The Golden Bells and Pomegranates

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"And beneath, upon the hem of it, thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: 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."-Ex. 28:33-3533And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: 34A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. 35And 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. (Exodus 28:33‑35)
"And they made, upon the hems of the robe, pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, twined. And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in, as the Lord commanded Moses." -Ex. 39:24-2624And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen. 25And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; 26A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the Lord commanded Moses. (Exodus 39:24‑26)
22, 26; Nah. 3:55Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. (Nahum 3:5); Lam. 1:99Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O Lord, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. (Lamentations 1:9). In Isa. 6:11In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1), it is translated train. The margin reads there also skirts. Manifestly therefore, the flowing skirts of the robe are hereby intended. Around them were placed pomegranates of three colors, blue, purple, scarlet, intertwined, (" fine twined linen" is not in the original,) and alternating with each pomegranate was a bell of pure gold. The only adorning of this heavenly robe were fruits gathered from the earth. The high priest thus proclaimed on his entrance into the holiest, that he had come from the world below, from whence some of the very ornaments of his garments had been obtained. Pomegranates are especially mentioned as fruits of the Holy Land The spies brought of the pomegranates, Num. 13:2323And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. (Numbers 13:23). The good land into which the Lord brought them, was a " land of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of oil-olive and honey." Deut. 8:88A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; (Deuteronomy 8:8). No such fruits as these were found in Egypt. Indeed it is remarkable that the children of Israel, when their hearts turned back to that land of bondage, spoke only of melons, cucumbers, leeks, onions, and garlic; the two former being fruits borne close to the earth; and the latter, roots of the earth. May there not be something significant in this? The dainties of Egypt, and its savory food are procured from low earthly sources; while the fruits of the land are lifted off the ground, and ripen in the fresh air and sunshine of heaven.
There seems to be a connection between the vine and the pomegranate; as the flourishing of the former, and the budding of the latter, are mentioned together in the Song of Solomon, vi. and vii. 12. Also the juice of the pomegranate and spiced wine are mingled together in Cant. viii. 2. These are the pleasant fruits in which the beloved delights. And the only ornaments on the skirts of the high priest's robe were these rich embroideries, in the various beautifully blended colors of the blue, purple, and scarlet. The fruit of the Spirit-" love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," (Gal. 5:2222But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:22).) forms one beautifully connected cluster, like a cluster of grapes. Observe, they are not said to be fruits of the Spirit, but fruit; because each of these graces is dependent on, and connected with the others. And if one is present, all are there; for we have received out of Christ's fullness, and grace corresponding to grace in Him. It should be our endeavor therefore, that the whole cluster should appear; each grape, as it were, in due proportion. The Father is the husbandman, and He is glorified if we bear much fruit. And He exercises His discipline in order that righteousness, which is the true peaceable fruit, may abound.
There seems to be, therefore, a fitting connection between the robe of the Prince of peace, and the peaceable fruit adorning its hem. In a sinner's justification, righteousness is the ground of peace, but in the justified person righteousness, as a fruit, springs from the soil of peace. James 3:1818And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:18). And the Lord Jesus having made peace, and rooted us in love, can rightly expect from His saints, fruit to the glory of God.
The contrast between the words fruit and works is very instructive. Works may be the result of a legal servile spirit. They may be exacted through fear, or be aimed at in order to gratify a self-righteous and self-complacent conscience. But fruit is the spontaneous manifestation of life within, the outpouring of a heart at peace with God, the evidence of new creation, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Between each two pomegranates there was a golden bell. The golden sound was connected with the rich juicy fruit. And as the high priest approached the holy place, his steps sent forth a heavenly melody; and when he returned again from the immediate presence of the glory into the camp, his retiring footsteps still rang out an unearthly sound.
There seems to have been much misapprehension, in the minds of some, as to the meaning of this type. Commentators have explained it to signify that the high priest was still living when he went to make atonement, so that the people outside might be made aware of the fact, by the sound of the bells. But this is contrary altogether to the words of the text, and to the facts of the case.
The words are: " 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:" (or, lest he should die:) not in order that the people might know that he was not dead. In fact, when the high priest went in with the blood on the great day of atonement, he was not attired in his robes of glory and beauty, and consequently had no bells on his robe. It was the blood on that occasion which protected him, and uttered (we may say) a sound to God: for the blood of sprinkling speaks better things than that of Abel. Heb. 12:2424And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24). The high priest, in this his official dress, drew nigh to God on behalf of his people; a wayward, stiff-necked, and often rebellious and murmuring people. He came from a camp where sounds of strife, contention, and ambition filled the air. But he must bear none of these sounds of earth and flesh into the sanctuary. God must hear the approach of one towards Him announced by heavenly sounds sent forth by his footsteps, although he came from the midst of such a din of worldliness and confusion. His walk therefore, though surrounded by these scenes, must be a heavenly walk: and his thoughts and intercessions concerning that people must be respecting their fruitfulness to God, and not to have regard to earthly ambitions, emulations, or glory and prosperity in the world.
Thus Aaron was provided with these golden bells, which necessarily sent forth a divine and tuneful sound, lest he should die.
Again, his retiring footsteps, away from the immediate presence of God back into the camp, were to speak the same truth; he must return into the ordinary occupations of life, still making his footsteps known, as from heaven. His feet must be thus beautiful, because sending forth as he stepped, sounds of heavenly holiness and peace. And though amidst the boisterous hum of human life, to the natural ear these golden bells might seem to give forth but a feeble melody, yet they uttered a still small voice which would reach the listening ear, and would arrest the true hearted worshipper, and turn his thoughts in holiness and faith towards God.
Does not this give us a faint type of our great High Priest? His whole occupation for us in the sanctuary is concerning our walk and fruit-bearing towards God. No mere human thoughts intrude into His heart respecting us. His desire is not for our prosperity in worldly things; for our advancement in earthly greatness; or for our success in the things of this life; but that whilst abiding in the world, we may be kept from the evil of it, and may glorify the Father in bearing much fruit.
We behold Him also in another scene, walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, as the high priest of old might have walked in the midst of Israel's camps. And in this vision of the Revelation, the Son of Man is clothed with this priestly robe of blue. For, in the Greek of the Revelation, it is called podeerees-a garment down to the foot-which is the name given to the robe of the ephod in the Septuagint, Ex. 28:3131And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. (Exodus 28:31). Here the ephod, with its shoulder-pieces and breastplate, was laid aside; for the Son of mt.,n was not occupying His priestly office Godward on behalf of His people. But He is described as coming forth from God, and walking in the midst of the churches to scrutinize their ways, and to give rebukes, warnings, and promises.
He is, as it were, come out of the holiest, and still sends forth the holy golden sound, while investigating the ways of His saints. And though He has to reprove, still the blue robe of heavenly grace and peace, is bound around Him with the girdle of gold, to fasten it securely; so that no failures which He might witness in His saints, should have power to unloose His love towards them; but His heart of constant unwavering affection, beats towards them beneath the breasts of consolations; and His divine love for them strengthens Him, as it were, for this trying scrutinizing service.
Is there not a remarkable suitability in the Lord Jesus being thus represented as attired in the blue robe of the Prince of peace, while He walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and looks with eyes of searching holiness into their ways, saying: " I know thy works?