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Indiana Jones and the Lost Scrolls

Indiana Jones and the Lost Scrolls

It all began with a goat and a stone.

It was early 1947 (or possibly late 1946) when a Bedouin shepherd boy named Muhammed the Wolf went out searching for his lost goat among the limestone hills in Qumran, not far from the Dead Sea in what is Israel today. As he hunted among the cliffs, the boy stopped to hurl a rock into the open mouth of a cave.

He heard the crack of breaking pottery. That’s strange, he thought. The shepherd boy was too afraid to lower himself into the cave, so he returned later with a couple of relatives, hoping to discover treasure. Instead, when they entered the cave, they found clay jars with lids that looked like bowls. Lifting one of the lids, they were hit by a foul odor.

The Bedouins didn’t know that they had just stumbled across what would become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls—perhaps the greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. The discovery of the Lost Scrolls was like something out of an Indiana Jones movie—only greater because this story was true.

The Beduoins initially discovered seven scrolls, and they sold four of them to an antiquities dealer named Kando, who bought them for very little money. (I read one account that said they were purchased for $14, but the figure varies.) Today, the scrolls are priceless.

Eventually, over 900 scrolls would be found in 12 caves in the network of hills in Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls include the oldest copies of the Old Testament in the world, with some dating back to 225 years before Jesus walked this land.

My wife and I traveled to Qumran, where the scrolls were discovered, and we gazed across at the most famous of the 12 caves—Cave 4, which you can see in the photo. More scrolls were found in this cave than any other. From where we stood, we could actually peer straight into Cave 4 and out the other side of the hill; it looked as if a giant’s needle could be threaded through the hole.

Every book of the Old Testament was found among the scrolls, except for the Book of Esther. The Dead Sea Scrolls includes 39 copies of Psalms, 33 copies of Deuteronomy, and 24 copies of Genesis. One of the greatest finds was the famous Isaiah scroll, which is 24 feet long when you stretch it out from end to end. This scroll is over 2,000 years old!

But not all of the scrolls were writings from the Bible. There were hundreds of other writings, such as the Temple Scroll, which describes the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Another scroll is called the Copper Scroll for the obvious reason that it was made out of copper, not animal skin. What also makes the Copper Scroll unique is that some people believe it contains clues to a hidden treasure.

The real treasure, however, is the Bible itself, which continues to speak to us thousands of years later. Often, we don’t appreciate just how valuable it is to have the Bible, the Word of God, sitting on our bookshelves. We’re like those shepherds, who found the Dead Sea Scrolls, not realizing the true value of the documents in their hands.

The Bible is one way that God seeks us and searches for us—something He’s been doing since the Garden of Eden. In the garden, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord after they sinned, the first game of hide and seek in world history.

“Where are you?” God said to Adam and Eve.

The idea that Adam and Eve thought they could hide from God seems ludicrous. After all, how in the world do you hide from an all-knowing God? But we do the same thing in our lives. We all have ways of hiding from God, ignoring His presence in our lives. And yet He continues to call out, “Where are you?”

So ask yourself: Are you hiding from God in any way? Are you actively running away from His will?

We can hide from God all we want, but it’s as useless as Adam and Eve trying to hide in the Garden. God is searching for us, and He’ll keep on searching, just as the shepherd never gives up hunting for his lost sheep.

It took 2,000 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the darkness of a cave and brought into the light. We too lie in darkness, waiting to be found by God and brought out into the light. Even today, God continues to call out to us: “Where are you?”

Will you listen? Will you answer? Will you be found, like the coin being sought by the widow in Luke 15? Like the Prodigal Son, who returned to the embrace of his father? Or like the Dead Sea Scrolls, hidden in a cave and waiting to be found?

Where are you? The angels wait on pins and needles for your answer.

History by the Slice Family Activity

Read Luke 15. Then discuss these questions.

1.In what ways do you hide from God?

2. How is God seeking you? Can you think of times in your life when you knew God was trying to reach you?

3. How has God spoken to you through the Bible?

4. Why did the shepherd leave the 99 sheep to seek the one lost sheep? What does this tell us about God? And what does the parable of the lost coin tell us about God?

5. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the son asked for the inheritance before his father died. Normally, a father in that culture would’ve punished the younger son for asking such a thing. Why do you think that is so? And why do you think the father gave him the inheritance anyway?

6. Why was the older son so angry about the great feast being thrown by his father? How would you have responded if you were the older son?

7. What does this story tell us about God?

By: Doug Peterson has written 72 books, including 42 books for VeggieTales and five historical novels. His latest novel is The Tubman Train, the story of Harriet Tubman. For more information, visit him at

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