The 400 years of silence refers to the time between the Old Testament and New Testaments, during which God did not speak to the Jewish people. It began with the admonition that closed the Old Testament: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6) and ended with the coming of John the Baptist, the Messiah’s forerunner.
In the time of Malachi’s warning, about 430 B.C., the Jews had returned to Palestine from the Babylonian captivity (as merchants, not shepherds). The Medo-Persian Empire still ruled Palestine, and the temple had been rebuilt. Both the Law and the priesthood of Aaron’s line had been restored, and the Jews had given up their worship of idols. Nevertheless, Malachi’s warning was not without cause. The Jewish people were mistreating their wives, marrying pagans and not tithing, and the priests were neglecting the temple and not teaching the people the ways of God. In short, the Jews were not honoring God. In 333 B.C., Palestine fell to the Greeks, and in 323 B.C. it fell to the Egyptians. The Jews generally were treated well throughout those reigns, and they adopted the Greek language and many of the Greek customs and manners, and in Egypt the Old Testament was translated into Greek. That translation, the Septuagint, came into widespread use (and is quoted frequently in the New Testament).
It is astonishing to know how God operate history to work out His purposes. Though we are living in the days that might be termed “the silence of God,” when for almost two years there has been no inspired voice from God, we must look back even as they did during those four silent years upon the inspired record and realize that God has already said all that needs to be said, through the Old and New Testaments. For sure God’s purposes have not ended.