In the Fullness of Time
Text: Galatians 4:4; Luke 1: 31-33
Proposition: The design of Christ’s First Coming when compared with His Second Coming, shows the perfect plan of a perfect God.
Introduction: There’s an old saying that says , “You can never put your foot into the same river twice.” The water that once was there is gone, new water replaces it, it is never the same twice. The word of God is like that, ever fresh, ever seeking to take the blindfold from your eyes making your steps sure. Let’s test that, let’s ask if it’s really true that Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, could be full of discovery for us here this morning. Consider one passage of Scripture found far away from the Christmas story in Galatians 4:4 , “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law…”. That phrase, ‘When the fullness of time came’, cues us to the fact that an all powerful, all present, all knowing and never changing God… waited… waited for something and then when it came He moved in ways we still can’t explain. This is what that fullness of time looked like, Luke 1:31-33.
I. In the Fullness of Time… Christ Is Born.
The fullness of time referred to the account of Gabriel informing Mary of what was soon to be. The fullness of time would be from the creation of the world right up to the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Exactly how long was the fullness of time? When you consider King David lived at about 1000 BC, Abraham at about 2000 BC, the Flood took place about 2400 BC and Adam was born about 1600 years before that, then the fullness of time took about 4000 years to come about. But the fullness of time has other aspects to it. It was the fullness of what had been spoken about in prophecy, more than 300 references to when and where Jesus would come, who He would be and what He would do and why. The fullness of time also referred to the preparation of the world to receive Him, to a global government that would pave the way literally for the gospel. Rome would develop roads, create a world peace, establishing an infrastructure that the gospel would travel on. Rome also brought people to a very low place of depravity and slavery and brutality. People were made ready to hear the voice of the Savior. The fullness of time also referred to what would happen afterwards as much as it referred to what led up to the birth of Jesus. Born under the law referred to the Law of Moses, the Law that proclaimed the existence of sin, it locked up all mankind in sin because none was without sin. Christ was born of a woman, but not of a man. It refers to the virgin birth of Jesus when deity entered into humanity, eternal perfection into sinful mortality. It’s like that old game called Limbo that tried everyone to see who could bend over backwards enough to get under the stick, shuffling forward, leaning backward, balancing to try to get under the stick. The Law was like that stick except that instead of being held at a certain height that demanded self efforts to righteousness the Law stick was laid right on the ground. No one could go under it unless they went into the earth and then came back up out of the earth. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law and all its demands that He would perfectly satisfy those demands by going under the stick, into the earth, entering death and then rising back to life. In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. Why? The next verse is clear, “to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” In the fullness of time, we were adopted by God through faith in the atoning blood of Christ on the cross of Christ. Christmas is about the fullness of time that points to the birth of Jesus but it doesn’t stop there. Look again at Gabriel said to Mary in Luke 1.
II. In the Fullness of Time… Christ is Coming Again.
Listen to what it says again, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Verses 31 and 32 describe His First Coming and they were perfectly fulfilled. But verse 33 describes His Second Coming. The house of Jacob refers to Jacob and his 12 sons from which the nation of Israel begins. The Jewish people right now do not recognize Christ as their King much less their Messiah. Yet at the Second Advent all Israel will be saved. The kingdom of Jesus Christ has begun now. Just after His baptism by John, Jesus says this in Mark 1:15,“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” In the fullness of time the kingdom of God was at hand, was made near, right in front of them. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” , is a prayer for the development eternally of the kingdom of God. In the fullness of time, specifically at the second coming of Christ, that reality will occur. The words of Gabriel that foretold the first coming of the Christ and then immediately the second coming of the Christ, will be fulfilled, “and of His kingdom there will be no end.” . Christmas is not a ‘stand alone’ event, it is the beginning that looks to its end, in the fullness of time.
The Christmas carol, ‘What Child Is This?’ asks the question, “Why lies He here in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?” The answer is:
1. His birth in the stable was a picture of the depths of the incarnation. The incarnation of Almighty God into humanity was the rough equivalent of a child being born in a stable.
2. His birth in a manger underlined that this world was not His home, the inn was for those who were passing through, this place was not His home.
3. His birth in this rough shelter made Him accessible to those who were about to find Him. Shepherds and Wisemen could both come to Him.
4. His birth in such a place was that He would be safe, there is anonymity in poverty. He had been born to bring an end to sin, to destroy the devil and His works. The manger, the lowliest of places in the most royal of cities, was the perfect place for the fragile Christ child to come.
5. His birth in such a place was a mirror of the same humility that would mark His death. The cradle reflects the cross, its rough wood beneath Him in the cradle would one day hold Him up on the cross for all to see.
At the second Coming of Christ each of these will be reversed.
1. Now His coming in the clouds will be with great majesty, not the poverty of a stable, no longer mounted on a donkeys colt but now a white stallion.
2. Now He comes to earth as His home to bring about ‘Thy will be done on earth.’
3. Now those who accompany Him at the Second Advent are sinless as Christ is sinless. The Church, the company of redeemed humanity is with Him.
4. Then He was born in anonymity, now He comes openly, publicly, in glory, in the same way that lightning is seen as it flashes across the sky from east to west proclaiming it’s power and presence.
5. Then He came as the Servant, now He comes as King. Then he was wrapped in swaddling cloths, now He is clothed in the white robe of a victorious King. Listen to these words from Revelation 19:11-16:
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
“KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
This, this is Christ our King! This is Christmas… this is the fullness of time.