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An impatient Israel was told by God through Malachi to wait for a messenger, and 400 years of “silence” passed, where no messenger of God spoke. ~ Eric Gagnon


“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. — Malachi 3:1

During the reign of Israel’s kings, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. God’s people surely read about this and longed for those days to return.

01 Read 2 Chronicles 5:14 and describe what the glory of the Lord was like at that time.

This must have seemed confusing to God’s people because Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple reflected something so different (Ezekiel 40–48). There are various thoughts on Ezekiel’s temple. In short, some say it was a literal temple that would be built on earth. Others say it was a figurative temple for one day in the future.

Ezekiel described a restored temple and the city of Jerusalem in a way that would have brought to mind the glory of Solomon’s temple and one even greater; a time when God would again dwell with His people in perfect relationship. When and where, we simply do not know.

But what we do know is Jesus said one day He will raise up a new Temple. It would be His body, and it would be the place where the fullness of God is pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).

I find great hope in both Ezekiel’s words and Jesus’ words. God did not, and has not, forsaken His people. He has restored our earthly relationship with Him in ways the Old Testament people could have never imagined. He will no longer just indwell a temple. He will indwell His people. Live in their very hearts. Make them become streams of living water! And then one day, elevate them... elevate us... to a new glory and intimacy our minds cannot even conceive on this side of heaven.

02 Read Malachi 2:17. What two things did the people do? Why did they do this?

God gave the people one last prophet. And after that prophet, God did not speak to His people for 400 years. Through Malachi, God told the Israelites again, as He did through Isaiah, to watch for a messenger in the wilderness.

“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’”. — Isaiah 40:3

In that time, it was not uncommon for messengers to prepare the way. Kings would send messengers ahead of them to remove any obstacles in the road to prepare for their coming.

Jesus and the Gospel writers identified John the Baptist as the messenger about whom Malachi spoke (Matthew 3:3; Matthew 11:7–10; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).

About 400 years passed between Malachi’s prophecy and the births of John and Jesus. In fact, Jesus literally entered the temple (Luke 2:21–40) as Malachi said He would in Malachi 3:1.

03 Four hundred years is a long time to wait. However, what are some good things for which you have waited and received, or still wait? How do you stay patient in the waiting?

There will be times that our ever-present God will seem far away, even hidden. Yet, He is still near even when we cannot feel His presence. Sometimes He remains silent because we are walking outside His will, walking in disobedience to something He’s asked or expected of us. It can serve as a warning to us. To stop and listen. To spend intentional quiet time with Him so we can hear His voice or sense His leading or receive His redirection.

Remember Moses’ words to God, “...If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). Moses wanted God’s blessing and power to be with them because he knew he would otherwise fail. We too need to invite God into our lives, our plans, and our prayers.

We’ve also talked about another way God is with us: through His presence living in us. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit rarely indwelled God’s people. God sent His Spirit to empower those whom He called to particular tasks, like certain kings, judges, and prophets. God also sent His presence to go before and behind His people as He led them in the wilderness and in battle. But it was not until the New Testament, until the book of Acts, that God poured out His Spirit to live within His people.

Hopefully you are confident of this truth: If you’ve placed your trust in Jesus, God lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16). Jesus said He would never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), but that He would always be with us (Matthew 28:20). He has never left you, and He will always be with you.

  • Even now, in this very moment, HE IS WITH YOU!

04  Do you believe the last four words you read?

If you do, what impact does knowing this truth have on your life? If you don’t believe those last words, or you aren’t sure, ask God to show you. Invite Him to show you in very personal and specific ways that He is with you... through prayer, through His Word, through worship. He will be faithful, my friend. He must be. It is who He is. He is a faithful God.

From the time of the kings, to the exile and destruction of Jerusalem, to the rebuilding of the new temple, mankind has longed for rescue.

When left to ourselves, we look for rescue through tangible things: people, institutions, things we can see and feel. Many are good gifts and provision from God. But only God can rescue us from the mess we’ve made on earth. Thankfully, God’s story, His Word, speaks wisdom and truth into this mess. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” God’s Word gives and brings true hope when it may feel that there is none.

God went before His people in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22). God remained with His people in the Holy of Holies in the temple (1 Samuel 4:4). Both through visual evidence. God was “with” them. Yet, I am reminded of Jesus’ words in John 20:29, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” There is more to God than we will ever be able to see with our eyes.

It’s always been God’s intention to “dwell with man on the earth” (2 Chronicles 6:18). He walked with us in the garden of Eden and intends to walk with us again when He returns. But when we see God in heaven, however grand His glory will be on that day, the face we look at will be none other than the face of Jesus. “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15–17).

Heavenly Father, thank You for holding up a mirror to our own hearts as we read about Your people in the past. We long to see You and be with You in greater ways. We often long for rescue, perhaps by You, but adding whatever else it is we can see and hold onto. Help us to let go of hoping in anything else but You for life and godliness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Excerpted with permission from 40 Days Through the Bible by Lysa TerKeurst and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team, copyright Lysa TerKeurst and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team.

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Your Turn 

God did not, and has not, forsaken His people. God is not hiding from you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Even now, in this very moment, HE IS WITH YOU! Are you waiting? Wait in hope! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full