The Time Came
Most people of faith who read the Bible would agree that the Nativity was an event planned in the foreknowledge of God. Examining world conditions on the night of our Lord’s birth forcefully underscores that reality.
LUKE 2:6-7 (NIV)
“While they were there [registering in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
From the very beginning of time, God meticulously managed the progress of human history to create the optimal environment for Jesus’ birth.
SET TIMES OPTIMIZE WORLD CONDITIONS
Between 336 BC and 323 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the then known world. Little did he realize that his swift 11-year conquest was essential preparation for not only the Savior’s birth and ministry, but also the spread of Christianity.
The Greek Empire
More than 200 years before it became a reality, the prophet Daniel predicted the meteoric rise of the Greek Empire. Daniel described Greece as a beast,
“that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule” (Dan. 7:6; 8:8).
The leopard enhanced with the addition of four bird-like wings symbolizes the speed of Alexander’s conquest.
Suddenly, the world was Greek. Greek culture, Greek institutions and Greek philosophy dominated the world. As a result, a common form of the highly expressive Greek language became the universal tongue allowing diverse people groups to communicate and engage in commerce. But, as you know from your study of history, the Greeks were subsequently conquered by the ruthless Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire
The legions of the Roman army stomping across the landscape had a mission statement that did not include preparing the world for Messiah. Yet, the ascendancy of Rome brought with it Roman government, Roman law and Roman roads.
Pax Romana was an “enforced peace” that characterized the golden age of the Roman Empire beginning with Caesar Augustus in 27 BC and lasting until Marcus Aurelius around AD 180. This enforced peace drove an unprecedented upsurge in travel, communication and trade essential for the future spread of the gospel.
The masses living under the tyranny of the Roman Empire were disillusioned with their pagan deities who had proved powerless in the face of brutal Roman conquest. As a result, the conquered populations were characterized by a universal spiritual void.
SET TIMES PROMOTE GOD’S PLAN
In the same way a builder prepares a foundation and frames the walls of a house before attaching the roof, God prepared for the most spectacular and momentous event in human history.
Thus, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Gal. 4:4).
A widely spoken language allowed for the fluent spread of the gospel; a vast infrastructure facilitated ease of travel for those communicating the gospel; and, oppression by the Roman Empire primed the world population to receive the Good News.
SET TIMES PROMPT GRATITUDE AND PRAISE
God, who sees the totality of history from beginning to end, has set specific times for the events of history. History is not careening out of control toward an uncertain end, but rather is unfolding according to His overarching plan. (1)
Use the Christmas season to express your gratitude and praise for God’s greatest gift to mankind—redemption through the Savior! Then, couple your gratitude and praise with heartfelt awe and worship as you consider the complexity of God’s brilliant plan!
1) The same God who planned every detail of the Nativity is concerned about the harsh realities in your everyday experience. The apostle Paul’s reminder, “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” is an affirmation that God can, indeed, handle whatever you are facing today (Rm. 8:28).
1) Bible open to Luke 2. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit/Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) Pax Romana – “Enforced Peace.” (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit/Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
3) The Adoration of the Holy Child. (Image and details used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit/Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)