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, 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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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.