Christmas 2018 2. A Strange Sense of Timing
Galatians 4: 1 – 7
Are you aware that God has a perfect sense of timing? Ecclesiastes 3 contains the most profound statement about time ever written: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…God has made everything beautiful in its time…” God is never late, and He is never early because He’s always on time.
Jesus lived with an acute awareness of divine timing. Speaking to his mother, Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.” Responding to His brothers’ sense of timing, Jesus said: “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.” On another occasion, Jesus gets the green light from God the Father: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Later, in His prayer for His disciples before He died, Jesus cried out, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”
While the Christmas narrative is found in Matthew and Luke, Galatians 4 tells us that the divine timer turned the lights on when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
The picture is of a Roman father who plans to turn over his inheritance to his son when he reaches maturity. But until that happens, the son is like a slave, in that he has no special privileges. He does not have one cent of the inheritance in his possession and has guardians and managers who are in complete control of his person and property until he reaches a certain age. When the time is right, at a predetermined date set by the father, he will officially become a son, enjoying all the rights and privileges of sonship.
1. The Reality of God’s Timing is Always Right v. 4
“The fullness of time” means something is complete and fully developed, like ripe fruit ready to be picked. It was also used of a pregnant woman experiencing labour pains. The stage was perfectly set for the Saviour to be sent. If we stand back and look at what was happening behind the scenes, we can see how the reality of God’s timing is always right.
• Political preparation
Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Alexander the Great conquered the world. The Greek language united people and could be read and understood by almost everyone. Later, the NT was written in Greek and was widely dispersed. The next world power was Rome. They built roads that linked the entire empire. This enabled the gospel message to quickly spread everywhere.
• Spiritual preparation
Because Roman society was morally bankrupt, people became very superstitious, extremely immoral, and totally corrupt. Paul described this situation in Romans 1. Because they had ignored the true God, and turned to idolatry, they were given over to paganism and perversion. Sounds like our society today, doesn’t it?
In addition, God’s people had just come through 400 years of silence from the time of Malachi to Matthew. The people were ready for God to speak. They were prepared for Him to make a visit. This cry was in their heart:
O come, O come, Immanuel, And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.
• Prophetic preparation
Did you know that God had been predicting all along exactly what was going to happen? These prophecies, made hundreds of years in advance, have been fulfilled with pinpoint precision.
• People preparation
Consider how God prepared people to experience the Incarnation at just the right time. Simeon. After Jesus was born, his parents dedicated Him in the Temple. At that exact moment a devout man named Simeon came up to them. He was told that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. God positions people exactly where he wants them for His purposes: “Moved by the Spirit…Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…”
“…God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law.”
• God sent forth His Son
The word “sent” means “to commission by sending forth.” This shows His deity because the eternal Son was sent forth by the eternal Father. What has God done? He has sent His Son!
• Born of woman
Jesus was sent forth from the Father and was also born of woman, meaning He is fully man. God not only came to us, but became like us. That’s the mystery and majesty of the incarnation. Christ had to be God, for only God can redeem man and He had to be human or He could not have been a perfect sacrifice for sin.
• Born under the law
Jesus is the only one who perfectly kept God’s law so He is qualified to take on the curse that we deserve for not keeping His law. The reality of God’s timing is always right.
2. The Reason for God’s Timing is Always Redemptive v. 5
We move from the plan behind the coming of Christ to the purpose of His coming.
• To purchase us
To redeem means to purchase out of the slave market. It has the idea of rescuing, releasing and delivering from slavery by the payment of a price.
• To parent us
Through the new birth we are given standing before God as sons and daughters. The Son of God took our position on the cross so that we might in turn take our position as sons and daughters of God. “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
We enter God’s family through redemption, and we enjoy God’s family by adoption.
The reality of God’s timing is always right. The reason for God’s timing is always redemptive.
3. The Result of God’s Timing is Always Remarkable v. 6, 7
• Relationship as sons and daughters
Remarkably, as adopted children we get to call the Father “Abba.” This is a term of endearment that can be translated as “Daddy.” The term Father is a title of respect and Abba speaks of relationship.
• Recipients of the Holy Spirit
Notice that the Holy Spirit is calling out “Abba! Father!” which affirms that He lives in us, sealing us as an adopted son or daughter.
• Reward of inheritance
We are no longer slaves to sin but rather sons and daughters who have an eternal inheritance. Do you see the Trinity here? God the Father sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to give us assurance that our inheritance as heirs is guaranteed.
“We have seen that the birth of Christ at a definite time was a determined act accomplished by deliberate means to effect a distinct purpose.”
We go from slaves to sons and from those who have erred to those who are now heirs of God!
The reality of God’s timing is always right. The reason for God’s timing is redemptive. The result of God’s timing is always remarkable.
I see 2 applications that we can trust the Holy Spirit to apply to our lives.
1. Trust God’s timing in your life
Just as He worked out His plan perfectly at Christmas, He is wonderfully working out His purposes in your life right now. Since He controlled the details surrounding the birth of the Saviour, can He not control the details in your life? Maybe your circumstances don’t look very good right now. Will you trust His timing anyway? Perhaps you’ve been angry with God because you don’t like what’s happening. It’s time to surrender to the Savior just like Mary did when she said, “May it be to me as you have said.” It’s time to trust His timing!
2. Receive the gift of Jesus right now
God’s perfect timing must come down to the personal level. It is no accident that you are here today. This is your appointed time to accept what Jesus has done for you. 2 Corinthians 6: 2 “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Don’t put off the most important decision of your life. Decide right now to receive Jesus into your life.
Tim Keller: “Christmas is the end of thinking you are better than someone else, because Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you.”
Jesus was born in the fullness of time. That means that there was an exact moment of time when he came to earth. And the timing was perfect. But most people missed the miracle of the moment that Christ came. Just as each of us has a birth date when we were born physically, Jesus tells us that we must be born again spiritually at a specific time: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” This may be your day. Are you ready for this to be your birthday?
There are 2 Greek words for time. One is chronos, which is quantitative time and refers to the passing of moments. It’s how we measure time. The other is kairos and refers to qualitative time. It’s the idea of an opportune moment, also known as the “supreme moment.”
Are you ready to move from living a chronos life to a kairos life where you’re focusing on living each moment as a supreme moment?
Ephesians 5: 15, 16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Sadly, most people are just going through the motions wasting time, passing time or killing time. Some are like the passengers on a plane who heard the pilot give this message: “We have lost our position, folks, and have been flying rather aimlessly for over an hour. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that we’re making very good time.”
Our lives are on a timer. Life here will turn off one day. Are you ready? One moment in time can determine an eternal destiny.