“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1
BLOOD & INK: Over the next few weeks, my Wednesday evening men’s covenant group is talking about how the Bible evolved to the particular content/form/configuration we have today. We’re using a DVD virtual tour of the “INK & BLOOD: Sacred Treasures of the Bible” museum exhibit Rebekah and I studied when it came to Florida a few years ago.
The exhibit featured everything from the earliest examples of writing – etched into clay tiles – to scrolls, parchment, codex, illuminated manuscripts, and a reproduction of Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing press, circa 1440.
DEAD SEA SCROLLS: This week it was an image from the Dead Sea Scrolls that caught my attention. The scrolls, found in eleven separate caves at Qumran, are actually fragments, painstakingly reassembled like a vast and complex jigsaw puzzle.
The fragments are then juxtaposed with more recent manuscripts (from the Middle Ages and beyond), to verify the accuracy and the authenticity of later copies. If a certain verse or section of the book of Nehemiah – for example – dating from the Thirteenth Century AD, corresponds exactly with fragments of parchment originally penned in the Second Century BC, then we can have confidence that the balance of the 13th Century reproduction is also accurate.
EYE-WITNESS: In 2012 Rebekah and I stood in front of the scroll of Isaiah (one of the more complete finds) In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and she was able to read the same words Jesus read when he launched his ministry in his home synagogue.
“When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
“And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
It was a powerful moment, and I couldn’t help but think of it during my men’s meeting Wednesday evening.
FRAGMENTS: We are like fragments of parchment, and it is only when we hold ourselves up to The Word (Jesus) that we begin to see where we are incomplete, and where we also begin to see the possibility for healing and wholeness. Sometimes all we have “in hand” is the vaguest suggestion of assurance, or of certainly, or of victory; but the truth of what we do know – the experiential fragment that we understand with 100% conviction, the evidence of things not yet realized, the promise of eternity verified by the glimpse of an instant – gives us complete confidence in, and hope for, the balance of the story.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3