The Dead Sea Scrolls
From the Christian News of Monday, October 28, 1991
by Carl McIntire
President, International Council of Christian Churches
"They were the archaelogical discovery of the century - a priceless trove of sacred writings whose ancient secrets lay hidden in the Judean desert for nearly 2,000 years." This is the opening sentence of a seven-page account about what are called the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, in the "rocky caves of Qumran, just ten miles east of Jerusalem." U.S. News and World Report, October 7, 1991, featured on its front cover two of the scrolls with the heading. "The Bible's Last Secrets," and its feature, "Deciphering the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls." It was left for the New York Times in its Sunday's feature, September 29, 1991, to alert the whole world under the heading, "Lessons Learned From Unscrolling Two Religions' Turbulent Pasts." What brought all this attention was that after these 43 years the scrolls were going to be made available for all scholars and those interested. This was from the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., where photographic copies of the scrolls are stored.
They took it upon themselves with the aid of their computer to make copies of all the material not available to the public. Now for the first time some evaluation has been made that indicates that fear of devastating results, for both Jewish and Christian interests, has been responsible for limiting the study to not more than 40 scholars.
The New York Times in its report went to the heart of the problem for everyone, for it said, "The research has tended to confirm the -integrity of the Hebrew Scripture and the accepted history of Christianity." It further observed, "One of the most surprising discoveries was that, quite remarkably, the Scripture has not changed significantly in 2,000 years." For the first time the world was told, "Every book of the Old Testament, with the exception of the Book of Esther, was included in the find, either completed as with Isaiah, or in fragments." The U.S. News and World Report story took people's breath away and literally stunned those who heard it. It said, "One scroll dramatically demonstrates just how little at least one book of the Old Testament has changed through centuries of hand copying In 66 chapters of the Isaiah scroll-one of the few almost entirely intact scrolls found in the Qumran library only 13 minor variations from the modern text were discovered."
Here at last God in His providence has given the world and especially to the Bible believing Christians and scholars the support of the historic creed, particularly the Westminister Confession, that the Scriptures were given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and kept pure by His care. The magnitude of these finds is reported by U.S. News and World Report: "Some books have as many as 19 different copies, written at different times by different hands ... while the scrolls were found in 11 different eaves near Qumran between 1947 and 1956, the largest single trove was uncovered in 1952 ... it contained thousands of fragments from 570 documents including most of the Hebrew Bible. Virtually all of the unpublished material came from Qumran 4." The deliberate repression of such a significant, valuable and archaeological discovery was that people were afraid of what they contained. The New York Times said, "Although startling to the academic world, the discovery never lived up to its billing. Early reports warned that the scrolls would undermine the authenticity of the Bible and rewrite the history of the early Christian Church." Now it is the other way around. The Times said, "The documents include descriptions of their religious practices and beliefs, including the conviction that the arrival of a messiah was imminent."
It is now essential that all of these documents are made available so that further study of them be not left to these liberal and ecumenical scholars as they call themselves. It is essential that a center be established with competent and trained Bible-believing scholars to take these in hand and deliver to the Christian world the fullness of their confirmation of those who have maintained during the battle of this century, that the Bible is the Word of God and the language used was that it was inerrant and infallible. The Times said that "the earliest editions of these Hebrew Scriptures were from the Middle Ages," and then it added, "From the point of view of the lay person sitting in church or synagogue, this meant that the Old Testament they were reading, whether in Hebrew or English translation, was true to the one used in the first century."
By confirming the acceptance of Christianity, the quotations in the New Testament from Isaiah need only to be checked in the places from which they were taken, and they are correct. An illustration which is most pointed is that Jesus Christ is inaugurating His ministry went into the synagogue in Nazareth, and we read Luke's account in chapter 4, verses 16-21:
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 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. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him."
The quotation from Luke is found in the opening of Isaiah, Chapter 61, and He read through verse 2 which began to proclaim the "acceptable year of the Lord." He stopped there and the rest was "In the day of vengeance of our God." The four Gospels all carry this reference from Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:14 is another reference that has been perverted. All are familiar with the fact that, that is the verse that announces that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and Matthew takes it up in his first chapter when he writes: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (vv. 22,23). In Isaiah 7:14 it is confirmed by these words, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." This is what the The New York Times means about the accepted "history of Christianity." Isaiah 53 has in it the sacrifice where the Lord lays on Him the iniquity of us all, and it announces the gospel, "Who hath believed our report?" The tie in of Isaiah with the ministry of Jesus is checked in point after point. It was Jesus who spoke of Noah and the waters. He said, "But as the days of Noah were ... for as in the days that were before the flood ... and knew not till the flood came, and took them all away" (Matt. 24:37, 38, 39). But the Book of Isaiah said in 54:9: "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth..."
To be able to take all of this material and check it with the New Testament where the words in the mouth of Jesus or the words of the apostles may be checked back with the Old Testament predictions is here for the Christian a great occasion for thanks to God. Those who in the 20th Century have opposed all that has been done by the ecumenists to tear the Bible to pieces and destroy the Faith and change the purpose of the church are now vindicated as they continue to stand solidly for the truth of the Word of God.
These scrolls, of course, are not the autographs, the original writings. None of these are available or preserved, but God gave them and they are somewhere. Just when they will be delivered for the church, only God knows, but He has told us that "every mouth shall be stopped" and heaven today is singing "Worthy is the Lamb- that was slain." "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Were any of these autographs available they would have been enshrined somewhere, and people would go to see them like the Muslims go to Mecca.
God has provided that His people are to believe that Christ died for their sins and rose the third day and, because He conquered death, His born-again saints believe His Word, which includes all of the Scriptures where He said, "They testify of me.
U.S. News and World Report in a second story, "Unearthing the Promised Land," made other references, and said: "Although the Dead Sea Scrolls are far and away the most important archaeological find of the century, several other artifacts uncovered in recent years have shed new light on the biblical story of the Israelites." One of these had to do with Jericho and what he calls archaeological disputes about the battle of Jericho, and it reports that the 1950 excavations by the British "archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon argued that Jericho was destroyed abut 1550 B.C. more than 150 years before Joshua could have arrived and brought the walls tumbling down. But a recent re-examination of the artifacts from the site has led archaeologist Bryant Wood to conclude that Jericho was in fact destroyed around 1400 B.C. The city's -walls do appear to have collapsed suddenly, and the blackened timbers and stones, as well as a layer of soot dating to 1400 B.C., all suggest that the city burned, as the Bible said it did." The story adds, "Kenyon also found bushels of grain on site, consistent with the Bible's account of a springtime conquest."
Archaeologist Byrant Wood, who has come forth with the Bible-confirming testimony, is a professor in our Faith Theological Seminary in Elkins Park, Pa. He is presently working in an archeological dig in the Holy Land, but will be lecturing to his classes in the second semester in our Seminary. This is a singular high honor to be so recognized internationally.
Another aspect of this story which comes home is that in 1950 when this British archeologist, Kenyon, was working in the Holy Land, Dr. and Mrs. Carl McIn tire and Dr. T.T. Shields of Toronto, Canada, arrived in Australia, on their mission around the world. They had just been to Bangkok where the WCC had sought to organize the Far East, but failed. In the book of Dr. McIntire's letters about that world tour entitled, "The Battle of.." the group's presence in Australia where they were welcomed by Mr. J.W. Beasley, president of the Australian Institute of Archeology. He had just come from Jericho where he had taken part in the excavations there. The McIntires stayed as guests in his home, and he was of the strong belief that what he had seen con firmed the account of Joshua's report of the capture of Jericho. Beasley has been the author of several books and defends the Scripture and the faith. He is now in glory, but I wrote at that time, "Story after story in the Old Testament he has verified. He said, 'Every word counts,' and 'the testimony of archeology is to the judgments of God.' He gave Mrs. McIntire a necklace 4,000 years old, and also one for Mrs. Shields. Dr. Shields and I received small tubes of the burnt grain from Jericho." The tube of grain, 3,400 years old, Dr. McIntire has shown on his TV program as he has reported these archeological developments revealed in U.S. News and World Report.
All of this is just the beginning Christ and the comfort of His servants. Since these two big stories broke in the New York Times, and U.S. News and World Re port, there has been a strange silence. There has been no Associated Press story for some reason. These liberals who control the press and these ecumenical dreamers apparently do not know what to do about this. It is more than the greatest archaelogical discovery of the century. It is the greatest one in 2000 years. Isaiah alone caps it all and what else there is. It has been kept from the public because it does con firm the Fundamentalists. The oldest Book of Isaiah in possession only goes back to the eighth century, a thousand years later. It is now for God's people to rejoice in this, then to use it in every possible way. Faith Theological Seminary has announced that it will enlarge its archaeological department with several scholars, with Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, to take these scrolls and present to the Christian world their glory and defense and use them to expose the unbelief which has- been propagated to this century by the liberal scholars who have sought to destroy faith in the Word of God and have done so with thousands of young men who went into the ministry.
Jesus knew exactly what He was saying and He did it in this ecumenical prayer, which the Word Council of Churches uses all the time or misuses it, when He said in John 17: "1 have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me" (v.8). There He uses the word "words," plural, and in verse 14, He- repeated "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, be cause they are not of the world, even as 11 am not of the world." Here is Genesis to* Revelation. Finally, in defiance to all the ecumenists have done, Jesus con firmed it all, "Sanctify them through they truth: thy word is truth" (v 17).
When the International Council of Christian churches was formed in Amsterdam in 1948, in its detailed innumeration of the common evangelical doctrines and the Apostles' Creed, it listed first their belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scripture. These churches around the world can now rejoice and thank God that out of a cave alongside the Dead Sea, where all these years of church history rested, these Dead Sea scrolls were waiting for this hour when God would bring them out, and the correctness and accuracy of what He gave to Isaiah could be used in the salvation of many souls, both Jews and Gentiles. He has presented this to the church just before He comes back, as He promised, to gather His own to Himself in a new and glorified body like the one He had on His resurrection day. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the greatest archaeological discovery for the Church of Jesus Christ and the people of God in 2000 years.