Wednesday, June 17, 2015

In the fulness of time...

One of my favorite attributes of God is His sovereignty. One of my favorite doctrines is the Doctrine of Providence. And one of my favorite themes which neatly expresses them is the phrase, "In the fullness of time..." Here are just a few New Testament examples showing God in charge of all things, including events He wants to occur at a certain time.

Galatians 4:4, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,"

Mark 1:15, "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Romans 5:6, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

1 Timothy 2:6, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

Let's go back to Galatians 4:4, the fulness of time. In the John MacArthur Commentary on Galatians, we read,
The fulness of time refers to the period of preparation in God's sovereign timetable of redemption. When the Law had fully accomplished its purpose of showing man his utter sinfulness and inability to live up to God's perfect standard of righteousness, God ushered in a new era of redemption. When He sent forth His son, He provided the righteousness for man that man could not provide for himself.
On a spiritual level, we can intuitively understand this is what is meant by the fulness of time, even if our lesser scholarly minds don't articulate it as well as Dr MacArthur. But in Providential terms, widening our look at the sweep and scope of all redemptive history, the phrase "the fulness of time" takes on even greater and deeper significant implications regarding the sovereignty of God and His divine Providential outworking of all things to His glory. MacArthur again,
When Jesus was born, everything was right for the coming of the Messiah. First of all, the time was right religiously. During the Babylonian captivity, Israel once and for all forsook the idolatry into which she had often fallen. Despite their many other sins and failures, including national rejection of their own Messiah, no significant number of Jews has ever again turned to idolatry.

Also during the Exile, Jews developed synagogues, which they used as places of worship, as schools, and as courts. In addition to that, they at last had the completed Old Testament, assembled by Ezra and others after the return from Babylon. Those features facilitated the proclaiming of the Messiah's gospel among the people of Israel.

Second, the time was right culturally. Christians who propagated the gospel during the first several centuries had a common language with those to whom they witnessed and with whom they worshiped. Alexander the Great had thoroughly established Greek culture and language throughout the known world, and these continued their dominating influence long after Rome succeeded Greece as world ruler.

Third, the time was right politically. Rome had instituted the pax Romana (Roman peace), which provided economic and political stability. The apostles and other early preachers and teachers cold travel freely and safely throughout the empire and do so on the magnificent system of roads built by the Romans.

Each of those factors was in some unique way a key to the spread of the gospel. God's timing was perfect.
It is such a comfort to understand everything is in God's hands.

I have traveled extensively in Italy, including Rome. I've rented a car and over several visits, I've driven all up and down the peninsula, from Milan and Lake Como to Rome to the Adriatic to France. North, south, north, east, and west. You've heard the adage, "All roads lead to Rome"? They really do.
The Miliarium Aureum (golden milestone) was a monument, probably of gilded bronze, erected by the Emperor Caesar Augustus near the temple of Saturn in the central Forum of Ancient Rome. All roads were considered to begin from this monument and all distances in the Roman Empire were measured relative to that point. On it were perhaps listed all the major cities in the empire and distances to them. According to Schaaf, the phrase "all roads lead to Rome" is a reference to the Milliarium Aureum, as the specific point to which all roads were said to lead. Today, the base of the milestone might still exist in the Roman Forum. (Wikipedia)

The Umbilicus Urbis Romae —"Navel of the City of Rome"—was the symbolic centre of the city from which, and to which, all distances in Ancient Rome were measured. It was situated in the Roman Forum where its remnants can still be seen. (Wikipedia)
I've been to the Forum and seen the marble mile markers, strolled on the Via Appia, seen the hardiness of the roads, the ancient cobblestones still there, still level, still providing passage for all manner of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. I've driven down the smallest of roads on the tallest of Apennines and come to a crossroad and there will be a sign. Rome, that way.

All roads lead to Rome. EPrata photo

I can just imagine what a delight it was for Christians moving between cities and between regions to walk or ride a horse or donkey bearing the Good News from town to town. It is a delight today, back then it was a marvel. Yet those Roman roads under the Roman peace allowed for a fast dispersal of the Good News, the tidings of a Risen Christ and salvation for sinners.

And the note about Alexander the Great, and his empire and the Greek language? We do not for a moment believe that was an accident, do we? We know for a fact that the Greek empire was foretold 600 years before Christ came, as we read in Daniel 2 about King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue of succeeding empires. The Greek kingdom was foretold as the second after the King's own empire of Babylonians and after the empire of Medes and Persians. The Roster of empires goes: Babylonian, Media-Persia, Greek, Roman, Revived Roman, or Antichrist's Empire.

Do we believe that God looked down and said, "Oh good, Alexander is instituting Greek everywhere, that will be sooo helpful when my servants spread the Good News." Of course not! God is in control of history, because He writes it. He determines the times, and He providentially organizes when the time is right and full for the next part of His plan to come to fruition.

Understanding God's sovereignty, His Divine Providence, and His timing encourages us. Because, the world today could otherwise be very unsettling and to unbiblical eyes, even look chaotic.


Young boy lured to gay lifestyle

A major advertisement, where Lesbians enjoy Chobani yogurt after perverted sex

Dangerous killers on the loose could "literally be anywhere", elude capture

Police Officer (representing civil authority) shot dead
in clearly marked patrol car (New Orleans)

400 year dormancy of Sinabung Volcano ends with a bang

Escapes zoo animals on the loose; tiger kills 1, injures 1

It looks like the world is coming upside down, with civil authority under attack, perversity is the norm, zoo animals hunt humans, and unexpected or scientifically abnormal natural disasters.

Yet God, in the fulness of time, causes or allows each of these things to happen and in the background unknown to us, each event furthers His glory and ushers the moment when we will hear the joyous words,

COME UP HERE!

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

God's timing is always perfect.


In His timing, we will fly! EPrata photo






1 comment :

  1. Ok, seriously, the yogurt ad, that is just gratuitous perversion. I mean, come on, the ad was for *yogurt*!!! I wouldn't want to see a yogurt ad (or any other ad for that matter) with ANY couple "in bed", let alone what Chobani felt the need to show, which was utterly disgusting.

    (SO glad we do not have tv, I only heard about it and saw snippets of it on the internet.)

    We have utterly lost our minds in this society! We are nothing more than debased, filthy trash. Romans 1:32 is now applicable to us as a nation. Because yes, we've slid down the entire "wrong Romans" road (Romans 1:18-32) in its entirety.

    Those three words, "COME UP HERE", will be most welcome, music to every believer's ears, I imagine. Can't happen fast enough. Praise the Lord, MARANATHA!

    -Carolyn

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