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In this series we are reprinting Spokesman articles by early leaders in the CLC. Pastor James Albrecht is the curator of the series. Rev. Ralph E. Schaller (1919-1989) was a leader in the formation of the CLC. He held pastorates in Mayville and Coloma, Michigan, and later served as a domestic missionary in New Mexico, Alaska and Virginia. This article is from the Lutheran Spokesman of June, 1960. Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

“And they made bells of pure gold and put the bells . . . on the hem of the robe.” (Exodus 39:25)

Some of the gems of Holy Scripture are phrases and verses easily overlooked by us in a reading of that wondrous book. To the Old Testament people this little verse portrayed one of the moments of deepest suspense ever known to them. It might well be called the moment of terror in the BELLS.

It was a moment of the most ominous silence. A silence that made the heart of every worshiper stop and hold short for a terrible minute. For the bells were silent! They could not be heard! Would they become audible again or would they die forever? Would they signal to them that their worship could continue—that their worship was acceptable—or would their worship and lives drift away from before the face of God in the hopeless silence of destruction?

It was the GREAT DAY OF ATONEMENT, when once a year the High Priest, dressed in the simple garb of linen, must enter into the Holy of Holies in God’s Temple, behind that awesome double curtain, into the presence of the Triune God, before the mercy seat; where, having made atonement for his own sins, he must now sprinkle the blood of atonement for the people. Thus bowed low, the worshipers waited in the temple of God.

All they could hear were those little gold bells on the hem of the priest’s garment. When those became silent, they all visibly stiffened and waited . . . for now he was in the presence of God. They had no right to expect God to accept their sacrifice. They must depend wholly on the Almighty’s mercy. What a wondrous relief of sins forgiven, when the little bells came into earshot again. The Priest, who had gone for them, had returned.

What a wondrous picture of the climax of the Passion story! It pictured how the Lord and Savior with His blood on the cross went as both High Priest and Sacrifice into the Holy of Holies . . . before the mercy seat of His Heavenly Father. He went not with a year’s payment, but with the blood of payment for all times. The silence of that Saturday with all its hopeless fears we see only too clearly in the Easter gloom of the disciples, both male and female. But what music those eternal bells ring out for us since that first Easter Morn, as the hem of the garment of that everlasting and victorious High Priest brushes His disciples with the message of sins paid and forgiven for all times to come. Joy everlasting has replaced the moment of terror in the bells—they now ring out with life restored.

Rev. Ralph . Schaller(1919-1989)

Ralph Schaller