He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Over the course of my whole life I’ve heard my dad say, "God is seldom early, but He is never late!" I’ve seen this truth over and over. God is precisely on time! But nothing demonstrates the importance of His perfect timing any more than the birth of Jesus Christ. Had Christ's coming been either early or later, Old Testament prophecies would not have been accurately fulfilled.
Writing to the Galatians in one of his earliest letters, Paul alluded to the miracle behind the miracle saying, "When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His son, made of a woman, made under the law..." (Galatians 4:4). That phrase "the fullness of time" is a powerful one.
Almost everyone remembers that Christ was born in the little city of Bethlehem—“O Little Town of Bethlehem" is the Christmas carol—but few remember that Mary and Joseph were living in the city of Nazareth, 70 miles to the north of Bethlehem. The Old Testament prophet, Micah, writing 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ had singled out Bethlehem of Judah as the place where the Messiah was to be born. Now any mother recognizes the fact that babies come on their own timetable, and it isn't always easy to predict the timing of their arrival.
What were the factors that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem when they were living a considerable distance away? There were hundreds of variables, and if any one of them had failed, Jesus would have been born in Nazareth far away from the place prophesied by Micah.
The scenario began when Julius Caesar was assassinated, and his grandnephew Augustus became Caesar. Others were more powerful, but the leadership in Rome chose Augustus because he was young, weak and, they thought, could be dominated. But young Augustus teamed up with Marc Antony and purged the senate. Turning the tables on the "Caesar makers," he quickly became powerful and strong.
As Augustus walked around Rome, everywhere he looked he saw monuments to his predecessor, Julius, and it disturbed him. "I need to carve out my name in the granite of Italy," he reasoned, and thus his beautification program was launched. Building marble monuments costs money, and political advisors know but one way to do that: tax the people. And, in the words of Dr. Luke, "It came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed..." Are you beginning to get the picture? An order was given. A centurion carried it to the harbor. Passage on a ship had to be booked, and, in those days, the ship was borne across the Mediterranean by the wind which filled the sails. Had strong winds blown, the messenger would have arrived sooner and Mary and Joseph would have been forced to return to the birthplace of Joseph's father too early for Jesus to have been born in Bethlehem. Had the ship taken longer, or the order to tax the empire gone out later, it would have all affected the timing of the birth of Christ.
The events moving towards the birth of Christ were like the gears of a fine, old Swiss watch‑‑some were large, others small, but each one was connected to another. And they all had to mesh perfectly for the hands of God's clock to point to Bethlehem at the hour of Christ's birth.
All this is to say that nothing is a matter of indifference with our Heavenly Father-- even events in your own life. Nothing surprises God or catches him off guard. Whatever your lot, wherever you are, God knows and cares. God is seldom early; but He's never late. He is precisely "on time."
Resource Reading: Luke 2:1-7