In The Fullness of Time
Monday, December 18 2017
I'd never thought of them as Christmas Bible verses.
It wasn't a passage from the book of Isaiah prophesying the coming and the reign of the long-awaited Messiah.
Nor was it a passage from the Gospel of Matthew speaking of the birth of Christ or the visit of the magi.
Nor was it a passage from the Gospel of Luke speaking of the Virgin Mary's "Magnificat", or the temple priest Zechariah's prophecy, or the story of the angels and the shepherds who witnessed Jesus' birth.
No. These were two verses from the apostle Paul's epistle to the Galatian Christians, from chapter 4, verses 4 and 5:
"But when the fullness of time had come,
God sent forth His Son...
to redeem [us]…
so that we might receive adoption as sons."
"When the fullness of time had come" - "when the appointed time arrived" - "when the time was right" - "but then the chosen time came" … not one moment earlier, and not one moment later.
When, in God's perfect will and plan for humanity, He decided and decreed that the appropriate time had fully come... then, and only then, did He act. The time had to be appointed and chosen, had to be right, had to be full – that is, absolutely everything that needed to happen before that specific moment had to have happened, and nothing more... and then, and only then, did God move.
Then He acted, then He gave, then He sent forth: His Son, His one and only perfect and beloved Son.
To redeem us, to ransom us, to purchase us, to buy us back. Because we were originally His, but Satan snatched us away, falsely claiming that we were eternally his.
So God's only alternative - "only", because He had to remain true to both His holiness and His mercy – was to send forth His Son. His Son who would be born and who would live only to die, die on our behalf for our sin, so that we might live. And "so that we might receive adoption as sons."
I've been thinking alot about that inital phrase: "But when the fullness of time had come, God...".
You see, I'm always in a hurry, wanting things quickly, wanting them right now. Because I think and I believe that right now is the best time for those things to happen. Why wait, I ask? Firstly, waiting is hard, waiting is very hard. Secondly, the potential dangers of waiting are high. And thirdly, life has to move on, and I just can't sit around and do nothing when there is so much that needs doing.
But God, it seems, is never in a hurry, and does not necessarily need things to happen quickly or right now. To God, it seems, our having to wait is good... our having to wait is very good, if it means that we are waiting for "the fullness of time" to come.
Because God will only move, God will only act and give and send forth whatever it is that we are asking and waiting for, "when the fullness of time" has come. When the exactly right and perfectly chosen time has arrived... then, and only then, will God move in our lives.
Whatever it is that I am praying for – for my husband or my children to know and seek the Lord more deeply, for my own or a loved one's health, for my own or a loved one's freedom from sin and addictions of any kind, to be able to study or to work or to travel, for a house or a car, or whatever else it is that I am praying about - "when the fullness of time" has come, then God Himself will move and act on my behalf.
If I am waiting without seeming answers, I am not waiting in vain, as much as I might fear so. I am waiting for "the fullness of time" to come, so that God can then give and send forth His best for my life.
Dear friend: if you, like I, are waiting and waiting for answers that do not seem to be coming as quickly as we would like, take heart! No doubt, "the fullness of time" for those prayers to be fulfilled has not yet come. No doubt, "when the time is right", when the time is perfect, then God's perfect answer to our prayers will be here!
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- 1 John 3:16
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- Martin Luther: Here He Stood (1483-1546)
- Katharina von Bora: The Runaway Nun (1499-1552)
- Johannes Bugenhagen: The Administrative Pastor (1485-1558)
- Zacharius Ursinus: The Happy Professor (1534-1583)
- Theodore Beza: The First Calvinist (1519-1605)
- Lady Jane Grey: The Teenage Martyr (c.1537-1554)
- Pierre Viret: The Smile of the Reformation (1511-1571)
- Robert Estienne: The Ink (1503-1559)
- John Calvin: The Genius of Geneva (1509-1564)