In the Fullness of Time Galatians 4: 4-7 First St Johns December 28, 2014

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the perfect timing of God said … AMEN

Under the heading: “There is no such thing as “coincidences” where God is concerned, for that matter anything, since God is concerned with everything about our lives, we read Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Galatian’s four short verses are loaded with teaching. Paul’s quote in Galatians 4 is particularly interesting: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons … you are no longer a slave, but a son,…”(Gal 4: 4-7)

The part that of find of interest right here is “…the fullness of time…” Some think that had something to do with Mary coming to term in her pregnancy, or something that was dictated by Joseph and Mary’s situation. But most see Paul’s short expression as an appreciation and understanding of how God does things in His time and dictates the course of events and history according to His will. The Father didn’t turn to the Son one day and for just any old reason say, “yeah, think it’s about time we do the incarnation thing.” This had been the plan since the beginning, He chooses to reveal that plan to us, first, in Genesis 3:15, at the very beginning and then just before He throws the switch to make it happen, the Father reaffirms His plan, in an even plainer way in Isaiah 9:6. The Genesis passage, the proto-Evangelium, where God promises Satan that there would be a Savior, that the Messiah, anointed One of God, would come into the world to crush Satan’s head. God the Son would crush Satan’s head and by doing so, would save us from the curse of Hell. That sounds harsh, necessary, but in your face. However the Father’s promise to Isaiah is the one that is His majestic promise that He made when Judah is about to be crushed by Assyria and to disappear as a nation, most of her people killed or enslaved. Certainly a great crisis where Yahweh promises them; “A Child is born, A Son is given, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Israelites knew that they were about to take a harsh and long-lasting beating and they needed this promise. Isaiah could have said the same thing Paul writes: “But when the fullness of time had come…”, because Israel had pushed too far for Yahweh and He was now about to let His people know what happens when they ignore Him and get too caught up in their own plans and expectations. The fullness of time had come and Israel, at least for a few generations, would cease to exist.

Paul on the other hand tells us that the “…fullness of time…” had just occurred for the Father to fulfill His promises to Adam and Eve, and to the people of Israel by Isaiah and it happened at this intersection of time. Although Paul didn’t know it, although Jesus prophesied it, this was the perfect time for God. While they were strolling away from the temple and the disciples were admiring the view of the buildings of the temple, Jesus took them to task and said “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Don’t become to fascinated by the things man, in this case King Herod, build, because there is going to be another turning point in Israel’s history and this temple that you find so fascinating will be completely destroyed in just a few years. In about 40 years Israel, as you know it now, will cease to exist along with the temple. The Judaism of Israel would no longer be focused on the temple and would be scattered again. A new world would begin and the Christians in Israel would be forced to leave and take Christianity into the world.

This time, that Jesus had been born into, was the perfect time for Him to come into the world and conduct His incarnational ministry. It was a time of peace in Israel, Jesus did not have to contend with wars or any kind of famine or drought. He could get everyone’s full attention on His ministry and drive it deep into their awareness so that they could readily understand their new relationship with the Father. They had time to absorb the Gospel and begin to live it before they had to go into the world to spread the Gospel. They had to unlearn the legalism of Judaism and the debauchery of paganism and to come to understand that they were saved solely and completely by grace. They couldn’t earn their way to Christ in this world or to eternity, they could only be brought to salvation in Him and through His actions, what Jesus does to save us.

The conditions were exactly right for the disciples to absorb Jesus’ teaching and take those teachings into the world. Not only was there peace, the conditions surrounding them enabled them to bring Jesus to the world. As Lee Strobel points out: “The time period when Jesus lived was ideally suited for the spread of Christianity. The vast reach of the Roman Empire primed the known world for the gospel. Roman roads allowed relative ease of travel and greatly increased the area to which the gospel spread. Roman authority also helped protect travelers from robbers and attackers. Throughout the Roman Empire, Greek was the common language, and allowed communication of the gospel between groups who lived hundreds or thousands of miles from each other.”1

The Pax Romana, that is the peace of Rome, which united the entire world, enabled Jesus’ disciples to teach and preach without the distraction of wars or other disruptions to those they preached to. Jesus’ disciples could travel and teach without being abused because the Roman Empire tolerated many belief systems. Any earlier or later, and the disciples would be persecuted before Christianity could take root. At this time Christians could worship and evangelize unmolested. God created the conditions through man, mostly the Romans, so that He could send His Son into the world to preach God’s Word and Will and so that His church would grow. The church of Jesus Christ might otherwise have been steamrolled or isolated to small parts of the world. Jesus’ appearance met other promises of prophecy. Strobel writes: “God fulfilled his prophesied time frame. Daniel predicted that the Anointed One would come and would be ‘cut off’ (killed) before the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple (Daniel 9: 24-26).”

From Paul’s writing we can see the sovereignty of God, that is God controls and is Lord of all that He has created. He planned and controlled human history so that at just the perfect time in that history His Son would appear and become the focus of the entire world. The world had never been brought together as it had under the Roman Empire and in a couple of hundred years it would be shattered and different peoples would be separated from each other, unable even to communicate. God controls the events of the world, which He does, although He permits man, because of His sin, to spread war and sickness and famine throughout the world. Then clearly God controls those who He has chosen to be Lord of their lives. For myself there is no doubt that God chose the perfect time for me to know Jesus as my Savior. Because you are here, baptized, listening to His Word, about to take His Body and Blood, He has chosen you at just the right time to be saved in Jesus.

Strobel writes: “ God had an appointed day when he would intersect human history with the promised redemption. The moment in history when Jesus arrived was tailored for the rapid spread of the Gospel. All human history is balanced on the fulcrum of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.”2 God gives us the understanding we need in order to know Him as our Father and Jesus as our Savior, and when we see it in human history, we can better understand how He works in our own personal lives. Take some time over the next week and think about how “..in the fullness of time…” God the Father, Abba, has made us His own sons and daughters that Paul writes about in this passage.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

1Lee Strobel The Case for Christ Study Bible p 1634

2Ibid p 1634

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