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More on the Pomegranate and Bells PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Montgomery   

Here are my thoughts on the function, purpose, and utility of the Pomegranate and bells. But before I do so, I wish to reinforce why I believe that the scriptures compel me to think that the High Priest did not wear this robe with the bells and pomegranates while in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement.
One might wonder if he truly did wear the robe on that Day if it were possible for anyone but God and the High Priest to hear the sound of the bells. No one but the High Priest was allowed within the tabernacle, much less, the sanctuary or especially the sanctum sanctorum. With such a physical distance between where the High Priest officiated and where the people waited, was it even likely that the sound of those bells could be heard by the people who waited from afar? For proof, I will re-cite Ex 28:34-35.
"A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not."

Verse 35 says that "his sound shall be heard." What does it mean by "his sound" and who is it that shall hear this sound? Obviously, "his sound" is the sound of the bells while he is rendering service in the holy place before the Lord. First and foremost, the Lord must hear the bells for if He doesn't, He will slay the High Priest. Next, the High Priest must hear them because it was both an assurance to him that he was doing the work that God gave him to do and an encouragement to him to maintain active service because once the sound of the bells stopped, God would strike him dead. Lastly, it was for the people's sake because it says "when he goeth in" and "when he cometh out." The people were not allowed in to where the High Priest ministered, but they could "hear" (as well as see) him go in and they could "hear" him come out. The inescapable conclusion is that the people could not hear the bells when he was in the holy place, but only when he went in and came out.
Based on this analysis, I conclude that while in the holy place, the people could not and did not hear the bells. They only heard them when he was outside the holy place. I further conclude that on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered into the holy place with his robe on, and for the only time removed it, did his duties in both the holy place and holy of holies while clothed only in his linen garments, and then when finished he removed the clothes he wore while performing those sacred duties therein, washed himself, put on his High Priestly garments including the robe, and reappeared to the people. I feel very confident that this is the truth in accordance with scripture. Lev 16:4 indicates that he was to put on the holy linen coat, the linen breeches, a linen girdle, and the linen mitre. But notice especially the absence of the mentioning of the ROBE. Then in verse 23, it explicitly states that he "shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there." And then in verse 24, he is commanded to "put on his garments, and come forth." It is here that he puts back on those garments he wore while in the presence of the people daily, which according to Ex 28:34-35 included the robe with the bells and pomegranates. The phrase "when he cometh forth" is indicative of when he reappears to the people and this reappearance is always accompanied by the sound of the bells.
It is my humble opinion that on every day but the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to wear the robe while within the holy place and without. As I mentioned, the sound of the bells was to appease God and encourage the High Priest to active duty and to refrain from slothfulness while in the holy place. While outside the holy place, it was an assurance to the people that their High Priest was working actively on their behalf and that his ministrations were acceptable thus far to God. But on the Day of Atonement was the only time in the year that the High Priest was allowed in the holy of holies. Atonement for sin was that Day's purpose. God's demand for divine justice must be. The High Priest must humble himself before his God and make atonement for his sins and for the sins of the people. It was a sad, serious, and somber occasion. The sound of tinkling bells was not appropriate for the occasion. Blood is what God demanded.
In the type, I see pictures of the anti-type. Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. For all the time of His earthly ministry, He had publicly and manifestly showed He did always those things that pleased His Father. He was busy doing the work the Father gave Him to do. But on the cross, He humbled himself even further than at anytime before or since. He, as David prophesied in Psalms 22, was a worm and no man. He had removed from Himself even the humble dignity that He had displayed up until the time He was nailed to the Cross and the darkness had come. While in those three hours of darkness, there were to be no sounds to cheer the heart of Man. All were outside, but he was now inside, inside Himself, willing His heart to burst because the reproaches of his brethren had broken His heart. With His holy blood, His precious blood, from within the vitals of His heart, he makes atonement. Now He cries in pain and torment, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" An in fulfillment of the promise of God to Moses in Lev 16:2, God met His Son there and then and when atonement was made to the satisfaction of His Father, Christ could say, "It is finished."
Until atonement is made, the sound of the bells are meaningless, but when atonement is made and God is pleased with the offering, then the sound of the bells have meaning and they give joy to the hearers thereof at the return of the High Priest who successfully ministered before the thrice holy God and lived to see another day. In Christ's case, we rejoice even yet at the sound of the finished work of Jesus Christ, but it was the deathly silence of the work of Christ upon the Cross and His resurrection from the dead that give the sound of the bells its beauty its sense of a lively hope of a better life reserved for us in Heaven.

Mike Montgomery

Last Updated ( Friday, 20 October 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.