The book of Matthew is phenomenal for many reasons. But one
factor that stands out is that the place
of the book in canon breaks the long sustained silence between the old testament
and the new. There is a gap of 400 hundred years between the work of Malachi and
the book of Matthew. Most importantly, as far as Israel is concerned, God was
hidden and silent during the era. Let’s break this down a bit. During the 400
years of silence there were no prophets to speak on behalf of God, there were
no angelic manifestations, there were no remarkable Divine interpositions for
the chosen nation of Israel.
This era in Israel’s timeline represents one common
phenomenon in our Christian journey. The era represents those dark valleys in
our lives when it seems that God is silent or indifferent to what we are going
through. What is striking is that God has never been silent. During this era:
the people of God had the written word, whose import they unfortunately slighted
to the extent of missing the first advent of Christ.
This prompted Christ’s declaration: “I am not sent but unto
the lost sheep of the House of Israel”(Matthew 15:24)
Unmasking the Imaginary Absence of God
A few brain bites:
The magnitude of God’s silence that we perceive is proportionate to our level of indifference to His pleadings.
How far we perceive God to be from us is equidistant to how far we have drifted from Him.
What we perceive as God’s silence is our indifference to His love screaming back at us.
Nonetheless God’s doesn’t waste any crisis. Even when we perceive His absence and silence, His silence is eloquent. The perceived absence of God must create in us deeper longings based on the fact that it was never God’s original desire that His creatures be separated from Him. God taps the perceived absence of His person in our lives to create a deeper desire for God so that when God’s love for us and our appreciation of Him strike an equilibrium then the project of salvation achieves its object and thus harrowing human experience is not in vain.
God’s perceived absence is being employed to workshop the
sin battered mind on how much it needs God not as a want but a need.
As Francois de La Rochefoucauld observes profoundly: “Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.”
God’s presence is guaranteed and thus we should learn to
trust Him even when we can not trace Him.
Psalm 46: 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.
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