After the period of the prophets, Malachi being the last, there was a period of 400 years where God seemed to be silent—where other world kingdoms arose: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. But, though God was not working outwardly, I suggest that He was nevertheless working in His own way to affect His kingdom. For example, during this time of silence, the persecuted Jews saw the need to devote themselves to the study of the Old Testament, and some very good things came out of this movement: notably the education of the apostle Paul.
Moreover, I think the most significant thing that was happening was that God was working in hearts, primarily in the Jews, as He was helping people to wait on Him. For many years the prophets had preached about the kingdom of God and about the coming of the Messiah, but when suddenly prophecy came to a halt, there was nothing left to do but wait. Some examples in scripture of whose who waited were Simon and Anna (Lu. 2:25; 38), and Mary and Joseph (Lu. 1:46-55; Matt. 1:19). They waited for His kingdom to come and for His consolation (Lu. 2:25). And as they waited they were strengthened in their faith through scripture. Isaiah 40:31 says,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
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Copyright © 2014 by Stephen Nielsen