If you were to walk up to an everyday Christian and ask them about fruit in the Bible, they would probably give you an odd look. Fruit? In the Bible? What are you talking about? If they did think of fruit in the Bible, nine times out of ten they probably would begin to talk about fruit in the garden of Eden. There’s the fruit of the tree of life, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and the fruits of all the other non-specified trees in the garden. But what about pomegranates? Ask any Christian about pomegranates and I can assure you, you’re definitely going to get some questionable looks.
Little do we often realize, pomegranates play a large role in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. They were often used for decoration, especially in the temple. Verses like 1 Kings 7:18 and 20, 2 Chronicles 3:16, and 1 Kings 7:42 show how popular pomegranates were in architecture and decoration in those times. In Jewish tradition, it is also believed that the pomegranate is a symbol of sanctity, fertility, and abundance. It is said that pomegranates contain 613 seeds: the same number of commandments given to the Israelites. However, there is a specific mention of pomegranates in the Bible that I’d like to focus on.
When talking about making robes for Aaron in his priestly role, the Lord says,
“You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. There shall be an opening at its top in the middle of it; around its opening there shall be a binding of woven work, like the opening of a coat of mail, so that it will not be torn. You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet material, all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe. It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the Lord, so that he will not die.” Exodus 28:31-35 (NASB)
What is interesting is this interaction between golden bells and pomegranates. What was the purpose of these things to be put on Aaron’s robe? In the context of the Bible, I believe that they signify the calling and the conduct of the believer. The golden bells and the pomegranates on our robes as God’s ministers here on earth speak of our vocalization and our fruit in our walk with Christ.
The golden bells, according to the Lord, were to be present so that it could be heard when Aaron went in and out of the holy place to minister. It was to announce Aaron’s duties, that he was busy ministering for the people in the tabernacle’s holy place with God. It spoke of his vocalization, that he was devoting his life to his priestly position.
On the other hand, the pomegranates were to signify his acting out of his priestly calling. It is no mystery to believers who study the Word that God doesn’t call us just to listen to Him, but He calls us to act on His Word! And what does the Bible call it when we act on God’s Word and obey Him in our lives? The Bible calls it producing fruit. I believe this goes back to these symbolic priestly robes as a symbol of fulfilling what you vocalize by actually going out and doing it. It is a symbol of your vocalization becoming your vocation. We can’t only preach God’s word; we have to do it as well!
Across all religions, pomegranates tend to be symbols of fruitfulness, whether in reference to fertility or to having a fruitful life. It seems to me that this is no different in Christianity. We are called to produce fruit in our lives; to not only hear and preach God’s Word but to live it out and become more like Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17,
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NASB)
Like the pomegranate, our acts of worship and service towards God which conform us to the image of Christ emit a pleasing fragrance to the Lord and they turn the vocalization of our beliefs into our vocation in practice. Let us serve Him with all that we are just as Aaron did in his robes of golden bells and pomegranates.