It was a brilliant star-lit sky, and the hoar-frost was glittering and shimmering on the trees—just a typical night for sitting down and gazing out at the beautiful scene before me. I had fallen into a daydream, and was startled out of it by a joyous ringing of bells from the distant church belfry. It seemed to bring a message to my own heart which I wish pass along to others. The chime consisted of seven bells. You know, “seven” stands for the perfect number in Scripture: it brought to my remembrance many great events which passed across my mental vision. The resting of the Creator on the seventh day after Creation, the sevenfold sprinkling of the blood, the seven times of Israel’s punishment, and all through the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, this perfect number seems to run like a golden thread, until in the Divine Revelation of St. John, on the lonely isle of Patmos, the marvellous sevenfold symbols. What message did these joyous bells convey to me?
The first bell seemed to ring out the faithfulness of our covenant-keeping God. All through the past year changes inevitable have arisen from various causes, friends dear to us have been called away, leaving aching voids in our hearts ; but amid sorrow and separation from human friendships, ” God remains faithful rang the bell. Faithful? All, yes. Did He not swear to our forefather Abraham that He would make him a great nation, and has He not fulfilled His Word to the very letter in this vast nation of ours? God is faithful, and it is on this very promise that we may rest assured that Jehovah, Who cannot lie, will be faithful to us to the end of time.
“Ring out, sweet bell, and make thy message heard
God hath been ever faithful to His Word.”
The second bell seemed to ring God’s love. Have we not felt this in our work for the Master? Can we not say with full hearts, “His banner over me was love? Shall we not pass the precious message on to others, and tell them in the very words of Scripture, “Thus saith the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” ?
“Ring out, sweet bell, and make thy message clear,
God’s love for Israel in the coming year.”
But hark, I hear another bell, the third: God’s power. When the man of God came to Amaziah, King of Judah, his message was this: “God hath power to help and to cast down.” Now if we are obedient, shall we not realize this wondrous manifestation of Jehovah’s power in the pulling down of the strongholds of ignorance and blindness which exist all around us, to the glad news of our Identity with Israel, and that power also bestowed on us to make this glad news known to all with whom we come in contact? Power! How we sometimes long to possess it; but we are poor, weak instruments, having no strength of our own. But, rang out the glad message: “Our sufficiency is of God” (2 Cor.3:5). With David we can say from our hearts, “God is my strength and power” (2 Sam. 22:33). If we try in our own strength we fail.
“Ring out, sweet bell, and make thy message known,
God sendeth power from His eternal Throne.”
But listen to the message of the fourth bell: God’s wisdom. How often we doubt it, and think we know best, because we imagine with our finite knowledge that we can arrange our work for the Master differently from the plan wrought out for us by our Lord, and then everything seems to go wrong. If so, in this coming year let us pray earnestly in the words of St. Paul, “That ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom” (Col. 1:9). It is because of this lack of tact and wisdom that we make enemies to our great Cause. He will go before us telling us when to speak and when to be silent.
“Ring out, sweet bell, throughout the star-lit night,
God’s wisdom—great, eternal, infinite.”
But the fifth bell is ringing and there is a note of pathetic sadness in its tone. It seems to speak of the Lord’s long-suffering towards a guilty world. It tells of how lives have been spared through the past year in order to give another chance ere the Reaper puts in the sickle. Countless years have sped since the Lord descended in a cloud on Sinai and proclaimed to His chosen people His Name, “Merciful, gracious, long-suffering,” and still the same Lord waiteth to be gracious.
Does not the message seem to say in the very words of St. Paul, “Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering” (Rom. 2:4)? Shall not the coming year bring in a new era of national righteousness? The past has gone to its account, with all its national sins of Sabbath-breaking, drunkenness and moral degradation. But if this is to be, each individual must do his part towards dispelling the darkness and ushering in the golden age.
“Ring out, sweet bell, thy message all abroad,
Announce our merciful, long-suffering Lord.”
But the sixth bell has also rung out, and its message is God’s Truth. The great Truth of our Identity with Israel. It seems to ring with clarion notes. The Ten-Tribed House of Israel scattered, punished, rebuked for idolatry, and brought back in infinite love until, after years of wandering, we have been gathered into Israel Truth nations, where once we renewed our strength.
“Ring out God’s Truth in clarion notes, sweet bell,
Of our Identity with Israel.”
Happily, the seventh and last bell is ringing, and it speaks to us of rewards—to the patient, conscientious worker, perhaps hidden away and left unnoticed by the vast majority, yet faithfully sowing the seed for the reaping by and by. Listen to the bell. It speaks to each in the words of the Master: “Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
“Ring out, last bell, in glad accord,
Each patient sower hath a rich reward.”
This, then, is the sevenfold message of the bells to all those of True Israel.
(slightly abridged – Courtesy The National Message)