Many continue to ask: Where’s the beef?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2019

It was a famous TV commercial: A woman staring at her hamburger shouting, “Where’s the beef!”

Many think the same of Scripture, dismissing it as tall tales. “Where’s the beef!” They want substance. Proof.

Last month, Biblical Archeology Society wrote of a tiny artifact only a half-inch in diameter. Some 2,700 years old, it was found in Jerusalem just outside the former royal bakery.

This dime-sized piece of clay was once soft when placed on a string wrapped around a parcel. The sender then pressed his signature into the clay, which hardened into place sealing the bundle. 

This signature-seal artifact is important. It’s divided into three lateral sections and the top shows a grazing doe, a sign of blessing. That’s perhaps a trademark like McDonald’s golden arches, quickly identifying the sender.

The midsection contains one Hebrew word: Isaiah.

The bottom section has the first three Hebrew letters for “prophet.” But the clay is broken here, so we can’t see the whole word. Even so, the discovery decidedly points to the prophet Isaiah who lived 2,700 years ago in Southern Israel where Jerusalem is located.

Moreover, the nature of the seal indicates a person of importance to the royal court. Again, Isaiah. He advised four kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. (Isaiah 1:1)

This may be the first physical evidence of one of the greatest prophets to ever live.

You’ll remember Isaiah’s most famous words: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.”   (Isaiah 7:14; 9:2; 53:7)

In fact, Isaiah’s prophecies are quoted more times by Jesus and the apostles than any other prophet.

The article goes on to say that Isaiah’s clay signature was found near another, King Hezekiah’s. It seems in death, as in life, the two were close; young Hezekiah’s reign in Judah (Southern Israel) began at age 25, and he relied heavily on the old prophet. 

At that time, Assyria was the dominant world power and had captured evil Northern Israel. But Isaiah leads Hezekiah to make moral and social changes in Judah, and the Lord is pleased; when the Assyrians lay siege to Jerusalem, God intervenes. It’s a famous story—during the night, an angel kills 185,000 enemy troops, and Assyrian King Sennacherib withdraws immediately. (2 Kings 19:32-36)

Archeology supports this Biblical story as well. The Assyrians listed all the countries Sennacherib conquered on another discovered artifact, but it indicates that Jerusalem was only sieged, never conquered.

One fine moment in the book of Isaiah isn’t in his prophecies. It’s how Isaiah meets God. The Lord is on His throne with mighty six-winged seraphim above Him. They call to one another saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts…”

Upon seeing God, Isaiah knows he’s unworthy. But one of the seraphim flies toward him with a burning coal taken from the altar. The seraphim touches Isaiah’s mouth with it saying, “Behold…your guilt is taken away…”

Isaiah then hears the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Scripture tells us great men have turned away in such moments. Think Jonah and the whale. Think Moses and the Burning Bush. Huh-uh. Not me!

What does Isaiah do?

He’s enthusiastic. “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:1-8)

Many people hold dear the moments they’ve encountered God. They’ll tell you their stories with thankfulness and awe. God is powerful and majestic!

Yet when God asks that same question, “Who will go?” they step back. Too much to do.

My pastor said Sunday that the most awful thing he hears is when an older Christian says, “I’ve done my part.”

The Bible is a book of comfort, but it’s also a call to action. Our Lord still needs servants. Every day He asks, “Who will go?”

Listen, we’re the beef.

The world sees Christ in us—how we live, how we speak, how we serve. Or it doesn’t.

Great discoveries like this ancient seal mean little and Scripture might as well be a tall tale if we don’t stand for Jesus.

Be thrilled to serve our Lord. Like Isaiah, say “Here I am! Send me.”

Copyright © 2019 R.A. Mathews   The Rev. Mathews is an attorney, faith columnist, and the author of “Reaching to God.” You can reach her at