Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 68
BUT WHEN – THE FULLNESS OF THE TIME – PART 1
Galatians 4:4; Galatians 4:9; Ephesians 2:4
It’s good to see everybody back in again this afternoon on a beautiful spring day. Again, we want to welcome our television audience, wherever you are, under whatever the circumstances. Because we realize now our programs are just about going around the world, one way or another. So, wherever you are, we just want you to be welcome to sit in with us. Letter after letter comes in that tells us they feel like they’re sitting right out there at the back row. That just thrills us to pieces. Again, we always like to thank our listening audience for your support, prayers, your letters, your financial support, and everything, because without it we could do nothing.
All right, we’re going to continue yet in these next four programs on the “But God” or “But…whatever.” Today I found one that I just couldn’t pass up in Galatians chapter 4 verse 4 – “But When.” We’ll read the verse first, and then we’re going to go back and look at that what goes before.
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” Now, just for introductions, if I’m not mistaken, and I could be, this is the one and only time that Paul refers to Christ’s birth or even His ministry, except one other verse in II Corinthians 5:16 where he says, “Yea, I have known Christ in the flesh, yet henceforth we know him no more.”
Now, the reason of course is Holy Spirit inspired. This apostle is kept so completely separated from everything pertaining to Israel and Israel’s Law. We’ll probably be pointing it out sometime during the afternoon that, even at the time of His going out into the desert for His three years of instruction, God didn’t let Paul get indoctrinated by the Twelve. Because He wanted Paul to be the grace Apostle for the Gentile world and be completely separated from the Twelve and Israel which were under the Law. So, Paul only preached the salvation message of Christ crucified and risen again.
All of his writing is in that vein, with only this one exception referring to His birth in Bethlehem. It’s put in a little different way, in fact, in order to be different. Whenever I teach over the Christmas period of time, I like to use this verse, because everybody else uses Matthew and Luke, you know. But what a beautiful way of putting it that “When the fullness of time was come.”
Now, we’re going to back up a little bit to chapter 4 verse 1, like we’ve done on all these others, and see a little of the background that leads us up to this particular statement. Chapter 4 verse 1, still in Galatians:
“Now I say, (Paul writes) that the heir, (Now, he’s speaking of a child in a family.) as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, (or a slave) though he be lord of all;” In other words, he’s an heir of the father’s business or wealth, whatever the case may be.
“But (again coming back to this child) he is under tutors and governors until (There’s your time word. Until when?) the time appointed of the father.” In other words, even in the secular world, the Romans and the Greeks as well as the Jews, they would hire tutors to teach their kids.
They didn’t have public schools like we do. So, from the time they are old enough to learn how read and write, the parents didn’t teach them, but they hired tutors. They were to teach those kids everything concerning manners and discipline and finances, their morals, everything was under the control of the tutor “until” the day came that the father had preset when they first started teaching. In other words, they were working forward to a goal when they could approach the father and say, “Here’s your son. This is the day that we have set. I am presenting him to you. He should be ready to come in and be a full heir in the business.” Now, that’s the word adoption that we usually see in Paul’s letters. All right, so what’s the purpose? Well, we’re leading up to it now.
“Even so we, (Remember, Paul is writing to Gentiles.) when we were children, (That is spiritually speaking, now.) were in bondage under the elements of the world:” (Now this is all leading up to this verse.) 4. But when the fullness of the time was come,…” Do you see what he’s tying it to? Just like the tutor would bring the kid up to the father when the fullness of his time of instruction was finished, so also, God has had a time of preparing the world for the coming of the Son of God. To be, first and foremost, the promised King of Israel, but so far as the rest of us were concerned, He was to be the Savior of all mankind.
All right, let’s go back and chase down some of these Old Testament references, because after all, this is what Paul is alluding to, that God is going to use a period of time to get the world ready for the coming of the Son of God in the flesh – “the fullness of time.”
All right, go back to Genesis chapter 3 and this is just after Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden tree. The curse has fallen. We are now entering into the time of every human being, being born a sinner. But here is the first step in God’s preparing of the world for the “fullness of the time.” Genesis 3 verse 15, and of course, God is addressing the deceiver, Satan, the one who prompted the fall, and He says to Satan:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (that is the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, (In other words, the only place where you can really kill a snake is to crush it on the head, and Christ would bruise his head.) and thou (Satan) shalt bruise his heel (the heel of Christ).” This, of course, is a reference to the suffering that He went through. But always remember that it was the work of the cross that defeated Satan and sin and death. It was total, total defeat of everything. All right, so that’s one place.
Now, let’s jump up a few chapters to chapter 12 and the call of Abraham. I’m kind of tempted to fill in the years between here, but I’m going to save that for a later half-hour when I’m going to be dealing with a portion in Ephesians. But, you’ve got to remember, now, that from the Garden of Eden until the call of Abraham is, roughly speaking, 2,000 years. Approximately. I don’t get dogmatic on these years in the Old Testament, but about 2,000 years. But never forget what the Lord promised Satan way back there at the Garden. So, 2,000 years later, this is still appropriate thinking that God is getting ready to do something to make salvation possible for the whole human race. Genesis 12 verse 1, these are verses that we’ve used over and over throughout the years, the Abrahamic Covenant.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: (Which we now know was the land of Canaan.) 2. And I will make of thee a great nation, I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him (In other words, the opposite of blessing) that curseth thee:…” Now, here comes the promise that’s not going to be valid until Christ makes His appearance. That’s the verse we’re looking at in Galatians – “But when the fullness of time.” All right, now read on in verse 3.
“…and in thee (in Abraham) shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Well, now goodness sakes, we know that Abraham didn’t do anything specific for our salvation. But how is he tied to it? It’s through Abraham that the Nation of Israel makes its appearance in the human experience, and through Israel we have the appearance, then, of the Messiah, who goes to the cross and becomes the Savior, not just of Israel, but of the whole human race.
All right, now here it comes, all the way from Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman is going to defeat Satan, looking forward to the cross. And here comes Abraham. He is going to be uniquely blessed by being the father, or the progenitor, of this nation of people, through whom will come the Word of God. Every word in this Book, I maintain, is written by Jews. Then comes the Messiah and then comes the Apostle Paul. All Jews. And salvation goes to the whole human race.
But all right, we’re still building. Now, let’s jump up a little ways to Isaiah chapter 42. Again, these are verses that we have used off and on throughout the years, because they are so simply put and easy to understand. Now, there are a lot of other verses, but they’re not quite as clearly put as Isaiah 42 and 59 and 60, which we’re going to use for a minute. All right, we’ve got our timeline up here. I’m going to roughly divide it from the time of Adam until we get to the call of Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant – 2,000 years.
Now, I’m not going to divide the timeline according to scale, because then I run out of space. But stop and think. How much, that really pertains to an understanding of all this, took place in the first 2,000 years? What are the words? Not much! Not much. It was a 2,000-year period of disaster in my book. Because you see, from the time that Adam fell, until the whole then known world became so wicked, so ungodly that God had no alternative but to what? Destroy it. That was the flood, about 1,500-1,600 years after Adam. It’s a long time, and God does nothing. He just lets them go and lets them go. Until finally it got so bad that He was going to have to wipe them all off the face of the earth, BUT! That was one of first “But’s” when we started. “But Noah (What?) found grace.” Now stop and think, after 1,500 or 1,600 years of this human experience, how many were still faithful to God? Eight! Eight out of probably four or five billion people.
Now, I always use that number when people get a little discouraged and say, “Well, why can’t we bring more people into the truth?” Hey, they never have. It’s not at all unusual for the believer to be the very small percentage. We learned years ago that whenever you see the multitudes flock to something, you can just about bet whatever you’ve got that they’re not flocking to something of the truth. The human race never has. It’s always the small.
All right, so after 1,500-1,600 years, eight people start all over. Well, then in another 200 years, now I know that compared to 6,000, we look at 200 years like sort of a month or two, but no, no. Two hundred years is a long time in any point in history. That’s a long time. That’s since 1800 until now. My goodness, look what the world has done since 1800. So, when I speak of since the flood to the Tower of Babel, 200 years, don’t think there was just seven, eight, nine hundred people. My, they were already up to hundreds of thousands, if not millions. But again, how many of them at the time of the Tower of Babel hang back and say, “No, I won’t have any part of that. I’m going to stay true to God?” How many? Now, that’s a tricky question. How many? None! We don’t have a record of a single one. The whole then known human race gathers in rebellion under old Nimrod. They’re ready to jump on whatever Nimrod’s got to offer. And what’s he offer? False religion.
The whole human race, then, within 200 years of the flood, when we only had eight believers left, has already come full circle. Again, they’re in total rebellion – 100%. But all God does this time is what? He scatters them by virtue of the changing of all the languages.
All right, we go another 200 years. It’s still a long time. Now we come to the call of Abraham. So far as I’m concerned, no believers left. They were all steeped in the idolatry that began with the Tower of Babel. But here we have one man who was willing to listen to what God had to say. So, he becomes the man of faith, Abraham. All right, now then, as Abraham continues on, he has the promised son Isaac. And Isaac has the twins Jacob and Esau. Jacob, in turn, becomes the man of faith. I hope we’ll look at him a little later on yet this afternoon. That little flicker of faith was enough to say, “Hey, I’ll buy that birthright. I’ll give you a bowl of soup, if I can have it.” So, Esau glibly gave up the birthright, which was a spiritual thing, because he had no faith. But Jacob had enough, not real faith yet, but he had enough perception that there was something to be gained by having that spiritual birthright.
All right, so out of Jacob come the twelve sons. Out of the twelve sons comes the Nation of Israel. The Nation of Israel, after their years in Egypt, comes out under Moses. They’re brought back to the Promised Land. Now, I’m doing all this hurriedly. We’re coming up to about 700 BC. Already 1,300 years beyond Abraham, so I’m moving along pretty fast, aren’t I?
All right, now Isaiah is being written 700 years before Christ, thirteen hundred years after Abraham. Look what it says, remembering now the promise to Abraham, “through thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” And yet, coming up through the five Books of Moses and early history going into the land of Canaan, I think you are all aware, what was God’s instruction to the Nation of Israel with regard to those pagan people around them? Have nothing to do with them. Don’t intermarry with them. Don’t have a lot of social intercourse with them, because if you do, you’re going to fall into their idolatry. You’ll become just as ungodly as they are. That was God’s premise.
I think it holds true today. If a godly person marries an ungodly, which direction will that couple usually go? Down. Once in a while it’ll go the other way, but nine times out of ten, it’s down. Well, Israel was no different. And God knew that. So he warned them. Have nothing to do with those nations around you, which we will now call Gentiles, because they were all pagan. They were all idolatrous. God knew that they would take Israel right down with them, which they did. We know that Israel fell into rank idolatry.
All right, so that’s what Isaiah has to deal with early on in the Book of Isaiah. But this is what I want you to see now: how that through the blessings of Abraham, God was one day going to come back and reveal Himself to the non-Jewish world. Now, unless you’ve been with me a long time, you’re probably not aware that everything throughout the Old Testament is primarily, not exclusively, but it’s primarily directed to the Nation of Israel. All the promises, all the prophecies, salvation, the worship, the temple, the priest, were all directed to Israel.
Now, there were some exceptions, and I always point them out. Rahab on the wall of Jericho was an exception. She was a Gentile, and she came into Israel’s blessing. And on and on, who were some of the others that were exceptions? Jonah went to Nineveh, a Gentile city. That was an exception. But by and large, God was dealing only with the Nation of Israel. But, now here’s the point I want to make. He hadn’t forgotten about the rest of the world.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment (Or righteous rule, benevolent rule. Not dictatorial, not totalitarian, but a benevolent rule.) to the Gentiles.” The non-Jewish world, drop down to verse 6.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, (Now, here God is dealing with the Nation. Up in verses 1 and 2, He’s talking about the Messiah, but now He’s talking about the Nation.) and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, (In other words, He’s going to have this agreement between Himself and the Nation of Israel, but for what eternal purpose?) to be a light of the Gentiles;” Now, never lose sight of that. Because when the Lord came in, in His earthly ministry, and we’ll be looking at a verse or two there as well. When He spoke to the Twelve and He said, “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.” That wasn’t talking to us. He was talking to the Jews, of whom the Twelve, of course, were representatives. They were to be the light of the world. They were to be the salt, see? All right, and here it is, read the verse again, verse 6.
“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, (For what purpose?) to be a light of the Gentiles.” That’s a Jewish promise.
So, all the way up through Israel’s history, the preparation is for the coming of their Messiah and King. Now, while I go to the board I’m going to have you jump on ahead and find Zechariah chapter 14. I’m going to pursue the timeline a little further. After the call of Abraham, we go another 2,000 years. Like I’ve just said, it is predominately Jew only, with a few exceptions. I can’t leave that out or somebody is going to be calling.
Then comes what we’re looking at in Galatians, leading up to His three years of earthly ministry. But for these next 2,000 years from Abraham until Christ’s first advent everything is getting the Nation ready, like we saw those in first three verses in Galatians chapter 4. He’s getting the Nation ready for this coming opportunity of having the King and the Kingdom and then to be a light of the Gentiles. That’s Israel’s prospect. All of this 2,000 year period of time is preparation – getting them ready. But what was their problem? Boy, they were a tough bunch to teach! They just didn’t respond!
Now, getting ready for some future programs, I’ve been spending a little time back in Judges and Joshua and Ruth and so forth. Just like the Lord told them, as soon as they got into the Promised Land and started defeating all the enemies, they started dipping into idolatry. Dan, of course, if you know anything about the Tribe of Dan, they weren’t satisfied with what they were given. So, he leads all of his people clear up to Northern Israel and sets up their own little conclave of territory, but what else? An idol. So,
Dan was the first tribe that really went whole-hog into idolatry! So, God had a hard time bringing this Nation along. No doubt about it. But He keeps moving along, moving along with these promises and these prophecies put out in front of them to encourage them.
All right, here’s the one that’s about the end of – my, the end of the half-hour too, already! Okay, here’s Zechariah chapter 14 verse 9, and this sort of encapsulates everything that’s been prophesied since Abraham.
“And the LORD (God the Son, Jehovah) shall be king over all the earth: in that day (When He finally sets up His rule there in Jerusalem.) shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” He’s going to rule and reign, not only the Nation of Israel, but the whole planet earth.
All right, now in the couple or three minutes we have left, let’s go back to the verse that we kicked off from in Galatians chapter 4. After all these years, the patience and trying to teach the Nation, disciplining them with invading armies, blessing them with material blessings, He finally brings them to the place where “the fullness of the time” has arrived.
Now, it isn’t just the Nation of Israel that’s getting ready for the fullness of time, but the whole Gentiles scenario. Everything is now being made ready for the coming of the Messiah. We’ve come through the Babylonian Empire. We’ve come through the Mede and Persian Empires. We’ve come through the Greek Empire. Now we’re well into the Roman Empire, but the language of the Greeks had become pretty much the language of even the Roman Empire. It’s the Greek language that has made our Scriptures what it is, because it is so, what shall I call it? It is so explanatory. You can pick one Greek word and just expound on it. So, even the appearance of the Greek language was all preparation for the “fullness of time” – at the right moment. All right, let’s read the verse. Then we’ll be ready to close.
“But when the fullness of the time was come, (Planet earth is now ready for one of the greatest events that as ever happened.) God sent forth his Son, (A day late? No. A day early? No. In the exact hour that it was right, God sent for the Son.) made of a woman, (the virgin Mary) made (Now here’s the key part.) under the law.”
Most of Christendom won’t recognize it even to this day, that Jesus came and was born from the Nation of Israel, under the Law. His whole ministry was in accordance with the Law. He never made any hint that we’re not under Law, you’re under Grace. Everything He said was in accordance with Israel’s Law. When He healed the lepers, what did He tell them? “Go present yourself to the priest, according to the law.” And, oh, why can’t people get that understanding? That everything He said was under and according to the Mosaic Law.