Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thy Word

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89 KJV)

Today a group of 35 people loaded into two church vans, three personal vehicles and headed to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth to see the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition. It was well worth the time, effort and cost – we’d all do it again, only we’d take some more people along to watch their expressions as we learn.

I’ve heard of the scrolls since childhood. I was fascinated by the story of the goat herder tossing stones to encourage a goat out of a cave, only to hear the sound of breaking pottery. The discovery of the scrolls changed the lives of so many scholars and opened untold possibilities – would they confirm or refute what we consider to be God’s word?

It took years of study to confirm the books of the Old Testament – with the exception of Esther – were part of this treasure trove. Studies continue, but we now know that millennia ago scribes carefully copied old words onto new parchment with such care that they remained ‘settled’ from one millennia to the next. Their technology? Reed pens, wet dyes and biodegradable parchment.

Yet these lasted two thousand years, hidden by uncertain people for uncertain reasons. There are ongoing debates, but their existence, their age, their words are absolutes. The comments on Psalm 145 confirming that the Septuagint was missing a verse is more than interesting, it is confirmation of the continuity of God’s word.

The largest portion of the exhibit are facsimiles of the pieces, including the most complete Isaiah scroll. The actual pieces found in Qumran are tiny and very protected. There’s no way they would make sense to the crowds slowly moving past these antiquities. We depend on others to study and tell us what they’ve discovered. We are grateful for their dedication.

Jesus spoke of these very scriptures – verses from the Isaiah Scroll:

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:17-19 KJV)

After reading, He closed the book, returned it to the minister and seated Himself:

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21 KJV)

I cannot imagine what it would like to have the Messiah declare Himself before a congregation. Oh, to have been sitting there and hear scripture fulfilled. Prior to this reading, Jesus had preached to the poor, healed the brokenhearted, preached deliverance, returned sight to the blind – and preached ‘the acceptable year of the Lord.’

Why is this important?

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11 KJV)

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