Do not be fooled by silence
In your email-based work, you may, very, very occasionally look at the bottom right hand corner of your screen (depending on your systems) and see the three words ‘no new messages’. This can be a relief, since it can release you to deal with older messages or other work. If, however, this state of affairs continues, it can become concerning. Worse still, if you are expecting a message and it doesn’t arrive, a little anxiety can kick in. Worst of all, if you are longing for a message from a loved one, the ‘no new messages’ flag can leave you with a painful feeling.
In order to visit our ‘in between’ time, you now need to magnify this concept in width and in length. I am referring to one of the most significant ‘in between’ times in what theologians call ‘heilsgeschichte’ or ‘salvation history’. Here are two sets of words:
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way’ a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”
These messages span a gap estimated to be around 400 years, for they fall between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New. For those 400 years, the prophetic voice has been silent. There have been no new messages from when Malachi spoke until John the Baptist called out in the Judean desert. This was the classic ‘in between’ time, and remains so for Jewish people waiting for their Messiah. For Christians, it is now called the Intertestamental Period and in your bible it is probably represented by a blank page.
Although this was an ‘in between’ time, it was anything but a blank page. Seen from the point of view of prophetic messages from God, it is a silent time, and for many, this would have been eerie and concerning. They would have felt abandoned, neglected or overlooked. They could have felt forgotten, devalued and demeaned. They might have felt lost, adrift and cut lose. No doubt, many felt all or some of these on a personal, and in the case of the Jewish state, national scale.
We need to take some time to understand this ‘in between’ period because there are profound lessons to learn. Before we go into detail, here are few starters for your feast:
Firstly, the silence will call you to think bigger, longer, broader and wider. As you will grasp over the next few weeks, big things were taking place in the silence – far bigger than any realised at the time.
Secondly, silence does not mean inactivity. God was at work in an almost accelerated way on a grand scale during this time.
Thirdly, silent does not mean stationery. Change was taking place at all levels, creating a new order and a new future.
Fourthly, the ‘in between’ time will end with a birth – as you have seen before, this is a common feature. ‘In between’ times seem to be times of pregnancy and this one is no exception. If you have any sense of feeling abandoned, forgotten, lost or adrift, the learning which will come from this era will help you on a personal level, but I also invite you to think bigger than yourself and longer than your life. In the meantime, hold on – there are some main courses to follow.
5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
”I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”
3“a voice of one calling in the desert,
’Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’
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