Years prior to God giving light to the world, He went dark in divine, radio silence.
Long before the writer of Hebrews penned the words, “He has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:2), the Israelites experienced God speaking through clouds, bushes, fire, prophets, patriarchs, kings, animals, and more. “Long ago,” he wrote, “at many times and in many ways, God spoke” (Heb. 1:1).
The gospel had been unfolding since God’s promise concerning Eve and the serpent in the garden some 4,000 years prior (Gen. 3:15). But rather than eager anticipating the promise fulfillment, the nation of Israel had grown spiritually cold. Their obedience had evolved to ritualistic chores and their affections had turned toward the world.
“Why are we wasting our time serving God?” (paraphrased, Mal. 3:14). In their religious attempts on life, they failed to give God their heart. Only a small remnant remained loyal to God (Mal. 3:16-18).
It was a dismal time in their history. The story of God’s redemption was grinding to a climatic halt. Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, captured the Lord’s shocking words:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”Malachi 4:5-6
Those were the final words of the final book of Scripture. God went surprisingly dark afterward — divine radio silence. It was a frightening cliffhanger for the Israelites. At the same time, it was full of truth and love. God was not abandoning them for their disloyalty. Rather, He was giving them another opportunity to deal with their hard hearts. His forerunner, He says, would go ahead of Him and give them the heads up, “Repent, for the kingdom of the Lord is at hand!” If not, they would meet the Lord in destruction.
And swiftly, God hushed … for 400 years. The wait was tough. Israel had grown accustomed to God’s interaction. But He had not miraculously intervened in 800 years. No angels had appeared in 500 years. And now, no prophet had spoken for 400 years. It was all crickets for the Jews.
Of course, this was God’s prerogative and plan. He was about speak to the Israelites, and the entire world, in one big voice, one big message, one big Word (Jn. 1:1, 14).
In His mercy, God warns us, like He did them, to make ready ourselves to receive His Word made flesh. Soon, we celebrate the coming of His Living Word — the first Christmas, the day God broke His silence.
We would do well to prepare our hearts affectionately for the Word of God. Are you ready to receive God’s Word this Christmas?
Download or purchase God Breaks His Silence, a study guide for Christmas.