Opinion: New Dead Sea Scroll Findings Display God’s Perfect Timing
A wave of news regarding biblical history flooded the world on March 9 with the findings of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments. This is the first time in 60 years that fragments have been found, and the discovery has raised questions about the validity of Judeo-Christian practices and history, and what is yet to be discovered of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
These fragments are said to contain a Greek rendition of the Twelve Minor Prophets, Shira Rubin writes for the Washington Post.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been recognized for generations as one of the most convincing methods of proof of Jesus’ existence, both historically and theologically. Because they date back so closely to the time of Christ, they are all the more solidified as honest records of the Hebrew Bible.
In the scrolls, an almost complete record of one of the most prophetic books in the Bible, Isaiah, exists. This carries significant weight for the believer in Jesus. Within just one section of the book of the prophet Isaiah, there are numerous prophecies made about Jesus that needed to be fulfilled. For the prophet to record (so tediously, might I add) a prophecy of Jesus being despised and rejected (Isa. 53:3), silent before His accusers (Isa. 53:7), and punished for the sins of the world (Isa. 53:5) is a dangerous thing. He was either in complete harmony with God and, as a willing servant, writing down what the Lord truly revealed to Him, or he was a cynic with papyrus, devising an intricate and clever plot to throw the religious world deeper into chaos.
With brief knowledge of the theological significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we might move to a place of understanding the importance of the newly discovered fragments.
The first thing that comes to mind when surveying the new fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls is God’s faithfulness – to Himself. Indeed, God is faithful to the faithless (2 Tim. 2:13). But He is also faithful to His own name.
His goodness, glory, holiness, and grace are all things that He will not abandon. In a startling discovery so many years ago, it became evident that the Dead Sea Scrolls were not preserved by anyone except God. If they were preserved by human hands, they eventually let go of the scrolls that would be buried for millennia. God’s self-preservation outlives even man’s attempt to preserve His word.
This gives great cause to rejoice in the faithfulness and consistency of God. After all these years, God preserves and reveals Himself in unimaginable ways.
Secondly, the Old Testament is still relevant. Though the latest words of the Bible are powerful in the New Testament, they stand on the foundation of the Old Testament and Christians (and historians) can learn much from returning to it.
With a powerful message revealed in Zechariah, it should be extremely clear to the church that the Old Testament is relevant. Its pages may be older, but they have always raised a sweet aroma to God. When read by the church, the doubter or the lone believer in God, the heartbeat of God’s covenant can be heard once again.
Popular news sources such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Washington Post reported on the newfound fragments, addressing both the Old Testament and the history of Judaism and Christianity. So it seems that both Christians and non-Christians have been reminded of the writings of the Minor Prophets.
Finally, God’s timing is perfect. After years of excavating the same area, these archaeologists were given (yes, given by God) the ability and resourcefulness to uncover portions of Scripture from the Minor Prophets. The fragments found contain portions of Zechariah 8 and Nahum 1.
Isabel Kershner, a correspondent for the New York Times, reports that experts were able to reconstruct 11 lines from Zechariah 8, which say, “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
Could there be a more timely uncovering of Scripture? In the midst of chaos, falsehood, and destruction, God so graciously reminds the world of His righteousness and goodness. God, by the hands of Israeli archaeologists, divinely digs up His own words. He dusts them off and pieces them together again for the reader. Is it not true that so many have left Zechariah (and other divinely inspired authors) to be covered in dust and shambles for so long?
Take this as no small message from the Lord. He recovers what He spoke ages ago, reminding the church now to make true, bold judgments and to make peace. Only God could preserve such beautiful words and reveal them (yet again) at such a time as this.
Justin Bower is an Opinion Writer. Follow him on Twitter at @_the_beggar_.