What can happen in four hundred years? Well, considering that in 1612, the Pilgrims had not yet landed in Plymouth, an entire continent can change radically in four hundred years. Yet to God, for whom “a day is like a thousand years,” four hundred years is barely a half-day.
Now consider Israel: major periods of Biblical history can be divided into four hundred year spans, give or take, depending on whose reckoning you go by. What happened during those paltry half-days of Almighty God’s time? Let’s take a look and see.
Day 1: “God heard their groaning and He remembered…” Ex: 2:24
Groaning. Imagine a people who had been enslaved four hundred years! God had made a bunch of promises, and then abandoned the whole crowd, apparently. If you were in their sandals, an Egyptian whip at your back, would you demand that God account for His whereabouts the past four centuries? Today what are you groaning about? Does it seem God’s gone deaf or taken a hike? Write your issues in large letters and hold the paper up for Him to see. Or shout them aloud, if you dare. Then watch and see what our God who hears will do.
Day 2: “Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them…They were in great distress.” Judges 2:15
Frustrated. Now imagine yourself among a people who marched into the Promised Land in great victory, only to have all expectation fizzle pretty quickly. Imagine you’re a wife, hauling water and tending babies and milking goats. You’re frustrated that after four centuries of judges, your husband is still out fighting battles he knows he can’t win. Today, are you frustrated? Do you wish God would show up with something besides defeat? Then do what the people finally did in Judges 20:14-23. Go to a holy place, take some encouraging people with you, and ask God for victory.
Day 3: “Elijah…said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions?’” 1 Kings 18:29
Indecision. If any one thing characterized God’s people during the centuries of the Kings, it was their inability to decide, once and for all, that God is Sovereign. Time and again, God revealed Himself and His purposes, yet the people remained unconvinced that God knew what He was doing. Today, are you plagued by indecision? Not sure what God’s telling you to do? My wise friend, Melanie, taught me this: Go back and do the last thing He told you. God may withhold a new revelation until you have been obedient in the last one.
Day 4: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14
Silence. Four hundred years, God was completely silent. Not a single word for the people from the prophets until The Word, Jesus. Meanwhile, the people waited, longing and watching for the promised Redeemer. Today, have you been endlessly waiting, watching, while God has remained silent? Fix in your mind that Almighty God doesn’t answer to you. Write a prayer of praise, and continue to acclaim His worth, no matter how long He remains silent.
Day 5: “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son…” Gal. 4:4
Here are some facts we can glean from God’s half-days. God is faithful, and His grace is astonishing. He is all-powerful, mighty warrior, and within His will there is always victory. Rest your soul in these facts. No matter how disappointing, confusing, frustrating your situation may seem, your God knows what He is doing, and it will all work out for your best, even if takes a half-day or so.