Welcome to MOTIFS, where I follow cultural and literary images found in the Bible in an attempt to unearth God's meaning in His pattern of usage.


 

Welcome to my blog, ROLLED SCROLL, where I follow cultural and literary images found in the Bible to unearth God’s meaning in His pattern of usage. 

 

          MIRROR

 

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”

The vain queen preened before her looking-glass, sure of the answer. She was enraged when the mirror revealed that her stepdaughter, Snow White, surpassed her in beauty. The mythical queen knew mirrors don’t lie—a reality I suspect irritates you as much as it does me when I spot my own physical imperfections!

 

The mirror is a motif appearing, as well, in the Bible—albeit only half a dozen times. But its use is significant and worth examination by anyone interested in narrative.

 

Ancient mirrors were made of bronze, a mixed metal of mostly copper that could be highly polished (Exod. 38:8; Job 37:18). The first-century city of Corinth was famous for its bronze mirrors, but even they were susceptible to tarnish, as the apostle Paul knew:

 

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully (1 Cor. 13:12 NIV).

Paul was illustrating that God was not clearly understood in his day, for several New Testament books weren’t yet written, nor was Scripture collected together until the second century. But the fogginess of the mirror was only temporary; a time was coming, Paul said, when the written reflection of God to us would be complete and finished. Today the Bible is complete, the direct revelation of God that shines back a clear image of Himself. You and I can see God’s glory and be progressively transformed into His image the more we look into the untarnished Word (2 Cor.3:18).

 

My usual narcissistic purpose in glancing into a mirror is to check out my makeup and wipe away any smudge of mascara. Our purpose in gazing intently into the mirror of God’s Word is to see His perfect character and make corrections so that our lives match up to His expectations (James 1:23-25). Studying Scripture is how we know what we “look like” in a spiritual sense.

 

The looking-glass of the Bible is a record of God’s very words written down as an everlasting witness—not merely human “wisdom” but inspired truth (Deut. 18:18; Ps. 19:7-11; Rom. 3:1-2; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). When mankind was in a dark place, God “turned on the light” by speaking to us through Scripture, opening the eyes of our hearts—giving the light of understanding to illuminate what was formerly hidden to us (2 Pet. 1:19-21; Ps. 19:8; 1 Cor. 2:6-12). When we believe, apply, and embrace what we read in the Bible, the Holy Spirit gives us further insight into the written Word and thereby guides us in right faith and conduct (John 14:23-26).

 

Of course, when Jesus walked the earth He Himself was the very “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:3 NIV). Yet even He submitted to the Bible’s authority (Matt. 4:1-10). But now that Jesus is physically absent, the Bible—like a top-quality mirror—brings us His presence; the Word of God is true and powerful (John 17:17; John 10:35; John 21:24; Heb. 4:12). We’re warned not to close our eyes against His reflection in the Scriptures (Heb. 3:7-8).

 

Snow White’s evil stepmother had a truth-speaking mirror—as far as outward beauty goes. But God’s mirror of revelation, the Holy Bible, shows us His glory and our state in terms of eternity.

 

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To comment on this reading, or to subscribe or unsubscribe to a monthly email reminder of new postings, please write me: deb@rolledscroll.com.

These short literary articles tied to the Bible are intended to explore what God might have been saying in His pattern of usage for each symbol. English rendition of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek varies with translations (for example, “scroll” is sometimes interchangeable with “book”); however, the visual quality and underlying meaning of the selected emblem remain consistent across versions. Sketches are by Lorenda Harder. 

Welcome to my blog, ROLLED SCROLL, where I follow cultural and literary images found in the Bible to unearth God’s meaning in His pattern of usage.   

  

          SCROLL

A rolled scroll promises proclamation. Can’t you just picture Cinderella peeking at the king’s footman from behind lace curtains, holding her breath as he unfurls his parchment in pomp and splendor to announce the upcoming Royal Ball?

Of course, literary tradition loftier than the fairy tale has for centuries employed the metaphysical motif of the scroll. But the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Tennyson didn’t originate the symbolism. Their common cultural understanding was founded on the primary source of the Bible, for God Himself used the image of the scroll in illustrating His meaning.

 

We see, for example, that God instructed Moses to write His words on a scroll “as something to be remembered,” and directed others to keep a permanent record of His law and the sayings of the prophets (Exod. 17:14; Deut. 17:18; Jer. 36:2). But Isaiah warned that the scroll of God’s Word can’t be understood by those in spiritual stupor—the blind and deaf whose calloused hearts are far from Him (Isa. 29:11-13; Isa. 6:10; cf. Matt. 13:10-15). Ezekiel and, later, John the Baptist were told to eat the scroll of God’s words, sweet as honey on the tongue—that is, to absorb God’s message into their very being (Ezek. 2:8-10; Ezek. 3:1-3; Rev. 10:8-11). In Daniel’s vision, the scroll of future events was sealed until a day yet to come (Dan. 12:4-9). On the other hand, Zechariah’s flying scroll of condemnation stretched open like a waving banner for all to read (Zech. 5:1-4). Just before the close of the Old Testament, a “scroll of remembrance” was written to register the names of those who honor the Lord—His “treasured possession” (Mal. 3:16-17).

 

After four hundred years of biblical silence, the New Testament opens with the gospels showing Jesus in the synagogue unrolling the scroll of the Scriptures to declare the prophecy fulfilled by His own coming (Luke 4:16-21). By way of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s holy requirements outlined in the blood-splattered scroll of the law were once and for all fulfilled (Heb. 9:19-22). Christ Himself as the last and complete sacrifice said, “Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God” (Heb. 10:7, NIV). Finally, in a future day yet to dawn, the sacrificial Lamb of God will open the seals on the scrolls of judgment (Rev. 5:1-14). The skies will be rolled up and stars dissolved, and Jesus will sit upon the throne of David to fulfill the purpose of time (Isa. 34:4; 1 Cor. 15:28).

 

In short, God’s literary choice of the scroll signifies His workings in history and His plan for relationship with humanity through Jesus Christ.

 

Like Cinderella, I love listening to the proclamation of the King in His Word. And though I’m not a Shakespeare, Dickens, or Tennyson, I’m responding with my own “scroll” jottings here on this site. They’re not inspired missive or world-famous composition or even humble folk legend. They’re just an attempt at retelling timeless truths written first by God Himself, the Author with authority to direct our steps. My heart echoes Job’s longing:

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll . . . I know that my Redeemer lives! (Job 19:23-25 NIV)

 

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To comment on this reading, or to subscribe or unsubscribe to a monthly email reminder of new postings, please write me: deb@rolledscroll.com.

These short literary articles tied to the Bible explore what God might have been saying in His pattern of usage for each symbol. English rendition of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek varies with translations (e.g., “scroll” is sometimes interchangeable with “book”); however, the visual quality and underlying meaning of the selected emblem remain consistent across versions. Sketches are by Lorenda Harder.