Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, December 22nd. Take a stroll through history to discover God's active involvement in bringing about the birth of the Savior. All of us can look back in our life and see where there have been those moments in time that we realize that we made a decision that has affected the rest of our life. We might be able to look back at some of those times and think, that moment in time, if I had only made the right decision, there are moments in time around which our whole life seems to revolve. That is not only true in our own personal life, but it is true in the providential hand of God. As you look back through history, there are things that God has allowed, things that God has done, that all of life seems to revolve around it or to go back to it.
And that's what I want to talk about this morning, a moment in time, the hope of humanity. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Galatians chapter four. Here is a beautiful passage of scripture that talks about this very thing of great moments in time. In the fourth chapter, beginning with verse one, Paul has been talking about our sonship as a result of the work of Christ. And so he begins in verse one of chapter four saying, Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, although he is owner of everything, but is under guardians and manages until the date set by the father.
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. And then verse four is what I want us to notice primarily. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. In order that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son.
And if a son, then an heir through God. Sometimes I think about, if I could change anything about God, what would I change? Well, I certainly wouldn't change his love and goodness and kindness and generosity and unconditional love for me. What would I change? Would I change his discipline or his judgment? Well, upon first thought, I might think, yes, that's what I would change.
But on second thought, no, because if there were no discipline and no judgment, most of us would probably destroy ourselves. So if I could think of one thing about God that I would change, I finally came to this. If I could change one thing about God, which I would not even if I could, and I realized it would be very foolish, but it's the thing that I think that we deal with sometime.
That is, if I could change one thing, I would change his timing. That is, if he wouldn't wait so long to answer some of my prayers, and if he wouldn't wait so long to do some things that I know that ultimately he's going to do, why doesn't he go ahead and do it? Why keep waiting?
Why keep dragging your feet is what I think sometimes. But you know, in all of my complaining, he's never hurried up. He's never told the angels, just get with it, stand after us. He's never been concerned about any of that. He just goes on his quiet time. And if you'll think about it, I'm sure the Israelites must have wondered about that four hundred years they were in Egypt.
Think about this one. Four hundred years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and no word of prophecy from God. Silence for four hundred years. And they had the expectation of a Messiah, and God was silent, prophets were silent, and all they had is a hope.
Four hundred years, and the hope is still there. Well, when you and I think about how God engineers circumstances, this passage of Scripture is speaking of how God has engineered the circumstances to bring us to the night Jesus Christ was born. But in the fullness of the time, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, with two primary objectives in mind, all of which are motivated by love. When you and I look at the manger scene, we see Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in the manger, and hear the cattle, and the shepherds are there, and usually in most scenes the three wise men there, and it looks so peaceful and quiet and beautiful and biblical and everything seems to be so just right. Have you ever asked the question, what did God do to get all that together? That is, how did God put all that together? Did He just speak to Mary, the Holy Spirit conceive in her womb, and then nine months later she had a baby and we call Him Jesus? Or was there something more to the manger scene than that?
Yes, there is. And when He says in the fullness of time, what He means is when the time is completed, at the exact time, at the time God had planned. That is, the fullness of time in Galatians chapter four refers to the completion of God's plan for the redemption of mankind. And so I want us to go back today and look to see where did that manger scene begin in the mind of God? Where did it begin? Did it begin in Bethlehem?
No, not necessarily. What about the land of Palestine? No. What about the Middle East?
No. Where did it begin? It began in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, because in Ephesians chapter three, He says that you and I were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. Well if God chose to save you and me before the foundation of the world, then God's redemptive plan was already in God's mind before He ever created the world. And so I want us to trace back for a few moments to see what did God really put together in order to be able to say to the apostle Paul in Galatians four, and when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.
Well He began in eternity past, and then He created this world, and the Bible says in Genesis 3.15 that God spoke in the Garden of Eden to Satan and said to him, There is one coming, and you're going to bruise His heel, but He is going to bruise your head. That was the first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah. And then time goes on in those early chapters of Genesis with the flood and so forth, and then comes a time God reaches down and speaks to a man by the name of Abram, whom He finally called Abraham, and said to him, Get up out of this land and from your family, and you leave, and I will guide you as you go. And then you'll recall the events that took place, and Abraham had Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and from him came twelve other sons. The one we remember best of all is Joseph because there are about fourteen chapters in Genesis that deal with his life, but the key of all of his sons was Judah. Out of the tribe of Judah shall come one who will bless the nations.
You remember the covenant promise that God made with this man Abraham, that all the nations of the earth would be blessed because of him? And then of course that family multiplied and multiplied until finally they were a large group of people, Hebrews in Egypt, and finally they became the slaves of the Egyptians. Four hundred long years they were in Egypt, and then God by His miraculous power brought them across the Red Sea, gave birth to a nation, took them to Sinai, dee-Egyptianized them, gave them a law by which they were to live. All of this a part of God's great plan of preparing for this particular night, which we call Christmas Eve, gave them a law to live by, took them up to the Promised Land, they refused to believe God, sent them back to the wilderness for forty long years to wander around to all the adults that died off, took them into the Promised Land, and then there began to be the times of the judges. Following the times of the judges, which was time of upheaval, the Bible says every man was doing what was right in his own eyes. Then they asked for a king, and they got a king by the name of Saul, and then David, and then Solomon, and then there was a great division of the nation of Israel.
There was a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom. It looked like that God's big plan was falling apart, because here's His chosen nation. Did He not say to Abraham, all the nations of the earth are going to be blessed, and here they are scattered all over the world into captivity, no longer a nation, and their city in ruins, and the walls and the gates burned.
Whatever happened to God's big promise? And something else significant happened, appeared to be a disaster, as those Jews were scattered all over the northern kingdom through the Assyrians, and now into Babylon, and those who were scattered all over that land, those who were left in Palestine. Those little groups of Jews began to meet with other little families, and before long they began to meet together to worship like we would, and they called those groupings and where they met synagogues, and so they began to meet, and as they began to meet and they began to read the law of God again, what happened? God kept alive in all of those hundreds of years, He kept alive their hope and their promise of a coming Messiah. So when He says when the fullness of time was come, that is God's perfect time, God's exact time, remember this, that also before that happened, that the angel spoke to a young lady who could have been a teenage girl by the name of Mary and said, something unusual is going to happen to you. And the angel gave her the message, the Holy Spirit would hover upon her, conceive within her, and she would bring forth a child that called His name Jesus.
That was nine months ago now. Also during this time, somewhere along the way, a man by the name of Caesar Augustus decided that he was going to tax everyone in the empire, and so he made a decree which would have required Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem and to be there at this particular time for the registration. What was God doing?
Exactly what He promised. He said out of Abraham shall come one that all the nations of the earth will be blessed. And on the night that the Lord Jesus Christ was born, God had governed and guided and sovereignly controlled and ruled and reigned over the nation of Israel, scattered in bondage, that He'd accomplished several things.
They would never become a nation of idolatry again. The Holy Scriptures were put together into the canon, which would be the Old Testament. And then also these groups meeting in the synagogues would be the places where God would use to spread the truth. And so religiously through the nation of Israel, that's what God was doing. When He says in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son.
But what about also in the world? That is, in the secular world, what was going on and were men just doing their own thing or was God in charge of that also? About 350 B.C., the man came upon the scene by the name of Alexander the Great. And his goal was to conquer the world of his day.
And in 12 short years, he did what probably few if any other man has ever done. He wanted to make Greeks out of everyone. And he took with him on all of his campaigns the philosopher Aristotle. And one of his goals was to make everyone like the Greeks because he was so proud of his own culture. So he made an impression, an impact upon Western civilization that you and I still today profit from what he did.
Remember that God was not only getting the nation of Israel ready, He was getting the world ready for the coming of the Messiah. The greatest contribution that Alexander the Great made in preparation for the coming of the Messiah was he gave the world the Koine Greek language. And so he went from nation after nation after nation in 12 years.
It's unbelievable what he accomplished. But what he was doing is spreading Greek culture. And what he was also doing, he was spreading the Greek language so that the Greek language became a universal language.
You say, well, what's that got to do with Galatians 4, the fullness of time? Simply this, that about 280 BC down in Alexandria, Egypt, this scripture we call the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into the Greek language, which is called the Septuagint. So when the disciples of Jesus came along and the Apostle Paul and others, what did they have? But they had the Old Testament in a language that they could understand and not only that, that others could understand.
And so when we come upon the scene of the New Testament, we come upon a scene and an atmosphere and a culture that has prepared us for what God is going to send those disciples out to do. But following the Greeks came another strong group of people who were fierce, powerful, and well-disciplined, the Romans. The Romans had a law system that was absolutely unlike anything the world had ever seen. And what they did is they had their legions in every part of the world governing and keeping the peace.
They call it the Pax Romanus, that is the peace of Rome. You say, well, what in the world does that have to do with the Gospel? It has a great deal to do with the Gospel because Jesus was born in a Roman Empire. He was born in a kingdom ruled and reigned over, humanly speaking, by men who were despots, who controlled human life, and who made decisions and everybody yielded to that decision. And so Jesus Christ was born on that particular night, not as a matter of chance because the Virgin Mary gave birth that night, but God had been putting together since before the creation of the world, in the mind of God was his plan to bring forth a man, to bring forth a nation, and out of that nation to bring forth his son, the Messiah, by whom all the world would be blessed. But what did he use?
He used godless, pagan, kings, rulers, emperors, empires, civilizations, military generals, leaders, godly and ungodly, prophets and those who were the most evil. But somehow God in his wonderful sovereign way put it all together until the Scripture says, And when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son. Now I want to say a word to you about that. You say, What does that have to do with me?
Simply this. Not only did he have a plan for the nation of Israel, but he has a plan for your life and my life. You say, Well, I heard that my parents said that I was just an accident. You may have been an accident with them, but not with God. God is the sovereign ruler of this universe. Nothing happens without his permissive will.
Nothing ever happens beyond his knowledge or his power. And as God had a plan for the nation of Israel and God had a plan for his redemption of mankind, God has a plan for the life of every single individual. And listen, God has a plan for your life and mine and is intricately involved in your life and mine. He desires to accomplish and achieve through your life and mine, not what he achieved with the life of Jesus Christ who came to die sacrificially and as a substitute for our sins.
But he has something for you to accomplish. He has a plan and a purpose and a will for your life. And you and I need to be keenly aware of what God is doing in our life and asking ourselves the question, Am I where I ought to be at this time in my life? Am I doing the thing that God has called me to do?
Am I accomplishing and achieving? Am I living out the will and the plan of God? And oftentimes you and I look around us and say, Oh, my circumstances, if my circumstances would change, how many times do you suppose those Israelites must have said, God, where are you? We hear no word from the prophet.
All we have is the word, but we hear nothing from the prophet. God, where are you? They ask the same thing about their circumstances. They must have asked it back in the wilderness wandering around. They ask it during the times the judges when every man was doing what was right in his own eyes.
They ask it during those times when the kingdoms were falling apart and they were being attacked by vicious, fierce men and women, men who would absolutely destroy them, imprison them, make them slaves. Where is God? And my friend, he's where he's always been, sitting on his throne in absolute control of our circumstances. And you see, when you and I disobey him and we violate his principles, we rebel against him because our circumstances are such, remember this, that God uses even those who would do evil to us to do what?
To accomplish his great purpose in your life and mine. Thank you for listening to A Moment in Time, The Hope for Humanity. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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