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The Ringing of Those Golden Bells

August 17th, 2008

“…with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bells and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe…and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place…”

(Exodus 28:34,35)

“…and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a long robe”

(Revelation 1:13)

The ringing of bells has been associated with deep joy and deep sorrow (Hemingway’s, For Whom the Bell Tolls; Longfellow’s, The Bell of Atri; Poe’s, The Bells; and, of course, Daniel A. Marbelle’s, When they Ring Those Golden Bells, 1887). But, when it comes to the Bible, the reference to Bells brings one to the classic passage of Exodus 28:31-35 (see also, Ex. 39:22-26).

The interpretation of this passage by Andrew Bonar (A Commentary On the Book of Leviticus (1852), pp. 153-54 appears helpful in establishing the significance of the ringing of those golden bells:

And these bells , like the bells of Zech. 14:20, speak to the ear, giving notice of approach. The pomegranates speak to the eye, telling that he comes laden with Canaan-fruit for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. This robe, so peculiarly characteristic of the high priest, the poderes of Rev. 1:13, on which our Lord appears…Besides being “all of blue,” it had a heavenly tinge-the sky tinctured grain pointing to the firmament”

Jesus as high priest, having passed through the heavens, intercedes now for his own (Hebrews 9:11-14; 4:14). Can’t you hear the bells a-ringing?

-Robert M. Housby