Four Hundred Years of Silence
Did you know that the first Christmas broke four hundred years of silence? Between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, four hundred years passed with no direct communication from God to His people.
They were accustomed to hearing God speak. He was a God of words. He spoke everything into existence. He said, “Let there be light” and there was light. He spoke through the prophets and kings, angels, and ordinary people, from a burning bush to a still, small voice. He actively communicated—until this long pause.
What did a young Jewish boy or girl, born in the second or third century of silence think? All of the stories— the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah in the whale, the battle of Jericho, the shepherd boy who became King David—must have seemed like mythology or fairy tales.
Where was God for 400 years?
He was working behind the scenes to prepare the world and His people for the birth of His Son. Three important world events developed during that era:
• A common language emerged when Alexander the Great enforced a common language, Koine Greek. The New Testament was primarily written and/or translated into Greek.
• PAX Romana: from 27 BC until 180 AD the Roman Empire enjoyed a long period of relative peace.
• A worldwide system of roads and transportation built by the Romansallowed efficient travel for military, trade, and the populace—including missionaries like Paul, Barnabas, Luke, and others.
Individual hearts were also being prepared as the world prepared to receive the Savior.
Then, the wait was over.
The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she will be the mother of the Messiah!
The birth of God’s Son was a glorious event for the world and all of creation. The angels celebrated, and history turned on that holy night.
No longer would God be silent.
Now the world can sing:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come Let earth receive her King Let every heart prepare Him room And Heaven and nature sing.
“Joy to the World”—F. Handel / Isaac Watts