The Fullness of Time - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8014
I am fascinated by time, and God’s use of it in His dealings with mankind. As I’ve said many times before, God is not bound by time as we are, but has created it for mankind to measure events by and to reckon where and when he is, according to God’s timeline.
God created the celestial bodies by which time can be measured (Gen. 1:14-19), but even before that God began to set aside periods of time, known as ‘days’, for which creation itself could be measured against. But as for time itself, God is always, continually in the present. God named Himself to Moses as the “I AM”, which literally means, the “becoming One”.
But what I find of great interest, is God’s use of time by which He interjects Himself into human history. After Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, man no longer possessed the ability to walk with God unfiltered. God could not in fact, allow man to see Him as He was without killing him. (Exodus 33:20) God had to veil Himself in human form, in order to appear to fallen and sinful men. (Gen. 13:18; Josh. 5:13-15; Luke 1:35-38) And so, in order to fulfill God’s commitment towards the salvation of mankind, He had to take on the form of a man, born of a virgin, committed wholly to the will of the Father, in order to meet God’s perfect standard of righteousness. Let’s look at the timing of His first advent.
The Lamb: Time Driven
By the time of Christ’s birth (est. 4BC), the current world power then, Rome, was already an ancient empire. Legend has Rome's founding around the seventh century BC, which is around the same time Israel (northern 10 tribes) were being taken into captivity by the Assyrians under Tiglath Pileser III.
Rome began as a Republic, but eventually came to be controlled by a singular leader known as a Caesar. Rome was pagan, polytheistic, and ecumenical. Their strength lied in the assimilation of the peoples they conquered, by watching and taking the best practices of those nations. Two things that really set the Romans apart from their predecessors was; a common language-Koine Greek, and their investment into building a massive road networks that connected the ancient world like never before.
From a theological perspective, they really didn’t care which god you served, so long as you paid tribute to Caesar. This seemed to work out well for the varied nations they conquered…all except for the tiny vassal state of Judah. The Jews were solely devoted to their own God, and were exceedingly stubborn in this matter. But the Romans tolerated them as long as they didn’t make problems, and also because Jerusalem had no strategic or economic value and wasn’t worth the trouble. And so it was here, in the first century of the new millennium, that time had reached a prophetic crescendo, and God sent forth His Son to physically enter into human history.
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 NKJV
So first we must make a distinction between the requirements for Christ’s first return to earth, and His second. At the first coming, He came to fulfill hundreds of OT prophecies concerning Himself, and to offer a physical, earthly, theocratic kingdom to the nation of Israel. More conclusively, Christ HAD to come within the confines of the 70 Weeks as given to Daniel by the angel Gabriel. This fact answers the mail as to why the Gentile Magi knew when to be looking for the One ‘born King of the Jews’, because they knew when the prophetic clock started. (Nehemiah 2)
The Chaldeans (as were the Magi) were an ancient people who served not only under just the Babylonians, but also the Persians. They didn’t know the exact day or hour the Jewish Messiah would come, but having been instructed at length by Daniel, they should have been familiar with all the OT prophecies concerning His coming. Although this is a bit of speculation, they must have understood that the Christ would come as Prophet (Deut. 18), Priest (Dan. 9:26; Psalm 110:4; Exodus 30:34-36) and King (Psalm 2:6; Dan. 9:25) based off their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Christ’s ministry would not begin until the age of thirty (Numbers 4), and His message was of the offer of the Kingdom from Heaven exclusively to Israel, (Matthew 4:17; 10:5-7), but they were not willing. All they cared about was getting the Gentile rulers off of their backs, but they themselves refused to become a people fit for the Kingdom. In fact, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ was Christ’s Magnus Opus for the human requirements necessary for this Kingdom. It was the divine gauntlet laid down by saying, if you do these things…you can inherit the Kingdom. Entrance into the Kingdom required you not only uphold the perfect standard of God’s law through word and deed, but also that the thoughts and intents of your heart likewise be judged. Needless to say, this message was not very popular. (Matt. 5:17, 19, 27-28, 31-32, 48)
So we know from Scripture and from history, that the Jews both nationally and theologically rejected Christ and His offer, then had Him tried and executed by the Romans, and have until this day remained, as Paul stated, ‘beloved on account of their forefathers, but enemies to the Gospel’. (Rom. 11:28)
The Lion: Event Driven
Of all the numerous signs and events that Christ said would be markers of the last days, there is but one that HAS to occur before Christ can return to earth. In connection with their impending destruction by the Romans in AD70, Jesus said;
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Matthew 23:37-39
Christ will not return again to the earth, UNTIL the Jewish people recognize Jesus as the Christ; and by so doing, will mourn that they had rejected and crucified the One who was sent to save them.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zech. 12:10
But they will NOT come to this conclusion, UNTIL the time of Daniel’s 70th week (AKA, the Tribulation). Thus, the two-fold purpose of the seven-year Tribulation which precedes Christ physical return to the earth, is to (a) punish Israel in correction, so that they could see that their rejection of their Messiah was of their own doing, and (b) to destroy ALL the nations of the world who have come against Israel. (Jeremiah 30:7-11) Now, contained within that correction and disciplining of Israel, there is the six-fold purpose as listed in Daniel 9:24…
“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
(1) To finish the transgression,
(2) To make an end of sins,
(3) To make reconciliation for iniquity,
(4)To bring in everlasting righteousness,
(5) To seal up vision and prophecy,
(6) And to anoint the Most Holy.
Daniel’s people are the Jews and his holy city was Jerusalem. 69 weeks were completed with the Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior (9:26) at the Cross, as well as completing the first three purposes (1-3). That leaves one week (9:27), and the final three purposes (4-6) to be finished, which will find completion at the end of the 70th week. The end will be with His physical, visual, mind-shattering return to the earth as the reigning King of kings. He is no longer the Jewish carpenter’s son from Nazareth. He is coming in full power, in full glory, for ALL the world to see, tremble, and mourn. (Zech. 14:3-4; Matt. 24:29-30, 26:62-64; Rev. 1:7, 19:11-16).
So at Christ’s first coming to the earth, a ‘fullness of times’ had been reached in which precipitated a reaction by God to interject Himself into human history through Jesus Christ. Likewise, at Christ’s second coming, another fullness of times will be reached, culminating in all the nations of the world, coming against Israel. And through all the horrors of Satan’s wrath (the Antichrist) and God’s wrath (the 21 Judgments), Israel will finally be brought to the point in which they cry out “Blessed is He Who Comes in the name of the Lord”, and will recognize that Jesus was/is the Messiah they had been waiting for all along, and thus trigger His second coming back to the earth.
The Body: Numbers Driven
Between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in AD70, and today, there has been a 2,000 year period of time commonly referred to as the age of the church. It is during this time that Christianity has undergone varying stages of flourishing and suffering, waxing and waning through virtually every corner of the earth. There have been movements of true spiritual revivals, and movements of widespread apostasies and in all, the wheat and tare have grown side by side through the last twenty centuries. So where does the Church fit into God’s concept of the fullness of time?
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
Just as Christ appeared to mankind at His first coming at the ‘fullness of times’, there is also a fullness of times for the Church. A culminating point if you will, of all things politically, geo-politically, technologically, economically, and theologically. At this point, Christ will, according to His good pleasure, gather together in one, all things in Christ, both of which are in heaven (those who have died) and which are on earth (those who are still alive)—in Him. (Emphasis mine). Compare this with the most well-known passages referring to the Rapture;
...For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thess. 4:13-18
There is a clear distinction between those who have already passed from this life, and are at present, in the spirit in heaven with our Lord, and those who are still alive and in their flesh currently living life here on earth. We are all gathered together in one, by Christ, to be where He is (John 14:1-3). And just as there was a recognizable beginning to the age of the Church, so too will there be an end of the Church age we are in now, by the removal of those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit, with the Rapture of the Church.
Clearly, prior to the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit existed as God in an omnipresent form throughout creation going back to Genesis 1:2. The Holy Spirit will exist on the earth after the Rapture of the Church because He is omnipresent. What is different is His role in men’s salvation. The Holy Spirit coming down as ‘cloven tongues of fire’ (Acts 2:1-4) was given for a specific role, as promised by Christ in John 14:25-26, 15:26-27 to be the Helper, Comforter, Sealer, and Guarantor of our Salvation.
We know that the Church is not Israel, because we are not a nation, but rather, pulled from all nations, tribes, ethnicities, economic classes, and make up the corporate, many-membered unified body of Christ. We are currently fulfilling that portion of Acts 15:15-17, in which James quotes the OT Prophet Amos, in that God is taking people from amongst the Gentiles for Himself. The Church was not an afterthought because of Israel’s rejection of the Kingdom, but rather, we were planned from ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4).
So it is in these final days, that we are seeing;
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25
Even So, Maranatha!