Living in Silent Times

Title: Living in Silent Times

Text: Galatians 4.4-5

Introduction: We’re in Galatians 4 this morning. We’ll also be in Romans 5, so you can set your bookmarks in those places if you’d like.

Silence. Silence can be difficult to endure. We often grow uncomfortable with silence. When we first began the practice of ending our services in quiet reflection back in 2009, I noticed it was hard for people. You know, when we have our time of ‘Silent Reflection”. At home we turn on the TV or in the car we turn on some music to fill the void. There is a commercial by T-Mobile that is out right now about a couple who flees the city to finally get to go camping. We’re here, we’re finally doing this: We’re Camping! You hear them say as they lay in their tent. And then they lay there listening to the silence. There is nothing but the sounds of the night. An Owl hoots. Crickets and Frogs are singing in the background. Maybe a coyote barks in the night. Then, they grab their phones and upload the sounds of the city so they can sleep! There are horns honking and sirens…

Nothing eats away at a husband more than when his wife won’t talk to him. He knows he has done something wrong. And, it is the same for all of us when we want to hear a Word from God, but there is only silence. It seems as if the clouds are creating a buffer, a barrier that won’t let our prayers through.

Silence can be deafening. And the longer it goes, the louder it gets!

We pick up in His Story at just such a time in the life of Israel. The people have been experiencing a silence from God. Amos prophesied 300 years before it began that God would create a famine for his Word. He would stop sending them prophets. They didn’t listen to them anyway because they didn’t want to hear from God.

HiStory begins at Creation when things are perfect. In the Garden, Adam and Eve hear his voice and converse with him in beauty and simplicity. But the conversation is disrupted when sin enters into the picture. Life in the fall was ugly. It got so bad that God decided to flood the world, destroy everything in creation and start again with just 8 people: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. After that God chose a man from whom would come a nation – a nation of people who would be His people. The Man’s Name was Abram. God chose his son, Isaac. And then he chose Isaac’s son, Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons who through time would have descendants of their own and would make up the 12 tribes of Israel. They would be slaves in Egypt, but God would bring them up out of Egypt and give them a land of their own – a promise he had made to each of their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So understood was this promise of God for a land and a people, that Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, made the people of Israel promise that they would bring his bones up from Egypt to the place his great grandfather and great grandmother were buried, his grandfather and grandmother. And, he buried his father there, too.

Israel was to be God’s people in God’s land. They were to be distinct and different. Their existence was to be a message to the World that God was their God. But they refused to act like it. He gave them his commands, but they rejected them. He gave them priests to intercede for and shepherd them like sheep. But, the priests very selfishly lived for themselves. He gave them kings, but very few led them to follow God. He gave them prophets to tell them what they were doing wrong and what they needed to do to get back on track. But, they didn’t like what the prophets had to say, so they did their best to silence them – even if it meant killing some of them.

Now, that they needed a Word from God but nothing comes. Only silence.

This period of time in the history of Israel is pretty much unknown. The quills, known as the prophets’ pens lie still on their desks. The ink in the jars has dried up. No Word from God. No words; no signs; no object lessons.

Basically, the words of the prophets end by 427BC. Let me see if I can outline this for you.

History from 586BC:

  • Exile in Babylon begins in 586BC. They have rejected God’s commands for long enough. Off to Babylon they go for 70 years! Jerusalem and its Temple are utterly destroyed.
  • The Temple is rebuilt from 536BC to 516BC – 70 years later as had been foretold. You can read all about this in the book of Ezra.
  • Nehemiah, who was governor of Jerusalem, rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem around 445BC.
  • According to John Bright, the prophets disappear from the scene by 427BC.

Amos foretold of this event in his book. Rd Amos 8.11-12: 11“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

The information we have about the Jews who’ve returned from exile seems to indicate the genealogy of the Priests and Levites down to the end of the 5th Century (so, 400BC). You can read about them in Nehemiah 12. The Chronicler records David’s Descendants, as well (1 Chron. 3) to about that same period. But it is as if the last names are read in Nehemiah or in 1 Chronicles and then silence.

By 400BC God’s voice had grown quiet. And it would be quiet for a long time.

So, from this point forth, there is silence in the World of the Jews. Truth is, we know almost nothing about Israel from 400BC until about 175BC when the Maccabean Rebellion against the Seleucids occured.

We know that during the Exile, the Babylonians fell to the Medes and the Persians. Then, the Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire. By his death in 323 BC – Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world and Israel lay under his authority. In due time, in the 1st Century BC, Rome would conquer Greece and the Jews would be under Roman authority at the time of Christ’s birth. (Cf.: Daniel 8)

At his death, his four Generals divided up his empire and Israel fell under the rule of Ptolemy. Over the next nearly two centuries, Israel would be ruled by either the Seleucids or Ptolemies.

In 175BC, the Jews would face fierce persecution from the Seleucids. It was out of this persecution that a famous rebellion arose, known as the Maccabean Revolt. These battles are recorded and we enter back into a time of information of Jewish History.

But, in all that was going on in the world and in Israel, God’s voice still lay silent.

For roughly 400 years the Jews lived without a Word from God. 400 years! That’s an incredibly long time to not hear from God. But, when the time was right – I mean perfectly right – God sent his Son! Let me show you what I mean. We’re in Galatians 4.4-5: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Transition: I find three interesting facts about God’s timing in these two verses:

  1. God’s timing in sending his son was perfect.
  2. God’s timing in sending his son was foretold.
  3. God’s timing in sending his son was purposeful.

Notice first, God’s perfect timing.

I. God’s Timing was perfect.

exp.: fullness of time; not one more drop – there is the picture of completion. If this were a picture, one more stroke would mess it up. If this were a poem, one more word would mess it up. If this was a recipe, one more ingredient would ruin it. If this were a glass of water, one more drop would cause it to spill over. Romans 5.6 says: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. This was the message of Jesus as he came onto the seen in Mark 1.15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

This gives us a sense that God was doing everything to save his people in his own time. He was at work in History to make things perfect for the arrival of His Son.

t.s.: 2ndly notice, his timing was the fulfillment of prophecy.

II. God’s Timing was foretold.

exp.: He had told his people all along that this Messiah would come.

ill.: Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus:

1.  That he would be born of a woman

 

Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4

 

2.  That he would be from the line of Abraham

 

Gen. 12:3, 7; 17:7; Rom. 9:5; Gal. 3:16

 

3.  That he would be from the tribe of Judah

 

Gen. 49:10; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5

 

4.  That he would be from the house of David

 

2 Sam. 7:12–13; Luke 1:31–33; Rom. 1:3
5.  That he would be born of a virgin

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22–23

 

6.  That he would be given the throne of David

 

2 Sam. 7:11–12; Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:6–7; 16:5; Jer. 23:5; Luke 1:31–32
7.  That this throne would be an eternal throne

 

Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Micah 4:7; Luke 1:33
8.  That he would be called Emmanuel

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23

 

9.  That he would have a forerunner:

he would look like Elijah.

 

Isa. 40:3–5; Mal. 3:1; Matt. 3:1–3; Luke 1:76–78; 3:3–6
10. That he would be born in Bethlehem

 

Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:5–6; Luke 2:4–6

 

11. That he would be worshiped by wise men and presented with gifts Ps. 72:10; Isa. 60:3, 6, 9; Matt. 2:11

 

12. That he would be in Egypt for a season

 

Num. 24:8; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15

 

13. That his birthplace would suffer a

massacre of infants

 

Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17–18

 

14. That he would be called a Nazarene

 

Isa. 11:1; Matt. 2:23

 

15. That he would be zealous for the Father

 

Pss. 69:9; 119:139; John 6:37–40

 

16. That he would be filled with God’s Spirit

 

Ps. 45:7; Isa. 11:2; 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–19
17. That he would heal many

 

Isa. 53:4; Matt. 8:16–17

 

18. That he would deal gently with the Gentiles

 

Isa. 9:1–2; 42:1–3; Matt. 4:13–16; 12:17–21
19. That he would speak in parables

 

Isa. 6:9–10; Matt. 13:10–15

 

20. That he would be rejected by his

own people

 

Ps. 69:8; Isa. 53:3; John 1:11; 7:5
21. That he would make a triumphal entry

into Jerusalem

 

Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:4–5

 

22. That he would be praised by little children

 

Ps. 8:2; Matt. 21:16

 

23. That he would be the rejected cornerstone

 

Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42

 

24. That his miracles would not be believed

 

Isa. 53:1; John 12:37–38

 

25. That his friend would betray him for

30 pieces of silver

 

Ps. 41:9; 55:12–14; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 26:14–16, 21–25
26. That he would be a man of sorrows

 

Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37–38

 

27. That he would be forsaken by his disciples

 

Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31, 56

 

28. That he would be scourged and spat upon

 

Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67; 27:26

 

29. That his price money would be used to buy a potter’s field

 

Jer. 18:1–4; 19:1–4; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 27:9–10
30. That he would be crucified between

two thieves

 

Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27–28; Luke 22:37
31. That he would be given vinegar to drink

 

Ps. 69:21; Matt. 27:34, 48; John 19:28–30
32. That he would suffer the piercing

of his hands and feet

 

Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10; Mark 15:25; John 19:34, 37; 20:25–27
33. That his garments would be parted and gambled for

 

Ps. 22:18; Luke 23:34; John 19:23–24

 

34. That he would be surrounded

and ridiculed by his enemies

Ps. 22:7–8; Matt. 27:39–44; Mark 15:29–32
35. That he would thirst

 

Ps. 22:15; John 19:28

 

36. That he would commend his spirit

to the Father

 

Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46

 

37. That his bones would not be broken

 

Exod. 12:46; Num 9:12; Ps. 34:20; John 19:33–36
38. That he would be stared at in death

 

Zech. 12:10; Matt. 27:36; John 19:37
39. That he would be buried with the rich

 

Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57–60

 

40. That he would be raised from the dead

 

Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28:2–7

 

41. That he would ascend to the Father

 

Ps. 24:7–10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51

 

t.s.:  finally,God had told them, but they wouldn’t listen. And when God spoke again: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… when God spoke again through His Son, most didn’t want to hear it then – even though God had been silent for so long!

III. God’s Timing was purposeful.

exp.: God did what he did when he did what he did because he had a purpose: to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. I don’t see this as two separate purposes, like you can have one without the other. The New American Standard presents this beautifully and so literally: 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

app.: God has always been at work saving his people. And, I would propose to you that remains the same today:

app.: It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus died and rose again and ascended to be with the Father. Nearly 2000 years have passed since he gave us his promise to return. When you look at the time frames of HiStory, you notice patterns. I believe that where we are in history fits that pattern and the time for his return is very near. It is so close to happening that I stand here this morning and feel the need to repeat the words of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” As the prophets of old shouted at the people to get ready for the Lord – it is time for us to do the same. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are in the last days.

t.s.: It is time to stop thinking so much about ourselves. It is time to stand up and be heard: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” I fear that people around us live in silence – the silence of God’s Word. They don’t know of God’s love them. They don’t know their sin separates them from Him, but that a way has been made for them to find forgiveness of sin.

Conclusion: Mindy Belz: Lost and Found

August 2014, almost three years ago, ISIS had infiltrated and captured Qarakosh in Iraq. A desperate mother of four struggled with what to do. Aida’s husband, Khader, is blind. Running with him would be impossible, especially with a three-year-old daughter to try and deal with. Sure, she could run with her three older children, but the other two… impossible. And she would never leave them. In fear and with a torn spirit, she pushed her three oldest out the door: two sons and a daughter. Run! She urged them. Save yourselves!

The terrorists would take Aida, Khader and their little girl, Christina captive. They would be loaded onto a bus headed…who knows where. As Christina sat on her mother’s lap, suddenly an emir snatched Christina from her momma’s lap. Mom screamed and cried, but with a gun pointed at her head, she was forced to remain as they carried her daughter away. Christina’s father heard what was happening, but he was helpless to do anything.

This couple would be forced to flee with 150,000 other Iraqi Christians from the Nineveh plain to safety. Aida and Khader were reunited with their older three children, but what had become of Christina?

Mindy Belz writes of their family in one of the many refugee camps: There Aida and Khader spent sleepless nights sorting rumors about their daughter: They heard ISIS had put her in the care of a Christian woman also captured and taken to Mosul, then “married” the girl to a fighter, then gave her to a Muslim family.

A couple of years later Christina’s older brother found a picture of her on Facebook. It was just after her 5th birthday and proof that she was still alive, but they really knew nothing else. Christina was only 30 miles away, but she was held in ISIS territory. There was no way they could get to her.

Basically, they lived in silence. No word, no hope. Then a miracle happened. Iraqi Special Forces liberated a poor neighborhood in Mosul. Word was taken to Aida and Khader that their daughter had been found. They rushed to her and found her safe and sound. She was shocked and speechless. You see, she didn’t remember them at first. She didn’t even know she was lost.

Show pic: but now she’s been restored to her family.

I wonder how many people out there in the world around us don’t even know they’re lost. Like Christina, they live an existence they think is their own, but they have no idea they’re really captives. The silence of God’s Word continues for them, because you and I haven’t told them that He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. They don’t know that they can be set free from their captivity. They don’t know that they have a Father who loves them and moved heaven and earth that they might have a relationship with Him.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Amos, Galatians, Prophecy, Sermons

One response to “Living in Silent Times

  1. Fred Obrecht

    Thanks again. It never occurred to me that God was silent for so long with Israel. I’ve been trying to study Greg Laurie’s Tell Someone refresher for me so I don’t get lax in sharing the gospel. I love ya thanks for sharing God’s Word.

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