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Monday, August 29, 2016

Inbox: Timing Is Everything

God’s timing is always impeccable.

The gospel spread like wildfire in the first century precisely because God had put all the pieces in place centuries prior. As James noted when the apostles and elders gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the issue of imposing the Law of Moses on Gentiles, “from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues”.

Ironically, the fact that the whole world of James’ day had access to an obscure set of Jewish laws was a function of Israel’s disobedience.

In Every City Those Who Proclaim Him

There was no need to preach Moses to the Gentiles because Jews and Israelites taken captive by successive world powers in previous centuries had brought their beliefs with them, exporting them across the entire known world. There were (as there are today) synagogues almost everywhere. A foundation had been laid upon which the One who had come to fulfill the Law would, from heaven, build his Church.

The pieces were all in place, but as James said, they had been in place for centuries. God had other considerations in view as well.

At Just the Right Time

Romans 5 tells us that Jesus died “at the right time” soteriologically (meaning “with respect to our salvation”). That is to say, he died “while we were still weak” and “while we were still sinners”, perfectly demonstrating his love and giving us iron-clad assurance that those who believe in him are forever safe from the wrath of God.

He timed it perfectly.

When the Fullness of Time Had Come

Further, in Galatians 4, Paul reminds us that God sent his Son at the right time relationally. It was “when the fullness of time had come” that God sent forth the Lord Jesus in order that those who believe in him might receive adoption as sons. Thus we are not to think of ourselves merely as slaves, but as sons, daughters and heirs. That’s how God thinks of us.

Again, perfect timing was required.

Would That You Had Known On THIS Day

Finally, JR writes to remind me that Jesus came at the right time prophetically. Things happened precisely as they were recorded in the prophetic books of the Old Testament:
“Thanks to Sir Robert Anderson, we know the significance of “this day” in Luke 19:42. But it’s interesting that Christ actually refers to that in verse 44 because there He doesn’t say that they were at fault for not recognizing Him (although they were), He says they were at fault for not recognizing the TIME of His coming. Furthermore, this wasn’t an unreasonable expectation because when we go back to Daniel 9 (from which they should have been able to calculate the time of His visiting), we see that the chapter starts with Daniel doing just that: taking the word of God and calculating the timing of future events from it. Daniel is in stark contrast to the Jewish leaders of Christ’s day. He took the word of God seriously, did the math, and calculated the timing of what was prophesied. The leaders of Christ’s day failed to do so and Christ explicitly faulted them for it.”
He’s referring to Anderson’s The Coming Prince, in which he says the following about the Lord’s statement in Luke:
“The full significance of the words which follow in the Gospel of St. Luke is concealed by a slight interpolation in the text. As the shouts broke forth from His disciples, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! blessed is the king of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!’ He looked off toward the Holy City and exclaimed, ‘If thou also hadst known, even on this day, the things which belong to thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes!’ The time of Jerusalem’s visitation had come, and she knew it not. Long ere then the nation had rejected Him, but this was the predestined day when their choice must be irrevocable, — the day so distinctly signalized in Scripture as the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold thy King cometh unto thee!’ (Zechariah 9:9) Of all the days of the ministry of Christ on earth, no other will satisfy so well the angel’s words, ‘unto Messiah the Prince.’ ”
If Sir Bob is correct (and he makes a good case), then the timing of the Lord’s arrival was not only appropriate in a general way, it was — as we might expect with God — calibrated with absolute pinpoint accuracy.

These are not the only three examples available, needless to say. Scripture everywhere demonstrates God’s sovereign hand working in history to accomplish his purposes just so.

Really? You Mean NOW?

Still, from our exceedingly limited perspective, God’s timing may seem on occasion a little … well, weird. Moses must have wondered what prompted God to use him to lead his people out of Egypt at age 80. Abraham surely wondered why the promised birth of Isaac seemed endlessly delayed. Timothy may have thought he could use a little more seasoning before being asked to carry on the work of the apostle Paul in the church at Ephesus.

Weird? Maybe.

But if the moment of the Lord’s arrival on earth, his ministry, his death and the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell his people were all determined with such exquisite care and foreknowledge while taking into account variables we would surely never consider, we should hardly be surprised if the circumstances of our own lives occasionally display the same loving attention to detail.

We can huff, puff and second-guess, or just go with it. I suspect the patriarchs, prophets and apostles would recommend the latter.

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