The Silent Times

18th century painting of a family celebrating ...

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A little under two weeks ago, the new year, as defined by God (Exo. 12:2), began–and with it began the cycle of salvation.

There’s an old saying that “a Jew’s catechism is his calendar”–and that’s more true than most know. God’s entire plan of salvation for Israel–and by extension, the world–is laid out on His calendar, according to His mo’edim (appointed times).

This is, according to God, the first of months, the beginning of His plan. But before we go forward, let us look backwards for the moment: Before Pesach (Passover) is a long period between the seven Feastdays that God commanded at Sinai. The last feast was Sukkot, six months ago. That’s not to downplay the importance of Hannukah or Purim–they too have prophetic importance–but simply to point out that this is the long gap, if you will, the long period of silence, corresponding to the 430 years of silence while Israel was in Egypt and the 430 years of silence between the last prophet and the coming of Messiah.

Within this long gap, we see Hanukkah and Purim, two feasts that celebrate Israel’s victories over those who wanted to destroy her. In both, God’s hand was active, but hidden: In the book of Esther, which explains the origins of Purim, God is not even mentioned by name! (This was to keep the people of Persia, where Esther was published, from obtaining and misusing the Name of Hashem. However, Hashem can be found in four places in acrostic form.) And the books of Maccabees, which record the origin of Hanukkah, were written in an era without the prophetic Spirit, a fact they themselves acknowledge (1 Mac. 14:41), which is why they were not added to the canon. Nevertheless, though invisible, God’s hand was clearly sheilding His people, and Israel survived–just as He protected Israel from being wiped out by Egypt during their slavery there.

Just because we don’t see God throwing down fire and parting seas does not mean that He has ceased to work. There’s an old saying:

For lack of a nail, a shoe was lost.
For lack of a shoe, a horse was lost.
For lack of a horse, a rider was lost.
For lack of a rider, a battle was lost.
For lack of a battle, the war was lost.

God may act openly, visibly, with miracles and plagues to effect His will–or He may cause a single nail to loosen, and thus turn the tide of an entire war. He may send a prophet to demand Pharaoh let His people go with great signs and wonders, or He may place a single Jewess in the court of a king to intercede for her people.

Shalom.

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