The fullness of the time ∙
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. – Galatians 4:4
1 These are the memoirs of Nehemiah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa [Persia].
2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days, I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
Through the years, there have been many ridiculous claims about planetary alignments. For example, they cause earthquakes or briefly allow people on Earth to be weightless. Such claims are nonsense. The other planets of our solar system are too far away to have such dramatic effects on the Earth. Then there were rumors that the world would end on or around 12/21/2012. There was supposed to be a planetary alignment. That is all it was, a rumor. There was no planetary alignment in 2012, nor did the earth end.
A planetary alignment is a common term for when planets simultaneously line up. A conjunction is a combination of at least two celestial bodies lined up in the same area of the sky, as seen from the Earth.
Such a group is known as a syzygy (SIZ-eh-gee) when three or more celestial bodies are aligned. The most common occurrence of syzygy is during a solar or lunar eclipse. In a solar eclipse, the moon lines up between the earth and the sun, blocking the view of the sun from the earth. Conversely, a lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is between the sun and the moon, blocking the light of the sun from the moon.
Models of the solar system often depict two-dimensional, roughly concentric circles of the planets in orbit around the sun. We probably have all seen them in children’s science books. Imagine a far more complex three-dimensional sphere with thousands upon thousands of objects that must line up and work in unison.
When the Father acts in human history, He first prepares the stage for the realization of His will on Earth. It was so at the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 4:4 But when the appropriate time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
The Father sent His Son at precisely the right moment in human history. The Father laid the groundwork and directed and arranged events, peoples, and nations for the most significant event in human history.
Multiple non-coincidences prepared the way. The Romans had established the Pax Romana, a period of relative peace and stability. Koine Greek was spread by Alexander the Great and became the common language of the time. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek. Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek Septuagint about 250 BC. People of the Jewish faith established synagogues throughout the known world. Rome had built sturdy roads and bridges all over the Empire to provide a safe and swift means of travel. The ancient Western world during the first century AD was “connected” in an unprecedented way. The rapid spread of the gospel message and the writings of the New Testament were now possible.
REFLECT & PRAY
God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time!
Father Your timing is always perfect. Teach me to pray effectively according to Your will and timeline.
When Nehemiah was informed of Jerusalem’s rundown and desolate state and its walls, he was moved to tears.
Nehemiah 1:4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days, I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
Nehemiah was a good, godly, and righteous man. He stood tall with integrity before the Father in heaven and Artaxerxes, the king of Persia. He knew that the Father’s plan involved the restoration of the wall of Jerusalem. He was moved to pray. His prayers began in the Hebrew month of Kislev (November/December). He undoubtedly prayed hard, long, repeatedly, and according to the will of God.
What happened? Absolutely nothing!
Nehemiah continued praying for five months. Finally, during the following year, in the month of Nisan (March/April), the King of Kings moved the heart of Artaxerxes, the king of Persia.
1 Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence.
2 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified,
3 but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”
4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” With a prayer to the God of heaven,
5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
6 The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.
8 . . . And the king granted these requests because the gracious hand of God was on me.
Why did the Father take so long to answer Nehemiah’s prayer?
Effective prayer is always about praying the Father’s will into existence. We pray that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. But His will operates within a specific timeframe which He fixed before the foundation of the earth.
Daniel the prophet had predicted circa 540 BC that a countdown to the first coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, would begin when a Persian king issued a decree to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its wall.
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem riding on the colt of an ass on March 29, 33 AD. This was precisely 483 prophetic years, equivalent to just over 476 modern years after Artaxerxes issued the decree of Nehemiah 2:1-8. The countdown began in the month of Nisan, 444 BC, and ended in the month of Nisan, 33 AD.
Nehemiah’s prayer could not be answered UNTIL the exact month and year arrived to begin the countdown. The Father could not have acted sooner. A countless number of details had to come into perfect alignment. Nehemiah’s “delayed” answer to prayer provides insight into effective prayer. When we pray according to the will of God, the Father answers within His timeframe, not ours.
If the Father has spoken to you and asked you to pray His will into existence for one of your friends, or family members, or your country, don’t give up. The answer will come in the fullness of time. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven!
© Dr. H 2022