Online Midweek September 2

The Day of the Scrolls

Seeing God’s Pattern: First His Word and then His works:

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 

4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 

5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

This pattern then continues throughout the whole creation process:

First God speaks then the action takes place.

John in his writings puts it this way:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God. 

3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3)

Remembering what happened before Israel was established as a nation in the Promised Land

God spoke to Israel at various times in their journey through the wilderness. This appears at various places in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Then just before their entrance in the Promised Land comes the book of Deuteronomy, Moses’ farewell address to the people that he will not accompany in the Promised Land. In it he recounts their history and establishes the rules, laws and ordinances that they need to be governed by as a nation. First came the word, then the action.

Before Israel was restored from the Babylonian Captivity there was the Word given through the prophet Jeremiah at the beginning of and even before their captivity:

Before the Captivity:

“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 

9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 

10 Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 

11 This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

12 Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.(Jeremiah 25:8-12)

During the Captivity:

Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 

2 (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 

3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,

 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 

5 ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 

6 Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 

7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have [welfare].

 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which [g]they dream. 

For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.

10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 

13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your [i]fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’ (Jeremiah 29:1-14)

Seventy years later:

 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 

2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. 

So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.

20 Now while I was speaking and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God in behalf of the holy mountain of my God, 

21 while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. 

22 He gave me instruction and talked with me and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. 

23 At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. (Daniel 9:1-3, 20-23)

The Question we have to deal with: Did this pattern hold true with modern Israel?

The answer: Yes!

God can use some strange instruments to work His will. In this case He used a lost goat and broken pottery

You may know this as the story of the Dead Sea Scrolls

How it came about:

Bedouin teenagers were tending their goats and sheep near the ancient settlement of Qumran, located on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in what is now known as the West Bank. One of the young shepherds tossed a rock into an opening on the side of a cliff and was surprised to hear a shattering sound. He and his companions later entered the cave and found a collection of large clay jars, seven of which contained leather and papyrus scrolls. An antiquities dealer in Bethlehem bought the scrolls.

At that time Eliezer Sukenik was the head archaeologist of the Hebrew University. Upon hearing about the scrolls he went to see the man who bought them who allowed Sukenik to take them home and examine them. They would eventually be found to date from before the time of Jesus, through His lifetime and after His time on earth.

Prior to this the earliest copies of the Scripture had come from the Middle Ages.

The scrolls not only confirmed not only the ancient origins of the Bible, but also it’s accuracy. The text of the ancient parchments matched the modern text of the Bible. In more than 2000 years the word of God had not changed. Contained in these scrolls was the ancient prophecy from Isaiah (40:8) The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

The entire book of Isaiah was there, among the scrolls found in that first cave (in the ensuing years many more manuscripts would be found in other caves in the area).

The book of Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful words of Scripture concerning the restoration of the nation of Israel. Several of these would come true in the 20th Century, including these words:

He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel,

And will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:12)

Remember the pattern: The Word and then the action (sometimes very close together)

As Sukenik was in his study examining the scrolls, the first time these words had come to light in almost 2000 years, his youngest son Mati was in the next room listening to the radio. He kept rushing back and forth telling his father what he was hearing. When Mati rushed into the room to give Sukenik deeply absorbed in the scrolls, ancient words coming to life before him, even more dramatically when Mati shouted the news: The United Nations had voted in favor of the resolution – Israel would again become a nation!

The day Sukenik unrolled and examined the scrolls & the day the UN voted on the resolution was the same day: November 29, 1947.

The Word and the Work on the same day, as God brought back the nation of Israel!