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In the Fullness of Time
Part 4 of 8 Articles

From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1995

A gifted musician framed a haunting melody with these beautiful words:

Love was when
God became a man,
Locked in time and space,
Without rank or place.
Love was God,
Born of Jewish kin,
Just a carpenter
With some fishermen.
Love was when
Jesus walked in history,
Lovingly He brought
A new life that’s free. . . .
It was love that prompted God to become a man, to walk in history. But, this was no idle whim or last-minute effort to salvage a lost creation. The only alternative to planning is to respond to circumstances. Because He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the One who alone knows all things, the perpetual contemporary. His timing is always perfect. He is never caught off guard or unprepared.

And so it was, in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), that God sent His Son into the world. At least two thousand years earlier, the promise of that Seed was given. Everything in the Old Testament Scriptures was moving toward that moment.

His time of coming was prophesied: “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [445 B.C.] unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks [483 years]; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off [April 32 A.D.]” (Daniel 9:25-26).

His place of coming was proclaimed: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

His way of coming was described: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

His purpose for coming was revealed: “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).

His position at His coming was designated: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

In the seven yearly appointments or holidays God gave to Israel (Leviticus 23), the Messiah’s redemptive ministry was chronicled, from His death (Passover) until His second coming to dwell among men (Tabernacles). And, in the priesthood and sacrificial system, His work was typified and illustrated.

Not without reason, therefore, the collective hopes and dreams of the ages met in that stable in the little village of Bethlehem, in the Judean hills, in the obscure land of Israel. It was the noon hour of human history – it was the fullness of time. The infinite, eternal Creator was now walking among His creation.

It was the fullness of time because of world peace. For the first time in centuries, the civilized world knew a repose from fighting and killing. The Roman army was cruel and ruthless, but its power was so great, its appearance so formidable that no nation would dare challenge her “universal” rule. At the apex of Rome’s might and power, a lowly Babe was born who would one day rule the ages with a peace predicated on love, not hate; on justice, not inequity; on righteousness, not force.

It was the fullness of time because of Roman roads. To keep peace in the world she had captured, Rome sent her legions to her far-flung empire. And wherever her soldiers marched, her engineers built highways. “All roads lead to Rome” was not an empty cliché, or a meaningless hyperbole – they did! Travelers to Europe and the Middle East can still see vestiges of those same roads and Roman engineering skill. But, roads from Rome to her vast empire could be traveled in both directions. The ambassadors of the Son of God could use those same highways to herald the message of the King. This is one of the reasons for the rapid spread and growth of Christianity in the centuries immediately following Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

It was the fullness of time because of Greek culture. Before the emergence of Rome, between the years 356 B.C. and 323 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world. And wherever his soldiers went in military conquest, his philosophers, educators, and artisans were soon to be found. He propagated the Greek language and culture. A “one-language” world with a “one-philosophy” worldview would be much easier to penetrate with the glorious Gospel. There was no need to spend two years in language study. Courses in culture were unnecessary. Travel was much safer and the stranger was subject to less hostility.

It was the fullness of time because of great religious expectation. Of the worshiping of gods, of mystery religions, of spiritual activity, there was no limit. But, man-made religion can never satisfy – it can never quench the thirsting of the soul. Historians and theologians inform us that the religious anticipation of the first century was acute and widespread. There was a spiritual void. Into that vacuum the Son of God came.

The atmosphere created by the peace, the travel permitted by the roads, the communication enabled by a common language and philosophy, and the restlessness engendered by a religious vacuum, all consorted to make that precise moment the fullness of time. Everything was ready at the moment when the Son of God chose to pay an “in-flesh” visit to the people of the planet Earth. The “Day Star” had now appeared with “healing in his wings.”

The next article (5 of 8) is entitled “Unto His Own.”

In the Fullness of Time
Part 4 of 8 Articles

From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion’s Fire Magazine in March/April, 1995