Silence and Sound, Day 4

The following is an excerpt from a free advent devotional guide put together by myself and several close friends.  To download this guide, see here.

Week 1
Day 4: The Intertestamental Period
by meridith matson

Within one blank page in our Bibles, much happens in the story of the nation of Israel and within the scope of world history as well. This page between the Old and New Testaments represents a 400 year period of time known as the the Intertestamental Period. This era is known as a time of silence, where God does not speak through a prophet. This time of silence, however, was not an uneventful period in history, or an idle time in which God was not actively present in the world. There were many changes in the region of Israel that also directly impacted the people of Israel during this time.  

The rise of Alexander the Great, and his conquests within this region of the world, significantly impacted culture.  His ideals, as taught to him by the philosopher and his teacher, Aristotle, gave him a vision for unity.  During this drive for unity the Greek language, culture, and ideals were violently forced upon the world in a process known as Hellenization. After the death of Alexander the Great, the areas he conquered were divided into four sections ruled by four generals.  

Another significant period was the Maccabean Era (165-63 BC).  During this time, an elderly priest named Mattathias rebelled against Syrian officials who were trying to force the Jewish people to participate in heathen activities. As a result, a large group of faithful Jews followed him and later led the “Maccabean Revolt.”  These Jews were responsible for eventually cleansing the Temple and restoring devout Jewish worship.  In their persistence, they created the culture and norms present when Jesus shows upon the pages of the New Testament.

Upon further study, we see that though it was a time of silence God was anything but removed from His people.  In the fullness of time, when everything was culturally, politically, and religiously the way God intended them to be, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born of a young Jewish girl.  And through this baby, change arrived: not just for those of Jewish descent, but for the entire world.

Contemplation:
Can you think of some “blank pages” in your life, times when you felt God was silent or that you had removed yourself from God’s presence? What unexpected revelations came out of that time?

 

For more on the Intertestamental Period see: http://www.thetransformedsoul.com/additional-studies/spiritual-life-studies/the-intertestamental-period-and-its-significance-upon-christianity
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Waiting

Psalm 130:5-6 ESV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 130:5-6 NET

I rely on the Lord,
I rely on him with my whole being;
I wait for his assuring word.
 I yearn for the Lord,
more than watchmen do for the morning,
yes, more than watchmen do for the morning.

This morning I was spending time reading this Psalm in a couple different translations.  I’ve thought a lot about waiting over the past year.  What does it mean to wait for the Lord?  In short, the Hebrew verb for wait also can be translated “to look” or “expect”…. also the word “linger.”

To linger in expectation of the Lord.  Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing.  Waiting means anticipating.  Looking.  Lingering.  There is an active sense to this word that sometimes seems so passive at first glance.

I love the NET, “I wait for his assuring word.”  Sometimes that’s all we need, right?  Just his assuring word.  His gentle guidance and leading.

“More than watchmen waiting for morning.”  Cities at the time the Psalmist writes this psalm were fortified by walls in order to keep those inside the city safe from outside forces.  Watchmen were responsible for watching through the night to ensure the safety of those residing within the city walls.  I could be reading into this, but I’m sure there was a sense of relief once the morning came, and the shift of the night watchmen came to an end.  There is something comforting about daylight, and having the advantage of seeing in daylight possible danger coming from a distance to a city.

Yet the psalmist longs for the Lord more than even these watchmen on duty at night longed for the first signs of daylight on the horizon.

There was an intense expectation for the Lord to move, act and deliver on his word.  The psalmist is sure of God’s action, yet without promise of the Lord’s timing in his waiting.

We all wait at different times and in different ways as we go through life.  Sometimes, we just wade through dry, desert seasons and expectantly wait for God’s presence and guiding word to come to us.  Other times, we wait through intense storms and difficulty.

Find encouragement today.  As you linger in expectation.  Waiting involves action to look, and expect his presence to show up.  So don’t give up hope.

Keep waiting.
Keep watching.
Keep lingering.