This week and next week, inspired by Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020, we will think about Jesus’ first and second coming.
"For a long time I have kept silent.”—Isa 42:14
In the history of the Israelites, where was God for four hundred years, a very long time? The first Christmas broke four hundred years of silence.
Between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first book of the New Testament, Matthew four hundred years passed with no direct communication from God to His people.
The Israelites 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 for 400 years.
What did a young Jewish boy or girl, born in the first, second or third century of silence, think? All of the stories— the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah in the big fish, 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 (Peace of Rome): for over 150 years, 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 Romans: allowed 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. Next week, we will take a look at our generation and how soon may Jesus come back.