I'd like to tell you a Christmas story. My Christmas story doesn't begin with angels, or shepherds, or a star. It begins with an old man.
I imagine Malachi as a seasoned old man who'd shared the word of the Lord with Israel for decades. But I could be wrong about that. Whatever his age, Malachi wrote these poignant words:
See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
Then, there was silence. The prophets, who weren't so popular in Israel (check Hebrews 11:36-38 to see how they were treated), didn't speak again, and the voice of the Lord wasn't heard in Israel.
For over four hundred years.
These were dark times in Israel's history. There was a military victory, which they celebrated for centuries afterward, but no proceeding word from God. Roman occupation began, and the Caesars ruled with an iron fist. More and more Israel began to cry out for deliverance, and to long for her Messiah.
But then, after centuries of silence from heaven, there came a sound.
It was a sound full of paradox: both ordinary and extraordinary, both human and divine. Fragile yet powerful, tiny yet the most significant sound ever heard in human history to date.
A four-century silence was shattered by the cry of a baby, and within a few minutes angels were seen and heard in the skies above the hills around Bethlehem, saying, "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord... Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
God's voice changes everything!
Do you have a moment when you heard God's voice and it changed something for you?
His voice has brought me immeasurable comfort. His voice has filled me with holy fear. His voice has warned me, and his voice has made me laugh. I'm so thankful for the voice of God, a thread of grace that has sustained me throughout my life with him.
As we celebrate Emmanuel this year--God with us, let's cherish the joy of hearing his voice. Because ever since that baby grew into a man who paid for our sins and reunited us with the Father through his precious blood, we no longer need prophets to hear his voice on our behalf. What a treasure, to hear his voice!