The Messiah in History
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”- Galatians 4:4–5
Ruth’s story is more than just an account of people who were faithful to one another. It is, as we have seen, a story of God’s faithfulness to His people to preserve a righteous remnant in a turbulent era and to continue the line of Judah that would lead finally to the birth of David, ancient Israel’s greatest king (Ruth 4). David, of course, was not only the greatest king of ancient Israel. He was one of the key forerunners of Jesus, the promised Son of David and Messiah who is Lord of all (Matt. 1:1–17). To help us better understand the promise of this Messiah, we will now take a short break from our study of the Old Testament Historical Books and follow Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Coming of the Messiah.
Jesus tells us that we will face trouble in this world (John 16:33), and one of the trials that we must endure are attacks on the Christian faith from the unbelieving world. One attack that many of us will encounter is the claim that the Bible is no more reliable than works of ancient mythology. Atheists, in particular, often assert that there is no substantive difference between the veracity of Scripture and the stories of ancient gods and goddesses. Even some professing Christians have said that much of the Bible is untrue even if they are unwilling to reject the Word of God altogether.
Claims of the Bible’s similarity to mythological accounts run into problems, however, as soon as we compare works of mythology with the Scriptures. For instance, the Bible very carefully sets the events it describes in real space and in real time. We find many references in Scripture to the events of world history, such as the decree of Cyrus and the reign of Caesar Augustus (Ezra 1:1–4; Luke 2:1–7). Biblical religion does not consider history unimportant; rather, it tells us that our very salvation depends on whether the events Scripture records actually happened. If Christ was not actually raised from the dead in the first century AD, our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17).
God stands over history as its Ruler, having decreed all that takes place according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). In His inscrutable wisdom, He chose exactly what would happen and when, sending His Messiah in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4–5). In other words, He sent His Son at just the right moment, at the perfect point for fulfilling His plan for the ages. And He worked in history to bring this to pass and to show His people when they could expect the Messiah.
The Christian faith is not an irrational creed that says it does not matter if what the Bible describes is real. Christianity is grounded in history, and it asserts that God entered into space and time to save His people. Let us be prepared to defend the historicity of our faith, devoting time to studying the historical background of Scripture so that we can answer critics of our faith.
Passages for Further Study