When the Set Time Had Fully Come
Timing is everything. Watching the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle with my young son, we couldn’t help but be impressed by that fact. First, the pipe band with kilts swaying entered the courtyard marching in formation with booming drums and howling bagpipes. It was deafening, but a moving and wonderful sound!
Closely following, the Queen’s Guard wearing traditional hobnail boots, black trousers, red jackets and their trademark Canadian brown bear hats was an impressive sight. It was one of those rare events in life that moves you to the core. The group marched with precision according to a predetermined plan that was perfectly choreographed. Nothing happened by chance. No one was out of step.
In the divine order of the universe, the events of history are governed by the sovereign God of creation.
GALATIANS 4:4-5 (NIV)
“But 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.”
Nothing happens by accident in God’s providence.
SET TIMES REVEAL GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
God is eternal and omniscient. He isn’t bound by space and time; and, unlike man sees all of history like a colossal appointment calendar.
Transcending the space-time continuum, God has planned every date of the grand calendar of history and knows what He has purposed for each nanosecond (Isa. 46:9-10).
SET TIMES REVEAL GOD’S STRATEGIC PLAN
The Promised Heir
Before Abraham left Haran, God promised him a land and innumerable descendants. Several times over a period of 25 years, God reaffirmed His promise. Then shortly before the fulfillment, God informed Abraham,
“but My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year” (Gen. 17: 21).
There was a set time for the nation of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. God told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves for 400 years in Egypt, but would ultimately return to the land He promised (Gen 15:13).
The book of Exodus records,
“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:40-41).
Joshua led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River and into the land God promised Abraham and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob.
The Babylonian Exile
The psalmist records a set time to favor Jerusalem.
“But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrances of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time has come” (Ps. 102:13).
Most commentators suggest the psalm was written by a Jewish exile and describes the return to the land following the Babylonian captivity. It was a set time because God had explicitly declared through the prophet Jeremiah the that the Babylonian exile would last only 70 years (Jer. 25:11-12 cf. Ezra 1:1-4).
After seven decades in captivity, the nation of Israel (both Israel and Judah) returned to the land of Israel as promised (Jer. 50:1-5).
There was a set time when the birth of Jesus the Christ was scheduled to occur.
At that precise moment, God sent His Son. Writing to the Galatians, Paul asserts,
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Gal. 4:4).
God was not passively waiting for an opportune moment to send His Son into the world. The Nativity was an anticipated event on God’s calendar. Some 500 years earlier, Daniel provided a timeline linking Israel with God’s Messianic program (Dan. 9:24-27).
He foretold that after 69 weeks of years or 483 years after Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem, Messiah would present Himself to the nation of Israel in Jerusalem. The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass (Mt. 21:4-11).
Any deviation in the timing of the Messiah’s birth would have rendered Daniel’s prophecy invalid and violated God’s strategic plan.
SET TIMES UNDERSCORE GOD’S SOVEREIGN CONTROL
The Son of God entered space and time at the set time on God’s sovereign calendar. He did not casually amble or haphazardly stumble into the sphere of our human experience.
At the appointed time—the most opportune day—God sent His Son (Gal. 4:4). Over a period of more than four millennia, God meticulously superintended the progress of human history creating the right environment for Jesus Christ’s birth. Consequently, history is not careening out of control toward an uncertain end, but rather is unfolding according to an overarching plan.
Just as He planned the events leading up to and including the birth of Messiah, the remainder of history is also under God’s sovereign control (Ps. 115:3). Be encouraged that the sovereign God of creation is so awesome and mighty He can and will accomplish all that He purposes at His set time. Nothing is left to random chance. No detail in our human experience escapes God’s eye or ear. God’s timing is everything.
1) When the Set Time Had Fully Come, as in Galatians 4:4. (Image in all forms used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: By James Tissot (1836–1902) [PD-US, PD-Art]/Wikimedia Commons/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) The Nativity Story. (Image used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: Pixabay/No restrictions/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.