When I first began to read the Bible, I wondered why it is that all of those amazing, Miraculous SUPERNATURAL events took place “during Biblical times”, but in today’s world, God seems kind of silent. I wondered why it is that God raised up “larger than life” Prophets like Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and even the 12 Disciples of Jesus, and why we don’t see prophets like them today. Sure, there are people who get Words from the Lord, who have the spiritual gift of prophecy, but it’s nothing like what occurred during “Biblical times”. In these last days, God seems relatively quiet. Have there been “silent years” before? If so, how long did they last and what happened to break the silence?
The time of the Judges was a unique time for Israel, a “silent time”, where Prophets were few and far between, and the Word of the Lord was rare.
1 Samuel 3:1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was RARE in those days, visions were infrequent.
After the death of Moses, God raised up Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. As instructed by God, Joshua did a somewhat decent job driving out the inhabitants of the land (Canaanites); however many still remained. God had warned Israel that the Canaanite “gods” would become a “snare” to them if they were allowed to remain in the land. At this time, the 12 Tribes of Israel lived as separate and disjointed tribes. As they had been warned by God through His servants Moses and Joshua, the Israelites did indeed serve the “gods” of the land (Baal/Ashtorah). During this time, everyone did what was right in their own eyes (kind of like today). Israel did NOT have a central leader, a King, or anyone who could pull them together. These were the “days of the Judges”, when Israel would continually repeat the “sin cycle” over and over again. The period of the Judges was a very disappointing period in Israel’s History, and frankly, is one of the more challenging books to read through in the Bible. God was pretty quiet during much of this period of about 350 – 450 years from the death of Joshua to the establishment of the Monarchy.
It was during the latter part of this period of the Judges when God broke the silence by speaking very clearly to the boy Samuel, who God would raise up to become Israel’s last judge and a very significant prophet. Three times, the Lord called for Samuel, but because the Lord’s Word was rare in those days, Samuel mistook the Lord’s voice for his mentor Eli the Priest. This would imply that Samuel AUDIBLY heard the voice of the LORD. Eli the priest had been rearing young Samuel and training him to be a priest of the Lord to minister in the Tabernacle at Shiloh. Each time the Lord’s voice spoke to Samuel, Samuel would then approach Eli to ask him what he wanted. However, by the third time Samuel approached Eli, Eli finally realized that it must be the LORD speaking to Samuel. If the Lord were to speak to Samuel again, Eli instructed Samuel to respond to the Lord…. “Speak for your servant is listening”.
1 Samuel 3: 10: Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.
The Lord took a barren mother Hannah, who, along with her husband Elkanah, had been faithful to Him even during the time of the Judges. God miraculously opened her womb, and gave her a son, Samuel. It’s important to remember that it is God who opens the womb, and when we are blessed with children, we give should GOD the Glory! We find from Scripture, that very significant prophets and men of God were birthed from previously barren women. We also find that God has used this pattern of opening the womb of a barren woman during “silent years” to BREAK THE SILENCE. God opened the womb of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and gave her Isaac. God opened the womb of barren Rebecca and gave her Jacob and Esau. God opened the womb of barren Rachel and gave her Joseph. God opened the womb of Hannah and gave her Samuel. The Lord was with Samuel, making him a great prophet so that ALL of ISRAEL KNEW…that God was WITH Samuel! God ENDED the SILENT YEARS of the Judges with a BANG….RAISING UP a prophet whom God would use to call Israel to repentance and UNITE ISRAEL into a single, cohesive and POWERFUL NATION.
1 Samuel 3:19: Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail. 20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
Israel begged Samuel to ask God for a King, and although God wanted to be their ONLY King, He did call Samuel to anoint first Saul and later King David. Beginning with the powerful guidance of Samuel, Israel united under her first 3 Kings, Saul, David, and Solomon, but then broke apart into the Divided Kingdom. Even though Israel was “steeped in sin” during the “Divided Kingdom”, God raised up powerful prophets to warn Israel of the consequences for sin and to call them to repentance. God had told them way back in the days of Moses that if they kept His Commandments and did NOT serve other Gods, they would be blessed, but if they did NOT Keep His Commandments and INSTEAD served other gods, they would be cursed. Where there is no repentance, there is only worse and worse chastisement which includes: famine, pestilence, and being given over to enemies. The final and worst chastisement that God had WARNED THEM ABOUT, through the prophet Moses, is EXILE.
Deuteronomy 28: “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2
Deuteronomy 28: 15 “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.
64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known. 65 Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.
History tells us that the warnings in Deuteronomy were a prophetic foreshadowing of what would ultimately take place many centuries later in the Divided Kingdom of Israel. Even though Israel fell into unrepentant sin and was SCATTERED among the nations, God did remain very active during the time of the Divided Kingdom, as most of the Old Testament prophets were prophesying during this time. The final book in the Old Testament is the book of Malachi the prophet. Malachi’s message was for the people Israel to repent and get ready because God was sending another messenger who would be the forerunner for the long-awaited Messiah.
Following the book of Malachi, there was another SILENT period of about 400 years. This was the period in-between the Old and New Testament. Now just like in all Silent periods, there were still SOME miracles, but not many. The most significant miracle that happened during these 400 SILENT YEARS is the Miracle of Hanukkah, and the oil that burned for 8 days when it should have only lasted for one day. Other than that, God was silent during this period.
Malachi had prophesied of a prophet who would prepare the way of the Messiah. After Malachi’s prophecy, Israel fell SILENT for 400 years. No words were given, no prophets were called. But after the 400 years were complete, God again BROKE the SILENCE!
After this lengthy SILENT PERIOD, God SPOKE to the husband of another barren woman in Israel. This account is recorded in the New Testament book of Luke. The woman’s name was Elizabeth. She was post menopausal and had given up on having more children. Like Hanna’s husband Elkanah, Elizabeth’s husband Zacharias was from the Levitical line of Hebrews. Zacharias was a priest who ministered to God in the 2nd Jewish Temple that Herod helped to enlarge and beautify. It was while ministering in the Temple, that an Angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias to give him the news that Elizabeth was to bear a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah. As it was in Hannah’s day, the Lord had been silent for 400 years before He spoke to Zacharias that day through His Angel. Zacharias was pretty shaken up when an Angel of the Lord appeared. Let’s face it, Angels aren’t tiny little cherubs with arrows in their hands. Angels have been described by many as being over 7 feet tall, and quite fierce looking and intimidating. REAL ANGELS are not “made for TV” angels!
Luke 1: 5: In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1: And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
Luke 1: 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
What are the similarities between Samuel’s birth and John the Baptist?
- Both of these miraculous births ENDED the SILENT years of the LORD. Their births came just after very DRY periods in Israel where there was little to no communication with God.
- Both were born into Righteous and Believing families who made following the Lord a priority.
- Both were born into families from the Levitical Priesthood.
- Both were born to barren mothers.
- Both Samuel and John the Baptist took Nazarite vows, no drinking alcohol, no cutting hair, etc.
- Both Samuel and John the Baptist were forerunners of something GREAT.
- God walked with Samuel and John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from His Mother’s womb..(totally KILLING the “abortion argument”). They had favor with God!
- Both grew into POWERFUL messengers of God, for in their days, God was preparing to SHAKE Israel and do something NEW, something that would “make Israel’s ears tingle”.
- Both Samuel and John the Baptist were WELL KNOWN in Israel, and both called ISRAEL to REPENTANCE.
Out of the desert places of Israel were birthed two very significant and powerful prophets. They had no power of their own, but they walked with the LORD of HOSTS who is ALL POWERFUL! They were founts of Living Water for Israel, who had been simply EXISTING in a dry, thirsty land. God poured out His Wisdom and Spirit into both Samuel and John the Baptist for the BENEFIT of ISRAEL, the people of God. People, hungry for a touch from the Lord, flocked to their ministries.
Of course, this leads us to today. It’s been almost 2000 years since Jesus and His Disciples walked the earth. While the Lord has been building His Gentile Church, He has AGAIN been fairly silent. There are still miracles happening today, based on faith, and people still hear from the Lord, but it’s not like it was in Biblical times. Similar to the time of the Judges (but 5 times as long), there have been very dry spells within the Church, followed by several spiritual REVIVALS that have taken place since the time of Christ.
It’s important to understand that the time we are now in, these past 2000 years, are NOT the only Silent Years in God’s STORY.
- There was the Age of the Reformation, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in 1517.
- The First Great Awakening (sometimes Great Awakening) or the Evangelical Revival was a series of Christian revivals that swept Britain and its Thirteen Colonies between the 1730s and 1740s. The revival movement permanently affected Protestantism as adherents strove to renew individual piety and religious devotion.
- The Second Great Awakening found expression in the British Isles, in continental Europe, in North America, in South Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Again, this revival had its roots in prayer meetings. The movement began around 1790, gained momentum by 1800 and, after 1820, membership rose rapidly among Baptist and Methodist congregations whose preachers led the movement. It was past its peak by the late 1840s. A phenomenal thing about the time of renewal was that sinners began attending the prayer services of the believers. Answering a question as to why this happened, Towns and Porter say, “Some reported being drawn to the churches by dreams and visions. Others actually came intending to disrupt the meetings or to have a good laugh at Christians engaged in prayer” (p. 77). However, the conviction of the Holy Spirit griped their hearts as they experienced wonderful conversions.
- The Azusa Street Revival was a historic revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles. It was led by William Seymour an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, worship services and speaking in tongues.
During these 2000 years while God has been building His Gentile Church, Physical Israel has also gone through many changes and suffering. After the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, the Jews were scattered to the 4 ends of the earth. During this 2000 year Jewish Diaspora, the Jews have experienced much persecution. Joint monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 1400’s. In 1555 there was a “Papal Decree” that ordered Jews be confined to ghettos in Western Europe. In 1881 there were anti-Jewish laws revived in Russia and Poland. In 1933, Hitler committed genocide against the Jews in Europe, killing 6 Million Jews. But after chastising Israel for 2000 years, God showed up in a big way for Physical Israel because in 1948, the Jews returned to their homeland, fulfilling the Prophecy of Isaiah 11:11. In 1967, Israel captured Jerusalem in the six day war. Over the past 70 years, many Jewish people have made “Aliyah” back to Israel. As prophesied, Jerusalem has become a “cup of trembling” to the world. Even to this day, the world community (particularly Israel’s neighbors) persecutes, condemns, and sometimes physically attacks the State of Israel. It’s very possible that a major war with Iran will begin SOON because of Jerusalem and the desire that many Muslim nations have in taking Jerusalem AWAY from Physical Israel (Jewish people). God will NOT take kindly to anybody trying to DIVIDE the land of Jerusalem or to RIP it away from the Jewish people!
God has been working behind the scenes for 2000 SILENT years. During this time, there have been major Church Revivals, Israel has returned to her land, but still, since the days of the Bible, there hasn’t been those JAW DROPPING, TONGUE WAGGING MAJOR MIRACLES! It FEELS like we are in a very dry period right now. The Western Church has been waning, losing membership year after year because of trying to follow after the world’s standards. And yet there are many people in the Church HUNGRY for a REVIVAL. This is coming. God always closes out the Dry periods, the SILENT PERIODS, with something that would make our ears tingle. The barren woman is about to give birth to something GREAT! Jesus IS coming back! In His Word, He said that HE goes to prepare a place for us, and that HE is coming back to get us! But before He returns, Jesus is going to SHAKE the Heavens and the earth. He’s going to AWAKEN His Sleeping Church from their SLUMBER. God always saves the best for last. In the seasons, Autumn is the most BEAUTIFUL and COLORFUL season, really my FAVORITE season! Just before the world goes into a LONG, hard winter’s sleep, God gives us a GRAND DISPLAY of COLORS, a BEAUTY that will be remembered through the long, cold, hard winter! After the winter..God brings Spring and REBIRTH. God saves the BEST for last!
Haggai 2:9: ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares the Lord of hosts.”
The early Church received the “early rains”. The Disciples received a DRAMATIC baptism of Holy Spirit and FIRE…and they performed MAJOR MIRACLES in the NAME OF JESUS!!
Joel 2:23: So rejoice, O sons of Zion,
And be glad in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.
And He has poured down for you the rain,
The early and latter rain as before.
We’re waiting for the LATTER RAINS, a final HUGE outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as God BREAKS through the SILENT YEARS in a BIG, BIG WAY! Of course, it’s been such a long time that many Christians are beginning to question...”Is Jesus really coming back”? What did Jesus have to say about the doubt that has creeped in because of HIS perceived LONG DELAY?
Matthew 25: 5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
2 Peter 3:3: Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
We’ve had silence for 2000 years, but God is about to roar from His Holy Habitation prior to the Rapture and the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Is He even now, nurturing a child (children) born of a barren woman (Dry Church)? Is He even now preparing an army for the outpouring of the latter rains? Now is definitely NOT the time to slumber or sleep! The signs are all around us! The fig tree is tender and growing leaves! I don’t think we have much longer to wait until we SEE God MOVE MOUNTAINS again on this EARTH! The LION of the TRIBE OF JUDAH is about to ROAR! Do we have oil in our lamps? Have we “trimmed our wicks” (repenting and trying to live Holy before the Lord)….Are we READY? Have we prayed to be counted worthy to escape the things that are coming upon the earth and stand before the Son of Man!