On Seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls and Pondering My Own Household God
Our family had the remarkable experience of seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls in person today. The scrolls are visiting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Always eager to bolster our faith and that of our kids’, we booked tickets and took a once-in-a-lifetime field trip. You can read more about the scrolls here.
As the linked article states, “The biblical scrolls both affirm and enhance the Hebrew Bible used by scholars…the oldest Bible scroll found at Qumran (4QExod-Levf) is dated from about 250 b.c., and the latest ones to a.d. 68. This puts scholars much closer to the time of the texts' origins. Two of the most prominent and best-preserved Bible scrolls are the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa, about 125 b.c.) and the Great Psalms Scroll (11QPsa, a.d. 30-50).”
In other words, we have very good and extensive copies of portions of the Old Testament that date back to the time before Christ. We have every reason to believe that the Bibles we hold today have not changed or varied greatly from their original manuscripts written thousands of years ago. This and other archaeological finds confirm what we believe to be true about the authenticity of the scriptures we study today, 2,000 years later.
In addition to the scrolls, the exhibit presented a number of other interesting objects. There was a large block from the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was thought provoking to touch a stone that was a part of the temple that Jesus visited. We perused shekels, water jugs, clay pots, foot baths, and more.
Israel’s Household Gods, My Household God
Several displays were committed to the household gods and goddesses unearthed in the homes of the Israelites in Canaan. The little stone bodies (about the size of a Barbie) honestly looked silly. We chuckled as we viewed them and wondered how anyone could put their hope in a little doll. No wonder the Lord God was often angered and forced to rebuke the Israelites for turning away from him to other gods.
We’d be mad too, we said, if we were all-powerful and we saw our own children putting their hope in a little trinket like that.
Then I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone to see if I had gotten any emails or texts since entering the exhibit.
It was not lost on me in that moment that my iPhone is, in some ways, my household god.
It’s a little handheld trinket that functions as the object of my hope. No, I do not believe that it actually wields power. But I sure do check it a lot. It informs me of my other gods: my time, my money, my personal advancement, my indispensability to others, my image in the form of photos and social media curation.
My cell phone is something I keep near. It’s something I stare at and rely on everyday throughout the day. I look to it for hope and inspiration, security and confidence. I rely on it to carry my image and work to others and to tell me what to do next. I use it to convey my fears and anxieties to my friends. I use it to build myself up.
I’m not unlike the Israelites. Turning to a household god rather than to Almighty God himself. He is my creator and redeemer and the Lord of the universe. And I often seek comfort in my iPhone instead of him. Lord, help me.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!