When the Fullness of Time Had Come

We are in the season of Advent now. You may have lighted the first candle on your advent wreath at church or at home last Sunday. You may be doing an advent study this month.

Advent means the coming or arrival of something important. It is a time of anticipation. Eagerness. Excitement.  Waiting.

Followers of Christ are waiting for Him to come again. We know He will. We have His Word to read; we can study and learn while we wait.

We have the Old Testament with the Mosaic law. The history of God’s chosen people. Prophecies pointing to Jesus.

Then, we have the New Testament detailing Jesus’ birth, life and ministry, His death, and His resurrection. The early church and the spread of the gospel.

Stop reading for a moment and do something for me. Grab your Bible and sit it on the table or on your lap. Now flip to the end of Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament.

Hold the entire Old Testament in your hands, from Genesis to Malachi. Look at that group of pages in your hands.

Now flip all that over to the left side. What remains on the right is Matthew to Revelation – The New Testament.

Hold that group of pages in your hand for a moment.

Now lay the pages of the New Testament over to the right side.

Your Bible should be lying open now. You’re looking at the end of the Old Testament on the left and the start of the New Testament on the right.

Did you know there were roughly 400 years between the recorded history of Malachi and the recorded history of Matthew? Imagine that as the gap you’re looking at in your Bible right now with the Old Testament on the left and the New Testament on the right.

Some refer to this as “silent years” because God was silent during this time. He gave no inspired messages to His prophets.

Why? What was happening? What was God doing? Why wasn’t He talking to His people?

One thing is clear as we look back on that period from our current standpoint: God was preparing events in history to get the world ready for the birth of His Son.

Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,”

When the fullness of time had come.

Many Israelites had been faithfully waiting.

God had been working.

At the time of the writing of Malachi, the Jews were under the rule of the Persian empire.

When Matthew opens, Rome is the dominate power having conquered most of the civilized and known world at the time.

What does that matter?

When the fullness of time had come.

With the Roman Empire came a common language – many of the people could understand the stories told about Jesus.  The Empire built a vast and well-maintained road system – the apostles could travel from place to place to share the Good News.  There was also common form of money in use and an established and far-reaching government and laws.

The world was ready for Jesus because of the influence of the Roman Empire – enemy of the Jews. Dominant over Jewish life.  In His providence, God allowed Rome to prosper and spread, and then He used its infrastructure to tell about His son.

When the fullness of time had come.

God always does what He says He will do. He keeps His promises. He is working.

When the fullness of time had come.

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