SET TIMES (PART 2)
WALKING THROUGH THE 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
Most people of faith who read the Bible would agree that the birth of the Savior was an event planned in the foreknowledge of God. Examining world conditions on the night of our Lord’s birth forcefully underscores that reality.
LUKE 2:6-7 (NIV)
“[T]he time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
From the very beginning of time, God meticulously managed the progress of human history to create the optimal environment for the Savior’s birth.
SET TIMES OPTIMIZE WORLD CONDITIONS
Between 336 B.C. and 323 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the then known world. Little did he realize that his swift 11-year conquest was essential preparation for not only the Savior’s birth and ministry, but also the spread of Christianity.
The Greek Empire
More than 200 years before it became a reality, the prophet Daniel predicted the meteoric rise of the Greek Empire. Daniel described Greece as a beast,
“that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule” (Dan. 7:6; 8:8).
The leopard enhanced with the addition of four bird-like wings symbolizes the speed of Alexander’s conquest.
Suddenly, the world was Greek. Greek culture, Greek institutions and Greek philosophy dominated the world. As a result, a common form of the highly expressive Greek language became the universal tongue allowing people from diverse people groups to communicate and engage in commerce. But, as you know from your study of history, the Greeks were subsequently conquered by the ruthless Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire
The legions of the Roman army stomping across the world landscape had a mission statement that did not include: “Preparing the world for Messiah.” Yet, the ascendancy of Rome brought with it Roman government, Roman law and Roman roads.
Pax Romana was an “enforced peace” that characterized the golden age of the Roman Empire beginning with Caesar Augustus in 27 B.C. and lasting until Marcus Aurelius around A.D.180. This enforced peace drove an unprecedented upsurge in travel, communication and trade essential for the future spread of the gospel.
Interestingly, the masses living under the tyranny of the Roman Empire were disillusioned with their pagan deities who had proved powerless in the face of brutal Roman conquest. As a result, the conquered populations were characterized by a universal spiritual void.
SET TIMES PROMOTE GOD’S PLAN
In the same way a builder prepares a foundation and frames the walls of a house before attaching the roof, God prepared for the most spectacular and momentous event in human history.
Thus, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Gal. 4:4).
A widely spoken language allowed for the fluent spread of the gospel; a vast infrastructure facilitated ease of travel for those communicating the gospel; and, oppression by the Roman Empire primed the world population to receive the Good News.
SET TIMES PROMPT GRATITUDE AND PRAISE
God, who sees the totality of history from beginning to end, has set specific times for the events of history.
History is not careening out of control toward an uncertain end, but rather is unfolding according to an overarching plan.
Use the Christmas season to express your gratitude and praise for God’s greatest gift to mankind—redemption through the Savior!
Then, couple your gratitude and praise with heartfelt awe and worship as you consider the complexity of God’s brilliant plan!
The same God who planned every detail of the Nativity is concerned about the harsh realities in your everyday experience. The apostle Paul’s reminder, “. . . that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” is an affirmation that God can, indeed, handle whatever you are facing today (Rm. 8:28).
1) Walking to church (c. 1853). By George Henry Durrie (1820–1863) [PD-US, PD-Art], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) The Adoration of the Holy Child (circa. 1476-1478). By Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510). Image by Sailko (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Categories: Walking Through the Days of Christmas