Open the slip of paper with the three dots (ellipsis) printed on it. Ask children what this is or if they have ever seen it used in a book.
11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
Don’t you just love a good read-aloud book? Oftentimes, right before the hero appears to save the day, the reader adds in a long pause to get you on the edge of your seat. Sometimes the pause is just because they need to turn the page, but other times the book has three little dots called an ellipsis. Dot Dot Dot. It’s a pause. It signals that the story isn’t over yet, in fact it’s about to ramp up in the most spectacular way. Well, in the course of the most amazing story ever told, there is an ellipsis. To us it looks like just a page turn. But to the people living in that time it was a 400 year pause! Throughout our story so far God and His people had an ongoing conversation. He told the people about Himself and exactly what He wanted them to do through people called prophets. But after years and years of His people rejecting His prophets and choosing to sin, He stopped talking.
A 400 year pause… silence…
But before you think that our story of God’s people comes to a screeching halt… it didn’t. God was still at work in the silence. Babies were born, and they grew up. They fought with their brothers and sisters, they had favorite foods, and favorite stories, they celebrated holidays and had to do their chores. They probably struggled with believing the promises of God, and doing the right thing. They were just like you and me.
They heard stories passed down from their great great great great great great grandparents about God’s faithfulness and how one day He would send a savior for His people. They had to live their lives hoping and believing God would save them from their sins. God’s silence may have led many to think He had forgotten them. That they had sinned too much.
He had pledged to make His name great among the nations, and that included in Israel. And when God pledges himself to a people, He will never let go, no matter what!
Would you expect this LONG silence to be a part of God’s story? Nope. Even though God’s people were sinful, they could not out-sin the promises of God- and neither can you! He used 400 years of silence -a really long pause- to prepare the hearts of His people for what was to come next. And so we turn the page…Jesus is coming!