The Sound Of Bells
Bells ringing out are a representation to celebrate endings and new beginnings. The sound of bells has been a long-held tradition to ring in the new year, and as 2022 prepares to take its final bow and we transition into the bright, fresh, new beginning of 2023, we can approach and enter into a holy place, a sacred space where the sound of bells ringing out with our movement toward the beauty and holiness of God’s presence is heard.
A steadfast presence that helps us with every tentative step each new day brings and what the next twelve months will unpredictably ring in. A holy company that promises to refine the fires, calm the storms, and settle the heart of every weary faith-filled traveller along the path. The faithful ones who have learned how to listen out for the sound of bells that ring in a future of possibilities that are promised – filled with knowledge, wisdom, fruitfulness, and abundance.
Believe it or not, bells were very significant in the book of Exodus. Tiny bells were sewn onto the hem of Arron’s robe, along with pomegranates so the sound of the bells ringing was heard whenever he entered and left the Holy of Holies. ‘Fashion bells out of gold and place them all around the hem between the pomegranates. Use an alternating pattern: bell, pomegranate, bell, pomegranate, and so on. Whenever he serves as priest, Arron must wear the robe so that he will not die, because the tinkling of the bells will announce that he intends to enter or leave My presence in the holy place.” Exodus 28:33-34.
Wait! The bells were attached to Arron’s robe just in case he died?! Yes. God was deadly serious in His instructions to the priests who were privileged to enter the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament, and if they ministered improperly whilst in there, then the bells became silent and the others outside who couldn’t enter the Holy of Holies knew that something had gone wrong. It sort of takes celebrating beginnings and endings with bells to a whole other level, right?!
However, even though it was a matter of life or death because of the sound of bells, why the pomegranates? Well, pomegranates were sewn into the hem along with the bells to symbolise righteousness, knowledge, and wisdom according to Biblical commentary, or a symbol of the fruitfulness and abundance of the Promised Land. Although, I have to say that I am very grateful that we don’t have to make sure bells are sewn onto our clothes anymore as we can now enter into God’s presence anytime we want to because of the sacrifice of Jesus. But the sad fact is that the thought behind the sound of bells can so quickly fall silent if we’re not careful, as our days seem to become busier, crowding out our movement and our good intentions to enter God’s presence throughout the year.
The hollow ring of truth that ‘the tinkling of the bells will announce that he intends to enter or leave My presence in the holy place’ stay silent. And so, our relationship with God becomes estranged and separate, like the temple curtain that was torn when Jesus announced, ‘It is finished’ has now been reinstated, making God inaccessible and remote once again because our bells stay quiet.
The sound of bells that once announced our purposeful plan to spend time with God each day as we entered His presence, tinkling and telling Him all our hopes and dreams for the year ahead, communing with Him because we just enjoyed His company…Yes, those bells that are now hushed and restrained from all their tinkling are silent.
Perhaps 2023 is a year of us all getting to know God again, I mean, really getting to know Him. To become intimate with Him and to not allow the days, weeks, or months to get away with us until we sound out our bells letting Him know we intend to spend some quality time with Him. As someone once said, “I’ve never really known who God was for me before this time. I finally know in my soul what it means to let God be God.” Perhaps we’ve got it all wrong? Maybe our approach should become more of seeking Him, like the three Wise Men just did at Christmas time and just learn to sit in His presence, acknowledging Him for Who He is rather than filling our time in His presence with all our clanging requests.
And don’t forget, it’s not just the bells, it’s the pomegranates too. The fruit sewn into the priest’s robe represented righteousness, knowledge, and wisdom, a symbol of fruitfulness and abundance. Don’t we all want some righteousness, knowledge, wisdom, fruitfulness and abundance sown into our 2023?
I don’t know about you, but over the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve turned into the white rabbit, especially in my writing projects and endeavours. For a person who keeps time well, I always seem to be ‘late for a very important date’ at the moment as I try to cram so much into every day before the year wraps up.
And that means my time with God seems shorter, more hurried, and more frenzied than before. The sound of bells that once rang loudly as they announced my intention to enter God’s presence and not want to leave the holy place for quite some time now have the hollow ring of needing to know all the answers quickly rather than just sitting still with the Answer.
So, as we celebrate the end of another year and ring in the new, I do hope that our bent on productive living over the next twelve months will intentionally, and purposefully put God first before our to-do lists. To be able to want to stay for a while in His presence and not worry about what needs to be done. To feel the embrace that fulfils us like nothing else ever could. And maybe, just maybe the next time we all open our bibles, pray, and spend some real, purposeful quality time in God’s presence, He will smile as He sees us approaching and listens to the sound of our bells loud and clear.
Where have you felt the sound of bells fall silent in your time with God?
I pray that this next year your soul will ring out with the sound of bells and enjoy the fruit that the pomegranate represents and just really know God for who He is. To spend quality, purposeful time in His presence, just because you are His son or daughter. Amen.