400 Years of Silence
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Between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament is a period of time known as the intertestamental period or the 400 Years of Silence.
After the prophecies in Malachi, there was no prophetic interaction between God and His children until it was time for Jesus to arrive. There’s no Scripture talking about this period of time, and yet it’s an important gap historically so let’s look at it.
The world became “smaller” during this time. Roads were built throughout Rome’s empire, the language of the Greeks spread and became understood all over. The Roman Empire rose to power toward the end which made everything more peaceful.
The Israelites are no longer in exile and have returned home. Their homeland, however, goes through many tumultuous times. The temple is destroyed and rebuilt several times over, if not in whole at least in part.
The Pharisees and Sadducees “rise to power” and the image of the coming Messiah is polluted. The idea of a Messiah has come to be synonymous with political and military force. Legalism has so penetrated worship that the idea of grace is unimaginable.
Why the Silence Matters
Even God’s silence was setting the stage.
In this time an infrastructure was being set in place that allowed travel that could not have happened prior to this. The rights of Roman citizenship allowed Paul to travel freely from place to place. The heart of worship was thirsty for grace.
God was upsetting the norm of the day because His Son was not the Messiah they had ordered up. His silence made the rest of the world ready to listen when John the Baptist began to shout.