Most everyone is aware that the Old Testament ended with the prophet Malachi, and that he is typically placed at about 425 BC. By my own efforts, I think the actual year may well be 433 BC, but that’s not terribly important.
What is important is that God, in His faithfulness, did exactly as He had said He would do through His prophet Amos, about 760-750 BC, in chapter 8, and verses 11 and 12. “I will send a famine through the land– a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” More than 300 years before, God told Israel that He was going to go silent on them at some point in time… and with the end of Malachi’s ministry, He did!
When God was going to speak to, and through, Israel again, He said He would send a forerunner, and so, the story of the sending of this forerunner commences in Luke’s Gospel account, and chapter 1. The events that open the New Testament are believed to have actually commenced about 5, or maybe 4, BC. But, before we begin to read in the New Testament, we want to learn of what happened in the ancient world between Malachi and Luke. What took place during that approximate 428 years?
I give you an internet link: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/InterLst.htm
It appears to contain a great deal of reliable historical information about what the inter-testamental period was like, and even what it might have meant to the whole scheme and progress of God’s plan to bring Messiah into the world. I do not know the individual, Al Maxey, who created the material on this site, but I do believe it to be useful to our study for understanding all that was important to the advancement of the story, until we open our New Testaments, and begin to read of what God did next, to and through Israel.
Key to understanding the time of Jesus of Nazareth are those influences that primarily came by way of 1.) the Roman conquest of the known world, that resulted in the Pax Romana, or the peace of Rome. This created and allowed for a road and trade system that made it possible for Christian Apostles and evangelists to quickly spread the Gospel in that day. Another huge consideration was 2.) the incredibly wide acceptance of Koine Greek as the common trade launguage throughout the world at that time. Wherever the Word of God was taken, the people could understand the message. And, finally, 3.) the world religions of the time were quite corrupt and bereft of giving hope. But, the faithful Jews, who knew their scriptures, understood that God had made 7 Promises and Prophecies to them, and that 6 of those had been fulfilled and recorded in their scriptures. They knew, that from the time of their last prophet, Malachi, they were in their period of silence from heaven… and, so, they also knew, and put forth the hope, which much of the world of the time had been made aware of; that the God of the Jews had promised to send the Anointed One, the Messiah! The One who would bring them the hope of salvation, deliverance and the key idea of a perfect Kingdom in which all wrongs would be made right, and no more wrongs would exist again… a Utopia of Bliss!
We are about to commence our study of all the New Testament in a chronological reading manner, as we did thru all the Old Testament. It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell