One of the best things I like about watching movies at home instead of the theater is the “Pause Button” on my blue ray player. Phone rings, hit pause. Drinks need refreshing, hit pause. Nature calls, hit pause. All good things that make the movie watching experience much better for me than the alternative at the movie theater. “What did I miss?” “Shhhhh… you’ll spoil the movie!” Ugh.
However, sometimes the silent interludes of life can be maddening. When nothing seems to be happening, when you’re waiting for something to conclude but it doesn’t, and you can’t see what the hold-up is, can often be the source of a strong emotion vented in the wrong direction. Perhaps you’ve just yielded your loved one to the surgeon in the OR. Whether it has been 30 minutes or 3 hours, the silent interlude is a crushing weight on your soul and spirit as you await the outcome. If someone doesn’t come talk to you soon, what was a mild irritation at being kept in the dark becomes an exasperated agitation. There is such a fine line between vexed anger, and unhinged violent angst, the waiting room may actually be the most dangerous place in the hospital for some people.
Isn’t it amazing how this word “pause” can have such a breadth and height of meaning and expression? Now, allow me to offer a more existential observation about the pause of silent interludes. My readers know by now that I take every word offered through the “Daily Post” at WordPress.com, and find some corollary or application spiritually from the Bible. I like to see how this one word applies today in my life, or the lives of Christians around the world generally. So, today the word is “pause.”
Did you know that the Old Testament, and New Testament in the Bible, is divided by 400 years of silent interlude? From the close of the book of Malachi, to the first lines of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describing the coming of Jesus, there is 400 years of complete silence from God to His people.
When God’s people are last seen in Malachi, they are back in Palestine but still under Medo-Persian rulers. The temple Solomon built was destroyed when they were taken captive by the Babylonians. But by the end of Malachi a new temple has been constructed, although smaller and less ornate. The priests from Aaron’s lineage were still making sacrifices. But the royal line of David was gone. According to Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, David’s successor was Zerubbabel, the royal prince. Yet, he was not in power because Israel was a puppet nation under Persia.
When we open the New Testament in Matthew the world has changed dramatically. Rome is the dominant power of the world, ruling the land we call the Middle East today. The power center of the earth is now Rome. The land of Palestine is still a puppet state, but now under Roman rule. While the Jews retained some sovereignty, their king is a puppet king from the lineage of Esau and not Jacob. His name is Herod the Great. The priests serving in the temple are all now appointed, instead of descended from the line of Aaron.
This is the scene in Jerusalem when God speaks again. He does not choose a spokesman, a prophet to speak for Him. He comes from heaven to speak for Himself. Jesus, The Son of God, comes to deliver the truth that God wants revealed to humanity. The silence of 400 years seemed harsh, cruel even. Then suddenly, when Jesus appears into this spiritual vacuum, not only are the people suspicious of His message, their leaders see Him as the enemy. The leaders truly believe Jesus is sent from Satan to deceive them, and destroy their power center in Jerusalem. So… they plot to kill Him.
After a brief 33 years of life, and 3 years of ministry on earth, Jesus is crucified. He remains in the tomb 3 days. Then is resurrected, appears to over 500 people alive in a 40 day span, then ascends back to heaven and His rightful throne. This time the silent interlude lasts only a few more days. Jesus promised His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came to them in His name. This Spirit would empower them to become the founders of the church. Not a denomination. Not a religious system. The church. The church age is the last silent interlude.
Silent, in that God has nothing new or different to say to us than He has already said in the words of Jesus, the Ancient prophets, or the last prophet, John. We have the complete record of all that God wants humans to know about the beginning of the world, the history of the world, and the consummation of that history in the book of Revelation.
What causes in us this restlessness today, is that we want to know things we cannot know. We want God to speak again, explain things in Revelation that seem about to happen, but because we can’t see the meaning of things, it frightens us. The mystery of the images of Revelation seem hard to comprehend, they alarm us by their presence in the book, without a context to understand them.
It is my sincere belief, there are things that God wants us to know and understand through the reading and studying of the Book of Revelation. These will serve to stem our anxious suspense in the silent gap between Jesus to the preset, and the present until the end. One of those things we need to understand is clearly spoken, time and again, from ancient days until Jesus spoke the words to John. And they are meant for us today.
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying,
“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
Listen to these words and know… we have nothing to fear. Jesus is still in command and control, all the time, past – present – and future.
For a deeper and well written explanation of the history of the Silent 400 years between the Testaments, written by Ray Stedmon click here: Silent Interlude
If you would like more information on a Bible Study for the Book of Revelation click here.
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