My women’s ministries friends, aka the “WMs” – who’ve attended hundreds of Bible studies and served even more community meals– will love learning about Qumran! We were privileged to visit this archeological discovery on our second tour day in Israel.
Located near the Dead Sea, Qumran’s fame comes from a break-away sect, known as the Essenes, who lived and studied there. In the surrounding caves, they left a magnificent legacy that we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls.
From the Qumran National Park publication: “The Essenes paid great attention to ritual bathing and purity. They lived a communal life in a settlement that was constructed to make them as self-reliant as possible. They had assembly halls, a central dining room in which ceremonial meals were eaten, a kitchen, ritual baths, a laundry room, a watch tower, a stable and a pottery workshop. Of special interest is the Scriptorium – the writing room – with its desks and ink stands, where the Essene scribes probably wrote most of the scrolls found in the adjoining caves.”
I loved learning that archeologists unearthed a dining and meeting hall and, in a nearby pantry, hundreds of pottery tableware pieces “neatly arranged in piles”. Give it up for a well-organized church kitchen that survived centuries and an earthquake!
Seriously, not too far removed in time or distance (by today’s standards) the early Christians were gathering around “the good book” and the table. “Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely.” (Acts 2:46, CEV)
I wonder about the first follower of Christ who purposely came to the table “unwashed”. Who was the brave one who did not lather his hands, just so he could set up a dialogue that he’d first overheard from the lips of Jesus?
When Jesus finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him home for a meal. Jesus went and sat down to eat. The Pharisee was surprised that he did not wash his hands before eating. So, the Lord said to him: You Pharisees clean the outside of cups and dishes, but on the inside, you are greedy and evil. (Luke 11:38-39)
Currently, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re constantly reminded, “Wash your hands!” That’s not only beneficial but necessary! Of even greater importance, though, is the need to cleanse our hearts. Scripture tells us:
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands,
you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double–minded. (James 4:8)
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. (Psalm 24:3-4)
So, let’s continue washing our hands and, at the same time, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to scrub our hearts and minds with the “soap” of God’s Word! (See Ephesians 5:26)
Stay safe, keep clean and be healthy!