What has been called the biblical dark ages or the 400 years of silence, is an often missed understanding of God’s sovereign activity. The end of 2 Chronicles leaves Israel in destruction with little hope for the future. Unlike, previous mishaps in their history, this is the first time they see their place of worship, the place where God lived among His people brought to ruin. Their city, temple, and livelihood had been demolished. They lost their king and would not see another until Jeremiah’s prophecy is fulfilled (Jeremiah 23:6). Without a king they lose their stature and respect from surrounding kingdoms. They quickly become a scattering of peoples who all share in their belief in God, and His revealed plan of redemption through the Messiah.
We see in the last chronological book of the Hebrew scriptures (2 Chronicles 36:23) that the temple would be eventually be rebuilt by the Persians, and it was, in the 5th century BC. Their was an ongoing progression in the Jewish history as the rulers and powers changed hands from Alexander the Great, the Ptolemaic Empire, the Syrians, until finally it looked as though they were going to return to glory during the Maccabean rebellion. During this time they received their independence and nine generations of leaders sat on the throne of Jerusalem. These leaders were corrupt and the Jewish leaders sought out the Roman officials to restore order. This is not exactly the kind of king that would demand the allegiance from the people a la David and the promised One who is to come. We finally come to see that the Romans were in rule when Jesus was born.
If you were to try and adopt the mindset of a young Jewish person as they are learning Jewish history, hearing the glorious history that preceded the Temples destruction, you would see a puffed up pride in yourself and your fellow Jews, but upon seeing the history that follows the temples destruction, you would see how the Jewish mindset had been reshaped in eager expectation for the Messiah. By the time we see Jesus being born we see a culture that is longing and crying out for a savior.
As Christians, we live with earnestness for Christ’s return. As Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are making their way to Israel in Matthew 2:19, it is this kind of earnestness that has all of Jerusalem praying for the promised One of God to bring freedom to Israel. This is why, with total abandon, we see the disciples leave their work to follow Jesus. The greatest testimony to the Jewish condition of the 1st century is how this eagerness is displayed through the actions of the disciples as they abandon all for the sake of following the Messiah.
For an immediate take-away, don’t underestimate God’s activity during seasons of silence!
Guest Blogger, Charlie Parnell, Research Assistant to Senior Pastor