Impartial Grace: “400 Years of Silence”

Mr. Salisbury asks “what does it mean for Him (God) to be ‘all in all?’” It is not a rhetorical question. If Christ’s death does not reconcile all to the Father; that is, if Christ’s death does not save all, then Satan wins and Christ fails. To believe Christ does not save all exalts Satan. Mr. Salisbury asks these questions. “Does every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil.2:11) because God is really like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.3), forcing all into submission without respect to the desire of their heart?”

We know the story of Nebuchadnezzar. He was a King of Babylon. He brought Daniel and three other young Hebrew men into his Court. We know from scripture that Daniel was able to interpret the King’s dreams and subsequently was made a man of importance in the Babylonian kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar thought highly of himself. He thought himself to be “god.” He built a statue of his likeness and demanded all men bow in subjection to that idol. Daniel’s companions, the three young Hebrew men, refused. Nebuchadnezzar declared that any person refusing to bow to his idol would be burned alive in a pit. The three young men were judged for disobeying Nebuchadnezzar’s edict. The king wanted Daniel’s companions to repent and bow to the idol. These young men were given opportunity to recant their commitment to their God, our God, and to bow before the idol of the king. They would not. We know how their testimonies continue. A fiery pit was built and the flames of the pit were the hottest they could be made to be. Guards standing near the pit were consumed by the fire’s heat. The three young Hebrew men were thrown into that fire. Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fiery pit and he saw a Fourth man with them. Daniel’s companions were protected from the destruction caused by the fire.

Is God like Nebuchadnezzar? The answer is certainly not. Nebuchadnezzar was rebuked. He was defeated by the Incarnate Christ standing in a fire to rival hell’s flames. God is not loathsome. He is benevolent. His mercies are fresh every day. His mercies are grace upon grace. God is a consuming fire. His fire is a refining fire. He is love.

Nebuchadnezzar ruled with fear. God rules with love. All the ills of the world are conquered in His love. Nebuchadnezzar used his power and authority to coerce people to worship an idol made to look like him. Jesus Christ is not an idol and He does not require symbols or grand statues to demonstrate His power and authority. Nebuchadnezzar was a temporal man. His life ends. Christ Jesus is life and His life never ends Nebuchadnezzar sought to force his kingdom to bow to his likeness. Not so with the True King. The most sinful will see Jesus and recognize Him. The most sinful will experience the King’s grace, mercy and ultimately His love. He will indeed become “all in all.”

Pastor Dan Held helps us distinguish between fear and love. He writes, “We can place our faith in fear, which is rooted in our desire to receive, or else we can place our faith in love, which is rooted in our need to give.” 1 We live lives often struggling with conflicts between fear and love. “Our desires conflict with our needs.” Love conquers all! Pastor Held concurs, “I believe love is the solution to the universal problem of fear. That’s where my own mind now chooses to place my faith after 71 years of arguing back and forth internally between my body’s fear and my soul’s love. And that’s why I believe in Jesus.” Pastor Held confirms what we know intuitively. “Jesus was the master of love.” Love is “ a universal need we all have.”

Hate is rooted in fear. Fear is defeated by faith in Christ and faith in God’s love. It is enjoyable living a life in which I criticize far less and give glory to God far more. Rather than fear I experience His will more often and more completely. “Be a Christian doing rather than a human being.” I am no longer quick to hate or to judge. That does not mean that my flesh does not rise up and rebel. I still sin and often the sin is because of my prideful judgment of another. Pastor Held is right to say about love; “It is a universal need we all have.” It is a universal need that is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Universal reconciliation is a doctrine acknowledging God’s immutable, relentless love. It is Impartial Grace.

1 Dan Held, Pastor.The Problem With Problem Solving.” Pastor Dan Held Blog. September 14, 2017. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.

Malachi closes the Old Testament history, but its history is not dead. The doctrine of Impartial Grace is defined in those sacred scriptures. The OT scriptures declare God is Sovereign over all that He creates. He is love and He is immutable. He is a disciplining Father. He has a plan, in fact, He is the plan of salvation. New Testament scriptures lean on what is old to usher in the new. The doctrine of Impartial Grace is affirmed in it.

The period of time from the closing of Malachi to the opening of the New Testament is called “The 400 Years of Silence.” The scholars at the “Got Questions” website provide a brief history of those 400 years. Israel may not have heard directly from God in those centuries, but there can be little doubt Israel was not ignored by Him. Israel was occupied by Greeks, Egyptians and lastly by the Roman Empire. Non-Jewish persons occupied the positions of authority and ruled as directed. The Jewish faith was watered down or abridged by authoritarians. Traditions took the place of sound instruction. “Got Questions” explains 1:

Between the time of Malachi and the coming of the Messiah, several prophecies were fulfilled, including the 2,300 days of desecration between 171 and 165 B.C. (Daniel 8:14). However, the people did not put to good use either the fulfilled prophecies nor the 400 years the nation was given to study Scripture, to seek God (Psalm 43-44), and to prepare for the coming Messiah. In fact, those years blinded and deafened the nation to the point where most of the Jews could not even consider the concept of a humble Messiah (Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40).

The Gospels give accounts of Christ Jesus unsettling the traditional authorities and expressing the Truth to the people. The Gospels give account of Divine love being explained, but rejected by the traditionalist authoritarians. Theirs are the doctrines established to elevate themselves over others and to establish personal kingdoms. Theirs are religious edicts passed with the blessing of sitting governments.

Christ Jesus sets the record straight.

1“What Were the 400 Years of Silence?” Got Questions website. Date viewed: 4/10/2021.