HISTORICAL INTERLUDE (Ca. 425-5 B.C.)
End of Old Testament Record
“As the historical record of the Old Testament comes to a close, the curtain falls on the early centuries of mankind’s existence. From Adam and Eve to Ezra and Nehemiah, God has revealed himself in the affairs of both individuals and nations. From the earliest days of the patriarchs, a divine master plan has been unfolding to teach mankind the nature of God, and to prepare the world for a Savior who will transform man’s sinful condition and bring true life. Some 650 years before it came into being, God promised the faithful patriarch Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation and have a land of their own — and that through them all the people of the earth would be blessed.
When the 12 tribes of Israel were delivered out of Egyptian bondage and brought to Mount Sinai, the first promise was fulfilled. God covenanted with the new nation of Israel that he would be their God and they inn turn covenanted that they would be his people. Among other symbols of the covenant was the law given through Moses. But in the very week of its inception, the nation exhibited a spirit of rebellion which would continue generation after generation. But God in his mercy forgave his people and led them to the promised land of Canaan and God’s second promise to Abraham was fulfilled.
The people became more and more rebellious, turning away from their God, the Creator of the universe, to pagan gods and idols of man’s own making. God had sent one messenger after another, crying out against the people’s sins and warning of impending punishment. And yet, without exception, every message had ended with a note of hope and a promise of restoration.
Faithful as always, God fulfilled his promise when he brought his people back into their land, exactly as he had foretold, and when the temple was rebuilt, God’s word was once again proved true. But when foreign dominance and local oppression continued over the next century, disillusionment and cynicism set in — and with it, renewed spiritual rebellion.
Despite the message of Malachi that the day of the Lord was coming, and despite the temporary spiritual revival under Ezra and Nehemiah, the Old Testament record does not end on a note of great optimism or confidence. Although comfortable retrospect might chide the Jews for their lack of faith, it is easy to understand their true discouragement. Others in later centuries — Jew and non-Jew alike — whose primary focus is on a physical rather than a spiritual kingdom, or the coming of the end when they mistakingly expect it, will suffer the same disillusionment. And saddest of all, when the Messiah finally does come, he will be so unlike the Jews’ preconceived image of him that most of them will not even recognize him.”
All quotations taken from The Daily Bible.