Four hundred silent years?

It is commonplace to describe the period between Malachi and Matthew as the four hundred silent years. They were nothing of the sort. Yes, there was no new Scripture, but God was not silent, he still spoke. His people had his Word (the Old Testament). If God was silent it can only have been because they had stopped listening.

And what of our own day? It is no more silent than then. We have God’s Word (now the Old and New Testaments). God still speaks.

Al Mohler applies this forcefully to preaching:

I fear that there are many evangelicals today who believe that God spoke but doubt whether He speaks. They know and talk about the fact that God spoke in the Old Testament but think now that He no longer does so and that they must therefore invent new ways to convince people to love Him. But if you call yourself a preacher of God’s Word, and you think that all of God’s speaking was in the past, then resign. I say that with deadly seriousness. If you do not believe the God now speaks from His Word–the Bible–then what are you doing every Sunday morning? If you are not confident that God speaks as you rightly read and explain the Word of God, then you should quit.

But if you do believe that–if you truly believe that God speaks through His Word–then why should you substitute anything else in place of the expository preaching of the Bible? What is more important for your people than to hear from God, and how else is that going to happen unless you, like Ezra, open the book, read it, and explain it to them? Just as in Deuteronomy, this is a matter of life and death, and far too many pastors who deeply believe that God does speak have abandoned His voice in Scripture. (pp. 58-9)

That pulls no punches. Those of us who preach need to take this seriously. And when we take it seriously, so, too, will congregations.

God is not silent. He still speaks, as ever he spoke. The silent years have been over since he said, “Let light be.”

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R. Albert Mohler, Jr., He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008)

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