Chapter Sixteen:

Intertestamental History

Proverbs 16: 24 - 25 “ Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Opportunities are given to us for our learning. God does not “cause things to happen to us”, but He has “poured out the vials” of learning. Man must either learn to obey and endure or suffer the consequences. Sometimes the times were perilous for the children of Israel, and they were at times in danger even of annihilation, as when Esther was queen and intervened for the sake of the Israelites when Haman sought to bring about the annihilation of the Jewish nation.

In our times, we can see similar circumstances of hate and vengeance, as when Hitler sought to annihilate the Jewish nation. It was not God which brought about such chaos, but the sins of one man, and there was no one to call the people to prayerful interention as Esther did in her generation. God does not want that any should perish, but desires our obedience and compassion, and that we should all come to repentance. (Ezekiel 18: 4-9).

So, if God loves us and asks us to repent, whose problem is it? All problems are caused by someone’s sins. We cannot put blame on anyone but ourselves; each one of us being responsible for our own actions. We should live by our own standards by which we judge others, because we do the same things. So that puts judgment on ourselves, also. Jesus said to take His yolk and learn of Him. Learn His ways and walk with Him.

Men of Faith of the Old Testament were the spokesmen for God; Enoch; Noah; Jacob (renamed Israel); Joseph; Moses; David; and the judges and the prophets. After Moses died God buried him completely in His rest. And Joshua led the people on to the “promised” land. They conquered Canaan, but they did not annihilate the nations as God told them to do, and those foreign nations were made a “thorn in the flesh” to Israel. After Joshua died God placed judges over Israel. Each judge would have to bring the people “back to God” and to repentance. God also provided prophets to bring His word to the people. But even some of the prophets did evil in the sight of the Lord. The people finally besought God to give them a king, so that they could be like the rest of the world. When the people continued to do evil, continually leaving God’s Word, and refusing to follow His ways, God was angered and delivered them into captivity, and God finally became “silent”.

In God’s “silence” the people had only the “tutor-ship” of the Old testament Law to teach them what God expected and what man could do to please God while all things were being fulfilled in God’s plan for the opportunity to return to God because man himself wanted to return to God.

The Israelites served strangers in a land not their own for 400 +a few years, while the “sins of the people in Canaan were being completed; a case of “fulfilling time”. The Israelites had begun looking for a “deliverer”, probably because they had been taught through their traditions, that God had said that they would serve strangers for 400 years as was told to Abraham. The duration for the “period of silence” was some 400 +a few years, and then the Israelites began searching and looking for the “Messiah, the Prophet like unto Moses, as was prophesied in their “scripture”, although no time limit had been suggested. The relevant prophecy as concerning the “spiritual drought” when there was no prophet to be found, is found in Micah 3; Amos 8:11 and Micah 5:2-4 when Christ would come.

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Micah 3:4 Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear : he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. 5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. 6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. 7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. 8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 3 Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.

The people were looking for this Messiah, the Prophet like unto Moses, searching but not finding, and believing in fables.

Isa. 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

People were seeking, but not finding for there was no prophet to give them the “word of the Lord”. As concerning the secular history, Clayton Harrop gives a brief but good run-down on the period between Malachi and the birth of Christ in Holman’s Bible Dictionary on the rulers, culture and the language of the times.

And our generations now are doing the same thing; searching and not finding; covering themselves, but not with the blood of Christ! We are in a spiritual drought, but ours is not a period of silence as then, for we have the written word in the form of the Bible, the Word of God, to guide us. And we are looking for His return for completion to end all times and give the final judgment before entering the “Promised Land”. Christ is that Prophet that we are required to listen to and heed, for there will be no other!

Rob Wacaster on the intertestamental period:

The fullness of time was the completion of everything to make it the perfect time for Jesus to come. The prophesies were all completed; the whole world spoke a common language, and was under a common government. The apostles (at least Paul as a Roman citizen) could travel all over the world without a passport; people were looking for new things, new answers to old problems (like in Athens). Jews from all over the world, born in different cultures and speaking all the languages would be in Jerusalem at least 3 times each year. They would learn of Jesus, see His crucifixion, hear the first gospel sermon, and take all that news home. There was little distracting entertainment --no television, no radio -- and attention spans were still very long. There was an expectation of the coming of the Messiah among the Jews. (They told Herod exactly where to find Him when He was born!) It was the fullness of time - exactly the right time for the most influential man in history to be born, live, change the world forever, and die; then live again to continue changing individuals until the next perfect time for Him to return.

Sometimes I wonder why he did not come today with T.V. and mass communication and rapid transportation. But could you see Jesus having much influence in a world where even fantastic reality is boring next to special effects, and simple truth is disregarded and discarded to make time for the Cowboys? He would not have been crucified today -- He would have been ignored! He would have had to be a very high-powered political or social reformer, or Tele-evangelist to get any media attention. Simple messages are ignored today. There are a lot of Pilates today asking “What is truth?” sarcastically, and not even expecting an answer. Jesus came at the best time in history - religiously, socially, and politically; in the fullness of time!”

The period of silence was a period of Spiritual drought as predicted by the prophets Micah and Amos. As the end of the period approached, the people were restless and searching “to hear the Word of the Lord”. They were searching in accordance with the Old Testament prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah who would deliver them from the bondage of Roman rule, and set up a kingdom, restoring Israel to her former glory. They again realized the “need” for God and “called upon the name of the Lord:, but there was no sign. But what they were looking for was a physical King, given a physical kingdom to return them as a “world power:. They were looking for a prophet “like unto Moses” with miracles and signs and wonders. And there were so many striking similarities, how could they have not recognized the Messiah? If there was any significance to the similarities between Moses and the Prophet like unto him, the people should have recognized the Messiah. But we have better vision of the whole picture, and therefore are more responsible for not “neglecting so great a salvation”.

The killing of the male children under 2 years old.

Brought “the children out of Egypt the bondage of sin.

Didn’t really want to do the job, but God’s Will to be done.

Miracles to prove God’s presence.

Sent by God as a spokesman for Him (Deu. 18:15-22)

Deliverance to the “Land of Promise”.

Then......Christ came in the “fullness of time, when all things were ready”. The time had come to finish God’s plan. The Israelites were looking for THE Prophet like unto Moses, with signs and wonders. If He had come much later in history, the Jews would have left the Faith too far. Christ came as Moses came... to lead us away from “Egypt” and into the desert of testing, and proving God’s presence with miracles. A Prophet like unto Moses, but more than a Prophet. A Priest like unto Melchezidec, but more than a Priest. A King on the throne of David, but more than a King. The time had come to finish His plan. God prepared His Son. A ram caught in a thicket, as it were. He died in our stead. He was victorious over death and sin. The Old Testament brings us to Christ. The New Testament brings us to the Cross. Christ died that we might live......that we might die to sin, and be made alive in the Spirit! The final battle was victorious in Christ. God’s hand was not stayed; God did not withhold His promises from us! And the time “was” when the world was to be brought to Christ! Now the time “was” for the prophet like unto Moses, but the one that every man would be required to listen to. The One God said of -- “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.” The One who came with miracles, and signs, and wonders to confirm the Word.

Back to contents

Go to Next Chapter

Table Of Contents

God's Word - The Bible
In The Beginning
The Garden
God Reaches Out
Two Sons
And Man Multiplied
The Flood
The Rainbow
The Faith of Abraham
A Covenant Promise Fulfilled
Analogies: Sons and the Covenant
The Ultimate Test of Faith
To Make A Nation
A Prophet Raised Up
Intertestamental History
Fullness Of Time