Unit 03 02 The Fulfillment of Time

Today, and we're going to be focusing on the fulfilment of time. Now, after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel. What did Jesus mean by saying The time is fulfilled? Well, we've, we've seen that Jesus is the King of the Jews. And when he speaks of the kingdom, he's the king who's bringing it. But when we think of Him as King of the Jews, we have to think also of the Jewish understanding of time that they had as revealed by God and the way they measured time and marked time. When I asked you have what time is it? Well, you might look at your watch or at the clock on the wall, and you say, Oh, I think it's 1013. Well, that's one way of telling time. Or if I say, Well, what season is it? You say, Well, I saw a few snowflakes drifting this morning, there's a chance of snow showers tomorrow and the next day, and the windshields are about 20 degrees below freezing, I'd say it's winter. But you might look at the calendar say, Well, no, it's March 23, we're two days into spring, we had a warm day, a couple of days ago, we know the days are getting longer, we know that the way the earth is in relation to the sun at this particular time, no matter what it feels like, at this particular point in time, no matter how chilly it is, the spring, and spring is going to keep getting spring here.


Now there are different ways of telling the time. And when Jesus says the kingdom of God is near. It doesn't mean that the kingdom of this world and all sorts of bad stuff isn't going to still be pretty chilly, and pretty nasty. But nonetheless, the corner has been turned, and the King has come close. And the time is fulfilled. And as we think about what time is like, and how we experience it, we need to put ourselves into the shoes of Jewish people for a moment again, just think about the structure of time, and in particular, the Sabbath structure that God had for his people. God had time marked for his chosen people so that every seventh day, the people and even their animals were called, and given the opportunity to rest. And there were two major reasons for this. One is that when God made the world, he did it in six days and then rested on the seventh day. That's the reason that's given in the Exodus 20 version of the 10 commandments. And in the Deuteronomy five version. The reason for resting is the Exodus liberation, you were slaves a long time you work 24/7 Now that you've been set free, why would you work 24/7 anymore, don't be a bunch of knuckleheads, you know, take a day to enjoy. And so every seventh day, you, all of you, and even your animals are to rest because God rescued you from slavery. So because we have a creator who worked that way under Redeemer who rescued us from slavery, we're going to have a Sabbath Day a day to rest every seven days. They also had a Sabbath year, where every seven years the land was supposed to rest and no tilling and planting was allowed during that Sabbath year. And then every seven times seven years, you would then have a super Sabbath year, the Jubilee. And it was a time where anybody who had had to go into slavery because they owed too much money would have the debt canceled, and they wouldn't be set free from their slavery. Those would have to sell off some of their ancestral land that God had given them could receive their land back again, and every family got its rightful land back. And it was just a way that every super Sabbath year things got back on track, no matter how unequal they had gotten over the years, this year was designed to set things straight. And there was a sense in which it was a once in a lifetime Exodus for everybody. Everybody who lived to be a certain number of years would experience this jubilee year, at least once in a lifetime. God had this Sabbath structure of a weekly Sabbath of every seven years, and then every seven times seven years and it was a way of marking time. And you had a sense, even if you were part of it, that God is the Lord of time, every week, every seven years, every half century, you're marking that off as God's time and it started with a time When God created all things, it was really launched and redeemed when God brought you out of Egypt out of the land of slavery, and gave you a chance, again, to taste that God's time, and to have God's time, be part of your time and to enjoy that. Now,


when Jesus came, he declared himself to be the Jubilee. The year of the Lord's favor, is the phrase that's used for it in Leviticus. And he announced when he stood up and delivered his message in his hometown of Nazareth, that he was it, the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 61, had spoken of a jubilee that was coming that was really badly needed, because people weren't celebrating Jubilee very much anymore. And they were under the occupation of a foreign power in Isaiah as prophecy. And the same was true at the time of Jesus. And so Jesus gets this scroll from the prophet Isaiah and he found the place where it's written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty, those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. And he began to say to them, today, this scripture has been fulfilled. In your hearing, Jesus is launching the grandest jubilee of the mall to set people free from slavery, and to release people from their blindness, and from all that afflicts them. Jesus launched his ministry in that manner. And then throughout his ministry, he didn't, he did things on the Sabbath, and he deliberately did things on the Sabbath. That kind of provoked a lot of questions. Why was he operating that way? Why did he do such things on the Sabbath? Well, let's just read a few of the stories of Jesus in action on the Sabbath. On a Sabbath while Jesus was going to the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisee said, Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath? And Jesus answered them, Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and he and those who were with him how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those women. And he said to them, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a mighty big deal. And Jesus said, I am Lord of the Sabbath. And then immediately after that, On another Sabbath, He entered the synagogue and was teaching in a man who was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. For them, the Sabbath is becoming a club, they're watching. They're watching. And if you do what you're not supposed to do, wham comes the Sabbath club, and you know that your bad. Jesus knew their thoughts. And he said to the man with the withered hand, come and stand here, and he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, I asked you, Is it lawful on the Sabbath, to do good, or to do harm, to save life, or destroy it? And after looking around at the mall, he said to him, Stretch out your hand, and he did so and his hand was restored, but they were filled with fury, and disgust with one another what they might do to Jesus. What a crime to heal somebody crippled hand. Now he was teaching in one of the synagogue on the Sabbath and behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for 18 years, she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her woman, you are freed from your disability. And he laid his hands on her and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God, but the ruler of the synagogue indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, there are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed and not on the Sabbath day. Then the Lord answer them, you hypocrites. Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his boxers, donkey from the manger leader, the way to water it? And not this woman, daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bound for 18 years, be loose from this bond on the Sabbath day. And he said these things As he said these things all his adversaries were put to shame. And all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.


another occasion, the Jews said to a man who had been healed from blindness, it or from being crippled, it is the Sabbath. And it is not lawful for you to take up your bed. Because Jesus had said to this guy who was paralyzed, take up your bed and walk. So he took up the mat that he had been lying on and walked with it. Oh, what a crime. He was supposed to stay paralyzed. The Pharisees were experts in paralysis. The Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, My father is working until now, and I am working. This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God. Another similar story, we must work the works of him was sent me while it is day, night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Now. It was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened a blind man's eyes. So the Pharisees are going to ask him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, well, you put mud on my eyes, and I washed. And I see. Some of the Pharisee says, This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath. But others said, How can a man who was a sinner do such signs? Meanwhile, the man himself said, Well, you say he's a sinner, Allah, I just know one thing I was blind. Now I can see you deal with it. Anyway, what's going on with all these stories where Jesus, let's face it, there were six other days in the week, he could have done a lot of healing on those days, he could have taken a break, you know, he couldn't take one of those days of prayer when he went offline. So you could have done that faithfully on the Sabbath and not broken the Sabbath by healing people on the Sabbath, what's going on? Well, empty right is a theologian who's done a lot of study in in Jewish understanding of things. And he also has some good insight into what's going on with the Sabbath in the ministry of Jesus. He says, When God made the world he rested on the seventh day, this doesn't just mean that God took a day off. It means that in the previous six days, God was making a world Heaven and Earth together for his own use. Like someone building a house. God finished the job, and then went in to take up residence to enjoy what he had built. So he spent six days building a house as a temple for himself in the seventh day, it was a time to move in and enjoy. Creation was itself a temple, the temple, the Heaven and Earth structure built for God to live in. And the seventh day rest was therefore a sign pointing forward into success of ages of time, a forward looking signpost that said that one day when God's purposes for creation were accomplished, there would be a moment of ultimate completion, a moment when the work would finally be done. And God who this people would take his arrest would enjoy what he accomplished. Remember Jesus words, my father is working, and I'm working. So there's a future day when this work that God is continuing in will be accomplished and God and His people together will read. The Sabbath was the day when human time and God's time met. When the day to day succession of tasks and sorrows was set aside, and one entered a different sort of time, celebrating the original Sabbath and looking forward to the ultimate Sabbath. The Sabbath was the time when God's time and human time coincided. The Sabbath was the regular signpost point pointing forward to God's promised future. And Jesus was announcing that the future to which the signposts had been pointing had now arrived in the present. The future had arrived. In his own career. He was doing the gods in charge things. He was explaining what he was doing, by talking about what God was doing. You remember that statement? They wanted to kill him, not just because he was breaking the Sabbath, but because He made Himself equal to God. He was explaining what he was doing by talking about what God was doing. The time was fulfilled, and God's kingdom was arriving.


You don't need the Sabbath. When the time is fulfilled, the future the new creation was already here. The Sabbath law was not then a stupid rule that could now be abolished. That might be a misunderstanding we get from those texts that Jesus is telling us. That whole Sabbath thing was just kind of dumb anyway, a bunch of nitpickers, you should have never had any big deal about Sabbath at all. He's not really saying that Sabbath never was important, or had any value. Sure, they got a little too picky about it. But Sabbath didn't matter. And he's not just saying, hey, let's all just ease back and relax and not make such a big deal about the Sabbath. He's saying something a lot more important than that. The Sabbath law was not then just a stupid rule that can now be abolished. It was a signpost, whose purpose had now been accomplished. It was a signpost marking time, marking time marking time and when the fulfillment of time came. That was the reason why the Sabbath was now changing. If the Sabbath now has a purpose, it won't be for rest for the work of creation, but rather for celebrating God's victory over the Satan. That's really Satan is actually not a name either. It's capitalized in our Bibles, but it's just a title. He's the Satan, the enemy, the opponent, anyway. We're celebrating God's victory over the Satan. That's what Jesus is saying. And so Jesus is the walking celebrating Victoria Sabbath. He's not breaking the Sabbath, He is the Sabbath. That's the point. He's not breaking the Sabbath. He is the Sabbath, to which all of those Sabbath days, and Sabbath years, and jubilees were all pointing. He is the fulfillment of time. Jesus also has a keen sense when he speaks of the hour. He's talking to a Samaritan woman at the well and he says, Woman believes me the hour is coming, when neither on this mountain where they're talking, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father, but the hour is coming, and is now here, the hour is here. when the true worshipers will worship the Father, in spirit and truth, the hour has come when temples don't matter anymore, when holy mountains don't matter anymore, because the living, walking, breathing Temple has showed up. And he is showing people how to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Jesus says, Truly, truly, I say to you an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. He's saying, there's resurrection going on right now. Every time somebody hears my voice, the hour has come when the dead are coming to life. So there's this sense of this special hour that God has appointed, and that hour has showed up, because the Son of God has showed up. And then of course, there is that ultimate hour, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Now is my soul troubled? And what shall I say this is just before Jesus is going to the cross, what shall I say, Father, save me from this hour. But for this purpose, I have come to this our Father, glorify Your name, now is the judgment of this world. Now will the ruler of this world be cast out? And I when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to myself. This is the hour when the wrongful ruler of this world gifts, the boot. And when I draw people of every nation to myself, and that hour has come and I know it's going to be a terrible hour but is also the hour of my glory and my trial. And so he is not going to shy away from fulfilling that hour. Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his our had come to depart out of this world of the Father, Having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them to thee and now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. Jesus understand this is Thursday night. It's the beginning of the Passover. And he knows that the hour has come for him to be glorified. Now,


let's think about the way Jesus fulfills that hour and another aspect of Jewish time not just SAVVIS and jubilees not just the appointed hour, but the yearly sees on the Passover feast. A lambs blood was poured out so that people would not perish. Jesus Christ died on the day that Passover lambs are slaughtered and sacrificed. The first day of the week after that high Sabbath following Passover was the Feast of Firstfruits when the first bit of the new harvest and really hadn't come in yet, but just the first bit was there. And so that was the feast of First Fruits. That first day of the week was the day on which Jesus arose from the dead as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. There was also a feast of weeks, which was sometimes called Pentecost, which happened seven times seven days after that feast, the first fruits and it was a day to celebrate a fuller harvest. Now you didn't just get the first great, but harvest was in full swing. And things were really launched. And Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on that day, the the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, seven weeks after his resurrection. He is the fulfillment of time. And all of the markers of time that God had put in place, are fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. And that's how Jesus knew the exact hour. When his time had come. He knew that this is when the Passover lamb get sacrificed. He knew the first fruits day on which he would rise again, he knew the Pentecost day on which he would pour out His Holy Spirit, these things don't happen, just kind of by chance where God said, Okay, mail, this looks like a good day for this. And that looks like a good day for that God is the Lord of time. He's the one who created the whole space time continuum, that physics tries to study and understand that we will never fully grasp. But he is the Lord of time. And he is the one who put in all these markers of time. And Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of time.


There was another time thing and I don't have time to get into it very deeply here. But the prophet Daniel had spoken of 7770 times 770 sevens are decreed for your people. This was the angel Gabriel talking to Daniel 70, sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. No one understand this. From the time the word goes out, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes, there will be seven sevens and 60 to 70. And after the 60, to 70, the Anointed One will be put to death, and will have nothing. And I won't get into all the details, we'll just say that when the decree went out for Jerusalem to be restored, and you count off the years, you wind up with the year that Jesus Christ died on the cross. So you have a whole host of things about time, in the in the Times preceding Jesus, all of them fulfilled in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that's why the the apostles, when they're witnessing to Jesus also make a big deal that he is the fulfillment of time, when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons. There's a sense in which the fullness of time included certain circumstances that God in His control of history also determined things that weren't very convenient for the Jewish people were nonetheless part of God's timing. The Jews had been scattered into many nations, and many of them had never returned, but just continued living in those cities. Meanwhile, the Roman Empire had taken over a huge swath of the world and had built fantastic roads throughout its empire. And so when Jesus Christ was revealed, and when he died, and rose again, and His apostles were charged with the gospel, there was a ready made network of Jewish colonies all throughout the empire. And there were some excellent roads for missionaries to travel on. And so the coming of Jesus at that particular moment in time, just from a historical point of view, had great advantages for a very rapid spread of the gospel. But of course, there's more to the fullness of time than just that there are also these various things that I've been talking about the fulfillment of the Sabbath, the fulfillment of the Jubilee, the fulfillment of the 70 sevens, the fulfillment of the Passover, and the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Firstfruits. At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. These are the kinds of things that when you're reading the Bible, you just kind of go right over to you and you read Christ died for the ungodly don't hear. What's this thing about the right time? Or we were glad God sent forth his Son, but that's not the whole statement. This whole statement is in the fullness of time, he sent forth his Son. And it's all because of what he talks about. The Apostle writes about Ephesians one where he says God has this plan that he's predestined even from before the foundation of the world and time is just the revelation of God's plan. It's not God's trying desperately to keep up with developments. It is the unfolding of the times that are determined by God His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.


And so they have this sense of time being fulfilled. And as Jesus revealed himself and as the apostles understood, this means that we are at the end of the ages. The apostle Paul says, according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages, But now in Christ has been disclosed. Or writing to the Corinthians in First Corinthians 10, verse 11, Paul says, these things were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come now, and can mean two things tell us in Greek and can mean Okay, that's it, it's over. Or, and it can also mean just a goal. It probably means both here that, in a sense, it's been brought to the goal. And this is the time that puts you at the end of time. Or does it says in Hebrews 926, he appeared once for all, again, the way we read it as Jesus came, and he died. It doesn't just say he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, he appeared once for all, at the end of the ages, they have this tremendous sense that something happened once for all, at the end of the ages, there had been ages and ages going on, God had been doing this and that in relation to time. But now, it's once for all this is it, this is the end of the ages. This is what time was all about. This is what all of that was leading up to. And this is what gives all remaining time, its meaning and its purpose and its goal. He came to that hour when he knew his time had come. And once we're all at the end of the ages, he put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself. And that means that we live in the last days, in fact, Christians have been living in the last days, for the last two millennia. Jesus announced, The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel, you are living in the fulfillment of time. Hebrews one verse two says in these last days, God has spoken to us by a son. These are the last days because God has spoken in his son. And that's the last major thing God's gonna do before he comes again. The rest is fulfillment, this gospel of the kingdom must be proclaimed to all the world. And then the end will come. We're living in the last days, but the gospel of the kingdom, the kingdom of God is near the gospel, that's got a spread, and then the end will come. And there are warnings based on this notion to the we live in the last days. James says, you guys, some of you rich, you are just storing up money for yourselves. You're hogging all the wealth. You're letting other people get hungry and starve the people that work for you. You're not even paying them. And why are they stupid to do that? He says, because you're living in the last days, and you're storing up treasure for yourself. He's not just talking to people that were living 2000 years in the future, he is talking to us. But he's talking to people in his own time who were already living in the last days, what are the last days, the last days are the period between Jesus first coming, and the Second Coming? All the calculations you hear about, we're going to figure out exactly whether we're within a decade of the end of the time. That's the kind of time you know, when we're looking at our watch trying to figure out time, but with God's time, the last days is the period between Jesus first coming and his second coming. You see it here very clearly. In these last days, he has spoken. They were already in the last days when Hebrews one verse two was written. They were already in the last days when James was writing, the apostle John's his children, it is now the last hour. What's that mean?


It means that during this time between Jesus first coming and His Second Coming, God has given the final and fullest revelation of who he is. He has revealed his own son as the fulfillment of time. And the thing that we need to understand now about the time we live in is this is it. This is the last hour These are the last days. This is the period of God's mercy between God's revelation and giving up his son for our salvation and raising him again from the dead and fulfilling time and the time when He comes again and there will be a sense in which time will be no more when the developments The goals that are associated with time and it's progression are over. And we simply our time is merged into eternity again, we are living in a season, that is the favorable time. It is the day of salvation. And what that means, friends is that there is coming a time as Jesus said, When night is coming, when no one can work, there is a time, similar to the time of Noah, when God close, you know, Noah preached 120 years, and then one day into the ark. And God shut the door. Those 120 years were the last days at that time, in a sense, and there were people who heard no a preach and probably, you know, we heard that sucker free for 37 years now and nothing's happened. Yeah, the last days, this is getting a little prolonged, isn't it. And then one day the door was shut. And the laughter stopped. And we live in the last days. And if they, as Paul said, our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed if Jesus had just one more marker, major marker from his actual coming, the first time is this, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all the world and then the end will come. The Gospel of the Kingdom has spread very, very widely throughout many peoples and nations of the world. If there were ever a time when people said, Wow, I don't think we're getting very close to that final final hour yet, let's pay very close attention. Because the Lord of time has given us ways of marking the time and the spread of the gospel. The Bible has been in the last century, translated into 1000s of languages more than it was in the previous 19th centuries put together, the gospel was spread more widely in Asia, and China and other parts of the world that had less access to the Gospel for a while than ever before. That now has been, indeed, the culmination of that favorable time, the day of salvation when God has been gathering a huge harvest from every tribe and language and people in nation. What that means is that we truly are, in the last days, indeed, approaching the last hour, and it means for us a time of opportunity of salvation. And Paul says, we played with you on Christ, we have been reconciled to God, God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God. And he said, right after he said that, he said, Now is the time of God's favor. Now as the day of salvation, he had this understanding of it being the time that is now a tire, tremendous opportunity. But if it slips by a time, you will never get back again. And so now is the time to respond. You don't put God off and say maybe when I get around to it, if you're living the time of His mercy, now's the time to accept it.


The Old Testament, it says there's a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. God has made everything beautiful in its time, he has also set eternity. In the human heart, we were always meant to be creatures of time, and yet not just of time, but of eternity as well. God has a plan for each person that includes our times and our eternity. He has a plan for the whole universe that includes the times he marked off, and then the eternity. And so as you live by faith in Jesus Christ as the Eternal One, through the Holy Spirit lives in your heart, eternity is touching time, and it is filling your life now, with purpose with the touch of the eternal. It's not just an empty routine. That's what Ecclesiastes was about, as yada yada yada one thing after another Vanity of vanities, and then more vanities, that's what it's like, when you don't get it when you're out of touch with God. And when you're out of touch with Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of time. But when you are in touch with the one who is the fulfillment of time, then your life is not an empty routine. Christ is the fulfillment of time and he's the fulfillment of your time, the one who gives purpose and meaning and joy and blessing. There's a question in the Heidelberg Catechism that we'll get to later on, and it says, What is God's will for us, and the fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment. And it doesn't give a bunch of details of what you can or can't do. It says, God's will for us is that every day of our lives, we rest from our evil works, and already begin now the eternal Sabbath. You rest from trying to work your way up to God and from all of your other evil works, and you start enjoying the eternal Sabbath right now. Hebrews four says, enter into that rest while you have time. Let's pray together Your Lord, we thank you so much for being the great creator of time. And the one who gives it its meaning its purpose, its goal and its fulfillment. We thank you for sending our Lord Jesus in the fullness of time, and for sacrificing him at the appointed hour and raising him again as the first fruits. On that day of firstfruits. We, we praise you, Lord, that in such miraculous ways you show yourself sovereign and mighty and wise, and that you display the full wisdom of Jesus Christ, and of the Almighty God and the ways you have arranged time and fulfill it in him. And so Lord give us purpose in our lives to each day. And each moment in our that you give us and help us learn to live in that structure of, of time realizing we live in the last days, realizing it's the day of salvation, and so Lord, help us to receive that salvation and rejoice in it. Help us to spread the good news of the kingdom to the ends of the earth and dust hasten the day of Christ's return, when we can see him face to face, and rejoice in him forever as our eternal Sabbath rest as our eternal source of joy and blessing. through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray, Amen.

Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2021, 12:11 PM