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One of the prophets we read about in the Old Testament was named Amos. In the book that bears his name, he made this prophecy: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12). 

This prophecy spoke of a time that came at the close of the prophet Malachi’s book, which is the final book of the Old Testament. For 400 years there was a famine of the word of the Lord. This period is often called the Years of Silence.

Following the Years of Silence, the world was a very different place. The Roman Empire was now the dominant power, controlling large portions of territory, including Israel. However, the time had come for God to complete His plan of salvation for mankind. The 27 books of the New Testament detail this amazing display of God’s grace.

When God chose to bring this famine of words to a close, He sent an angel to deliver a message to an old Jewish priest by the name of Zechariah. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had no children and were well beyond the age of couples to whom children are normally born. However, the angel said that Elizabeth would have a son and they would name him John. This child would have no ordinary purpose in life; the angel explained that he would be the forerunner of the coming Son of God. This meant that John would preach to the Jews about the need for repentance and baptism so that they would be prepared to hear the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Shortly after the announcement to Zechariah, the Lord sent an angel to a young woman named Mary. Mary, though engaged, was a virgin. Surely the angel’s message must have been shocking when he told her that she would have a son. Even more shocking was who this Son would be – none other than the Son of God! Though overwhelmed by this grand announcement, Mary showed herself a willing servant and praised God. Her fiancé Joseph also demonstrated great trust in God when he too received an angelic message about this miraculous birth. 

On the night of Jesus’ birth, shepherds were tending flocks near the small village of Bethlehem. Suddenly an angel appeared to them announcing the birth of the Son of God. The skies then filled with heavenly hosts praising the significance of the birth in this way: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). Although Satan tried to destroy the life of this Child, God’s plan would not be thwarted. The Savior of the world was born to deliver humans from their sin and guilt.

The first four books of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books, often referred to as the Gospels, discuss the time that Jesus spent on Earth. Though detailed, these writers tell us very little about the childhood and early adult years of Jesus. The writer Luke simply sums it up in this way: “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The four writers primarily focus on the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They tell us about how many of the prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus. They tell the grand story of Jesus’ love for His Father, love for mankind, and the great sacrifice He made so that those dead in sin could live. Our next lesson will focus on the wonderful love of the Savior who died and rose again!