As a child, I waited a lot for Christmas.
Throughout the year I waited month by month. Once December rolled around, I waited day by day. Then, on Christmas morning, I waited minute by minute. When the time came and my siblings and I were released from our bedrooms to gather around the Christmas tree, a collective sigh of relief rose from our home that could be heard around the neighborhood. All the waiting had finally come to an end.
It makes me think about the waiting God’s people did through the centuries for the promised Messiah. Looking back on the birth of Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote, “But 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” (Galatians 4:4, 5).
When you and I read Paul’s words, When the set time had fully come, we understand that God had been at work from the beginning to plan the entrance of the promised Messiah into the world at the perfect moment.
We have the privilege of looking back on the promise and its fulfillment. But for many people, the coming of God’s Messiah was a future event that could be anticipated, but not pinpointed—a time that had not yet come.
In the Garden of Eden God spoke about the time to the serpent—a time when the woman’s offspring would enter the world and deal him a crushing death blow (Genesis 3:15).
God pointed Abraham to the time, promising to bless all nations on earth through his offspring (Genesis 22:18). Paul identified his offspring as Jesus (Galatians 3:16).
Speaking to the nation of Israel, Moses pointed to the time and declared, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Peter identified the prophet as Jesus the Messiah (Acts 3:18-22).
God directed King David to the time by promising, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
The prophet Isaiah pointed to the time, offering hope to a troubled nation: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. . . . He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:6, 7).
Jeremiah spoke of the time when God would “raise up for David a righteous Branch” known as “The Lord Our righteous Savior” (Jeremiah 23:5, 6).
Ezekiel looked ahead to the time when God’s people would be led by “one shepherd” (Ezekiel 34:23).
To Daniel, the time was connected to a vision of “the Ancient of Days” who “was given authority, glory and sovereign power,” whom “all nations and peoples of every language worshiped,” whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away,” and whose “kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13, 14).
Speaking on God’s behalf, the prophet Zechariah looked to the time when God would bring forth “my servant, the Branch” (Zechariah 3:8).
The time was part of God’s eternal plan, set into motion from the beginning of the world. Prophets searched for it and angels long to look into it (1 Peter 1:12).
And then, at long last, the time came.
This Christmas, let’s thank God for weaving his wonderful promise through the ages with perfect timing and unending love. Let’s worship him from our hearts because of the gift of grace that became ours when the time had come.