Dwight Fletcher | At just the right time - PART 1
If Christmas is about anything, it is about God's sovereign timing in the lives of mankind. God's sovereignty over time makes Him able to use time to design history. The nativity story is about the timing of God.
In the book of Galatians, Paul says, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Galatians 4:4-5. With God, things are not accidental or incidental - they happen on schedule.
We learn that "for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven... . Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:1- 3, 6, 11 (NLT)
God is aware of everything, every moment of your life and my life. While we may not understand some things that happen to us, in time, they are made to come out beautifully. Looking back through your life, can you recall going through some days that seemed dark but eventually worked out for good?
Looking at the birth of Jesus, we read in Luke 2:1-7 (NLT):
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world ... . 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
In other words, God timed a nine-month period of pregnancy to the very second. And because of Caesar Augustus' edict requiring all of the people to return to their place of origin and be counted, a pregnant woman and her husband made a historic journey to Bethlehem, fulfilling a prophesy made in Micah 5:1-2 about 700 years before Christ (BC).
But if we look at Mary, we will see that God's timing in her life was inconvenient. However, God had been working on sending a Saviour, the Christ or 'Messiah', for centuries. The Old Testament said that:
- The Messiah would come and emerge victorious in Genesis 3:15. As soon as Adam and Eve fell in the garden and sinned against God, God said, "Do not worry. I've got a plan."
- The Messiah would come from the nation of Israel. That is in Genesis 12 from around 2000 BC.
- The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. That is in Genesis, Chapter 49.
- The Messiah would come from the house of David. That's in 1 Chronicles 17.
- The Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 said that around 700BC.
God had been working it out for a long time, so Christ's birth was on time for Him but inconvenient for Mary. Let us look at a few reasons this was not the right time for her to have a child:
1. She was engaged but not yet married: It was a disgrace to be pregnant before marriage and her story was unbelievable. Imagine being asked, "What did you do this past spring?" Girl 1 says she sheared sheep. Girl 2 says she planted barley. Mary says, "An angel visited me and now I am pregnant." Yeah, right!
2. The census has totally disrupted all their plans: In addition to the pressure of being pregnant and unwed, she had to leave her home and go to Nazareth in time for the census.
3. Nazareth is a strange town: Mary had no support system in Bethlehem. In all likelihood she had never been there before and it meant being away from her mother, sisters, and the support, system that you want with the birth of a child, especially your first one.
4. The housing was inadequate: There was no appropriate place for her baby to be born.
But God is about something bigger than us. Sometimes it is adversity that paves the way for divinity. The birth of Jesus was about God's timing.
For some of us, it has been a long journey. But all of these things have been for this moment where we reach out and touch God and God touches us. Just like God touched Mary's life and changed the world, God wants to touch our lives and change us.
What has been the timing of God in your life? All of the experiences in your life have carried you to this point. Is this Christmas going to be different from every other Christmas for you? Is this going to be the time that you meet God in a personal way and find out His big plan for you?
-Dwight Fletcher is pastor of Transformed Life Church. Send feedback to email@example.com