At the beginning of the first century A.D., no word from the Lord had been heard for almost five centuries. Jews believe that the voice of God has fallen silent. The prophecies of the magisterial Isaiah, the weeping Jeremiah, the socially conscious Amos, and all the rest seem like a distant echo. Now the only time the prophets speak is in readings of the Hebrew Scriptures in synagogues.

The fifth-century B.C. prophet Malachi knows that the people have grown spiritually indifferent. Their zeal has grown cold. Some go even further, offering blemished sacrifices and robbing God by failing to tithe properly. They oppress the poor and downtrodden of society. They no longer worship idols, but they do not worship the one true God either. They may have put on a veneer of righteousness, but their disobedience betrays them.

Malachi foretells a time when God would intervene in a marvelous and dramatic way. He knows the people would need God to work powerfully as He has done in the past. Five centuries later, something marvelous happens. John the Baptist explodes upon the scene announcing the kingdom of God and preaching a message of repentance. Wearing rough clothes and living in the wilderness, he looks very much like an Old Testament prophet. Malachi’s new Elijah has arrived, meaning the Messiah would not be far behind. The excitement of the people must have been at a fever pitch. No wonder John and Jesus both attract so many followers.

Studying the prophets reminds us of the need to be patient. Some prophecies took centuries to fulfill. Waiting for God can be a challenging task, especially in a culture that demands immediate gratification and instant access. The apostle Peter tells us that God is not slow in keeping His promise, but is patient (2 Peter 3:9). He tells us that one more Day of the Lord remains, when Christ will return and redeem all things. For now, we must wait in excited anticipation, awaiting the conclusion of the final chapter in the marvelous drama of redemption.

Today, I will…work to cultivate more patience, understanding that God is not slow but rather is working out all things according to His schedule instead of mine.