As we join others in our Easter celebration, chaos surrounds us.
In the last month the World Health Organization named the Coronavirus a pandemic that will likely spread to every country around the globe.
Yet we have hope. Let Easter remind us that Jesus’ resurrection is our victory over death.
I left Israel on the same day the country mandated that all visitors be quarantined for two weeks. Even during our 10-day visit, some sites were beginning to close. The airports seemed eerily empty.
Back in the United States, toilet paper became a prized commodity. I used to exclusively buy toilet paper online. Now I can’t find it on a single site.
We have reason to fear. Yet we also have reason for peace: Jesus conquered death.
Now a biblical crisis?
About the same time, news reports came out that all the Dead Sea Scrolls displayed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. are forgeries. You may have even missed this piece of news because of the Corona headlines.
However, the forgeries beg the question: are all the Dead Sea Scrolls fake?
No, not at all.
Most U.S. newspapers just report about the fake scrolls. They leave out the fact that no one questions the oldest scrolls, which are still in Israel.
We visited Qumran, the archaeological site in the West Bank, and saw the cave where a young shepherd boy found the original scrolls around 1947. Then we went to the Israel Museum, where the originals are kept.
So what’s different about the scrolls in Israel? How can we know they are authentic?
By their origin, according to Haaretz, the longest running Israeli newspaper.
The Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel can be traced back to a Bedouin shepherd boy in the late 1940s. In contrast, the fragments from the Museum of the Bible can only be traced back to collectors in 2002.
Why are the Dead Sea Scrolls important?
1. They are more ancient than any other manuscript including the Old Testament.
2. The content shows the Bible (Old Testament) has not been corrupted for 2,000 years.
During my trip, I saw many archaeological proofs (and more are being discovered every day) that confirm the Bible.
We have faith. Yet we have facts too.
And maybe most importantly, we can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7.
How I Experienced God’s Peace and Provision
I know it’s possible because I’ve experienced it.
In the weeks leading up to our Israel trip, my anxiety grew. I didn’t know enough at the time to worry about the Coronavirus. I just worried about getting the regular flu, a stomach virus, or something more serious.
I worried about the overnight flight. I hate airplane bathrooms. I don’t like being confined to those small seats either.
Another tour group from our city — scheduled to leave the same day — canceled its Israel trip.
Our trip remained a go. So with a lot of disinfecting wipes and hesitation, I left for Israel March 1.
That’s when a funny thing happened.
I felt faith in the midst of the fear.
I didn’t really stop worrying completely — yet I had a peace. That can only be Jesus.
We ate in crowded buffets nearly every meal. I dislike buffets anyway but even more so during a pandemic.
I slept at night. This is significant because I usually don’t sleep well in hot and humid conditions when I’m feeling stressed. The hotel rooms didn’t have air conditioning. Yet if we opened our window, we got all the city noise and distractions.
I got to see my two boys baptized at Qasr Al Yahud — a site closed for years due to landmines. The Israeli National Parks Authority has reopened the site to the public, but you can still see the barbed wire fences and signs warning of landmines in certain areas.
As we celebrate Easter this year, I am reminded of Jesus’ victory over fear and death once more. And I’m even more thankful than usual.