In the Fullness of Time
God is never off schedule
Galatians 4:4-5 speaks of Christ coming into the world “in the fullness of time”. God is never off schedule. He is right on time in every situation. Psalm 31:15 reminds us that “our times are in God’s hands”. That is, God is absolutely sovereign in the timing of every event of your life. Fifty some years ago when I began my ministry, I knew that truth intellectually. Through the years I have been learning it practically.
If you are single, you can take comfort in this truth. God has a plan for you. If you are to be married, He knows who your spouse will be and He has the timing of events under His control. If it is His will for you to remain single, He has a plan for you that will be more fulfilling and will bring you more joy than if you were married.
As the President of the United States is constantly surrounded and protected by his secret service agents, so we are surrounded and protected by God’s secret service angels. Hebrews 1:13-14 speaks of them.
The fullness of time had come.
Getting back to the context and truth of Galatians 4:4-5 Paul is writing of how God planned the coming of His Son, Jesus, into this world. It was “in the fullness of time”.
It was time for Israel’s Messiah to come. Israel had been cured of their idolatry after seventy years of captivity in Babylon. They were now back in their homeland. The Old Testament was completed. Synagogues had been established where Israel could meet and hear the reading and expounding of God’s Word. Jesus would use the synagogues to teach the people. Later, Paul would meet with the Jews in the synagogues to preach the Gospel of Christ.
Three hundred years earlier, Alexander the Great conquered the world and so Greek became the common language throughout the known world. Thus the Gospel was made accessible to the nations.
Jesus came in the fullness of time. In the Pax Romana, initiated under Caesar Augustus, the world enjoyed a time of relative peace in the Roman Empire. Minimal Roman force was needed during the years from 27BC through 180 AD. The Romans had established a system of roads throughout the empire. Those roads would fascilitate the spread of the Gospel as Paul and others preached it.
The spiritual darkness prophesied in Isaiah 60:1-3 had fallen on Israel as they were led by the spiritually dead Pharisees. Christ’s coming brought spiritual light to that darkness. That light would enlighten Gentiles as well as Jews.
John the Baptist, son of the priest Zacharaias and his wife Elizabeth, would be the forerunner and introducer of Jesus to the public when He began His public ministry at the age of 30.
The mystery of God in human flesh
And so Paul writes in Galatians 4:4-5 “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Christ, who is the eternal Word of John 1:1-3 who created the world, became flesh and dwelt among us John 1:10-14 The people of that generation had the privilvege of beholding God in human flesh. This tremendous event was prophesied by the prophets, most notably by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 The prophet Micah also prophesied of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2. These prophesies were written seven hundred years before the event. Seven hundred years is a long time; two hundred years longer than the time period between Columbus discovering America and this present time!
God and Time
We live in the realm of time. Most of us have the privilege of living about seventy years. We’re in a hurry to squeeze all we can out of the limited time we are given. God is eternal. Time means nothing to Him. He has infinite time to accomplish His purposes.
You’ve heard the saying, “The wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.” Let me rephrase that. “The wheels of God’s purpose move slowly, but God’s purpose is always accomplished.” God is never behind schedule. Seven hundred years is as nothing to God; nor are two thousands years. Two thousand years ago Jesus prophesied that He would return to this earth. He still has not yet returned, but the promise is just as sure to be accomplished as Isaiah and Micah’s prophecies of His first coming to this earth.
You would think that such an event as God becoming flesh and visiting the earth would have been with great fanfare and excitement; but it was not. The eternal God, creator of Heaven and earth, came as a new born baby. He was born to Mary, who though betrothed to Joseph, their marriage had not yet been consumated sexually. Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, the God-Man, came to this earth as a tiny helpless baby who needed the care of his mother, Mary and step-father Joseph. He needed the parental care and training that every baby needs. He grew up and became a man and then in God’s perfect time, He went to the cross and died for our sins, rising again the third day and returning to Heaven. Jesus came as the God-man. He died as the God-man. He returned to Heaven as the God-man and He is returning to claim His Bride, (His Church) one day, perhaps soon, as the God-man. When He returns for us, He will still be the God-man and He promises that we will be with Him forever. For the blessed promises of this truth read I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelations 21:1-4 Ephesians 2:4-7.
Our eternal relationship with Christ
What will be our relationship as Christ’s bride be? We will forever be His Bride. That is mysterious and difficult for us to grasp. Let me shed a little Biblical light on it. Jesus makes a statement on it in Matthew 22:24-30 and the same statement is repeated in Mark 12:18-25 and Luke 20:28-36. According to Jesus’ clear statement, there will be no marriage relationships in Heaven. There will be no family circle relationships as we know them on earth. Even now on earth, it is difficult to maintain family circles. Children grow up and get married and form their own family circles. As these circles expand from one generation to another, they grow less tight. Certainly when people remarry, there is a break up of family circles.
When we arrive in Heaven, there will be only one family circle and that will be centered around our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are sorrowing at the thought of not being forever related as the wife of your beloved departed husband. Let me encourage you. If you are both saved through faith in Christ, the relationship you had with your husband on this earth will be as nothing compared to the relationship you will have with him and with all the redeemed in Heaven. Though not sexual, it will be infinitely more intimate and perfect, as will our relationship with Christ and with all of us who are in Heaven by the grace of God and through faith in Christ.
Details of your life matter
Returning to our theme, “In the fullness of time” let us consider how Micah’s prophecy of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was accomplished.
Mary was in her ninth month of pregnancy. That is not a good time to travel. My wife and I traveled from Greeenville S.C. to western Nebraska in her seventh month of pregnancy. That was not a good time to travel. There were lots of stops along the way, giving her time to walk and stretch her legs. Mary and Joseph needed to be in Bethlehem momentarily and they probably weren’t even thinking of travelling anywhere. But God intervened. That prophecy of Micah written seven hundred years earlier must be fulfilled to the letter. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem.
So God put it in the mind of Caesar Augustus to make a decree that everyone in the Roman Empire must return to their birth place to be registered in a census so they could be taxed. Joseph and Mary must by Roman decree travel to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. So they started their painful, difficult journey of about sixty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. No doubt Mary rode on a donkey and no doubt it took about two weeks. She arrived just in time and went into labor. Though there was no room in the inn, they found a relatively quiet and private place in a cave where the animals were kept. There in the straw, Mary delivered her holy baby boy and laid Him in a manger among the cattle and sheep.
Do you see how God in His wisdom and sovereignty put details into motion to fulfill His Word? He will do the same for you and me if we are His through faith in Christ and if we are surrendered to His will.
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