Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls Can Strengthen Faith

Today we had a wonderful guest speaker at church, Rabbi Barney Kasdan. He presented an awesome topic entitled, Spiritual Treasures From The Dead Sea Scrolls. What perfect timing for this lesson! The Scrolls will be on exhibit at San Diego's Natural History Museum starting on June 29, 2007. They will be on display until December 31, 2007!

Presented by Joan and Irwin Jacobs, The Dead Sea Scrolls are our bridge to a period that laid the foundation of western traditions, beliefs and practices throughout the past two millennia.

The San Diego Natural History Museum’s exhibition Dead Sea Scrolls is the largest, longest, most comprehensive ever assembled in any country. Spanning two floors and 12,000 square feet, 27 Dead Sea Scrolls—10 exhibited for the first time ever—will be on display over the course of the exhibition.

Rabbi Kasdan (a Messianic Jew) started the sermon today by emphasizing the importance of 2 Timothy 3:16

"All Scripture is inspired (in Hebrew: God-breathed) by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB

Even though you can get a brief history lesson about the scrolls on this page and an exhibit description and details on this page, I found the addition information shared by Rabbi Kasdan quite informative and exciting!

Beside the usual timeline, which included the following, an interesting fact was also revealed.

* Discovery of Scrolls in March, 1947 in Wadi Qumran
* 7 Scrolls
* 3 Scrolls purchased November 29, 1947

It was revealed that an Israeli professor purchased three of the Scrolls for Hebrew University. As it turns out, November 29, 1947 was a prophetic day, because on that same date, the United Nations made a decree for Palestine to be partitioned into a Palestinian and Israeli State. I don't have all of the details to share right now, but apparently, the Palestinian leadership did not go for this offer. If they had, over 60 years of bloodshed and tragedy could possibly have been avoided. But we know that genuine reconciliation between the Arabs and the Jews will not come until Jesus returns.

Rabbi Kasdan's Outline:

The History Of The Scrolls

* The Essenes were the ultra Orthodox Jews living in the area of the Dead Sea who believed in the coming Messiah. They were the peoples who chose to live in a righteous and spiritual community, while the Jerusalem area was being corrupted. Essenes means "The doers" of the Word.

* The Jewish Revolt (second one) occurred in 132-135 AD

This impacted both Judiasm and Christianity. They were battling the Romans. The Jews lost the battle.

* The 15,000 fragments varied in size and included both biblical and civil documents. The ancient scrolls were found in pottery vases which stood about 3 feet tall. It's almost unfathomable that they were sold for only $100.00 to a Christian artifacts dealer! Remember, this was before the State of Israel was formed.

It is interesting to note that the civil documents (which often included records of real estate deals, marriage certificates and even something as simple as a shopping list) also revealed a fragment which mentioned "The Pierced Messiah" (4Q246).

How significant is this?

Very significant!

Critics of the Bible often questioned the Messianic passages (such as Isaiah 53), and here we have extra-biblical evidence that the people knew of the "Pierced Messiah."

Scholars were quite shocked to read a text (not a Bible text) that discussed "The Pierced Messiah."

What is also fascinating to note (and serves as an additional reason for absolute faith in God's Word) is that in the biblical documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is an entire scroll of all the books of the Old Testament (except one - the book of Esther). Scholars debated about that book because is doesn't mention God's name in it. However, God's presence is clear throughout the book. It was included precisely because the book of Esther is an example of God's divine guidance and care over our lives.

God's sovereignty and power are seen throughout the book. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, we must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times so that we can serve him effectively.

Key verse:

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

So what do we have? We have the earliest manuscript of 100 and 200 BC matching our current Bibles of today! The only differences might be a certain spelling of a word or words, but the Bibles that we read today can be relied upon because these earlier manuscripts have been meticulously copied by scribes to keep God's message to mankind intact!

Prior to the Dead Sea Scroll discovery, the earliest manuscripts that the Jews had were dated @ 900 AD.

The Spiritual Lessons From the Scrolls

* The Temple Scroll Calendar

As Christian believers, most of us recognize that the current battles going on in the Middle East are far more than just physical, political, and religious battles. There is a spiritual battle going on (ancient and ongoing) and the focal point is the city of Jerusalem.

The Essene calendar was a religious one. They wrote how to have a pure Temple. It is different from the Pharasaic calendar (which measured days sundown to sundown) because they developed a solar calendar that included 364 days, where the next day started at 12:01 a.m. and ended 24 hours later.

Excerpt from site:

David Flusser suggests that the Essene calendar differed significantly from that of the priests in order for the Essenes to distance themselves from the Jerusalem establishment. He wrote:

The use of their own calendar was the most particular way in which members of the sect differentiated themselves from the rest of Israel. They celebrated their festivals on different dates, with the deliberate intention of differentiating themselves from the other Jews. This is a phenomenon typical of many sects throughout the world. Even among the Jews, the Samaritan calendar is different from the Karaite one, and both differ from the common Jewish one. The calendar of the Sages, of the whole House of Israel, was different from the Essene one not only in the dating of the festivals, but in its whole conception of the year. The Essenes had a sophisticated solar calendar, in which there were fifty two weeks, and the festivals always began on the same day of the week. In this they were different from other Jews, who lived by a lunar calendar.(Flusser 1989:43.)

This explains why John's Gospel is different and contains more of the words of Jesus. John 13:1 discusses the Passover (Last Supper), but according to the Jewish lunar calendar, it wasn't the Passover yet. The Dead Sea Scrolls provide an answer for us. John was using a different calendar. Perhaps John was writing to the Essene Jews? It makes perfect sense.

* The next spiritual lesson is the fact that the Essenes have the doctrine of "Sons of Light verses Darkness."

John 1 reflects this doctrine. At the time, Jerusalem was in the midst of backsliding and corruption. This major doctrine of Light vs. Darkness confirms the Jewish foundation of the Gospels.

* As I had mentioned previously, The Pierced Messiah (4Q246) came from a civic document of the Dead Sea Scrolls and reiterated Isaiah 53 in the Bible.

Isa 53:1 WHO has believed our report?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

Isa 53:2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isa 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.

Isa 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.

Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

Isa 53:9 And they[fn1] made His grave with the wicked--
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

Isa 53:11 He shall see the labor of His soul,[fn2] and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.

Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

53:9 Literally he or He
53:11 Following Masoretic Text, Targum, and Vulgate; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint read

Zechariah 12 (especially verse 7-10) contains prophetic Messianic passages.

Zec 12:7 "The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.
Zec 12:8 "In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them.
Zec 12:9 "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zec 12:10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.


Rabbi Kasdan:

The Dead Sea Scrolls are not only historical treasures, but spiritual treasures as well. They reflect the power of God. The Dead Sea Scrolls, preserved in a cave for almost 2 thousand years, confirm the accuracy of the Bible. They are revealed as historically accurate, as well.

We can see clearly that the Dead Sea Scrolls have become the bridge between the Old and New Testaments; church and synagogue. The New Testament comes from the roots of Israel. We are all grafted in.

Isaiah 40 (NLT)

Read it all! Awesome Word!

And, remember this, especially:

Isaiah 40:6-8 (NLT)

Isa 40:6 A voice said, "Shout!" I asked, "What should I shout?" "Shout that people are like the grass that dies away. Their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of flowers in a field.

Isa 40:7 The grass withers, and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people.

Isa 40:8 The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever."


Christinewjc said...

A favorite encouraging verse:

Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint

Jaded said...

That verse, as you know, is my favorite!

I can't comment on the entire post because I don't have time to read it just now. I only wanted to stop by to say hello! I know it's been a while, but things are getting back to normal.

Jadette, even with her disability, won the award for "most improved" in her age group at her dance recital. I cried!

I hope all is well, and I'll stop back to read this post, and some of your other recent posts.

Susan Smith said...

Hi Christine:

This is an interesting post. Thank you for not remaining silent.

Much love to my "little" sister on the West coast from South Carolina. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jaded!

Good to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping by, even when you are so busy.

How wonderful and exciting for you and Jadette!! That precious little girl of yours, God's gift from heaven is truly a joy! I know that her disability brings challenges and hard work. However, God turns all for good and how extremely proud you and your husband must have been watching her in the recital!

We are doing very well, thank you. I'll send an email soon.

Love & God bless!

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan!

I was so happy to hear from you again! Glad the move from Israel back to South Carolina went well! I've missed you at this blog!

I'm glad you found this post interesting. I knew you would. My family sat in church and listened, but I was the only one scribbling as many notes as I could on my outline! lol!

I'm so excited about seeing the exhibit. My entire family is interested, too.

When I first read this:

"Thank you for not remaining silent."

I wondered what you meant. Then I re-read my post and the Bible verse from Esther showed me!

My family and I went out to lunch after the service. I told them that I have a name for the book I want to write. Then I shared some chapter title ideas, too. They each started giving me more ideas for chapter titles (and some were really good!)! I feel that the time is write (ha ha! Freudian slip?) right to begin. I have many of the chapter ideas I needed and the theme that I want to present. Would you be kind enough to pray about this endeavor for me?

Much love to by "big" spiritually mature sis who now resides on the East Coast!

Susan Smith said...


My prayer for you is as always for the Lord's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. How is His will done in heaven? Perfectly.

A recent Joyce Meyer daily word said: "Trusting God does not mean that we do nothing. It does, however, mean that we do only what God leads us to do."

May He grant you the desires of your heart, my friend. Know I am praying for you and your family. Love across the "Land of the Free" to the West coast. We seem so close now! (ss)

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Biby Cletus said...

Hi i just surfed in searching for interesting facts on Essenes in the blogs.
you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back for more. i live
far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across
the world thinks.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following article interesting.
we are currently doing a series of posts on essenes and their culture and i'll
like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya there....

Facts on Essene Culture

Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.
Bijoy Cletus - Kerala, India