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God’s Perfect Timing

December 26, 2017

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4: 4-5).

When you talk to people who have had successful careers or have special talents, they often say that timing was a key factor in their success. Whether it is the introduction of the iPhone or FaceBook, or any one of hundreds of recent inventions and innovations, the timing of bringing the product, app, or idea to the public is crucial. Knowing how to swing a bat or golf club is a learned skill, but the body must respond to changed circumstances in split second timing. A dancer’s timing is critical. A joke can fall flat if the comedian’s timing isn’t perfect. Reading musical notes not only involves playing the correct note, but understanding how long to hold it. Cooking is an art that involves critical timing elements; fresh, delicious food can be ruined by poor timing when it is cooked.  Timing is everything.

God’s perfect timing is the underlying theme of this week’s Scripture texts.[1] Sunday is the last day of the year—an appropriate time to ponder God’s timing. It’s a good time to look back and consider what he has done in your life in the past year, and to look forward to what he might do in the coming year.

Isaiah sets the table when he describes the Messiah who is to come.  The Messiah is the one for whom the people will wait.  He explains that as a couple carefully dresses for their wedding day, so God has carefully prepared his Son, the Messiah (the bridegroom) for his saving work, that will bear much fruit.  The reference to “I” throughout the text refers to the anointed one—the Messiah: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations (Isaiah 61: 10-11).

Isaiah was one of many who prepared the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah. The timing of his arrival was the basis for much speculation, but Scripture tells us to be patient, and to wait on the Lord.

Psalms 111 through 118 are called the “Hallelujah Psalms.” Hallelujah means “Praise the Lord.” In Psalm 111, we are encouraged to praise the Lord, and to trust in God’s wisdom: “The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding” (Psalm 111: 10).  Trusting that God’s timing is perfect is part of expressing reverence.

Simeon was a man who had learned to revere and trust God’s Word. He believed that the Messiah was coming.  And he was excited about the timing of this great event, because “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah (Luke 2: 26).  Following the Spirit’s direction, he went to the temple at the same time that Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus to present him to the Lord, as required by Mosaic law, and met the child, Jesus. “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations’” (Luke 2: 28-31). These verses are called the Nunc Dimittis (meaning “Now you dismiss”), and are traditionally included as part of the liturgy in liturgical churches.[2]

Paul later explained that God’s timing was perfect: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Galatians 4: 4-5).

What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for a job? To be healed? Are you waiting to be reconciled with a loved one? For a rift to be repaired? For a relationship to be restored? Are you waiting for a seemingly never-ending tough period in your life to be over? Trust in God. Trust in his perfect timing.  If you aren’t rescued quickly from your difficulties, you will be assured and comforted by his Word and by his ever constant presence. Wait on the Lord, trust that he always has your best interests at heart, and that his timing is perfect. Happy New Year!

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the First Sunday after Christmas are Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 111; Galatians 4: 4-7; Luke 2:22-40.

[2] The main liturgical denominations are Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopalian.

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