“When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son …” Galatians 4:4 KJV
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son…” Galatians 4:4 NASB
Why didn’t God send His Son as soon as Adam fell? Why the millennia intervening with its sad record of humanity’s failure and the amassing grief of a sin-saturated planet? Why did age after age roll on without the Redeemer coming? What is so strategic about the timing of His coming?
Theologians may be able to supply reasons for the seeming delay in God’s redemptive plan, but we can take refuge in a few of the many statements of Scripture which afford some small insight into the ways of God.
The Fullness of the Times – the Ripening of God’s Purpose
Galatians 4:4 speaks of a moment in time known as the “fullness of the times.” It suggests that God had a program and when all had reached its appointed end, the Son was sent. Against the background of the Galatian problem, this would include the various ‘times’ or ages during which God was progressively revealing Himself. The final and total revelation did not lie in the law – as perfect as it was; it resided in the Son.
The End of the Ages – The Revelation of Man’s Total Failure
Hebrews 6:26 speaks of the end of the world or ages. Each age or dispensation had placed man on trial under differing conditions. From the age of conscience, through government, the law and the monarchy, man had failed. Our innate rebellious nature revealed itself in each set of conditions. Each age ended in failure. The Old Testament closed with a sad record of the demise of spirituality even in a people who knew the mercy of recovery from captivity (Malachi 4). The only prospect left was that God would smite the earth with a curse (Mal 4:6). We are left at the end of Malachi, not only helpless, but condemned and hopeless in ourselves.
When we were Enemies – The Result of our Rebellion
One of the great verses of Colossians, is that it was when we were enemies that the great work of reconciliation was done. God did not send His Son for His friends but for us – when we were in open rebellion and defiance of His person and will. Experientially, each of us was individually reconciled when we were enemies; but, it was when an entire globe was arrayed in battle against God that His Son accomplished the great work which is the basis for reconciliation.
In Due Time – A Reflection of God’s Love
When we were totally without any strength to save ourselves, helpless and inadequate, at that very moment, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). It was “in due time” or in the very “nick of time.” Not a moment too soon or a moment too late.
When our sin had reached its apex in open defiance of God; it was when our sin had reached its high water mark, cresting against the Son of God at Calvary; it was when we were not only ruined by sin, rebels against the law of God, but rejecting the Son of His love, that He died for us. It was when the curse should have fallen on us that it fell on Him.
Calvary occurred when we had displayed through successive ages, our absolute inability, under any circumstances, to please God. It transpired when our guilt which had filled ‘our cup’ reached its highest level. It occurred when we were least deserving of any mercy from God. All this serves to enhance the glory of God to our souls.
Think of some of the other ‘time markers’ which describe the cross.