But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
(Galatians 4:4–5, NASB)
That first Christmas, all eyes were on Augustus, the cynical Caesar who demanded a census so as to determine a measurement to increase taxes even further. At that time who was interested in a young couple making an eighty-mile trip south from Nazareth? What could possibly be more important than Caesar’s decisions in Rome, or his puppet Herod’s edicts in Judea? Who cared about a Jewish baby born in an obscure Bethlehem barn?
Without realizing it, mighty Augustus was only an errand boy for the commencement of “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). He was a pawn in the hand of God, a mere piece of lint on the pages of prophecy. While Rome was busy making history, God arrived. Reeling from the wake of Alexander the Great, Herod the Great, and Augustus the Great, the world overlooked Jesus the baby.
It still does.
As they were in Jesus’ day, so our times are desperate. Moreover, they often are a distraction from the bigger picture. Just as the political, economical, and spiritual crises of the first century set the stage for “the fullness of time” to occur, so today, in our own savage times, our God is weaving His sovereign tapestry to accomplish His divine will. Times are hard, indeed, but they never surprise God. He is still sovereign. He is still on the throne.
Feeling anxious about these difficult days? I understand. Times were no different when Jesus was born. Because so many lives have been turned upside down this year for one reason or another, we need to reflect on what God is doing in our lives. Christmas is a good time to ask ourselves, will I focus on Jesus as the center of my life and cling to Him regardless of the circumstances I face?
Political corruption, religious compromise, economic crises—these will always be on the front page. But we must remember that our God is on the throne.
He promises to use our desperate times to accomplish His bigger and better purposes all around our world and deep within our lives.