Fullness of Time
The novel I'm working on plays around with concepts of time. Time is an inescapable part of life, and the Bible doesn't ignore its importance.
Our lives reflect this, too. So much of the time it feels like we're waiting for something. Some people live this way out of habit.
You ask them, "When are you going to look for a job?" And they answer, "When the economy gets better." Or, "When are you going to start that new business?" Answer: "When I feel inspired."
When I was a kid I always looked forward to it being the year 1986, since that was when Haley's Comet was going to come back. Eventually it came. I also looked forward to the year 2000, since it would mark the new century.
The Right Time
Eventually the right time does come for these sorts of things. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1 that, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." (All references in my posts are from the ESV unless stated otherwise)
On the other hand, for some things the right time never comes. It's never the right time to disobey God, for instance.
Fullness of Time
The phrase "the fullness of time" comes from Galatians 4:4-5 which reads, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
God waited a long time for things to fall into place so that Jesus could come. Actually, the time table for this is in Daniel 9 where Daniel prophecies the number of weeks for the "anointed one" (Christ) to come.
The people of Israel in the first century were well aware of this, and were expecting the Messiah to come. That anticipation was important. We need to have a sense of anticipation about what God will do. It's part of what makes us ready to receive a promise.
Know What Time It Is
A negative example of this is in Numbers 14. This is a story about not knowing what time it is. If you've never read the book of Numbers because someone told you it was boring, you're missing out. It's one of the most exciting books of the entire bible.
In Numbers 13 the spies who spied out Canaan have brought back a bad report. They say the people of Canaan are too strong, and that Israel can't defeat them.
In the first part of Numbers 14 the people despair because of this bad news. They think they've come all this way from Egypt for nothing and that now their enemies are going to destroy them.
So they rebel.
Then Caleb and Joshua stand up for God and say that He will help them take the land. The people reject this good counsel and threaten to stone these godly men.
Then God gets angry and tells Moses he's going to destroy His people.
I find this series of events very interesting. Note that God doesn't threaten to destroy his people when they rebel. I'm sure he was angry, but he doesn't express that fact to Moses. What was he waiting for?
The Other Shoe
There's a phrase you may have heard. "Waiting for the other shoe to drop." It means two different events are related, but only one has happened. The other event happening is the proverbial shoe dropping.
In Numbers 14, God was waiting for the other shoe to drop. What was that shoe? It was good men (Caleb and Joshua) standing up for Him.
You see, God saw the rebellion, but he knew it wasn't universal. He knew there were two men in Israel who weren't rebelling, but they hadn't had time to respond. The other shoe hadn't dropped yet.
The other shoe dropped when Caleb and Joshua testified on God's behalf (starting in Numbers 14:6) that "he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey."
That was when God told Moses how angry he was. God had the information he wanted. He knew who was for Him, and who wasn't. So He spoke and He acted.
It's all about information. God is in the information business. He's looking for information about his people. He waits a long time for it to come out. Often we wait for Him to do something, but he's waiting for information of some kind.
Information is the key to understanding the human heart. When we respond in our hearts to something, it's information. When we speak what's in our hearts, it's information.
Often I think what He's really doing is letting us see what's in our own hearts.
Learning Who We Are
I suspect that Caleb and Joshua didn't really recognize themselves as being very special until God singled them out for being the only two men who would survive the forty years in the wilderness (read the rest of Numbers 14 to find out about this).
The only way they could receive this information about themselves was for God to patiently wait until they stood up for Him. That's why God didn't pronounce judgment right away. He was waiting for these men to stand up for Him so that they could learn something about themselves, something that would change history.
What About You?
Can you change history? God may be waiting for you to stand up for Him. There may be something going on in the world where God hasn't pronounced judgment yet because His people haven't stood up for Him.
If he acts now, there won't be enough information. The people that love Him won't know how special they are because He didn't wait long enough to act.
So stand up for Him and watch Him move.