May 19 – Trip to the Holy Land – Qumran

DAY 7 – QUMRAN

Theme: Accuracy & Authority of the Word of God

Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?  If so, why?  After all, the Bible reminds us that “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16 – NIV).  How can we know that the Bible was originally “inspired by God?“ A stop at Qumran helps clarify this issue.

In 1947 in a cave of the Judean desert called Qumran, a Jordanian shepherd boy stumbled on to what is arguably the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century – the Dead Sea Scrolls.  He had no idea that the priceless clay pots of Qumran contained a wealth of evidence for the character of the Scriptures.

Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered, the oldest copies of the Old Testament, known as Masoretic texts, dated about 1000 AD.  Jewish tradition says that scribes carefully hand-copied each book in the Hebrew Bible so that no mistakes were made. In fact, if a mistake was discovered in an ancient scroll, it would be discarded and destroyed. When scrolls became frayed and worn, they also were destroyed.

But how do we know the scribes did not edit those ancient documents to make them look like they had supernatural origin? After all, in the Sixth Century BC, Daniel prophesied about four great kingdoms that would eventually rule the world 1500 years before the Masoretic texts were completed. How do we know that later scribes did not change the words of Daniel to make it look like he was actually writing prophecy about the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans? It’s one thing to describe accurately what has already happened in this world. That’s history! It’s something else to look ahead and accurately portray what will happen. That’s prophecy!

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were analyzed, they dated about 200 years before the time of Christ. That’s 1200 years earlier than those Masoretic texts!  The clay pots of Qumran yielded fragments, even major sections, of every book in the Old Testament, except the story of Queen Esther.  The scholars placed Dead Sea Scrolls and Masoretic texts side-by-side.  What do you suppose they discovered? You could basically draw an equal sign (=) between them. There were no substantial differences that threatened the theology of Old Testament authors.

In other words, God not only inspired His Word, He preserved His Word for all of us. If the Bible is not accurate, it is not authoritative. The Dead Sea Scrolls remind us that the Word of God we hold in our hands is reliable. It’s authentic. It can be trusted. “It is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – NLT).

Prayer of reflection:  Father, help me to build my life around the accurate and authoritative teaching of the Word of God.

Bob Fetterhoff

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