In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy and a wayward goat made an amazing discovery in a nearly inaccessible cave in Qumran, Israel, forever confirming the accuracy of the Bible. When the goat wandered into the dark cave, the shepherd boy was curious and ventured inside to explore. He threw a stone into the cave and unexpectedly heard something crack. He returned later with friends to search the cavern, which eventually resulted in the discovery of a fantastic collection of ancient biblical scrolls in clay jars.
From 1947 to 1956, hundreds of manuscripts and tens of thousands of fragments were unearthed in other caves. This priceless treasure hoard came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, what makes these scrolls so important? Let’s consider three ways the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls affects us.
They Make Us Confident
Skeptics have questioned the reliability of the Bible. They claim that since the text has been copied and recopied over the centuries, it’s impossible to know with certainty what the biblical authors originally wrote or meant.
In regard to the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls refute that opinion. Scholars have made careful comparisons between the standard Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament called the Masoretic Text, which dates from about the 7th and 10th centuries AD, and the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, dated around the 4th century BC. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about 1,000 years older than the Masoretic and Septuagint.
Critics were shocked. The scrolls contained no direct challenges to the principal doctrines of Scripture. Only insignificant differences in spelling and grammar were found. The biblical portion of the Qumran literature, with the exception of the book of Esther, which is still yet to be found, confirms the wording and meaning of our modern-day Old Testament: “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus noted that these Scriptures “are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
They Make Us Excited
Among the biblical materials are some non-biblical documents. Some describe the lifestyle and beliefs of the community that lived in the Qumran area. They were not Christian, but the manuscripts do provide some insight into the early Judeo-Christian culture of the 1st century AD. Though Jesus is never mentioned, many scrolls touch on prophetic themes dealing with a coming Messiah, Messianic miracles, and the gloomy end of days.
The Dead Sea Scrolls give us reason to rejoice because the discovery confirms what Bible believers have always known: Today’s Bible is a proven text.
In regard to the biblical scrolls either whole or in tiny fragments, they are the same Bible books frequently quoted in the New Testament, including Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and the Psalms. This fact is exciting in light of Jesus’ own words involving the inspired Hebrew Scriptures: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).
They Make Us Joyful
The Dead Sea Scrolls give us reason to rejoice because the discovery confirms what Bible believers have always known: Today’s Bible is a proven text. Regardless of the assaults against it, the Word of God stands forever. “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31). And we know “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
As the evangelist Billy Graham once said: “The Word does not change. The Dead Sea scrolls, archaeology, modern science—they do not change the Bible; they confirm it.” We have no reason to be doubtful concerning Scripture; rather, we can be confident, excited, and joyful. God’s Word stands firm and sure forever. Amen!