I’ve always wondered what happened in these four hundred so-called “silent” years after the last of the inspired prophets spoke (Malachi) and the first of the New Testament writers began to write?
At least four hundred years passed between the prophecies of Malachi (430-420 BC) and Matthew’s written account of Jesus’ life (50-60 AD). Those years were known as the Biblical Years of Silence. Read more
After Malachi had ceased his prophesying and the canon of the Old Testament closed — that is, the number of the books in the Old Testament was fulfilled and the inspired prophets ceased to speak — God allowed a period of time for the teachings of the Old Testament to penetrate throughout the world. During this time, he rearranged the scenes of history, much as a stage crew will rearrange the stage sets after the curtain has fallen, and when the curtain rises again there is an entirely new setting.
You remember there is a word in Paul’s letter to the Galatians that says, “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law.” (Galatians 4:4) In other words, the time of our Lord’s birth was God’s appointed hour, the moment for which God had been long preparing. Some of the exciting preparations took place during that time of “silence.”
Do you feel like you are “up against a wall” with no place to go. The same God who led the Israelites will use this wilderness to push you into your breakthrough. This was one of the first wildernesses Israel experienced, but it led them to the miracle of the Red Sea (Exodus 15: 22). The wall forced them to move up against the obstacle of the Red Sea. When all hope was lost, God stepped in. This is where we learn that our limitations are but miracles in hiding.
God is able to turn the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1). He holds all things in His hands (Colossians 1:17). He can turn around the evil workings in this world to ultimately bring glory to His name (Romans 8:28), so that all will know that He is the One True God. “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 14:3-4. And that’s what happened.
So just as the world had come to a place of hopelessness then, and the One who would fulfill all their hopes came into their midst, so the world again is facing a time when despair is spreading widely across the earth. Hopelessness is rampant everywhere and in this time God is moving to bring to fulfillment all the prophetic words concerning the coming of his Son again into the world to establish his kingdom. How long? How close? Who knows? But what God has done in history, he will do again as we approach the end of “the silence of God.”
If you read the book of Ruth and I hope you do, you’ll be able to see the fingerprints of God all over her life. You won’t see God’s voice thunder down like in other stories, or see miraculous happenings that change everything. What you do see is her life being gradually led by a God who she believed in, and at the end, you can look back and see how He orchestrated natural events for His divine glory. You might not be able to see what God is doing, but trust that He is moving.
Ruth story is much like our own. She doesn’t have a great position or come from a famous, godly family. She’s a widow from an enemy nation with no prospects. Yet, God moves so mightily in her story and uses it to encourage millions.
At the beginning of the book Ruth is living in her home nation of Moab; a place and people that the Israelites frowned down upon. On top of that, she has lost her husband and is now living with her widowed mother-in-law.
Ruth showed remarkable faith that there was still a purpose for her ahead. Faith to believe that God was who He said He was. And faith to believe that God would provide for her and Naomi.
You might not be able to see what God is doing, but trust that He is moving. Just He was during the “400 years of silence.”
Ruth had no reason to believe she had earned anything but believed God was everything she needed. Ruth believed God would provide and in that place of faith God did a miraculous work to redeem Ruth. God took a poor, hurting outcast and healed her, provided for her, and brought her a great love with Boaz.
Redemption is possible in your life. No matter where you come from or what you’ve been through, God has a plan for you that far surpasses all of that.
Perhaps one of the best parts of Ruth’s story is the legacy God established through her. God brought her and Boaz together and they conceived a child. That child would be in the lineage of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Ruth, a Moabite, was made part of the lineage of Christ (Matthew 1:5)
Our story is truer than any other reality we know, and each of us must discover the meaning of what God has written as our life story. In our story God shows us what he’s up to and what he wants us to be about.
We can see God’s fingerprints all over Ruth’s story and there is no doubt He was at work the entire time. It was a long and difficult journey, but it ended with redemption. Ruth started out empty, but she ended full!
This was a story behind Christmas.