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If humans always needed a Messiah, why did God not save us earlier?

October 16, 2019

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; One God, Amen.

Why was Christ incarnate on earth only 2000 years ago? Humanity prior to the incarnation was in desperate need of a Savior, humans were corrupt and times were dark; so why did He not come to save humanity earlier? Why wait till then? Today, we aim to answer these questions.

 

As Christians, we understand that salvation is retroactive, meaning it applies to all humans before the incarnation/cross/resurrection. It also applies to everyone after the incarnation. We also know that the timing of the Messiah’s coming is evident from Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 7So we know that the timing is not haphazardBut why did God choose this specific time? If humans were suffering and dying, why did He not come earlier? The assumption that is made when people ask this question is that God can do everything and since He can do everything He should have come earlierThat is not totally true thoughGod cannot do everything. For example, God cannot sin. He cannot lie, He cannot get angry, He cannot do evil, etc. So although we say that God is Almighty, it does not necessarily mean that He can do everything. God, being Almighty, will ultimately overcome evil and bring Life to whomever chooses to be His child. But, is there still evil in the world today? Certainly. It is everywhere and increasing. Is there poverty in the world? Definitely. Why is that? Does God will evil and poverty? Of course not. However, these exist because of humanity’s free will. God, being Love, has to give humans a free will to choose to love Him back. And that free will, given in His love and humility, He does not intervene with. So if I choose to not walk in God’s path, God Almighty cannot force me toThe problem with asking why was God not incarnate earlier presumes that it was all up to Him. That it was His choice and His choice only. But that is certainly not the case. God works in synergy with humanity. He works with us. And, wemore often than not, delay God’s work. In reality, if it was up to God alone, Adam and Eve would have not sinned, there would be no Cain killing Abel, there would be no tower of Babel. No evil. All of these are consequences of humanity’s free will. Yet, out of His love, God still wants to save us but He is stuck working with this reckless humanitySo He does the best He can through usAgain, He does the best He can through us. He is stuck with us and we delay Him all the time. In other words, the salvific plan would be easy, or speedy, if it was all up to God. But since it is not all up to Him because we are in the picture, then it gets much more complicated. Not that it gets complicated for God as He foreknows all this, but it gets complicated for us to comprehend. So, God is trying to speedily run to our salvation, but He is being continually delayed by humans who are pulling Him back. But again, God is not surprised by that at all. God foreknows our own decisions and since He foreknows He chose the appropriate time for the incarnation. If you would like to understand God’s foreknowledgeyou can click on the video link in the comments section below after watching this video. 

 

Now, having understood that the salvific plan is greatly affected by humans, it is worthy to note some of the elements that affected the incarnation’s timing. It is important to mention that a complete answer to this question would require a full understanding of history itself and therefore would require someone that witnessed it all. And, since no human will ever fit this trait, we have to resort to be content with some interesting facts about the timing chosen by GodThe first fact is the influence of the Greek Philosophers. At a time when humanity believed in polytheism, each nation praying to their own gods, the Greek philosophers shifted that ideology to the belief in One God. Plato believed in a supreme diety. Aristotle believed in a Grand Designer or an Unmoved Mover, the Stoics believed in the Logos, a Mind that rules the universe. These philosophers introduced the possibility of monotheism to the world—the belief in one God. It is in this context that The Son of God was incarnate. A second point is centered around the fact that God was incarnate to recreate humanity. And, by the same token, He has given humanity an ultimate level of morality to live by. This morality is exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew chapters 5 to 7. One of the purposes of the incarnation is therefore to shift the level of human morality from the time of the flood in the book of Genesis when all the thoughts of all humans were continually evil to the general Old Testament state where humanity is still growing bit by bit till the time when God saw it fit to become Man and to teach humanity the ultimate morality. This exemplified morality could not have been accepted by humanity in prior times as we were not ready to receive it. And this is precisely why God gave humanity the Old Testament Law of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ It was not because God’s own morality was different back then. Of course, not. It was because humanity could not accept the level of the New Testament morality. But once again, the time to shift human perception had come.  

 

A third item is the Greek Language. Thanks to Alexander the Great, Greek was the common language of the civilized world. At a time when Hebrew and Aramaic were spoken only in Palestine, Greek was spoken internationally including in the Roman empire. Of course, a common language was essential to the spreading of the gospel. Therefore, it is no surprise that the New Testament, the Ecumenical Councils and the majority of the Church Fathers used Greek as the language of communication. A fourth one is the Pax Romana. Pax Romana meaning “Roman Peace” was a period of relative peace that lasted for approximately 200 years, which started during the reign of Augustus, who was the Caesar at the time of the incarnation. Of course, the Pax Romana made the Apostles’ missionary journeys a possibility. It reduced the level of persecution faced by the Church and; therefore, it facilitated the spreading of the gospel.  

 

Another point is the presence of some key peopleThese had to be present for Christendom to develop as it did. First, through the Father’s Divine foreknowledge, He selected the Virgin Mary to be the Son of God’s bearer. As we say in the Coptic Midnight Praises: “The father looked from heaven, and found no one like you, He sent His only begotten, who came and took flesh from you.” Of course, the Father is beyond time and He selected her before time began. She was worthy to be entrusted with the mystery of the incarnation and to rear the Son of God in the fleshNote when Archangel Gabriel came to announce to her the birth of the Messiah in Luke 1, she had to accept the responsibility of the incarnation. She also has free will. So, as soon as St. Mary said: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word, the Archangel departed. Not only is she worthy of the mystery but she was willing. St. Irenaeus demonstrates how her obedience was a participation in God’s salvific plan. He says: “For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against his Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God and so fell, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through the act of a virgin, so was it saved by a virgin was precisely balanced by the obedience of another. Her obedience was needed for our salvation. This ties back to the point made at the beginning of the video demonstrating that God’s salvific plan is affected by human decisions.  

 

Similarly, St. John the Baptist was needed. He was part of the plan and this can be seen through his own words when he says: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Again, the time is fulfilled, meaning the time of salvation has come. It is time to repent because the Kingdom of God is near. He is truly the voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord. The same applies to St. Paul. St. Paul is truly a rare personality. A man with great zeal and commitment that is born a Jew and knows the Law inside out; yet, He is also a Roman citizen and was well thought in the Greek language and culture. All of these characteristics were absolutely essential to his evangelical mission. He too says about himself the following: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” He shows, here, his understanding that he was chosen by God before his birth. The same could be said about St. Peter, St. John, St. Mark and all the Apostles. So all of these points together demonstrate that although humanity does limit the work of God, in His foreknowledge, God is still evidently able to appropriately time the incarnation. One specific event demonstrates this very well, which is when the darkness fell over the land during Christ’s crucifixion. St. Luke states this event in his gospel chapter 23, verses 44 through 46. IF this event is indeed a solar eclipse as many believe, then, God demonstrates, here, His foreknowledge of this eclipse 750 years prior to the event itself through the prophet Amos, who wrote about the darkness in his book chapter 8, verse 9. Therefore, the cross is timed perfectly with the eclipse which created the darkness in Jerusalem. The fascinating part is that this event was also recorded by secular history. Julius Africanus who wrote in about 221 AD quotes another historian whose name is Thallus. Thallus wrote in 52 AD (so first century) and he wrote the following: “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.  This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” This event was recorded in both the Old and New Testaments as well as in secular history demonstrating that although God, in His love, chose to work with humans, and humans made things complicated as usual, He was still able to perfectly time his salvific work. 

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