For Whom the Bells Toll or Did You Hear the Trumpet Call
“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” (Mt. 9:3)
In the Scriptures there are frequent mentions of trumpets or horns. They are most often spoken of as a means of sounding alarm such as in Eze. 7:14 to prepare or get ready for battle or as in Eze. 33:3 to warn the people to prepare themselves in case of danger. In Joel 2:1 we are told to blow the trumpet in Zion to warn the people that the Day of The Lord is at hand.
In Num. 10 we read that the Lord commanded Moses to make two silver trumpets to be used to call the people to assemble and also to be used to sound the alarm when the camps of the Isaelites were getting ready to take up their journey again. Those trumpets were also to be blown when Israel went into battle.
In our own modern history this concept was and is still used in our military installations. Reveille is sounded at the beginning of each day and tattoo is sounded at stand-down (day’s end). A horn is also blown to advance the troops or cavalry and it was also used to indicate a charge or recall.
In the Bible there are many references to trumpets but little or none in regards to bells, but with the coming of the Christian era and with the building of churches, the bell in many instances became what the trumpet was before. Most, if not all, churches had and have a tower in which a bell was installed. This bell would peel out warning in times of danger or distress; it was rung in times of joy, such as a wedding, or it was rung when there was a death in the community. Foremost, though, the bells were rung to call the congregation to worship. This custom is still enjoyed in many rural communities.
A few years back while I was visiting my son in a small town in southern Germany, this fact of bell-ringing was really brought back to me. On a quiet Sunday morning I could hear the bells ringing, not only in the little town where I was staying, but from half a dozen or so villages throughout the hills of that part of the country. It really did my heart good to see and hear that God still has a place in the hearts of the common people. It is something that we miss in the larger and more sophisticated societies of North America.
Now the foregoing all pertained to all the assembly or nation or city or congregation. But what about individuals when it comes to worship and especially to service? We read in Scripture that God uses different means with which to call individuals to Himself and to some task. God called Abram to leave his father’s house and go to some unknown destination. The Bible does not tell us how God called Abram, but it must have been in some special way for Abram to leave the comforts and riches of His paternal home, particularly as Terah, Abram’s father, was a high official in Nimrod’s Babylonian kingdom. (Jasher 7:41). So, you see, Abram, later called Abraham by God, left comfort for uncertainty.
God called and talked to Moses through a burning bush. (Ex. 3:2-4) and He called Samuel as a young child, while Samuel was asleep. (1Sam. 3:3-10). God also sent an angel in the form of a man unto Gideon (Judges 6:11-13). In the New Testament an angel tells Philip to go to the desert to teach and baptize an Ethiopian official in the name of the Lord. (Acts 8:26-40). Saul, later called Paul, was brought to heel, so to speak, by a bright light from which the Lord spoke to him. (Acts 9:1-5). Peter was convinced by the Lord by means of a sheet with animals, let down from Heaven. (Acts 10: 9-22). So you can see that the Lord uses diverse and subtle ways to make us aware of the fact that He has some special task in store for us.
You may well ask what I am trying to say. Well, simply this, are we listening for and to the Lord’s call and command? As for myself, I used to sing as a soloist in different churches by invitation and also at fundraisings for Christian schools. It was a ministry in song and music, but that was quite awhile ago. Now, I write these little articles for our magazine, not because I like to write that much, for I could not even be bothered to write a letter to my folk’s when they were still alive (I had my wife do that for me). I write not so as to teach you, because I do not think that I am qualified to teach, but I write so that you may study your Bible to verify what I am saying and by so doing that you may get a closer understanding of what the Lord requires from you too.
Just knowing that you are a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and therefore heirs of the promise is really not enough. The Lord has a task for all of us. Whether this task is monumental or small, it is for Him to know. Read Matt. 25:14-30, it is the parable of the talents and let’s hope that we compare to the first and second servant, so that the Lord will say to us “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
Now, I know that whatever we do is not going to get us closer to Salvation, for Paul tells us in Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” But in answer to that we should also read what James has to say in Jas. 2:17, 18, 20 and there we read. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, thou has faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. But wilt thou knew, O vain man, that faith without works is dead.”
And so, let me close with the words of our Lord Jesus as recorded in Matt. 9: 37-38. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye, therefore the Lord of harvest, that we will send forth laborers in to the harvest.”