I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father (Galatians 4:1-2).
If you go back to the previous paragraph, you will see we are now sons of God who are in Christ. And if in Christ, we are heirs. Prisoners are not heirs. Those who are children under their guardian are not eligible for receiving an inheritance either. In fact, as Paul says, they are no different than a slave.
We as people of God, due to us being children of God, will inherit all that our Father has by His grace and for His glory. In the storyline of God’s saving work, the world (and His people) had to wait for a ‘date set’ by our Father.
And look at how God prepared the world for His Son’s coming. It was in a time and in a manner that God’s people could not see. In fact, they wondered if God was working at all!
First, there was a Roman peace (you may remember from your history lessons it was called the Pax Romana). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, this lasted from around 27 BC until 180 AD–206 years (given there was no Year 0) when Caesar Augustus (yes, that Caesar Augustus in Luke 2) took the reign for his 40 years, seven months, and three days. This is an astounding amount of time without a significant war, given the extent of the Empire (Southern Europe, around the Middle East and into all of Northern Africa).
Common language. Although Latin was spoken by the Roman aristocracy, the lingua franca (common tongue) was Greek throughout the Roman Empire. How did this happen? This happened through a man in history that’s even prophesied in the book of Daniel. That man was Alexander the Great.
Travel back in time to 354 BC. There, a man would change the landscape of all the known world–his name was Alexander the Great (the “Great” part would come later). Alexander was born in Greece, where his father Philip of Macedonia reigned. Greece was under the thumb of the Persian Empire. In fact, Daniel saw this vision, and this empire is described in Daniel 8:3 as a “ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.” Horns are used for defense and offence, and are symbolic for military action. So the Persians were getting ready. At the age of 20, everything would change for Alexander–his father was murdered.
In Daniel 8:5, Daniel’s vision continued: “A male goat came from the west.” This male goat was none other than Alexander the Great, who came from the west–from Greece. With amazing speed (from 334-331 BC) he conquered the Persian Empire! At that time, he had conquered most of the known world (in fact, much of the territory which by Jesus’ time was under the Roman Empire). Like Rocky Marciano in boxing, he went undefeated. Whereas Marciano retired, Alexander died, leaving no apparent heir at the age of 33.
When Alexander died unexpectedly, we see in Daniel 8:8 the four conspicuous horns. Alexander left no heir, so it was divided up into four territories among his four generals. One of those horns ended up coming “toward the south and east, toward the glorious land”–that is, the Holy Land. He came in and desecrated the Temple and its offerings. But more on that in a different sermon. Needless to say, much happened in the Holy Land, shifting hands repeatedly between Roman and Greek rule. When Rome finally took control, they became dominant, and thus by 27 BC, the Pax Romana was in effect.
Even though Alexander the Great died at a young age, his influence in spreading Greek/Hellenistic culture throughout his area of conquest still existed–not the least of which was the language.
What’s the point? During that time, God had not sent a prophet. In fact, after Malachi died and the wall was rebuilt and the Temple restored, no prophet came on the scene until a man in the wilderness preaching by the Jordan River in camel’s hair, with a diet of locust and wild honey–his name was John the Baptist. For centuries, every since Adam and Eve sinned and were promised an offspring, ever since Abraham was promised an offspring, every since David was promised an offspring who would sit on His eternal throne have the people of God expected–all came to fruition on that date set by the Father as outlined in Matthew and Luke