Between the close of the Old Testament writings and the birth of Christ there are approximately 400 years without any prophetic word from God. A “prophetic word” means that God gave a specific message to the people of Israel through one of His prophets. The lack of any word from God through this 400 year period is known as the “Silent Years.” Can you imagine?
400 Years of Silence.
400 YEARS of Silence.
400 Years of SILENCE.
The silence was so loud and so long that it was deafening.
Can you imagine going 400 years as a believing community and not hearing or seeing evidence of the living God? Can you imagine going a lifetime, much less multiple generations, being taught the truth of God, being a part of the rituals of your faith and never having an encounter with the living God?
Would you lose your way?
Would you lose your faith?
In this case, silence is not golden. Silence is deafening. Silence is discouraging. Silence is defeating.
John McArthur writes in the footnotes of the Bible, (p. 1369), “Because there was no prophetic word from God during this time, this period is sometimes called ‘the four hundred silent years.‘ However, the history of these years followed the pattern predicted in Daniel with exact precision. Though the voice of God was silent, the hand of God was actively directing the course of events during these centuries.”
The final prophecy recorded in the Old Testament is Malachi 4:1-6. Some of the final words were, “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”
The first prophecy of the angel Gabriel to Zacharias regarding the birth of his son, John the Baptist, was, “He will also go before Him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ …to make ready a people for the Lord.” (Luke 1: 17).
Amazing! God did not lose His place in this great story of love and redemption. When we hear God’s voice again 400 years after Malachi’s writing, He repeats His last words again so that we don’t lose our place. He begins speaking at the exact place where he left off—400 Silent Years Later. God may have been silent, but He was still at work actively directing the course of events.