When was the last time you had to wait for something great? We wait for packages in the mail. Kids wait for birthdays and Christmas. Adults wait for visits and calls. We all know what it’s like to wait. Simply put, it’s the worst. There’s not a fiber in our being that is typically excited for the dynamic of delayed gratification. This is why we so often have to instill such ideas in our younger children as we teach them to save their money rather than to blow it all on the newest shiny object which graces their eyes. Why must we do this though? Waiting is inherently difficult.
Do you know that the Bible is book about waiting? We see the promise of God’s victory over Satan given to our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Genesis 3:15. We find further promises of God’s restoration throughout the prophets (Isaiah 40-66) and even His coming in glory and judgment (Malachi 3-4). But there was great silence after this last prophecy in Malachi, the last book of our Bible. Although there may be a single page between the Old and New Testament, this simple piece of paper symbolizes 400 years of silence.
There is a clear link between Malachi’s promise of coming in Malachi 3:1 and the beginning of Mark’s Gospel. Under the oversight of the Apostle Peter, Mark begins his work with a title in Mark 1:1 and then connects Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 to help understand the ministry of John the Baptist. Taken together we read, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” (Mark 1:1-2)
Mark pointed back to Malachi, but how would Malachi’s original audience have understood these words? Malachi’s promise of a messenger bellowed out to a people disenfranchised with the promises of God and waning back to the very sins which caused their exile; namely, lust and idolatry. Though the people were faithless, God’s promise remained. Israel would wait centuries for its fulfillment. But its delay was not a sign of God’s faithlessness or ineptitude, but a means of displaying our own. Every season of God’s silence is an opportunity to worship as we wait on Him.
The whole book of Malachi becomes a guide for us in our seasons of difficulty when we too may in our most audacious moments think “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance.” (Malachi 3:14) As we meditate on God’s promises in Malachi we learn that first and foremost that God loves us (Malachi 1:2). We must not allow our familiarity with this idea to rob it of its grandeur. Secondarily, we learn that God is just (Malachi 2:17; 4:1). God’s patience in serving out His justice is meant to lead us to repentance, not indifference or hard-heartedness. His patient justice is a reminder that its appropriate retribution will be given swiftly and deservedly. Lastly, God does not change (Malachi 3:6). His immutability (that is, that He does not mutate or change) is a comfort because His words and promises are unfading.
Today you may be examining your world and feel God’s absence. Maybe you don’t. The 400 years of silence between God’s promise and its fulfillment do not negate Israel’s hardships in those in between years. I’m certain many wondered, “When will God come?” or “Has He forgotten about me?” We have the privilege of the full, clear, and final Word of God in the Bible. In it we see that this promise initially given in Malachi 3:1 came true in the life of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ. John was the long awaited messenger who prepared the way for God in the Flesh, Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:7-15).
Those days of silence are over. The Lord Jesus Christ came preaching and proclaiming to all that would hear of the message of the Kingdom of God. His message is one of repentance; that is, turning away from sin and to God. It is a message as well of God’s mercy and love to all who believe in Jesus Christ for their pardon. It is a vocal reminder that God’s speech pours out beautifully from His Son, in the Word, by His preachers today through the Spirit. There is no silence. There is the clarity, perfection, trustworthiness, finality, and sufficiency in the Scriptures. Let us take them up and read them. For every time we read the Bible, we hear the voice of God. Beloved He is speaking, are you listening?