And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent to me; and, see, a roll of a book was therein;…
It is certainly remarkable that, whilst the ministry of Ezekiel was to be fulfilled by word of mouth, the communication of its substance should be figuratively represented by the scroll - "a roll of a book, written within and without." What the scroll was to the prophet, it may fairly be said, the volume of Holy Scripture is to us. Holy Writ is the record of successive revelations, and its form, as literature, answers very important purposes. Scripture is the standard of faith and doctrine and practice, to which the ministers of the gospel are bound to refer, according to the well known saying, "The Church to witness, the Scripture to prove." This strikingly symbolical passage suggests valuable truth regarding both the form and the substance of the inspired volume.
I. THE FORM OF THE WRITTEN REVELATION. The fact is that we have the scroll, the volume, i.e. the mind of the holy and inspired men of old perpetuated in the written form. Certain advantages are by this means secured, which more than compensate for any disadvantages which may possibly be connected with the literary form which revelation assumes.
1. A written revelation, as compared with one merely oral, is deliberate. What men say in conversation, or under the stress of popular oratory, is not to be compared in this respect with what is carefully committed to a literary form. Speech is often intended merely to produce an immediate impression; what is written is probably intended to bear examination, to stand the test of reflection and of time.
2. Continuous. Fragmentary and disjointed utterances are all that can be expected from an ordinary speaker; and even a thoughtful and powerful speaker must usually, by the very conditions of his work, come short in the point of orderliness and continuity. The preparation of a book, and especially of a volume containing in many books the revelation of the Divine mind, involves a design, a plan, a connection and correspondence among the several parts which go to make up the whole.
3. Incorruptible. The untrustworthiness of tradition is proverbial. Wisdom is apparent in the arrangement by which the communication of God's will to man has been placed beyond the corrupting influences to which every oral tradition is liable.
II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE WRITTEN REVELATION. The "roll of a book" delivered to Ezekiel may be presumed to have been the emblem of the communications which were to form the matter of his prophetic ministry. And although the writing is described as consisting of mourning and woe, this is probably only because such was the prevailing tenor of the earlier portions of his prophecies. We may say generally that the written revelation through Ezekiel is a summary of that which occupies the entire Bible. The scroll, accordingly, may be considered as:
1. Displaying the Divine interest in mankind.
2. Revealing Divine acquaintance with men's sinful character their wanderings from God, and the various errors and follies into which sin has ever led its victims.
3. Declaring God's foresight of the miserable condition into which idolatry, apostasy, and every kind of moral evil and error must certainly plunge the rebellious. Nowhere is this more vividly displayed than in this book of prophecies.
4. Expressing the Divine solicitude for man's welfare, and the Divine provision for man's recovery and salvation. In all these several particulars the Book of Ezekiel is a miniature of the Bible. The theme of the prophet, and the theme of Holy Writ as a whole, is surely nothing else than this - the exhibition of man's heinous sin, and the offer of God's merciful salvation. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;