“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NIV)
These are the last words of the Old Testament.
And then silence. 400 years of silence.
In comedy and acting, the timing of your words is everything, it makes all the difference to the emphasis of what is being said. Similarly, punctuation creates timing and can change the meaning of what is being said. The classic example of the description of a Panda changes it from being a peace loving herbivore to a killer: eats shoots and leaves vs eats, shoots and leaves. Subtle maybe but the comma makes all the difference to the meaning. Punctuation adds timing to our sentences. It is the pause, the stop and the road markings of how to understand the words that we use, and as I said to begin with, timing is everything.
As we come back to where I started, we have 400 years of silence and then God speaks, first to one man in the temple and then to a young girl who is pledged to be married. He breaks in dramatically after a long wait. You could call it a pregnant pause, in more ways than one. Two ladies end up pregnant and the history of the world is about to take a seismic shift.
The silence created a tension of expectation, sadly among some there would have been disappointment but there were others who, despite the silence, held onto Gods word. Anna and Simeon are two such examples, but more about them later.
In our own lives we will find there is punctuation, there are pauses and fullstops, new chapters, parenthesis and questions. Some of these are self induced by our disobedience, others are from the Lord. My desire is that the latter would be dominant, for his timing is perfect.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3 NIV)
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
However long you have been waiting, God is faithful and knows what he is doing. We can take courage from His ways that He is faithful and He will bring about His purposes in the right time. Where disappointment has crept in Lord heal our hearts and give us grace to trust in you completely.