The Time Between the Testaments – Silence is not stillness
Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets effectively closing the Old Testament with prophecies about John the Baptist (My messenger will go before Me… 3:1) and Jesus, the Messiah (the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings… 4:2).
After Malachi, God ceased using the human channel of prophets to speak regularly to His people, leading, rebuking, or giving guidance.
The silence lasted four hundred years.
But silence isn’t the same as stillness. God was not absent or dormant, He didn’t abandon the earth for a time. He was moving.
Through the prophets, He had told His people what to expect in the future and in exacting detail, these things were coming to pass. They may have been hard to see at the time, but in hindsight we see the prophecies fulfilled to the letter and can only stand in awe at the power of our sovereign God.
If you look at the prophecies of Daniel with King Nebuchadnezzar
(Babylon) and King Darius (Persia) and match these promises with world history it is uncanny how accurate Daniel was concerning the 400-year history between Malachi and the birth of Christ.
Some of the events that happened during those years couldn't have coincidentally taken place, the hand of God was truly, even then, weaving a tapestry of preparation for the Messiah.
Take Alexandria, Egypt for example. Alexander the Great, who founded the city, leader of the Grecian (Macedonian) Empire, was a world-conquerer who in a few short years expanded his kingdom in every direction including northern Africa.
Alexandria became a center of knowledge with a great library and, eventually, had a large population of Jews that had relocated from Jerusalem, frustrated with the local governance. This synergy of Grecian emphasis on knowledge and learning combined with the large Jewish population culminated in the translation of the Old Testament into Greek when scholars were invited from Jerusalem to conduct the translation.
This is the translation (the Septuagint) that then spread throughout the Greek-speaking world, the version of the scriptures that is quoted in the New Testament and was the Bible for the early church.
God made sure there was a version of His word available at the time of Christ in a language people could understand. And this is just one of many things that happened while God was "silent".
"And when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." Galatians 4:4
When everything that needed to be in place was in place. When the prophecies of His first coming were fulfilled, Christ was born. His very birth, confirming prophecies of where (Bethlehem, Micah 5:2), and how (a virgin shall conceive… Isaiah 7:14), and He will be God Incarnate (his name shall be called Immanuel…Isaiah 7:14)
Interestingly, Both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament writers spoke of Christ's second coming. Jesus, Himself promised repeatedly that He would be coming back, and the other writers of the New Testament encouraged the believers with both signs of His coming and what to expect in His glorious kingdom.
"When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:3
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:11
But notice, in like manner that there were 400 years of silence after the Old Testament books were complete. There have been 2,000 years of similar 'silence' since the New Testament was completed.
God hasn't used a prophetic human mouthpiece in the same way as He did in the Old Testament, or an Apostle with a first-person account of being with Jesus as he did with the 12 Disciples. In these ways, He has gone silent.
But silence is not the same as stillness. God is alive, He is Lord, and He is moving in the world. Just as He was at work in the nations during the 400 "silent" years leading to Jesus' birth, He is even now weaving a tapestry through time that is leading to Jesus' second coming.
'But 2000 years? Why is He taking so long?' Only God knows. But I'm glad he waited for you. And we are probably both praying for others to know His love and repent. See, God wants everyone to know Him, His longsuffering with us won't go on forever, but only He knows when the time will be right for Christ's return.
No man knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return, but we don't need to, we have the more sure word of prophecy showing us that what God says will happen, will happen indeed.
"… we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place–until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts." 2 Peter 1:19