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Summary: God has a timetable of redemption for His creation - God’s Calendar - covering the Birth of Jesus, His Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, the Day of Pentecost and the Second Coming of Jesus.

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GOD’S CALENDAR

I think every home will have at least one calendar telling the family of coming events, marking the next birthday or when the school term ends and the holidays begin! They’re useful things to have so we know what’s going to happen. Do you think God’s got a calendar? I think He has, probably not like the one we have made up of 12 sheets, one for each month of the year, with little squares for each day. No, because God’s span of time covers the ages, a length of time beyond our understanding. But God in His wisdom and knowledge of everything has planned events in history according to a wonderful timetable for His creation. I’ve called it ‘God’s Calendar’. There’s a verse in the Bible which says, ‘There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven’ (Eccles 3:1).

We can be sure that nothing has happened on Earth that wasn’t planned according to God’s Calendar of time, including the creation of the universe and then our own world. That was a long time ago but what especially interests me is God’s Calendar of events recorded in the Bible in connection with the climax of His revelation of Himself. One of the greatest days in God’s Calendar would be:

THE BIRTH OF JESUS

In our own calendars we would call this ‘Christmas Day’. The exact date of the birthday of Jesus is lost in history but the Bible tells us that God the Father had a special day in His Calendar: ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son’ (Gal 4:4). God planned just the right time in history. The nation of Israel was in a bad state. It was occupied by the Roman army and under its control. Its religion had been corrupted by the High Priest and Pharisees. The prophets of Israel who had tried to turn the nation back to God were dead. The religions of Rome and Greece couldn’t give any hope for the future. So what did God do?

He chose a simple peasant girl called Mary to become the mother of the promised Messiah who would bring salvation to a sinful world, first to the Jews and then to all mankind. The birth was a miracle. Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth but they weren’t living together as man and wife. When Mary was told by the angel that she was going to have a baby, but no ordinary baby, she was puzzled, to say the least, and wondered how this could be true. ‘Do not be afraid, Mary,’ said the angel, who went on to say, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you … for nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:30-35).

According to God’s timetable of events, at the time when the baby was due to be born, the Roman authorities had issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world requiring everyone to register in their original town. Joseph’s great ancestor was King David and so the couple travelled to Bethlehem and it was there that Jesus was born in the humble surroundings of a stable as there was no room for them in the inn (2:1-7). Soon after His birth His parents became refugees. King Herod heard, from what we call ‘the Wise Men from the East’, that a king had been born and in his jealously and wickedness ordered that all the boy babies in the area should be killed. God alerted Joseph in a dream to the danger and the little family found safety in Egypt. The Birth of Jesus was a ‘red letter day’ in God’s Calendar, but only the beginning of a series of events that would change the world. The next key day in God’s Calendar was:

THE CROSS OF JESUS

The starting point of our Lord’s earthly ministry was the statement by John the Baptist that Jesus was ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). Jesus confirmed this by telling His disciples that ‘The Son of Man came … to give his life a ransom for many’ (Matt 20:28). His death on the Cross was in atonement for the remission of sins and reconciliation between God and man, no other penalty would be sufficient. The prophet Isaiah had announced hundreds of years before, ‘The Lord has laid on him (the Messiah) the iniquity of us all’ (53:6).

The scene on Calvary was a dreadful one. It was a place of torture. Think of how the Roman soldiers, having previously flogged Jesus, mocked Him and placed a crown of thorns on His head, then nailed Him to a rough cross-beam of wood, dropping it in a hole in the ground with a thud, and left Him to die. The pain was unimaginable but what was even worse was the spiritual agony of the Son of God as He cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matt 27:46). It was the only way by which you and I could be saved from God’s righteous judgement. Jesus had come to do His Father’s will, showing that will to be a love going to the uttermost, reaching out into the very darkness of hell, plumbing the depths of human sin. That was a dark day in God’s Calendar but thank God the Cross of Jesus is not the end of the story because three days on in God’s Calendar is:

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