Between 1948 and 1956, about 80 intact manuscript rolls and more than 20,000 fragments were discovered in eleven caves at Qumran, near the Dead Sea. Known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, they preserve parts of every book of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), except for Esther, and represent the earliest existing Hebrew versions. Jars such as this one, also found in a cave near Qumran, were used frequently by the ancient Jews to store manuscript rolls of parchment, papyrus, and copper.
The King James Version of the Bible was translated from a number of sources, none as old as the Great Isaiah Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are older than the New Testament, but they do show how carefully the books of the Old Testament were preserved for over two thousand years. We have clay jars and a dry climate to thank for that.
Simple clay vessels. Seems as though there should be a spiritual thought there, right? Maybe from:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15 KJV)
Here the Lord is speaking to Ananias about Paul. Better than most of us – reminiscent of Samuel – Ananias answered God by saying:
Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10b KJV)
A lot of biblical characters as well as people today would not recognize the call, much less respond. Most would be fearful – as Ananias was when he heard what he was supposed to do:
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11 KJV)
Ananias knew Saul’s reputation – for imprisoning and killing followers of Christ. Men, women, children – any person teaching or believing that Jesus was the son of God, Saul had the authority over their lives.
But, to God Saul was a chosen vessel, little better than those that kept scrolls safe for two thousand years. It did take Jesus Christ stopping Saul on the road to Damascus to make that vessel fit for God’s work. That message was given hundreds of years before:
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Jeremiah 18:1-4 KJV)
Ananias may have known that scripture, but we know for certain Paul did when he wrote:
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:19-21 KJV)
God created Saul – and recreated him into Paul, a vessel fit to complete the work God had in mind for him.
Why, then are we - marred as we are by life and things of this world – so loath to allow the Potter to take our lives and make “it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make.” Do we really think we can do the job better than He can? More likeable than He would? Just what vessel do we want to be in the Potter’s hand?