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This now, is my 7th trip to Israel. Having come out of COVID-19 lockdowns (at least for now), allowed Back to the Bible Canada to host another Israel Experience. The size of the group was smaller than in past trips, due to many still not sure about the complexity of travel and the occasional security concern. But because I and the leadership of Back to the Bible Canada have been in Israel during such periods, we have come to know that the concern regarding security for tourists is overblown. A trip to Israel is safer than a trip to most major North American cities – although it takes longer to get to Israel!

My thoughts around this present trip are taken up with the archeological finds in Israel that substantiate the history of the Bible. But they are also taken up in the gratefulness that all Christians must have toward the state of Israel. Israel’s commitment to archeological discovery is surely impressive. The emergence of the modern state of Israel, and the advancement of biblical studies cannot now be untied.

Consider the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were found in 1947, the year prior to the formation of the state of Israel. Bedouin boys discovered 10 jars in a cave (now known as cave 1. They were not then aware that 10 more caves containing scrolls were still to be found.) The boys found 10 jars. Only one contained 7 wrapped scrolls. Eventually, these scrolls were sold for a very modest sum to a dealer of Antiquities in Bethlehem. The dealer’s name was Kondo.

Then the story gets interesting. A Jewish scholar from Hebrew University in Jerusalem was contacted. Professor Sukenik was the director of Jewish Antiquities. He decided to make the short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Being Jewish, Sukenik was acting illegally, as Jews were not permitted into Bethlehem in 1947. But he decided to take a risk. Further adding to the complications were the anti-Jewish sentiments that were emerging.

Sukenik had no idea as to what he would find. The first scroll that was presented to him by Kondo, is what is now the very famous Isaiah scroll. Until that moment, the earliest document of Isaiah we possessed was around A.D. 800. It was later to be revealed that the scroll that Sukenik purchased from Kondo is dated around 200 B.C. This was to become the find of the century. But at that time, when first investigating the scroll, Sukenik did not yet know what he was looking at. But he was immediately aware that he had something very ancient. The script, or the shape of the Hebrew letters on the scroll were of a shape that had existed over 2,000 years ago. Realizing he had something very precious, Sukenik immediately purchased 3 scrolls. One of them was the book of Isaiah.

With the precious scrolls under his arm, Sukenik drove out of Bethlehem, and arrived back to Jerusalem on November 29, 1947. That date is incredibly significant, for on that very day, the United Nations voted to approve the Jewish State of Israel. What is equally significant, is that many of the enemies of the Jewish State were saying that the biblical claims of the Jews having occupied the promised land, was based on a series of unproved myths. But the proof was under Professor Sukenik’s arm. The coinciding of the purchase of the Isaiah scroll, and the vote in the UN, is no coincidence at all.

Since the Jews have been restored to their homeland, many more finds continue to thrill those of us who are paying attention. When I first visited Israel, I had a guide who told me that the New Testament statement that Jesus taught in the Synagogues was false. It was believed that Synagogues only came into being after the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. But in 2004, in the ruins of Magdala (Mary Magdalene was from Magdala), archeologists discovered an ancient Synagogue that predated Jesus. (I could go on and on.)

The State of Israel came into being at a time when liberal theologians were discounting most of the historical claims of the Bible. But due to many discoveries in Israel, the historicity of the Bible is no longer in question. These things happened. The evidence is overwhelming!

It has now become apparent that the only ones left who doubt many of the historical claims of the life of Jesus (as well as other biblical events) are now proven. They only ones that now doubt them, are those who are unaware of the evidence.

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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