December 8, 2003

Ancient Scrolls
"This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads 
and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the 
good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest 
for your souls. But you said, "We will not walk in 
it."'" (Jeremiah 6:16).

The Dead Sea Scrolls have come to Ottawa, the capital 
of Canada, where they will be on display until April 
12. It is the first time that some of these scrolls 
have ever been outside of Israel.

These ancient scrolls were first discovered in the 
vicinity of the Dead Sea in 1947. They were a most 
magnificent find, since up until that time, the oldest 
manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures were from about a 
thousand years after Yeshua's coming. The Dead Sea 
Scrolls are over a thousand years older, dating back 
to the second century before Yeshua's coming.

The existence of the Dead Sea Scrolls contributed to 
my coming to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah. When I 
was younger, I didn't believe that the Bible was a 
book from God. I figured, human nature as it is, there 
must have been many changes to the Bible introduced 
through the years. I first heard about Yeshua in the 
years just following the Watergate scandal in the 
United States. Understanding how people cover up their 
wrongs, I thought that there certainly must have been 
all sorts of things covered up or changed in parts of 
the Bible. Therefore I had no reason to accept its 
validity, let alone think that God himself might have 
had anything to do with it.

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls challenged my 
skepticism. The Scrolls contain several biblical 
portions. When compared to the thousand year old 
copies, there are only minute differences between 
them. The striking thing is how unusual that is. One 
of the problems with the study of ancient manuscripts 
is the confusion as to their accuracy. Humans have a 
difficult time accurately preserving ancient things.

Have you ever played the children's game, "Broken 
Telephone"? In this game we sit in a circle. Someone 
whispers a word or phrase into the ear of the person 
sitting next to them. That person attempts to whisper 
the same word or phrase into the ear of the person 
next to them and so on. The last person announces to 
the whole group what they think they heard. In most 
cases the original word or phrase is drastically 
transformed into something so very different from the 
original.

Not so with the Bible. Through all these years the 
text of the Scriptures has remained virtually 
unchanged. This in and of itself doesn't prove that 
the Bible is from God, but it certainly demonstrates 
the uniqueness of this ancient book.

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls illustrates for 
us that some things don't change. The truths of these 
ancient pages are still relevant in our day.

In the nation of Canada, where I live, we are 
witnessing the attempt to dismantle our age-old 
understandings of the basic building blocks of 
society, primarily with regard to marriage.

It is no coincidence that in the middle of this 
controversy, the Dead Sea Scrolls arrive in our seat 
of government. God is reminding us not to turn from 
the ancient paths in favor of a perilous, uncharted 
future.

As we read in the prophet of Isaiah, whose legacy is 
preserved in the Scrolls:

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word 
of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

It will be only a matter of time before we see the 
withering of our modern human philosophies, while 
God's Truth endures forever.