“In 1947, young Bedouin shepherds, searching for a stray goat in the Judean Desert, entered a long-untouched cave and found jars filled with ancient scrolls.”
What they found were the now-famous Dead Sea Scrolls.
When reading the introduction above on a Library of Congress Website, the phrase “long-untouched” caught my attention. “How long?” I wondered. The answer, according to the Library of Congress Website, is “about two thousand years.”
The Website continues: “About two thousand years elapsed between the time the scrolls were deposited in the caves of the barren hills surrounding the Dead Sea and their discovery in 1947. The fact that they survived for twenty centuries, that they were found accidentally by Bedouin shepherds, that they are the largest and oldest body of manuscripts relating to the Bible and to the time of Jesus of Nazareth make them a truly remarkable archaeological find.”
There are two other truly remarkable things about the Dead Sea Scrolls.
First, the copy of the book of Isaiah found in the cave is virtually identical to the texts on which our modern Bible is based. Since this “Isaiah Scroll” is almost 1,000 years older than any previously known manuscript, the discovery qualifies as “truly remarkable.” It’s fitting that Isaiah 40:8 reads: “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” We can have confidence that God has preserved His Word for us.
The second remarkable thing is that, according to the American scholar who photographed the Scrolls in 1948 and interviewed the shepherds who found them, they weren’t searching for a stray goat but for “hidden treasure… especially gold.” What the shepherds found disappointed them, as their behavior showed. On several occasions they unrolled the largest of the scrolls, likely destroying the cover and other fragments. For about a month the Scrolls hung in a bag in their tent until, through various intermediaries, the shepherds sold the Scrolls for $97.20. They had one of the greatest archeological discoveries in the history of the world, and they sold it for less than $100.
What can we learn from this?
Treasure is in the eye of the beholder. The ancient Bible texts certainly weren’t “treasure” to the shepherds. Is the Bible treasure to us?
Chances are good that in our home—perhaps in a bag we carried from services or on a shelf—is the storehouse of spiritual treasure: God’s Word…God’s Truth… the Bible. The Bible virtually spills over with instructions, admonitions—even pleadings—urging us to read, to study, to meditate on God’s Word frequently. God left absolutely no doubt that He wants us to study His Word. He left no doubt that those He is working with are to make His Word a central part of their lives. He gives us these instructions:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
While these are ancient texts, they were preserved for us, as Romans 15:4 says: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Indeed, the Bible is a treasure chest of learning, of comfort and of hope. There is nothing we go through that Bible study cannot help us handle better.
Do we want to be wise and make good decisions? Then we need to read the Bible! Psalm 119:98-99 tells us: “You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.”
Do we want joy in our lives? Then we need to read the Bible! Psalm 19:8 states: “The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
Do we need encouragement in times of trial? Then we need to read the Bible! Matthew 11:29-30 says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Do we want to live forever? Then we need to read the Bible! 2 Timothy 3:15 speaks of “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Will reading the Bible instantly solve all of our problems and guarantee us eternal life? Of course not! If we want to inherit the blessings the Bible speaks of we have to do the things it says, not just hear them (James 1:22; John 13:17; Luke 11:28 ). In the parable of the sower Jesus compares the Word of God to seed (Luke 8:11). That seed can grow into a harvest only when combined with the right attitude and actions (Luke 8:15; Romans 2:7).
The Bible texts the shepherds found were “long un-touched.” How “long-untouched” do we let our Bible text go during the week? How long-untouched should they go?
Someone once observed that the person who won’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read. God has blessed us with the ability to read the Bible. God has blessed us with the freedom to read the Bible. He even promised to help us understand the Bible. The only thing we have to provide is the willingness to do it.
And why wouldn’t we be willing, since the Bible is a truly remarkable treasure.