A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 21; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 141 through 147
I was thinking after I read this week’s scriptures about the span of time the Israelites went from the words we hear this week until the next chapter in our quest and the next movement in God’s great plan. Malachi stood as the last writer of the Old Testament and it would be 400 years before the next prophet announced the arrival of the Messiah.
400 years. Our nation is just over half that old. We can barely think back to the founders of our country. Most of our kids would have a hard time naming five of the fifty-six signers of the document that announced our beginning, the Declaration of Independence. That piece of paper told Great Britain we had a voice.
Malachi told God’s people that God still had a voice, but for the next 400 years, He didn’t use it. He was silent. He didn’t speak through any prophets or priests. God spoke through the prophets and given His people a plan for returning to Him. They didn’t follow and were cast into exile. God allowed them to return and rebuild the temple.
Ezra read God’s message to the people gathered around the rebuilt temple. The Levites explained His word to those who did not understand the ancient language so everyone knew what the law said and what it meant. And they wept. They saw the error of their ways. They repented of the sins they committed against God and against each other. They determined to live according to the law Ezra read to them.
Nehemiah told them to go home and eat, celebrate, give praise because they finally understood what God wanted from them and could carry out His plans for their lives. They didn’t ask for a new king. They didn’t ask to be like the countries around them. They didn’t ask for wealth or greatness as a nation. They just asked for forgiveness and pledged to follow God’s guidance.
But still, God remained silent for 400 years. The priests conducted their ceremonies and worship services. The singers sang. The teachers taught. The readers read God’s word to the assemblies. The people listened and carried out the laws as best they could. Still God was silent.
Can you imagine not hearing from the leader of the nation for 400 years? In essence that’s what happened to the Israelites. God didn’t speak. They didn’t ask for a new king or a different kind of government. The people had learned their lessons. Yes, the nation lived under the watchful eye of other nations, but in that time, they patiently waited for their coming Messiah. 400 years.
I keep bringing up that number because it’s a little hard to wrap our heads around. No clear guidance for almost twice the age of our country. Nothing from God for four centuries. Silence for almost half a millennium. At sixty-three, I have a hard time remembering what I had for supper last night. 400 years is just impossible to grasp. But for 400 years, the Israelites continued to seek their Messiah. They continued to pray he would come soon. Every young girl prayed she would be the mother of their savior and king.
God’s people never gave up their search for the Messiah. They knew God would keep His promise of deliverance from their oppressors. They knew He would put someone from David’s lineage on the throne and rescue them. They knew God made a promise He would not break. They knew God could not fail and could not break His covenant. They knew God would do what He said He would even though they didn’t keep their side of the bargain. They knew God.
Yet He remained silent. They waited.
It makes me think back to Abraham who waited 25 years for the son God promised him. Joseph waited 22 years in prison for the position that would save his family from starvation. David waits 15 years from the time Samuel anoints him as the next king before he takes his position on the throne for two of the twelve tribes, and another 7 before he is accepted as king of all twelve tribes.
Today we have a problem waiting on God. We think having to wait more than three seconds for a web page to load is unacceptable and complain to our Internet carrier. We think waiting in line for more than five minutes to get our fast food is too long and demand more lines be opened. We complain to the grocer when our favorite vegetable is out of season and demand he figure out how to get it from a greenhouse that produces year round. We complain stop lights are too long. Commercials are too long. Traffic is too slow. Promotions and raises are too slow.
Think about Abraham and Joseph and David and those who heard Malachi’s message. They all waited almost a lifetime to see their promises unfold and even then, none of them saw the complete fulfillment of what God told them would happen to their descendants and their nation.
So what does it mean for us? You know that son or daughter you’ve been praying for their salvation? Keep at it. God thinks in terms of eternity. That neighbor you’d like to see come to know Jesus? Keep praying and sharing God’s word. It may take a while, but God still works in His upper story to work His will in this world.
Worried about something going on in your life? God knows about it. Just keep following His laws and doing His will as best you know how. He is faithful. His timing doesn’t necessarily coincide with our timing, but His timing is perfect. Trust Him. Remember we cannot see around the bend in our lower story, but God sees perfectly in His upper story. Look up and know God is always at work for good for those who love Him and love people.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.