COVER STORY – ADVENT
“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)
There is, perhaps, nothing in this life that is more anticipated than the upcoming birth of a child. When it is your own son or daughter who is yet to be born, or that of a close relative or friend, you literally count the days until the baby will arrive. “Let’s see, the pregnancy began in July, that means (counting on fingers) . . . a February baby! Will the baby be early? I hope not too early! Or will the baby be late?” Finally, the baby always comes when good and ready—when it is God’s time. A joyful birth announcement then follows, with all the particulars about the name, parents, weight and length, and the date of birth.
Throughout the world, this miracle of newborn life happens about 350,000 times each day. Does each one of these worldwide births capture your personal anticipation and attention? Of course not. Out of all the billions of births that have taken place throughout history, there has been only one that has universal, heartfelt meaning. That is the birth of God’s only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. From the beginning of history, the Lord began to fill in the “birth announcement” for His Son, revealing more and more details about how this birth would take place. These included His human and divine parentage, His royal lineage, His redeeming work, and His death and resurrection.
One conspicuous blank on the heavenly birth announcement was the exact time of the arrival of the Son of God. The date of the birth of the Messiah remained a mystery for many long centuries. And then, at long last and in God’s good time, His promises were all fulfilled in every prophetic detail. Today, we are truly blessed to have the whole story right in our Bibles, including the time that God selected to fulfill His promises. All that remains now is the anticipation of another, even more glorious announcement.
When Jesus comes again in glory, He will judge the world in righteousness, condemning the unbelieving to eternal torment, but inviting the adopted children of God to their heavenly home. We already know the Who concerning this event, as well as the what—all that remains is, once again, the when; for the Savior Himself said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)
In many places the Bible urges us to be ready for Jesus’ arrival at any moment. By God’s grace, we certainly will be ready, for we know that “in the fullness of time” God kept all of His past promises concerning Jesus’ first arrival. Because of His complete record of faithfulness thus far, we can confidently say with the Apostle Paul, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:18)
If you were to receive a birth announcement for every child born today, each on a single sheet of paper, it would take 70 cases of paper to announce each of the 350,000 births. How many of them will receive, by faith, the “adoption as sons” of God? We can’t know that number, but we do know it is our blessed privilege to proclaim the announcement of this Savior to as many as will hear. We also know that our long wait is a blessed one, for the sake of those who will yet come to know Him. Like the arrival of God’s own Son in Bethlehem of long ago, His glorious second coming will surely happen “in the fullness of time”!
Bruce Naumann is senior pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.