If you're an iPhone user and you text you know about what I call the "dot dot dot". It's the little text cloud that appears with an ellipses in it while the person you're texting is responding to you. I don't know about you but I watch the "dot dot dot". If I send a text, I immediately watch to see if the person is writing back and I can't move on to anything else until that text comes through. It's a little obsessive, I know.
The "dot dot dot" is really called an ellipses. In grammar and mechanics an ellipses is used to omit words to consolidate a thought or statement. In more modern writing it's often used to indicate a pause for thought. In current instant messaging technology, it's used as a symbol for a response in progress. I got to thinking about how I obsess over that little symbol and wait upon a response. Somehow, there's satisfaction in knowing someone is actively responding even if I don't see the response yet.
There are many scriptures that that tell us that God waits to hear from us and that He thinks thoughts towards us and answers our prayers. (Jeremiah 20:11) Sometimes though it seems as though God is silent and that He doesn't respond and if we had Him on our iPhone there wouldn't even be a "dot dot dot". Some people say it feels like their prayers are hitting the ceiling.
The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. The name Malachi means, "messenger". Malachi was the "iMessage" of the day. This is the last prophetic word given to man before the coming of Jesus Christ. And to top that off, there were 400 years of silence from the Lord between the giving of God's word to Malachi and the coming of Jesus. I'm certain God's people were praying and seeking Him...but it's as if that ellipses wasn't even appearing on the screen. The texts went out but nothing. At some point I imagine the people of God putting their phones back in their pockets and going about their business.
We have no account of that 400 years in the Bible. Were people losing faith? Were they praying less because they weren't getting immediate feedback and response? Were they increasing in their desire for a messiah? Were they expectant or hopeful? I know when someone doesn't write me back, I start to feel ignored. Again, a little obsessive I know, but in our age of instant communication it's normal to expect responses. In the age of prophecy, it was common for God's people to hear from leaders in the community. But now, there was silence, a shrug of the shoulders and maybe those seeking and listening for the Word said, "I got nothin'."
That didn't mean the WORD was not forthcoming. Jesus was still on His way. God still had a plan. Redemption was near and frankly, 400 years isn't a long time because for God 1000 years is just like a day. (Psalm 90:4) The lesson here is that supposed silence from our Lord is only supposed. He is working and active and setting a plan into motion no matter how deafening the silence may seem.
Current events might cause us to believe there is nothing but silence on God's part. During that 400 years of biblical silence, the Roman Empire was growing and began saber rattling and the noose was tightening around the Jewish community. Today, we see heinous crimes against Christians and Jews, hate crimes and lawlessness featured on every newscast. We pray but are our prayers a little emptier because we don't see that little bubble of hope? Sometimes there seems to be no indication He's preparing a response to us.
These are the times where faith kicks in. We have the luxury of the completed cannon of scripture. We know what happens after a period of 400 years of waiting. God came in the form of a baby to the earth to eventually level the ground at the cross so that all could know God. We now have the Revelation and have assurance that all wrongs will be made right and there will be no more tears...even though it doesn't look like it right now.(Revelation 21:4)
God also tells the people in the book of Malachi to take a look at mess they've made of their lives, turn it around and get ready for the coming of something new. (Malachi 4) That's pretty convicting and timely. There are messes everywhere. Thankfully, God sent His Holy Spirit to be our helper after Jesus left this world. We don't have to suffer in silence because we have a very living and active Holy Spirit. (John 14:16) We have a Savior in Heaven who sits at the right hand of God making intercession for those who call upon Him.(Romans 8:34)
Instead of shrugging our shoulders let us be expectant. He says the "sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings." (Malachi 4:2) That's a pretty amazing response in progress.