The Silence of Heaven

From the close of Malachi (circa 430 BCE) to the coming of John the Baptiser there was a period when heaven was silent to the people of Israel.  No prophet arose, no utterance from God blessed his people. Malachi declares:  “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 (Mal 4:5-6).”

In this period of prophetic silence, the Medo-Persian Empire was eclipsed by Greece, and the Hellenistic successors of Alexander occupied the Land of Promise.  Much of the action of this Inter-Testamental period is recorded in secular history, or in the Apocryphal literature, but no true Prophet arises, until “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

It may well be the reason “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River (Mark 1:5 NIV).”  They were starved of the Word of God.  Yes, they had a priestly class dominated by the Sadducees  who “say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits (Acts 23:8).” And there was a rising class of rabbis, led by the Pharisees who disputed not only with the Sadducees, but among themselves particularly the schools of  Hillel and Shammai. But direct guidance from God was lacking.

The coming of John, and his preparing a way for Jesus and God’s Spirit, opened a new dispensation in which “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams (Acts 2:17/Joel 2:28 ).” 

Despite this we face a world in which there is a new type of “silence:”  one of ignorance and neglect of God’s Word.  How similar it is to time of King Josiah when  “Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.”  Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.  When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us (2 Kings 22:8-13).” Josiah’s father and grandfather were especially noted by the scriptures as ungodly, and Josiah while a man who strove to “do right” in God’s eyes, was doing so blindly without the Word of God.  No wonder he despaired!

But we have a printed Bible, we live in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit’s presence as our guide and comforter.  Its time for us to “MAKE SOME NOISE!”



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