We may try to rush things to make them happen NOW; but God knows the correct time for everything to occur.
People like to make resolutions at the beginning of each year, which are generally broken by the third week of January. Resolutions are usually in the form of a wish, wishing that things will get better, or that they themselves will be better.
We’ve all been there, done that. I’m pretty sure that most resolutions for 2020 went into the scrap pile, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only resolution I make now is to not make any resolutions.
We try to plan our days around some sort of a schedule that involves time. Time, from our perspective is usually associated with the numbers on a clock, but the reality is that NOW is the only time that we truly have. Now is the only element of time over which we actually have any control.
Since NOW is the only time you truly have, spend it wisely.
As the scripture says, NOW is the day of salvation.
However, for a few moments, I want to look on the backside of that curtain, if you will, and look at time from God’s perspective, realizing, of course, that God is not bound by our understanding of time.
Let’s consider Galatians 4:4—
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,
Notice the phrase “fullness of time.” The calendar we use today has Jesus being born about 4 B.C. Was God operating on that time-frame? Had He planned from before the foundation of the world that Jesus was to be born in 4B.C.?
As I said earlier, that is our time-frame. God is outside of time as we all know. Time is a human construct that we use to help us identify things.
So, even when we are talking about the One who inhabits eternity, the One who sees the end from the beginning, the One for whom there is only an eternal NOW—when we are talking about that One, we must use our frame of reference, which is time.
We are not able to think nor talk in terms of an eternal now.
So, the phrase “fulness of time” is more for our benefit than anything else. However, this does not deny that God had a plan for things to happen in a particular order in the development of the human story.
This idea of the fulness of time shows up in different contexts for different parts of God’s plan. It will be beneficial if we look at some of those so as to gain a little better understanding of God’s purposes and methods.
One of those occurs right here in the letter to the Galatians—
Paul was called by God before he was born. And yet we see Paul as Saul going around persecuting those who believed in Jesus. And God allowed this to go on. He didn’t stop it.
This means that people went to prison because of their faith. It also means that some were killed because of their faith. And Paul was behind it all. Yet he was called by God to preach the gospel, not to oppose it.
Therefore, we are left with a question—Why did God allow Saul/Paul to go the way he did?
We don’t know. We can only guess.
The two things we do know is that Paul had been called by God before he was ever born, and that when the time came, God made it so that Paul was left without much choice.
We find another one of these timing things in Mar 1:15.
…and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus came preaching this after John the Baptist was put into prison. Notice that the time is fulfilled. Whatever was supposed to have happened had happened. Now it was time for people to repent and believe the gospel.
Have you ever wondered about delayed time? We are accustomed to usually getting things when we want them—such as, NOW.
But God took 4,000 years of our time to get the earth ready for Jesus. Why?
Why did it take so long?
God is not slow about His promises.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2Pe 3:9)
There is an element of God’s timing that we are not aware of.
In our world, timing is everything.
Timing is what makes a good joke. We have probably all had the experience of hearing a good joke and then telling it ourselves, only to have it fall flat.
The difference is the timing. A comic has a good sense of timing with their jokes. That timing covers not only when, but how the joke is told. There is timing with the rhythm of the words.
When I played football, my quarterback had my routes and patterns down so well, that when I turned to catch the ball it was already 10 feet away from me. Timing.
Nothing happens outside God’s timing. Six centuries before Christ, Daniel prophesied while he was in Babylon during the captivity. Four times he spoke of the end time, and in each case he said that it will be at the appointed time. I will just show you the last one.
…and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time. (Dan. 11:35)
All of this is interesting, for sure, but what does it have to do with me? Why do I need to know this?
I’m glad you asked.
God’s timing applies to that. Think of what you just read about the apostle Paul. Even though he was called by God before he was born, and even though he chose a path that took him farther from the Lord, God waited until the proper time for Paul to be saved.
Let’s take a look at Paul’s conversion and see if we can learn something from it. His story is found in Acts 9. (Act 9:1-6, 17-18) 1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” …
(Then we read of Ananias being sent by the Lord to minister to Saul. Ananias was understandably afraid, and not sure he was hearing from the Lord about this particular ministry. But once he was clear, he did as the Lord directed.) 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
Nowhere in this story, or in the passages where Paul recounts this event for the king or for the people he was ministering to, nowhere do we hear of Paul praying the sinner’s prayer.
The magic prayer that supposedly is necessary to be saved is nowhere to be found.
It is simply God doing what He does when He decides to do it.
Another verse that brings this out is found in Rom. 5:6.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Were there not ungodly, weak, sinners on the earth before Jesus was born? Of course, there were. Had there not been other kingdoms that oppressed humanity before Jesus was born? Had not God’s people suffered under other regimes before Jesus? Of course.
Then why didn’t God do something?
Because it wasn’t the right time.
The entire redemption story and process is dependent on God’s timing, as we see in 1 Tim. 2:6
(Jesus) who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Jesus gave himself at the proper time for the proper reason. His sacrifice was a testimony to God’s plan of salvation.
Notice that Jesus was a ransom for all.
Who is involved in the word “all”? It must include the people born and died before Jesus, as well as the people during Christs’ life. It must also include those born after Jesus was on the earth.
He is the ransom for ALL. That word “all” must be emphasized so that we gain a full understanding of the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice.
There are three schools of interpretation concerning salvation, which would include this verse.
ARMINIAN “all” = all those who choose Jesus
CALVINIST “all” = all those whom God chose
UNIVERSALIST “all” = all people
However, there is not anyone who has been left out of the plan of redemption. And that includes your friends and family members for whom you are praying.
If they are not yet within the kingdom of God, it is because of God’s timing for their life. His timing, though we may not understand it, does not necessarily coincide with our sense of timing.
Some would say that since it is a part of God’s plan already, then why do I need to worry and pray for those who do not yet know the Lord?
I agree that you do not need to worry, but you do need to continue to pray for them. That is the context for Paul’s statement that we just looked at.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, … 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Ti 2:1, 3-4)
I have barely given you half the verses that speak directly to the idea of God’s timing. From what we have seen, though, we should at least be patient concerning those friends and family members for whom we are praying.
So, yes, nothing is going to happen outside of God’s timing; but is it not possible that some aspects of His timing are dependent on our prayers?
Therefore, I encourage you to keep those people on your prayer list. Do not lose heart simply because your prayers have not been answered yet. Your prayers are a necessary part of God’s intervention in their life.