Friday, June 2, 2023
Isaiah 13:2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles.
Thirteen years ago my wife and I visited the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum. I also had the privilege to visit the Dead Sea site and museum in Israel on a later trip. As we entered the general display areas in Minnesota, we were immediately overwhelmed with the spiritual darkness that exists there. We commented to each other about the tragedy of a scientific community that denies the existence of their Creator, and how the influence of such a place is affecting the next generation of students that come for a visit. Every display in some way renounces God and promotes evolution. They have even created a display that promotes the use of stem cells from aborted babies.
It was no surprise that the Dead Sea Scrolls display would be primarily treated from a secular humanistic perspective. Don’t get me wrong, the display was very educational and as you will see in a moment very moving, but my heart is heavy because the wonder and awe of this discovery is being packaged in a merely scientific and cultural wrapping. Granted there is much we can learn about the culture of Jesus’ day from these writings, but the primary focus should be on the spiritual truth they contain about the nature and work of God.
As Denise and I proceeded through the exhibit, we were moved by the history of God’s people. We were challenged by the political conflict between the Pharisees and the Sadducees of Jesus’ day that was discovered in the writings of the Scrolls. They fought over control of the Temple. The winner would be able to impose their standards of obedience and righteousness on the people. The Sadducees were much more demanding and wanted the Law of God in written form. The Pharisees wanted only an oral tradition of the law so that it could be changed easily to meet the lenient demands of a fickle culture. That is why Jesus said the Pharisees were like white-washed tombs, with the appearance of sacred holiness on the outside but filled with death and corruption on the inside.
Finally, the time came to enter the last room where five actual fragments of the scrolls were on display in sealed cases. As we stood outside the entrance and listened to the voice in our headsets introduce what we were about to see, my eyes filled with tears. They were bittersweet tears. The first tears were tears of joy, as I realized I was about to see what the Scribes of Jesus’ day had written to preserve the integrity of the Holy Scriptures. Then tears of pain came, as my heart broke for all the people who would not realize what they were seeing and would only see a scientific discovery with no spiritual value.
The first display of Scroll fragments was from the book of Leviticus, and explained the consequence of offering a child as a sacrifice to the false god Molech. I was overwhelmed with the awesomeness of God’s holiness, and wondered how many parents today are offering their children to the false God of humanistic thought and hedonistic pursuits.
Then was a display of fragments from the book of Genesis, where Jacob, now named Israel, meets Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim for the first time and chooses to bless them. I was reminded that no matter what happens in our culture, God is in control and His covenant cannot be broken. It is a covenant that has now been sealed in the blood of Jesus and guaranteed by His resurrection from the dead. I rejoiced in my heart that no scientist or professor can stop the plan of Almighty God, no matter how strong their arguments or loud their voices.
But then I realized that my voice has not been loud enough. I was convicted that the voices of millions like me around the world are not loud enough. We have been silenced by unjustified fear of what is weaker. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world! So it is time to raise the banner of Jesus Christ. It is time to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. It is time to once again let the world know that truth shall prevail – the truth that Jesus is Lord! Let your voice be heard and let your life back up what you say.