Revised & Expanded – The Copper Scroll: Temple Treasures
In 1952 one of the greatest discoveries of an ancient script, written on copper, was found near Qumran. It took several years to open or unroll the scroll in order for the deciphering of the text to begin. Because it was a very fragile document — nearly two thousand years old – there was great fear that it would be destroyed before it could be translated. The disagreements of the assigned scholars and the intrigue of such a valuable possession led to years of delay. There are still differences of opinions, but a fairly solid consensus is that the treasures noted in this scroll are indeed from the Jewish temple and they do exist.
The entire world is watching every event and every idea that relates to Israel. Numerous Bible prophecies concerning this chosen nation are emerging, this Copper Scroll being one of them. The leaders of Gog and Magog as named in the Bible are each in place and bellowing out their plans. Thirty years ago Persia (Iran) was our ally, but Bible prophecy scheduled that historic part of the world for a different course. For Biblical truths to be fulfilled, people of many stripes are used — often or actually in most cases — without one semblance of understanding about their role. Persia/Iran has been completely transfigured until they are ready to be the point nation leading the war to their own holocaust. Gog and Magog may well occur in 2010.
Nothing relating to Israel is more exciting than their talk of the coming Messiah. Their speaking about the Jewish Messiah cannot be separated from talk about their temple in Jerusalem. Yet, that temple site is already occupied by an opposing strategic religious center. Well over one billion adherents to that religion would fight to the death to stop a Jewish temple. This issue between the Islamic religion and Israel’s preparation to build their temple is one of the world’s hottest subjects. Only the Sovereign God can possibly solve this problem and He will.
The Copper Scroll treasures contain almost enough gold and wealth to rebuild the temple. A Catholic priest, Josef Milik, was assigned as the research scholar responsible for writing the official findings. He said that the gold and silver represented over 200 ton or 400,000 pounds. The entire treasure was estimated to be valued at two to three billion dollars some years ago. That has more than doubled at today’s value. Of course, these estimates are considered too small by some scholars and too large by others. There is some speculation that the final Copper Scroll’s trove of treasures will identify the location of the “Ark of the Covenant.”
Hershel Shanks, the editor of the Biblical Archaeological Review, tells about a meeting of scholars and experts in which the majority agreed that the treasure is real and that it all came from the Jerusalem Temple. (The Copper Scroll, Hershel Shanks, p. 51.) It is believed that before the Romans finally took and destroyed the temple in AD 70 that this wealth of gold and treasures was hid from them. Whether or not the “Ark of the Covenant” is part of this trove of temple treasures does not mean the ark has not been preserved.
The Copper Scroll treasures were almost assuredly from the Second Temple, but the Ark of the Covenant was not ever discovered after the First Temple. It seems certain that faithful priests had hidden the ark when Nebuchadnezzar was camping beyond Jerusalem’s Walls in preparation to destroy the city. This was 586 BC. From research, it is evident that Nebuchadnezzar sought diligently to save the Temple of Solomon, probably for Daniel’s and Jeremiah’s sake. Nebuchadnezzar’s general was instructed to take Jeremiah from among the captives and protect him. He was allowed to either stay in Israel and return to his own estate or go to Babylon to be cared for by his own people.
The Copper Scroll reveals the hidden place of sixty-four different troves or groups of treasures. Here are two of those locations, along with the list of items included: “In the basin that is in the valley of […], in the tomb of its source, a black stone 2 cubits (away); it is the entry: 300 talents of gold and 20 indemnity vessels.” (Ibid., Location 49, p. 100.) “In a cavity that is in the bright place north of Kohilt, opening to the north, and (where there are) graves at its entrance a duplicate of this document and an explication and their measurements and a detailed inventory of everything, one by one.” (Ibid., Location 64, pg 101.) In the location of the 62nd treasure, the amount of gold and silver is 600 talents (45,000 pounds).
When will this great abundance of treasuries be discovered? Actually, there is no need for this discovery until the Temple Mount is purified and vacant. I am convinced that most, if not all of these temple items, along with the wealth of gold and silver, is hid beneath the exact location of the ancient Temple of Solomon. If the Ark of the Covenant was directly beneath the Second Temple’s Holy of Holies, the priest could have offered the Blood sacrifice behind the veil and above the ark in Christ’s day. This would be the reason that the veil before the Holy of Holies was rent when the Son of God died at Calvary.
It seems fitting that the firestorms that will destroy the armies of Gog and Magog and obliterate the Islamic religion will also sweep the Temple Mount and purify it with fire. The promise of God’s defense of Israel includes prophecy stating, “Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 38:19b). Ezekiel further prophesied, “And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground” (Ezekiel 38:20b). I add this possibility, “All the treasures of God’s temple shall be revealed.” When the war of Gog and Magog is finished, it will be time for Israel to build their temple.
The Book of Revelation gives reference to two different temples, the Heavenly prototype and the Third Temple in Jerusalem. This last great book of the Bible is written primarily to the church, but it would be impossible to eliminate the presence of Israel or the city of Jerusalem. The 144,000 Jews, who are converted to Christ immediately after the Rapture (Revelation 7:1-8), clearly show that God never forgets His Son’s earthly family. The nation of Israel will continue in unbelief until the Seven Years of Tribulation is finished, but many Jewish individuals will come to faith as the countdown moves toward the Millennium.
Jerusalem’s rebuilt temple is the focal point in the very middle of the seven years of the Great Tribulation. In His Olivet discourse the Son of God called this temple the “Holy Place.” That settled the fact that God will honor this Third Temple, even though it is rebuilt by Jews that will still be waiting for their Messiah. The temple is part of God’s process in preparing for the total redemption of Israel. The fact that the Antichrist desecrates the temple, as Jesus plainly taught, shows that this will end the Jewish effort to complete the re-establishing of Old Testament worship.
Jesus said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand): Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-22).
The Book of Luke gives us an additional look at Jerusalem and this brief moment of what is happening at the middle of the seven years. “Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:21-24).
Since the Book of Revelation is about the entire universe and God’s complete redemption of all things, Jerusalem’s new temple only receives a simple explanation. John is given the task of measuring this grand place and showing the Antichrist’s purpose to defile this highlight of Jewish rebirth. He stated, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2).
It’s clear that the nation of Israel will still be under the thumb of her enemies among the Gentiles and will not be free until the Great Tribulation is finished. This period is called “The Times of the Gentiles.” Dispensations in the Bible are distinct periods. They never suggest that God is uninterested in the rest of the world, but that His actions are precise.
Revelation does not show us the Antichrist and his image in the temple actually desecrating this “Holy Place,” but Jesus Christ prophesied that it would happen. John the Revelator described this event without renaming this location. “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Revelation 13:14-15). The Third Temple must be rebuilt and it will be a grand place. If it were not, the Antichrist would not have any interest in defiling it in his blasphemy against God.
As the Seven Years of Redemptive Tribulation comes to its closing moments, the great prototype temple in Heaven comes into view. I do not believe that it is possible to understand the significance of what the redeemed are going to behold. Any one of the three temples – Solomon’s, Herod’s, or this Third Temple – were or will be the grandest structures this world has ever seen. The Temple of Solomon was the greatest but the beautification by Herod of the Second Temple was almost as grand. Hershel Shanks quoted Josephus, “The gold Herod used in the construction of the sanctuary on the Temple Mount equaled 8,000 talents (600,000 pounds or 300 tons.).” (The Copper Scroll, p. 47 from Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (Loeb edition) 14.105.) That’s 9,600,000,000 ounces at $1,000/ounce or nine billion, six hundred million in today’s gold value of $1,000/ounce. And that is just the gold and not the glory.
But, the things that we know on earth that are beyond description — as these earthly temples represent — will pale when that grand worship center of Heaven comes into view. The glory of this temple that could contain the combined sovereignty of the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit must become visible to the saints as the Great Tribulation ends. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19).
The sacred treasures of the past Jewish temples — Solomon’s and Herod’s — had to be removed from human hands and human imaginations. I believe God ordained that these treasures be hid from piercing eyes until His timing to establish His Son on the Throne of David. Jerusalem is the only city that could contain this divinely planned and blessed “Holy Place.” I’m delighted that Jesus Christ gave this last temple in Jerusalem a sacred title. For mortal flesh to call a city or a man-made temple a “Holy Place” could be questioned, but for the God-Man to call it such is breathtaking. I believe the treasures of the “Copper Scroll” and the original Ark of the Covenant are a part of God’s plan for His city of Jerusalem and His Golden Temple, where His Son will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Joseph R. Chambers