Thanksgiving is over... Did you enjoy “Black Friday”? It's not “Good Friday”, but “Black Friday”... Why Black? ….. Answer(my guess): All merchants and sellers get so much profits and their books become black out of red on just one day. 27 billion dollars were spent on this Black Friday alone. Wow!? Buyers like us are made to spend more. Black Friday... one day after Thanksgiving Day, and one month before Christmas... we all start our Christmas shopping on this day forward.
So, Black Friday is nothing to do with Christianity although Thanksgiving and Christmas are both celebrating our Lord Jesus Christ, as I mentioned last week. Today's story is about Christmas already. Jesus was born in Bethlehem where Mary and Joseph travel ed. A familiar story in every Advent season. Let us look at today from a little different angle.
In Luke, chapter 2, we have the story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ child. I would like to talk about God and His timing this morning, and how Christmas, more beautifully than any other story, teaches us about how God does all things very well in His time. “Everything Beautiful in His Time.”
In Luke 2:1~ "Now, it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was the governor of Syria when all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
And so, Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because it was of the house and the family of David, in order to register along with Mary who was engaged to him and was expecting a child."
I want to call your special attention to verses 6 and 7,
"And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth and she gave birth to her first born son. And she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn."
Now, please look at Galatians 4:4, Paul says,
"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law and order that he might redeem those that who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons."
If Christmas is about anything, Christmas is about God’s sovereign timing in the lives of mankind. The Ecclesiastes writer in chapter 3:1-8 says some very interesting things about God and his timing:
"There’s an appointed time for everything,
and there’s a time for every event under heaven.
A time to give birth and a time die.
A time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.
A time to kill, a time to heal. A time to tear down, a time to build up.
A time to weep, a time to laugh. A time to mourn, a time to dance.
A time to throw stones, a time to gather them.
A time to embrace, a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, a time to give up as lost.
A time to keep, a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, a time to sow together.
A time to be silent, a time to speak. A time to love, a time to eat."
He just goes through and tells us about the seasons and timing. And then in verse 11 he says, today's text,
"He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. And He has set eternity in the heart of man."
That’s an amazing statement. The Ecclesiastes writer says, God has made everything beautiful in it’s time, showing that God is aware about everything, even the very moments of your life and my life. I mean He knows the seconds of our life. Everything He does is perfect in His time. Such finest care and details and yet, in the same sense, the same God who knows every moment of your time and my time has set eternity in our heart.
Now, let’s look at Mary. I can see that God’s timing in her life was inconvenient. When we look at the daily interaction of God in our life, sometimes we say, "This is not the right time for it to happen in my life." How true this is.
Let me give you some examples of Mary. This was not the right time for Mary to have a child:
1. Her marriage was not yet consummated. She was engaged, but not fully married yet.
And it’s just not the right time for her to have a baby...she’s not completed the marriage with Joseph yet. Joseph might have canceled the marriage for her adultery if he so chose. Other relatives might have done the same. People in neighborhood, or other people in the community might attach her for immorality. If condemned, she would be stoned to death.
It was not the right time for Mary for sure. But she did not say to angel who told her a good news of having a son. What did Mary reply? “Not now, Angela. Just wait for a while. Wait until I marry Joseph, then I could have a baby.”
She rather humbly accepted angels' Annunciation. “May it be done to me as you said”. She accepted God's timing and God's gift at the time.
2. The census has totally disrupted all their plans.
First, she was going to have that baby in Nazareth, most likely with her family and friends. But all of a sudden the census just pulls them up, and they had to go to another place... Bethlehem.
3. It’s a strange town, and there’s no support in Bethlehem.
Most likely Mary has never been to Bethlehem before. Strange town, strange people, strange place. Away from Mom, away from sisters, away from the family... all the support system that you want in the birth of a child, especially your first one.
Many Japanese women came to US having the first baby here in US... all alone... no Mom, no sisters, no friends, no relatives. They must be very lonely and worried a lot. Many had the same problem.
4.There’s no inns, no housing, no beds.
They go to the inn and there’s no place for the baby Jesus to be born. In the short term if you would stop and say, "Mary, what do you think about the timing of God for the birth of the Christ child?" I’ll guarantee you that Mary would say, "It doesn’t seem to be the right time."
Now, let’s go to the big picture now. You see, in light of prophecy, the timing was perfect. In light of the prophecy of God, this birth of Jesus was just perfect as far as timing. Let me show you some Old Testament thoughts here concerning the birth of Christ.
1. The Old Testament said the Messiah would come from the nation of Israel.
That’s in Genesis 12. Remember when God spoke to Abraham and told Abraham concerning his descendants.
2. The Messiah would come from the house of David.
Ten centuries (1000 years) before Jesus’ birth, David wanted to build a temple. And God said, No, you’re a warrior king, your son Solomon will build the temple. And David was disappointed and in David’s disappointment God said, David, it will be from your house and your lineage that the Messiah will come.
3. The Messiah would be born of a virgin.
Isaiah 7:14 said that
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” this is also a familiar verse in Advent.
4. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Micah 5:2 said that the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem. He said,
"But thou Bethlehem, out of these shall come forth into me that which is to become the ruler of Israel."
So in light of all those prophecies, the timing of God was at the right place at the right time.
But even I think more significantly as we look back in light of history the timing of the birth of Christ was perfect. No wonder Paul said in Galatians 4:4 he said,
"In the fullness of time God sent forth his son."
Let me give you 3 things that happened in history that made the timing of God is just right for his birth.
1. The spreading out of the Jewish people in the Mediterranean basin.
The "Diaspora," the dispersion of the Jews. Right before the birth of Christ, the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. These God fearers, began to spread out th word that Jesus Christ was to be the Messiah.
These were to be the beds of evangelism... the Jews were dispersed. If they would have all stayed in the same place, evangelism would have stayed right there. But it was through the sovereignty of God, all these little small communities were everywhere in the Roman Empire.
2. Israel was geographically the center of the world in that era.
Look at any maps, Israel is close to Africa, close to Europe, close to Asia, and in the middle East. It is the center of the world in that time. And moreover, Roman Empire built roads everywhere from Rome to other countries. Israel was conveniently connected to all other world through Roman roads.3. There was one common language.
3. The common language was established for the very first time. (since the Tower of Babel)... Remember that tower of Babel where they all spoke the same language, but their motives were wrong, and God gave them so many different languages. From that time up to the time where Jesus was born, all different nations spoke different languages. But by the time Jesus was born, Alexander the Great, who was truly a world conqueror, changed the environment and brought everybody to speak a common Greek language.
So the Bible (all the New Testament) was written in the Greek... common Greek, the language everybody spoke. Every book written by Paul, and all other books in the New Testament were written in Greek... and so, everybody could pick it up, and understand exactly what was said because of one common language.
You see, if not one language, it would be extremely difficult to understand the Bible... for example; we’d have to read and write Galatians and Ephesians in Turkish, Corinthians and Thessalonians in Greek, but Romans would be in Latin. Hebrews, of course, would be in Hebrew. You have all kind of different languages... so difficult to understand. Thanks to Alexander the Great who unified the language, a common Greek.
For man timing was bad, especially for Mary and Joseph, but for God, timing is always perfect. “everything beautiful in His time.” God prepares everything in perfect order for His purpose to be accomplished, and His prophecies to be fulfilled. Messiah was to come on the right time. Environment, language, geographically all were planned and designed together by the Lord. Everything works together for one reason...Christmas, yes, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. His timing is awesome!
My experience when I was lead to Minnesota.
I was almost out of work in April 2014 because Japanese church in LA cut off the ministry short. I learned later that JFC lost the former pastor in April 2014. I was then invited by JFC, but my ego inside me said, “not in Minnesota, way toooo cold, I want somewhere warmer, California, or Hawaii, or....”
God showed me, and told my ego to be thrown out. Then I was in a pit seeing nothing but pitch black. I shouted to the Lord. He said again “Go to Minneapolis.” So I surrendered to Him. Now I am here in Minnesota for exactly 2 years. I experience a great blessing every week in this church. It was His plan His timing, His command. I now know it.
It's been said,
"The wrong decision at the right time equals disaster. The right decision at the wrong time equals unacceptable. But the right decision at the right time equals success." It's His time.
Now, close your Bibles, let me talk to you. Nothing stays the same. Doors open, doors close. Options today become non-options tomorrow. If you would sit down and talk to Mary and all the things happened in her life at Christmas, she would look back and she would say, “In Christmas when God speaks, don’t miss the moment. Take it right away.” “Not right now, God. I'm not ready... sometime later when I did this and that.” Those excuses are not acceptable to the Lord. I know that because I experienced that.
I want you to bow your heads with me this morning because God has a marvelous sense of timing. And for some of you, today is the day. In fact, this moment is the moment where God is about to do a new work in your life. For some of you it’s been a long journey. For others it's been a long suffering time, or decision making time for your life. God is touching you now, and talking to you. This is the moment. This is the time. You talk to the Lord. He will touch you and answer to you.
Our Father, I thank you for today's message about Christmas. What an exciting moment. This is the moment, Lord, that they have decided to follow you, to serve you together. The timing is right. You’ve spoken to us and to them.
Lord, as we leave here this morning, we’re going to be aware that Christmas is all about timing. And that it’s important for us to seek the Lord while you are available. I thank you for those men and women moved by your word this morning. Be with them today and this week forward. In Jesus name. Amen.