So I’ve finished reading the history books of the Bible and am reading the poetry books. Its been an amazing journey. God led Abram on a mystery trip of promise and generations later a nation was born. The stories are phenomenal, watching God work in the lives of His people as they obey and disobey. They get to posses the Promised Land and they are expelled from it. They reach such great heights and drop to such deep lows. But all the while God never abandons them, even if it seems like it to them.
At the end of the historical books they are back in the land of Israel after the 70 year Diaspora, the great dispersion. They’ve restored the city of Jerusalem and the Temple and are trying to rebuild their lives around their God that they had abandoned which had caused their expulsion in the first place. All the cries of the prophets that they had heard for so many years and generations, those that gave “the Word of the Lord” that Israel had been used to hearing since the days of Samuel and before, are about to go quiet. There is now to be a period of silence for 400 years. It wouldn’t have been the first 400 years of silence. When Jacob and his clan were brought to Egypt by his son Joseph for protection before there was even a nation of Israel, this initiated a 400 year silence of the voice of God. Four hundred years is an awfully long time to be without the voice of the One who guides you and comforts you and gives meaning to your life. Without that voice to help a lot of things can happen that can have an unpleasant effect on your path in life. And in this case, while Jacob’s clan grew into a powerful nation they, at the same time, became enslaved!
It makes me wonder what the people thought as they lived year after year through those times if the inter-Testemental period. Not hearing any prophesy the likes of an Isaiah or Jeremiah of Micah or Amos. With all of the talk from the prophets about a Messiah that would restore the Kingdom there must have been some kind of hope to spark their dreams. But still the years rolled on with nary a peep and the world continued to oppress them as governments controlled their existence. Its hard to imagine how exasperating it must have felt waiting for something to happen to bring the freedom they wished; just like, as they must have compared, to those days as slaves in Egypt. Would they be waiting forever?
Sometimes I feel this way as a Believer, waiting for the Lord to speak to me, reading His Word, waiting for some spark of creativity to ignite to compose a page for a blog. You’d think every verse would be pregnant with thoughts and ideas begging for lines and paragraphs to bring to the page, but it doesn’t work that way. The prophets didn’t publish every day. You can tell from their books that the Lord gave His word fairly sparingly, judging by the amount that we read today from them. If that’s the case, God didn’t tell them to speak very often. Apparently only when it was called for, when He had a purpose to fulfill.
Still, for those of us who read His Word daily and expect to be bedazzled, it can be disappointing to not get a buzz every time I read the Word. Not like I did when I first read the Bible. Back then in 1976 the Word was brand new to me, it was so alive and amazing and fresh, and the Spirit spoke so clearly as I read; it was awesome! Now, after the countless times of reading the Bible from cover to cover, becoming very familiar with the stories and with how God worked in His creation and His creatures, it isn’t that I’m less awed by our great God and King, but a familiarity has set in in the 30 years plus of reading and studying.
I guess I have to be careful that I don’t treat His Word in such a way that this familiarity becomes indifference. After all, except for a direct revelation of God speaking to me, which I have yet to experience, His Word is all I have to know who He is and what he wants of me and the world. This book is, after all, still His love letter, and how should a love letter be read? Certainly not in a casual manner. But with the heart, and with grateful thanksgiving for such and indescribable gift! ( 2 Cor. 9:15)
So whether He waits 400 days or 400 years at least He has given me His Word to speak His peace and mind to me, and I don’t have to wait a moment to communicate with Him. “Pray without ceasing,” as Paul wrote (1 Thes. 5:17), you can communicate with God any time, anywhere. Why wait?