Those years felt barren by every measure. Decade after decade, generation after generation, the seeming absence and silence of God afflicted them.
We call it the “intertestamental period”—430 years between the last prophet of the Old Testament (Malachi) and the coming of Jesus; 430 years of oppression and hardship; 430 years of corrupted culture; 430 years of violence, conflict, and uncertainty. But, most disturbingly, 430 years of silence—God’s silence.
By the time of the coming of Jesus, many of the Jews surely felt forsaken. The Temple—God’s sacred dwelling place—had been violated repeatedly. Yet, He did not show up to defend the place. The Torah—the sacred Law of the Jews—had become a text to study not a word to hear.
God had no voice. Silence prevailed. There was no “word from the Lord.”
Many of us know the feeling.
Strangely enough, the apostle Paul reflects back on that period of time and describes the arrival of Jesus as being in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). This 430 years was not time wasted or frittered away.
From a human perspective, Israel suffered for twenty generations. Moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, died without seeing “the fullness of time.” Yet, they lived in the “filling of time.” Despite appearances, they were never out of God’s plan. Their dire circumstances had a grander purpose and place than anyone imagined.
How often is this true of our own lives?
We sense silence; God is in the process of producing fullness. We feel forsaken; God is working upstream to shape something beyond our imagination. We cry out at the hardships; God takes them and makes them—in His own time—into something special.
The silence will not last. Fullness has come—and is coming—for each of us.