Hope Through the Silence
God’s people are a waiting people.
After God’s people returned from their exile in Babylon, the “minor prophets” Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi brought God’s word to them. Their message was similar to what their predecessors had said before the people went into captivity: You Israelites are ridiculous! You keep breaking the covenant. And if you keep breaking the covenant, God is going to come in judgment.
But the minor prophets’ message was not only one of judgment. There was also hope.
They may have physically returned to the land, but spiritually the people were still in exile. Judah—all that remained of Israel—held on to the hope that God was going to fulfill His promise so that His people might enjoy His blessings. But God’s kingdom still had not come in the way that the previous prophets had declared it would—because God’s King had not yet come. So the people were waiting for the Lord to return and fulfill all the promises of salvation.
The last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi, insisted that this King would still appear—but 400 years of silence followed. People were born, went about their business, worked, and died, and on the cycle went. They probably asked one another, “What about those words, ‘I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me’? It’s been centuries since that promise.”
Eventually, a few of those people may have been walking down to the market when a funny-looking character wearing a strange outfit and eating a strange diet appeared in the streets, quoting the Old Testament: “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Mark 1:2-3). With those words, John the Baptist ended generations of silence. After many long years of waiting, God was faithful in keeping His promises, just as He always is. He sent both His messenger and His King so that all people could experience His blessing—namely, the fulfillment of salvation through Jesus Christ.
In our day, God’s people are still looking forward. We know Jesus has come; we also know He is coming. God’s kingdom has not yet arrived in all its glorious fullness. So we are a waiting people in a world of instant gratification, an expectant people in a world of rapid disillusionment.
When it seems that God is taking too long to fulfill His promises in your life, do not lose hope. Generation after generation, He has proven to be faithful—and in sending Jesus, He introduced the fulfiller of every promise. You can rest in His constancy. “Surely,” says Jesus, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20). He will do what He has said.
The Day of the Lord Will Come
1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,1 not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies2 will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.3
11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
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