Scrolls Unfurled / A Summary of Biblical History
20 x 30 inches (original)
oil, cold wax medium, gold leaf and text
Christianity is central to history. Its core doctrines rest on theological interpretations of historical events, such as creation, the fall, the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection. (The Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed (325) both includes many statements that are historical claims.) With eyes of faith, we recognize that all of human history is “a story with a divine plot” with God at its beginning, the cross at its center and the return of Christ to mark its culmination.
This commissioned painting attempts to summarize biblical history. Christ and the cross are central to the painting. Christ is the image of God and He is The Word of God. Thus I incorporated Scripture/ Word of God. There are three sections attached to the surface of the panel. The first at the top is the doxology from Jude 1:24-25. It is partially visible above the central slash of glory.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy, to the only God, Our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forevermore."
The second text is from Revelation 1:4-7, partially visible in the scroll to the left of the figure at the bottom: "Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold He is coming in the clouds and every eye will see Him."
The third text from the book of Psalms. It is embedded on the right. Psalm 71
"... O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come, for Your righteousness O God reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things O God, who is like You?" (Psalm 71:18-19)
After applying these texts and base layers of golden oil and wax, I began to add the ruddy dark band of cross across the middle. The figure near the bottom of the painting was not originally planned, but as I worked it became the "Jesus, the One who is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals." (Rev. 5).
Although the embedded texts are important, I did not allow them to dictate the design of the painting, thus they are partly hidden. Like the mystery of Christ in us and the Incarnation itself, the true mystery of Christ in all His glory will be revealed at the last day when he opens the scroll's seventh seal. The scroll with the seven seals is a symbol of the unfolding of human history. Jesus will end “His-Story” when He opens the seventh seal.
The figure may also symbolize Jesus “In the beginning” looking over his Creation. And is there a second figure beside him - His Bride purchased with His blood? The scroll is opened and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb can begin! The red is important in the summary of biblical history. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” There is also a suggestion of a small red figure in the golden shaft of light, splitting the darkness, and a thorny crown visible in the dark band. To conquer the curse and thorny ground, Christ became sin and curse on man’s behalf. He alone can split the dark band of separation between God and man; heaven and earth.
Above are the heavens and future glory. The gold leaf symbolizes this glory and the reign of Christ. Two scrolls are being unfurled—one in the heavens and one on earth! When the history of redemption is complete, “the heavens will be rolled back as a scroll!”
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever . . . . We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign . . . and the temple of God which is in heaven was opened (Revelation 11:15ff, NASB). Notice the plural verbs referring to the singular “O Lord God”—“God in three Persons, Blessed Trinity.”
. . . and they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:9).