31 ¶And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue….
33 ¶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:
34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
35 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. (Exodus 28:31, 33-35)
This part always used to puzzle me. The idea that Aaron had to have bells and pomegranates around the hem of his robe as a safety feature so that he wouldn’t die because the sound would keep him safe while going in and out of the temple is really strange. This should tip us off that there is some symbolism here that is supposed to teach us about Christ.
I have already written about the symbolism of the pomegranate and its meanings of atonement, eternal life, and countless posterity, so I’m going to focus more on the bells in this post.
Why bells? What is the function of a bell that hangs on a person or animal? It is to usually to let you know they are coming or to let you know where they are.
I started trying to imagine what it would be like for the high priest to wear all those bells. Right away it became evident that the high priest wouldn’t be able to make the slightest movement without making noise. You’d always know when the priest was coming because of the sound of those bells.
Then I thought, Did Jesus go around with bells on? No. But then I thought about the explanation of bells as a safety feature every time the high priest moves and then I thought about how it might fit in with how important it was for Jesus to stay pure. It was important for Jesus to stay spiritually safe, otherwise He would die spiritually and the Plan of Salvation would be frustrated. I realized the ringing bells symbolized prayer, and that Jesus had to let Heavenly Father know everything He was going to do so that He could be warned if it was bad so He wouldn’t sin. He had to learn ahead of time from Heavenly Father, rather than learning by experience so that He would stay pure. So the bells symbolize constant communication to Heavenly Father about Christ was about to do so that “he die not” or avoid spiritual death.
The arrangement of bells alternating around the hem of Aaron’s robe also gives us a sort of symbolic film strip of Christ’s life—bell, pomegranate, bell, pomegranate—prayer, life, prayer, life—to show us that Christ stayed spiritually alive because of prayer.
I think this shows us that if we want to be more like Christ, we can learn to counsel with our Heavenly Father over what we are about to do and learn to be obedient to the warnings we receive. Prayer will help us stay alive in Christ.
The sound of the bells on Aaron’s hem would automatically start when he moved. I think this can teach us about how natural and automatic prayer was to Christ, and it can also teach us how natural and automatic prayer can be (and should be to us) if we want to be like Him.