I was running late for a meeting the other day when it struck me how much our human experience is affected by time. As mortal creatures, every moment truly matters. The irony of this is how impatient we become when we’re waiting for something!
I can’t think of a better example of this than the nation of Israel in the first century. For generations, they had been enslaved and oppressed by one foreign nation after another. For generations, they had cried out for a Savior. Yet God waited until a specific moment in history to fulfill his promise, and deliver the Messiah the world had been hoping for. The apostle Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son…” (Galatians 4:4 ESV).
God chose a specific hour and day to enter history; not a moment sooner or later. It might be easy to write off the importance of this, but as history has progressed, it’s become easier to see how perfect God’s timing was.
For example, in the first century, most of the known world was unified under the rule of the Roman Empire. However, it was also a relatively peaceful time, which meant that travel from one end of the Empire to the other – and thus the global spread of the gospel – was possible in a way it never had been before.
Not only was most of the Western world unified politically, it was also unified culturally, through a single trade language: Greek. This common tongue made it possible to communicate the gospel to many different people groups within a relatively short amount of time.
Another reason the first century was perfect timing has to do with the people groups the Romans had already conquered. Because their native deities had failed to give them victory over Rome, most of those idols were abandoned, leaving a spiritual void. The flip side of this was the widespread spiritual hunger among the educated class of Greeks and Romans, whose pursuit of philosophy and science had left them empty as well.
In hindsight, it becomes more clear why the exact moment of Christ’s incarnation was perfect timing. So the next time you get impatient while waiting for God to fulfill a promise, remember that, and be encouraged by this verse: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).
God is never early, and never late. His timing is always perfect!
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of LIFE.