I want stress something that has been bothering me the past few months. It has bothered me primary because it was real to me. I essential was a part of the problem. I could say I was a victim, which is partly true, but I don’t like to complain.
The problem is this: today’s Christians are not studying the Bible in historical context enough. The root problem is probably deeper, today’s Christians aren’t studying the Word of God enough in general.
I wonder how many Christians under the age of 25 could correctly associate each book of the Bible with its general time frame in history (I’ll even be nice and say: give or take a century.)
I hope I am wrong, but I think America’s young Christians might be failing.
I say all that a I am finishing up my Intro to OT and NT classes this semester, I started them in the summer semester. No one had ever informed me about the Intertestamental period. I had been trained (and trained well) in Sunday school classes, generally about all the big names (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon…I could even name some of the kings like Ahab, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah, etc…and I knew about all the major prophets…In fact I even knew where all these names fit into history on a general basis.)
Then after the Babylonian exile and the return from exiles during the Persian rule….that is where the Sunday school lessons are not enough. (At least for me!) I did not really know what happened next in history. I have learned a lot in my intro to OT and NT classes!
All I knew was that the NT started and John the Baptist is preparing the Way for Jesus. Malichi was a nice bridge foreseeing John the Baptist and Jesus. But what about these silent years?
This “intertestamental period” is also known as the 400 silent years. History lessons of 8th Century till Christ’s life and death are important, but a lot of times this time period is forgotten about. I think that it is forgotten, many times becuase it is not addressed in the Bible very much. And becuase nothing wirtten from this time period is in the Biblical canon. The story goes, “if it is not in the Bible then it must not be important.”
I have a problem with this line of thinking for quite a few reasons. First it is addressed in the Bible. Second the Bible is ultimate truth, but there is truth outside of the Bible, history. The Bible lines up with history, furthermore showing God’s soverighty. Finally, just becuase something is not mentioned/addressed in the Bible directly, does not mean something is not important.
The book from the Bible that helped me the most to look into this period is Daniel. Daniel is propbaly one of the most difficult reads, but it does address the “silent years” through prophetic visions! While they are hard to read and understand we can still glean a lot about history from them. What is wonderful is that the visions line up with real history!