MYSTERY IN A MANGER
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4–5).
Waiting can be one of life’s most difficult experiences. Especially when expecting something that has been promised. In an age of instant gratification, and entertainment on-demand we often skip the lines and find an alternative to satisfy our desires. However, there are some important things in life that can only be enjoyed by waiting. Some things just take time!
It is like waiting on a sunset. Sometimes it seems like the sun hangs in the western skies without moving at all. Then as the ball of fire kisses the horizon it suddenly seems to speed up, sinking into the shadows and casting its final rays of glory into the skies of gathering dusk. After long hours of sunlight the day fades into night and another day is done.
Waiting can be like that. Events that seem to be so far away suddenly begin to happen and the completion of the promise comes quickly. Time that once seemed like an enemy becomes our friend ushering in the days of fulfillment.
As a child I remember feeling that the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas crawled at a snail’s pace and it was an eternity before the last day of school, preparing for dinners or road trips to visit family, and finally the arrival of Christmas Day … and then it was over! The thought of another entire year, 365 more days, until Christmas was almost more than I could imagine.
There have been many promises made that were linked to the clock and calendar. Some events were predicted but the exact timeframe was not revealed. Fulfillment was always out there somewhere but the time of completion was unknown.
So it was with the multitude of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. Prophets through the centuries had insight and share glimpses of things to come. From the first prediction God gave to the serpent of temptation concerning the seed of the woman, “He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel,” until the prophet Isaiah revealed that Messiah would be “wounded for our transgressions,” and “bruised for our iniquities” (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 53:5).
Details of His arrival were prophesied and His purpose was revealed. The location was determined, “Bethlehem, … out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). He would come to save, Isaiah predicted, “And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’” (Isaiah 25:9). So it was no wonder that the angel spoke these instructions to Joseph, “She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Prophets and scribes collected and recorded the predictions and events that led up to the arrival of the Promised One. For centuries they were just hopes and dreams … and the waiting! To those who lived and died in faith there was no question that it would come, but there was no knowledge of when it would be fulfilled and how it would all be accomplished.
When the prophetic clock reached the appointed time the bright star pointed the way for the wisemen to a birthplace, shepherds were led to a stable, and the census decree drove the young couple to the town of their lineage. Every event supplied the fulfillment to a relevant prophetic passage. Paul wrote that it was at the fullness of time, the plan was enacted and revelation wrote the story of redemption. Messiah has come. The mystery of the ages would visit the manger of Bethlehem’s stable. Christ has come!
We may also find ourselves often waiting on the fulfillment of promises: the saving of a spouse, the restoration of a wayward child, the anxious needs in our personal lives. We also live in hope. The fulfillment of time will also bring us the revelation He has promised.
Paul said, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:25). Keep believing!
“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).