceasing to proclaim His presence and power throughout all generations.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we offer our lives as a living testimony of Your infinite grace and mercy. Help us to proclaim boldly the gospel of truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord and for His holy name's sake, we pray. Amen.