Summary: This is about God’s perfect timing.
Have you ever had perfect timing? I rarely, if ever, have perfect timing. No matter how hard I try, I always run into some sort of complication when I try to engineer something that requires perfect timing.
Farming is something that requires good timing. If crops are harvested to soon, they are immature and do not develop properly. If they are left in the field too long, they will rot on the vine and have to be thrown away.
Good comedy also requires good timing. Imagine Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” routine without perfect timing. I would sound something like, “Who’s on first?” “Yes, he is.” “Who?” (Pause) “Uh, ya!” Comedy requires perfect timing or it is not funny.
Timing is vital in farming and comedy, and other areas.
God has perfect timing. He is never late. He’s also never early. Sometimes we desire God to act a little faster than he does, but his timing is perfect, always. Someone wrote a book entitled God Has Never Failed Me, But He Sure Has Scared Me To Death. This is especially true as it relates to the birth of Jesus and His coming into the world. As humans, we would likely have demanded that God send his Son to the work of redeeming us immediately after Adam and Eve sinned. God, however, as he always does, did not do things on the timetable we would expect.
Turn with me to Galatians 4:4-7.
God sent his Son at the absolutely perfect time in human history. The human race was ripe at that time for Christ. Man had tried for millennia to save himself. The Jews had tried to save themselves through the Law of Moses. The Greeks had tried through philosophy. The Romans had tried through military might and strength. The Law became an imposing thing. There was no way that anyone could live up to the Law. The philosophy of the Greeks and the might of the Romans proved to hollow and unfulfilling. All the efforts of mankind to save himself were useless and empty. Man had failed miserably. At that point, mankind was ready like never before to receive the news of God’s salvation. This is what this passage means when it says, “But when the time had fully come.” The time was right.
Another key factor in the timing was the fact that the Roman Empire controlled most of the known world at that time. With relative peace in the Roman Empire, the conditions for ease of travel for the spreading of the Good News were very favorable. Paul, and others, moved freely throughout the Empire spreading the Good News. A few hundred years earlier, the political conditions of the region would not have allowed this. A few hundred years later would have yielded the same results. God has perfect timing.
If God can work out the timing of the Good News of salvation, how much easier is it for him to work out issues in our own lives?
But what is the Good News? Why was perfect timing so critical? The Good News is that Jesus offers redemption for us. What is redemption? This is a word I had problems understanding. I could never understand what redemption was. I knew Jesus came to redeem us, but I didn’t know what that meant.
When I was a kid, I used to collect baseball cards, and I still have about 30,000 of them to prove it. Most of them are worth about 3-5 cents. I used to head to the convenience store with may wad of money from my paper route and buy as many packs of baseball cards as I could. One year, one of the companies had a special promotion. You could save the wax paper wrappers and send a certain quantity with some money for postage, and 6-8 weeks later you would receive some stickers. What the company was doing was redeeming the wrappers. They were buying back the wrappers. As a result the collector would receive some stickers. They were buying back the wrappers.
“Redemption” means to buy back. In the days of the New Testament, it was related to the buying back of a slave from the market. When a slave was bought, there were two basic things that could be done. The slave either became the property of the one who bought him or the slave was granted his freedom.
We are told here that the purpose of Jesus’ birth is to redeem those under the law. Those under the law were the Jews. He came to redeem those who could not save themselves. We, of course, cannot save ourselves, so he died for us as well.
We know that Christ did not redeem us to force us into slavery. But he did more than just buy us to give us freedom. He went one step farther. When he died on the cross and rose again, he bought us into the family. Jesus paid the price for us to enter the family. He did this so “we might receive the full rights of sons.” His redemption brings about our adoption. This adoption is not forced on us. We must consent to the adoption.