“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV)
This month we are going to take an interesting approach on the events surrounding the Christmas story, a story known very well by many—Christians and non-Christians alike. The focus is often on that moment in the stable where Jesus is wrapped in a ragged piece of cloth and placed in a feeding trough. The moment when the Savior of the world came down. This is the second most climactic moment in all of history (second only to His later crucifixion). Heaven came down to man.
However, we here at The Heart of Teens have been in discussion about this idea of the “fullness of time.” This phrase is brought up a lot during the Christmas season, especially in churches, but we do not always talk about what it means. And when we do, we do not always discuss it in the right way.
In the excitement of God the Son coming down to earth, we often forget the 4,000+ years beforehand that God the Father was working for this very moment. We overlook the fact that God waited until this EXACT time to send his Son to earth. Why is that? I’m glad you asked—because this month we are going to examine this a little bit and hopefully leave you with a renewed sense of the sovereignty of God.
Though there are many things I could say about the religious context, I will do my best to be brief.
So to set things up a bit, Jesus bursts onto a rather unique scene. The time between the Old Testament and New Testament is called the “intertestamental period” or the “years of silence”—a time period of 400 years in which no word from God came to man.
The religious situation in Israel was dire. Notice how all throughout the Old Testament, God’s people kept going wrong one way or another, turning to various idols, and so God kept having to send people to set them straight. Yet, in these 400 years, they had not received any new Word from the Lord. So, the idol that they turned to was legalism. This is seen all throughout Jesus’ ministry as He duels the rigid legalism of the Pharisees.
You may not know this…but Jesus was not the first to ride into Jerusalem to shouts of “hosanna.” Jesus was not the first to amass a following who thought He was the promised Messiah. One source says, “During this period about ten or twelve revolutionary movements arose around a messianic or quasi-messianic figure” (taken from The Drama of Scripture). So a DOZEN people were identified as the Messiah…one of them, Judah Maccabee, had great military success and was a great political revolutionary. He rode into Jerusalem to people shouting “hosanna” and many sang his praises and thought he was the promised Messiah…yet even he turned out to be just a man.
So by now, Israel is tired. They are tired of all of these failed attempts at salvation. They are religiously exhausted. This is the scene that Jesus shows up at.
The people of Israel thought that they so desperately needed political liberation—freedom from the Roman government. However, what God knew they needed was a spiritual salvation, not a political one. That is why He sent them His Son, not Judah Maccabee, to save the world.
Guys, you’ve got to trust God’s got this. Because after 4,000+ years of planning and orchestrating all of history to bring about this time. There are really two things I think we can learn from this and from the rest of the articles this month:
1. God has a plan.
He. Has. A. Plan.
His plan has been in motion since the creation of the world, through the birth of Christ, and even up to this day. He has a plan and it is at work.
2. Our plans are pathetic in comparison
When we try to substitute our own, fragile plans on our own, selfish timetable, they fall apart. Many times we do not even know what it is that we need. Israel thought they needed a political movement, but they needed a spiritual savior.
Keep these two things in mind this Christmas season and be sure to check back in to read the next few articles—they are ALL going to be quite amazing!