God had been quiet for a long time. Unlike the rest of the world, the Jewish nation was accustomed to hearing God speak. They heard Him literally at Mount Sinai. It scared them to death ... well, almost; they were so shook up they asked Moses to speak to God for them because they were afraid to hear His voice again. Their forefathers had heard God speak, too. God spoke to Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, just to name a few. And God spoke to this nation by various means for a period of about 1,000 years. But at the time we call 1st century B.C. God had not spoken for about 500 years. The world at large was probably not even aware. They had never really been interested in what God had to say. There were times and places when God spoke to non-Jewish people and sometimes they listened. There was that time, for example, when God spoke to the people of Nineveh through Jonah, and they listened. And what about the time that God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon through the prophet Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar's response was incredible. But, for the most part the Gentile world had little interest in God.
The Jewish nation, however, received constant communication from God. The problem was that they seldom listened. Oh, there were occasions and times when they did and they faithfully followed God's words. But there were far more unfortunate times when not only did they not trust and obey, it seems as if they plugged their ears so they could not hear.
So why did God keep silent during those 500 years. I don't know that I have the answer to that. Daniel prophesied of what God would be doing or not doing during those years. He told the Jews of some things that would be happening in the world around them as well as in their own national lives. The other prophets along with Daniel spoke of a coming time ... a time when God would come into the world, a time when God would bring a King unlike any king they had seen before, a Messiah - One anointed of God - to come and accomplish a task for which God had planned even before the creation of the world. God, through the prophets, had said He would use the Jewish nation to accomplish this and that the Messiah King would come from the Jews ... even from the seed of their great King David.
But the Jewish leaders had long misunderstood what God's plan was. They misinterpreted the words of their prophets and were expecting something from God that God had not promised. They seemed to know that whatever God was going to do He was going to do it in the time of the 1st century. There was a lot of anxiety during that time ... a waiting for God to act, a waiting for Him to fulfill His promises. Had God forgotten? Had He cast them off and changed His mind? There were even some during that time that took matters in their own hands and claimed to be the Messiah, but they all came to nothing. The misunderstanding of the prophets is still a problem for Jews today, as well as for many who claim Christianity are still misinterpreting the prophets and are looking for a physical king with a physical Kingdom. Unfortunately, when God did come just as He said He would and just as the Jews believed that He would, the Jews so misunderstood that they killed the One God sent (God knew it would happen and He in His omniscience and sovereignty planned to use their evil hands to accomplish the greatest event in all of human history: the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God upon the cross). Worse yet, many who claim to be believers in Jesus still think God's plan is about a physical kingdom. They think Jesus is coming again to set up a kingdom on earth. Apparently they can't hear God's voice in the places wherein He plainly says that the Kingdom now is and Jesus has been resurrected from the dead, exalted on high and now reigns at God's right hand in that kingdom.
The good news that so many either don't know or won't listen to is that we can be a part of that kingdom now and eternally. All we have to do is be born again by the power and grace of God found in the blood of Christ. Being born again means that we can, in God's eyes start anew. He will recreate us as we begin to listen to and follow the teachings of His word. You can have a new spirit, a new and eternal life by the grace of God. All you have to do is trust and obey.