The Fullness of Time
15 Dec 2007, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
THE FULLNESS OF TIME
(this was the sermonette for our special Christmas program)
Galations 4: 4, 5 tells us that: 'When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, …to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons'. Jesus was born in order to die that we might live.
We need to be reminded this morning that the sending forth of God's Son had been foretold way back in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had looked forward to the fulfilment of this promise with great expectation right from the very beginning when their first son was born (White, 1940: 31, Nichol, 1957: 965).
As history has shown, the fulfilment of this promise was to tarry and those who were first given this message of hope died long before it was ever to take place (Ibid).
From the days of Enoch, the promise was to be repeated by the patriarchs and prophets and further strengthened by Daniel's prophecy that was now to reveal the exact time He was to come. Unfortunately, not all of his followers were to interpret this message in the right way as their faith had grown dim and hope had been well nigh extinguished (Ibid).
With the passing of the centuries, the voices of the prophets were to be stilled and many were saying that 'The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth' (Ezek 12: 22).
However, just like the stars in their appointed orbit, God's purposes know no haste and no delay. In the councils of heaven the time for the coming of the Messiah had already been predetermined. When heaven's clock struck that hour, Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem (White, 1940: 32; Nichol, 1957: 965).
'When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…'(Gal 4: 4, 5).
We are told that He was to come at the most favourable time in all history. God's providence had continually directed the movement of nations and the tide of human feelings and influence until the world was ready for this momentous event (White, 1940: 32).
The world, at this time, was at peace with all the nations and united under one government. Greek, that had become the language of literature, was the universal language widely spoken. Piracy had been all but eliminated from the Mediterranean area so that travel on both land and sea had become relatively safe and swift (Nichol, 1957: 965).
The systems of heathenism were losing their hold on the people as they became dissatisfied with their religious beliefs and many were longing for the truth about life and their ultimate destiny beyond the grave. The dispersion of the Jews also helped to bare witness to the true God of Heaven, being shared, in spite of themselves, among the Gentiles (Ibid).
God could not have appointed a better time and place for launching the gospel message than in Palestine during this particular period of history. Once again, this was showing that His great cosmic plan was to move in exact order and at the appointed time (Ibid).
While the deception of sin had reached it's height, God, instead of destroying the world, sent His son to save it. It was through the coming of this little babe in Bethlehem that the Deity was now to be glorified. This was now to be seen in the flood of healing grace that was never to be obstructed or withdrawn till the plan of salvation should be fulfilled.
Jesus had come to restore in man the image of his maker, to refashion man's character ruined by sin and to remake it after His own pattern.
This was eventually to lead Him to the cross of Calvary where the great work of redemption was to be accomplished. It was not until the words 'It is finished' were finally pronounced that the battle was to be won (White, 1940: 758)
From the time of His birth until the Cross, Satan's power had been turned against Him to bring about His destruction (Ibid: 759).
In every way possible he sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, an unblemished sacrifice. But, in all this he failed.
Regardless of Jesus' victory, all of heaven and those from the unfallen worlds were still to witness those closing scenes with utter grief and amazement.
They heard his bitter cry in the garden of Gethsemane recorded in Matt 26: 39 where He said 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.'
They heard His prayer offered in the midst of terrible suffering 'Father forgive them for they no not what they do' Luke 23: 34.
They heard His final anguished cry, 'It is finished' not only signalling Satan's defeat, but also that the great work of redemption was now secured and that everyone would share in the fruits of His victory (Ibid 758). When Christ bowed His head and died, we can be grateful of the knowledge that He held on to His faith and His submission to God (Ibid: 761).
By the shedding of Jesus' blood, Satan had revealed himself as a murderer and, as such, had cut himself off from the sympathies of heavenly beings. The last link between Satan and the heavenly world was now seen to be broken (Ibid).
Well might the angels rejoice as they did that first night in Bethlehem, knowing that while the redemption of man was assured because of the destruction of sin, the universe was also made secure.
In our celebrations of Jesus birth this Christmas never let us lose sight of why He came and what He accomplished for us while on earth. This knowledge should provide the greatest joy of all.
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