After 400 Years of Silence Something Big Happened

When the Old Testament ended, God turned off the lights, closed and locked the door and walked away. Or so it seemed.

For the next 400 years, God was silent, while the Jewish world waited and wondered about the promise of a Messiah.

Then suddenly, something big happened.

An old white-haired priest was on duty in the temple in Jerusalem when an angel tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John . . . he will be great in the sight of the Lord . . . and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit . . . and he will go on before the Lord . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk 1:13–17).

Next stop for the angel was sixty-four miles north of Jerusalem, in Nazareth, where he knocked on the door of Mary, an astonished teenage virgin. “Greetings, you who are highly favored!” he said. “You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David . . . his kingdom will never end” (Lk 1:28–33).

Mary quickly packed her bag and set out for a town in the hill country of Judea to visit cousin Elizabeth, mother-to-be of John. When Mary greeted her “the baby leaped in [Elizabeth’s] womb . . . In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” (Lk 1:39–43).

Then Mary broke into a song of praise: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Lk 1:46–49).

Nine months later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and the angel made a third visit—this time to a gaggle of shepherds on the outskirts of the village. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” he said. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10–11).

Forty days after that, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to consecrate Mary’s firstborn to the Lord. There they encountered Simeon, a devout old man who had long been waiting for this moment. “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” He took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying: “Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant, die in peace as you said. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk 2:25–32).

Anna, a very old prophetess, was also in the temple; in fact, she “never left the temple but worshipped night and day.” She joined the circle and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:36–38).

The 400-year silence was broken. God unlocked and opened the door and turned on the Light. The Messiah was here.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.
—Isaac Watts

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