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NOT PHILOSOPHIC PALAVER
Divine wisdom not Human philosophy
THE CASE OF FULNESS OF TIMES
in popular parlance
"In the fulness of time..." intoned one of the health workers who seek to keep the oral cavity happy. That is just what Humphrey liked to say in 'Yes, Minister...' when he was at his most ironic, directive or manipulative.
What however is the basis of this pseudo-idiomatic play ? Why is it slightly funny in some circumstances, to say 'in the fulness of time' such and such will (presumably) happen - such as healing ? Is it not because this is just the evasive-seeming sort of phrasing which some might give in indefinite answers to needy questions ? or is it not suggestive as an ironic gesture at the relative indifference which some bureaucrats might show towards things needing action, which however remain barred by indolence or lack of zeal in governing circles ?
Let us suppose it so, that this is the way some see the phrase in such moments: but WHY has THIS specific idiomatic irony ever become a tonic for humour ? Did someone or something START this addition to the genre ?
Is it perhaps because, for example, in Galatians 4:4, the Lord inspires Paul to write that Christ was sent 'IN THE FULNESS OF TIME' !
Let us hear it in its actual context:
so we, when we were children, were in bondage
"But when the
fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son,
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son
Some might say,
the sheer volume of biblical
doctrine in Shakespeare's works as so well illustrated in that superb little
booklet, The Gospel in Shakespeare (Hubert V. Little),
the deep penetration of the
national church in the days when Spain felt drawn to having England
the time when liberty had yet to
become an excuse for satanic follies blooming like capeweed, as if
the best-seller status of the
Bible for so long, and the Pilgrim's Progress second,
the fires of revival which in
Wesley and Whitefield so prevailed for so long in England and in Scotland,
and realise that what the Bible
has to say, has been part of our literature and history to such an
Is it not possible, then, that the fact that as in theology from God in general, there is precision, has been forgotten in the current craze to subjectivise, relativise, render humanistically pappy all religion whatever the cost to objectivity and reality in this cultural putsch, which like rigor mortis grips increasingly the stiffening mental arms of more and more of this world ? ... that the ludicrous pantomime of perverse philosophy masquerading as doctrine or truth or simplistically synthesising with biblical truth, has led masses into such oblivion of fact, that in religion that domain has become a virtual enemy, by many never permitted to intrude into barren waste of thought ? Fact in religion ? an insufferable intrusion into the hysterectomy of truth which the body of corrupted culture demands ?
In such forgotten facts, the bacterial culture of ironic gestures can flourish.
But what is the fact in this case ? It is this: that biblical precision so far outdistances the wisdom men call 'science' (which has its place, but increasingly this is forgotten as amateur philosophers who happen to be scientists defile its name in their religious posturings cf. TMR), that the book of the Lord remains unassailable, a source of illumination without consternation, truth without compromise, validity without self-contradiction of its own premises in a way which has no equal, and no near equal, OVER MORE THAN THREE MILLENIA.
Details of its triumphs have been featured throughout this site, and in particular in SMR; but any field one touches, yields this amazing crop of reliability, indefeasibility, intractability, immutability and validity. If 70 volumes have not yet sufficed for some, then try the 71st which is this current one. What other religion has suffered such a spread and array of apologetic argument and data as this. It is like a bride: when she is outstanding above all others, the photographers, to use the vernacular, have a ball! When what you have is the best, your task is relatively easy; when it is incomparably the best, it is further facilitated! (cf. Isaiah 48).
THIS sort of biblical precision is far in advance of science in this, that it LASTS unhindered for millenia; science rarely lasts even a small fraction of that time before its astounding ignorance is revealed. It is really rather like a bright child: for a seven year old, it is a wonder; but when it is compared with real wisdom from the adult standpoint, it is difficult even to compare. Thus when GOD HIMSELF declares His mind, there is empirically no comparison, in religion or any other domain of 'wisdom'.
Such, however, is the pampered prosperity for human pride in this generation, that instead of continually realising how POMPOUSLY IGNORANT, or manipulatively messy have been many scientists (those who indulge in trying to make religion from science, by hopping into a scientific dust-coat and hoping no one might notice the change of personnel underneath!), as their ludicrous notions yield to sober fact forthcoming a little later: instead great crazes of praise (not unlike those given to the triumphant team in a long football contest) are showered on science. For man it does well in its own domain, when it is kept to it, but for God, there is only a certain futility in its imagination of its ... self-worth!
Would it not be more suitable to indicate with awe, how LITTLE in knowledge, and in some things how CONFUSED were those irresponsible pseudo-scientific religionists who made poor philosophy out of now outmoded science, and tried to ram now mechanistic nostrums, now simplistic substitutes for the coding contrivances which distinguish the verbal patterns underlying so much of our own physiology! So they were wrong. It was not as they thought, again and again.
THEREFORE one good part of scientific method needs to be remembered: the latest 'revelations' of partial knowledge of the empirical base are limited by the need to come for concurrence with new hypotheses in fields not yet realised; and the failure to have tested them for both adequacy and comprehensiveness frequently becomes a liability built-in!
This is not in the slightest degree to decry SCIENTIFIC METHOD, a marvellous contrivance; but to expose its fairly consistent abuse (as shown for example in TMR Chs. 1 and 8), even in ways which can infect a whole educational system and mar, indeed molest the minds of a forthcoming generation. Small wonder with such travesties of science, you have social travesties and human distortions which well up like the bitter waters of some mineral-laden spring.
What then ? The biblical precision and validity is unique and without comparison; but the cultural commands that afflict this generation, not least because of the manipulative and dictatorial educational stresses of many secondary and tertiary institutions (as one has found first-hand by teaching in them and studying their bases) insist on a malignancy of misconstruction, allied with and indeed built on a magnitude of ignorance, which enables a slur that is as imprecise as the imagination that serpent's teeth are made of putty (because they are so disliked), to become almost a serpentine sermon from the depths of depravity, contrary to fact, according to the fashion of the times.
Indeed, it is when such travesties of truth become part of the acquired culture of more and more of this world, that one realises - as one watches the destruction of more and more of the forthcoming young generation by such devices, helped into the harassments of unholiness by willing workers who at best, know not what they are doing - that hell has sent out its invitations with lurid intensity already.
THIS CASE IN ACTUAL FACT
It is time, then, to revisit an actual biblical site, and to see what in fact in context was in view: and that site, as already mentioned, is Galatians 4.
In fact, by a sublime irony, the case of Paul's phrasing, 'in the fulness of time' in Galatians 4 has a meaning so different from the philosophic warbling so often found in the religious rioting of some scientists, complete with dust-coats but not replete with logical finesse (for passion can drown logic as an irate householder might drown a cat), that it is an example. The TIMES are those appointed in predictive summation by Daniel, who took the trouble to point out the empires, from Babylon, through Media-Persia, to the Macedonian (of Alexander the Great) to Rome; and these are collectively referred to as "the times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24, just as we have "the fulness of the Gentiles" in Romans 9:25.
Daniel's sketches in Daniel 2 and 7 with 9, are so fundamental to biblical prediction, so precise and so vast in scope (and of course they are to no small degree reflected in the book of Revelation), that his times are a predictive analogue to works on history, which for example might refer to the Times of Dickens, or of the Industrial Revolution, or the American War of Independence.
That is, in Daniel, these are the times APPOINTED for the other nations, for the non-Jewish people, while the Jew-Gentile drama is played out as indicated precisely in Romans 11. In Daniel 7:25 you see one of the numerous references in the Bible, frequently found in Revelation also (as in Ch. 11), to 'times' in the context of specifications for Gentile developments in terms of empires, tyrants and the like which were forecast in detail, down the line of history then yet to come, for thousands of years (on which see Highway of Holiness).
Thus when the apostles asked the Lord, as shown in Acts 1, concerning the question, IS THIS THE TIME ... for the kingdom ? He told them it was not for them to know the times or the seasons which the Father has set in His own hand, but to await the power of the Lord in their work. HE in heaven would define the time when culmination and the regeneration of all things (as Acts 3:19ff. has it) would come; and it would come in HIS timing.
It was a hot topic as we would say nowadays, for in Christ's personal COMING and power in miracles of healing sight and body, as predicted (cf. Isaiah 28-35), in His talk of an atoning death, a savour which however little appreciated by some at first, still had its own aweful authenticity, His inimitable overcoming of all evil in word and deed, there was a question implicit. WILL HE NOW INSTITUTE that full measure of divine power on earth which is so often predicted as in Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Isaiah 59 ? In fact, as you see in Luke 24, Christ reminded them as "foolish ones" that they should have realised that there had to be a suffering first before the glory which was to come! WHEN that would come was in the Father's hand, for MANY things had first to happen involving kingdoms and powers, events and developments which would take generations (Matthew 24). ONLY when the Gospel (Matthew 24:12) had satisfactorily reached all nations would the time of the end arrive, when the liberty of love would be met by the culmination of judgment (cf. Matthew 24:29ff.).
Some of these 'times' are studied in detail in SMR pp. 886ff., and more in Highway of Holiness Ch. 4. By this, we find in the study of Daniel 9, that not only is there a PHASE of history in which Christ had to come, but a specifiable date was announced some 600 years before His death, through Daniel, putting it in the near vicinity of A.D. 30. The death however, though final for redemption, was only a beginning of the grasping of the gospel (like some electro-magnetic field) over the world, the sifting of wheat and chaff in its terms, and the confrontation and culmination when the process was complete.
That is the background of times, which can be followed in the above reference. As to the foreground our own particular interest in the FIRST COMING of Christ, because Paul uses the phrase 'in the fulness of time' in connection with it, that phase of the whole program, we can now look at it with some more perception. In particular, we can see it in terms of Daniel's outline of empires and the coming of Christ to be cut off, but not for Himself! (Daniel 9:24).
Thus, it was only after all those empires had passed to the last one, and within that, only when the DATE had come to what would yield a death date for A.D. 30 or so, as specified by Daniel (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), that Christ COULD or WOULD come to die for sin and make provision for those who received Him, to be relieved of the guilt and dominion, the destiny and the judgment of sin. Otherwise, the word of God would be useless, inaccurate, misleading, and indeed a misnomer! But it is no misnomer. Christ had to come ON TIME, after the TIMES of the preliminary empires sketched by Daniel; and there was no coming before then. It had to be in the FULNESS of time that He came, not in some abortive clash with the prediction.
It was in very fact THEN where it had been indicated, when all the 'times' were past which related to this epoch, this empire, that one, and all the specifications of detail which enabled the prediction to come to a specific date, that Christ would come. It was then that He came, and not before; it was as planned, as noted, as specified and as determined in the foreknowledge and wisdom of God (cf. Acts 2:23)
It had all to be FULFILLED; the coffers of history had to pay cash on all the predicted imperial might(s), the events described for the Messiah's timing, before it was the right time, the precise time, the exact time, the specified time. It was only then when the FULNESS of the times, the whole watering can topped to the brim if you like, were duly brought into history, that the Christ came born of a virgin as foretold (cf. SMR pp. 770ff.).
THE ACTUAL IRONY
Thus the irony of imaging that theological waffling has occurred, that the Bible was using a fulsome phrase and not a fulfilled set of precise data, is testimony to an ignorance which has long since passed from the appalling, and entered the domain of the pernicious. Biblical knowledge is becoming so lax, that it reminds one of the hideous ignorance or indifference of so many troops in World War I, who acquired venereal disease in such numbers; and of the way in which skin cancer has been acquired in more recent times, before the 'message' came that it was not some sort of vague slopping of funny fluids on precious little skins which was in mind, but a virtuous provision to prevent scarifying sacrifices of life, by precluding some of tissue-damaging results of the 'fulness of the times' in the sunlight.
To reflect the biblical emphasis, as in Galatians and all the many parallels about times, you would have to invent a new meaning for the idiom, 'in the fulness of times', the very contrary of that so often used in pejorative and ironic contemporary discourse. You would perhaps be able, if patient, to try to turn this phrase to mean 'when all the precise requirements are met' ; and in this case, it would perhaps be usable at the expense of meticulous people whose extreme care you wish to parody!
How little have how many learned in all this time of the ways and will of God: since He made us all, this is an omission which, though not entirely unpardonable, will be for many the downward shute through listless and lifeless disregard, resulting from negative decision about God and His Gospel. When, in the fulness of time, this shute dumps the deprived, through their own volition, the lack of pardon is intensely correlative with the lack of Gospel. As John 3:36 puts it, the one who does not believe, the wrath of God abides on him.
Why ? some unbelievers may ask. Let us consider the case. Well you see, if in the fulness of time, you find no time to consider the time God took to make a break for you, so that you could escape the results of sin in an estranged world, and if you so disparage by implication the very mercy of God, disregard the cost of redemption which HE paid in order to secure a people free from the bondage and breakage of sin, and that out of love: what do you expect ? That some divine pill will be forced down your wayward lips ? that some marvel of mercy will simply bypass your ultra-stubborn will and knowledgeable ignorance through mental meanders in whatever you like, so long as you like, because you like, unaccountable, unrelieved: or that some special spiritual machinery will be brought on scene, so that you will be dug out of the pit to which you have become affianced as your saviour and lord ?
If you do not like the pit, why pit yourself against God! If you love sin so much, why not set up a foundation or trust for it, paid for by your life! That is in effect what depreciatory, ignorant unbelief is doing. Such a 'trust' is not trustworthy, and to such a foundation there is no base!
Even in the fulness, it is never full.
As the 'fulness of the Gentiles' now is shouting at the world, in terms of Jerusalem's return to the Jews (since 1948, in part, since 1967 in whole), from that sounding board*1( in Luke 21:24, which specifies this as the signal the second innings, that of the Gentiles, comes to its conclusion, and as the grisly, urbane and starkly inequitable follies of the United Nations (cf. Red Heart ... Ch. 10) contrast belligerently with the will and word of God concerning Israel, it is time to reflect on the right time for the Right Ruler; that Christ having come on time to save, will come in HIS time to JUDGE. When is that ? No one but God knows; but God has made it ever so clear that when this situation is in place (Luke 21's forecast has a number of accessories), when this pattern is complete, then the time for His Second Coming, His consummation, is NEAR!
You could take the whole voyage across (or nearly across in this case) the Atlantic by the Titanic as an index. When that once magnificent vessel set out, the time of the sinking was obviously NOT near, if you use the whole voyage as the defining instrument for time's processing. When it was half-way, likewise, the end was not near. When it was nine tenths gone, still, though the minutes were few, there was a whole tenth of the journey for the luxury to continue, and the grief to delay.
Nevertheless, looked at processively, by the time the all but insane-seeming misplaced trust in modern science's invulnerability had been put into a frantic pace, and the water had turned so cold that ice could indeed loom suddenly: then the time was near. There were certain ingredients which meant that in a survey sense, the lot was now cast.
So now: it is near, the spiritual cruise of the spiritual Titanic is near its destination. You do not tell a generation that in the next generation things will happen, so that the time is near!
That would be ludicrous.
In point of fact, the biblical specifications for 'near', for a near return of Jesus Christ to complete the work of history (Acts 3:19-21), having already completed the payment of the cost of redemption (Hebrews 9:12-28, 10:10-14), so that judgment on the one hand and blessed eternity in God on the other, may proceed: these are here. When then is He to come ? How long is it to be ? Long enough to repent, seek the Lord and find in Him the peace which love has already paid for.
*1 Jerusalem back with the Jews is a highly specific point made by Christ concerning the times of the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11, The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, *3, Ch. 3, *1): their finis, end, terminus, conclusion, completion!
What a TIME it has been! What malevolence has been visited on the Jews! What murder has been inflicted by Gentiles also on Gentiles! What hatred still seethes, the madness of the jihad self-destruct religious mechanism merely illustrating the falsity of the Koran from the start, for its errors and violence were from the first employed (cf. More Marvels Ch. 4, Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8, esp. *1, SMR pp. 1080ff., 830ff., 50ff., 65ff.).
Man seeks to set himself up to judge man, and in the process judges the Judge whose judgments are widely ignored, though they transcend in verifiable truth all human knowledge! They are ignored no less by Liberals and the entire establishment of God-hating, seething assault which characterises so much of the philosophy, scientifically religious and other, the sects and the New Age scenarios of this Age (cf. SMR pp. 867ff., cf. News 152).
In vain, as Psalm 2 decries, is this desire to increase the incision on Christ, to stub out the Messiah (cf. Of the Earth, Earthy ... Ch. 10); He died and rose. Not now available for more murder, He simply rules over history and comes in the fulness of the TIMES, when the season is ready to judge, as verifiably He did in the first place, to redeem. God always does come and act when ready, and is amazing in the detail He has given over the ages, of what constitutes that readiness! (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9, Cascade... Ch. 12, Pitter-Patter Ch. 4, for example)
Meanwhile, Jerusalem in the hands of the Jew, this is the impasse to confusion, the terminus of controversy, the writing on the wall, the writ for judgment, the annunciation that HIS TIME IS NEAR. Not every day does the Jew rule in Jerusalem! (Luke 21:24,28).
One must realise that when that great city was salted by the Romans, when it became illegal for centuries for Jews to be there, when it was sought after by Saladin, harassed by the Moslem, assailed by Islam, rebuilt or recontrived for this or that in no small measure, when it was ruled by the Ottoman, wrought over in World War I, and even when all the rest of its turmoils were arrested in 1917, when the British restored in their own power to that region, a promise for the Jewish homeland (Balfour Declaration): there still was no place for the Jew. 19 centuries of oblivion passed.
ZIonism made its payments,
little lands were bought, but of possession of the nation,
Millenia past, griefs
There were words, there were League of Nations Declarations, there were assurances; but there were Arabs and there was the reality of British betrayal in 1948, when it was in process of handing over to the Arab Legion as a little earlier than that time, it was herding back aspirant Jews, turning aside their ancient shipping hulks, with brisk British efficiency, lest they should arrive in the British-promised land!
There was still not a Jewish nation with Jerusalem in their own power. That biblical signal was still not only missing, but through the contrivances of the nations, including in monumental lowering power, those of the United Nations which would have ended any actual Jewish State that could live, it was being devastated in advance. NO SUCH SIGNAL COULD COME, said the world, as it bloodied its hands further against the Jew.
But it did come in 1948, when the first half of Jerusalem, as predicted, came into Jewish hands (Zechariah 14); and it did come completely in 1967, when the rest of the city came to those self-same hands, so that NO MORE could it be maintained that Jerusalem was still "trodden down by the nations" to use the Biblical words in Luke 21:24. THAT time was over. There was no more time left for that part of the times.
To be sure, there have been predictable, in fact predicted, controversies and wars, disputes and endeavours to take Jerusalem over, kindly by international concurrence to relief the Jew of the need to govern it, such is the kindness of this present world. There have been efforts to run it on the part of the Gentiles (including not least, Arabs and Moslem peoples with, shall we say, their aspirations for more, more and more land); but they do not run it. They seek to reverse history; the USA is becoming more and more ambivalent, as if intent on missing blessing and inviting judgment, for the same scripture in Zechariah 12 has made one thing most clear.
It is this. IF people want to take hold of Jerusalem in this post-Messiah era (one to consummate in many in Israel turning in repentance to the Lord whom they crucified as predicted in Zech. 12:10-13:1), then they will pay. They do pay; they have paid, but this is small compared with what they are yet to pay for this intrusive belligerence against the expressly stated disposition of God (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4). After all, WHO MADE the land! His it is and when you seek to divest Him of HIS stated intentions with what is His OWN, you are becoming guilty of theft, and as always, this has certain moral overtones which do not please the almighty, as you see in Exodus 20. It has always been so. It has never ceased to be so; nor will it.