During the days when Jesus walked the earth, a small Jewish settlement existed near the Dead Sea. There along its blistering shores its people laboriously copied the Old Testament onto parchment made of sheep skins. Then they hid them in the nearby caves at Qumran.
Today in Jerusalem you can visit the Shrine of the Book, a museum housing these Dead Sea Scrolls—documents that laid undisturbed for two millennia.
Prior to the scrolls’ discovery in 1947, critics claimed that the book of Isaiah had two authors, one who wrote the first thirty-nine chapters and one who finished the remaining twenty-seven. This claim stemmed from the fact that the two sections have different themes—the first of judgment, the second of comfort (Isaiah 40:1). The latter also includes fulfilled prophecies so accurate that critical scholars claimed the text must have been written after the fact.
The museum displays a facsimile of the entire Isaiah scroll behind a large circle of glass. A glance at the text reveals no break between chapters 39 and 40; in fact, chapter 40 begins at the bottom of a column—clearly showing the unity of Isaiah. The discovery of the scrolls reinforced our confidence in the integrity of the copies of Scripture that we possess today.
In the wilderness of Judea, the area where the scrolls were discovered, grass lives a very short time. Isaiah’s illustration fits so well with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. “Surely the people are grass. . . . / But the word of our God stands forever.”¹
- Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, Calif.: Regal, 2006). Used by permission.