What would it be like for God to be silent for 400 years? That thought has always nagged at me. I mean, think about it. God had consistently spoken with the people of Israel for their full history through his prophets, and then after Malachi, boom. Silence. 400 years. It’s just such a long time.
My wife Kylie and I have pondered that question this year, as we’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically (PDF). Yesterday we read the book of Malachi, and with the end of September came the end of the Old Testament. After spending 3/4 of the year reading the OT this way, you begin to gain a massive sense of perspective. Not only in respect to Israel’s story, but perspective in the sense that we as Christians spend 99% of our time in the New Testament. When we venture into the OT, it’s either into Genesis 1 to get angry at each other about the origin of the world or into Proverbs to find a tweetable verse. There’s a few other stories that we sprinkle into childrens’ Bibles, but I think it’s fair to say that until I really spent intimate time walking through the entire story step by step, I didn’t really comprehend what the OT was about.
And so here we found ourselves a few weeks ago, fast nearing the end of our journey in the Hebrew Bible. It was so fascinating, so alive, and yet so unfulfilling. Like a good mystery novel, God kept dropping foreshadows and cliffhangers like a boss. What is he getting at? What on earth is Daniel talking about with these seventy weeks? Why is Branch always capitalized? Why are all of my thoughts in italics? We spent some time talking about the 400 years of silence that occurred after Malachi and before John the Baptist, and we lamented the fact that our reading plan didn’t really let us see that. Suddenly an intriguing idea popped into my head: what if we tried to experience that somehow? What if we took a week off of our reading plan to feel what it’s like to not immediately satisfy all of our questions?
So that’s what we’re doing this week: trying to experience the silence of God. When I woke up this morning, it felt admittedly odd. I wanted to read the next installment in our reading plan. I wanted to hear from God. What happens next? And yet all I heard was silence. I desperately worked back through what we had already read. I worked through Daniel a little bit, but it only heightened the poignancy of my questions. Is there any hope? Malachi said God was going to send a messenger! Where is he?
Ours is a week. Theirs was 400 years. Can you imagine?