Growing up Catholic, we attended Mass every Sunday. There was a particular time in the service when the priest would consecrate the bread and the wine. It was here that I heard the sound of the bells. In ancient times, before there were microphones or even chairs available in the meeting place, it was difficult to hear or see and thus give due attention to this point in the worship. Hence, the bells were wrung to alert the people. Confession time for me: I enjoyed the bells mainly because they served as a marker of sorts that church was almost over! During the priestly service in Moses’ tabernacle there was also a sound made with bells. No altar boys here; the bells were on the robe of the priest and they served another purpose.
You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. There shall be an opening for his head in the middle of it; it shall have a woven binding all around its opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it does not tear. And upon its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD and when he comes out, that he may not die. (Exodus 28:31-35)
The robe of the ephod is a garment that every believer is privileged to wear; we are all authorized as kings and priests before the Lord. I’d like to point out three qualities of the robe. First, it was durable, like a coat of mail, not easily torn. These are the battle robes we wear. Second, it was beautiful, as befits the Beautiful God that we worship. And third, it was meant to be moving and active. The sound of the bells was an assurance that the priest was not killed by the intensity of God’s glory. If they ceased to hear the sound they would know that the priestly ministry had stopped.
There was ONE high priest that died. He had brought a sound never before heard and the silence following His death was deafening; but it was only for a season. Jesus was arranging for a transfer of power and authority to many priests. The enemy, blinded by hatred, thought he was ending the ministry in the holy place but it was actually being reproduced. The impact of a body of believers will ultimately be determined by the corporate movement of its priests. Let us make the beautiful sound.