For the longest time I didn't understand the new-car industry. I had always thought it worked like this. When a guy wanted a car, he dropped by the local dealership, kicked a few tires, slammed some doors, and fiddled around with radios, hoods, and trunk lids. Then he would rap with the salesman, dicker over prices, choose his favorite color, and place the order. I figured that when headquarters got the specs, they'd scurry around the shop finding the right steering wheel, engine, chrome strips, and hubcaps, then make sure all that stuff got stuck on correctly before it was shipped. You know, kind of like whipping up a last-minute meal with grub from the kitchen.
But that's not the way it is at all. To my amazement, I discovered that a computer card puts into motion dozens of contacts all over the country. One spot makes only engines. Another, the glass and plastic parts. Some other outfit does the steering wheels, and yet another the carpet and vinyl. As the order is placed, it triggers action in all these related areas. And—hopefully—at just the right time the special things arrive at the assembly plant where it all comes together—everything from bumper bolts to windshield wipers. And within a relatively short period of time, a shiny new car is punched out, rolled onto a transport truck, and sent to its proper destination.
What a remarkable arrangement ingenious Americans have devised! And none of it was even thought of two hundred years ago.
Now then—if man can come up with an organizational plan as complex as all that, think of how much more efficient God's arrangement was . . . over two thousand years ago. I'm referring to the perfectly synchronized events surrounding the Savior's birth. For sure, it was no afterthought. Scripture assures us that
when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son. (Galatians 4:4)
Fantastic statement! At just the right moment, precisely as God arranged it, in keeping with a plan we might dub "Operation Arrival," enter Messiah.
Micah said it would be in Bethlehem, Judah. It was. But I thought Joseph and Mary were of Nazareth, Galilee. They were. Aren't those places miles apart? Yes, in those times days apart. Then . . . how? Well, you see, that's just a small part of the plan, nevertheless amazing. Especially when you consider Mary was almost "term" in her pregnancy. To get them down south in time required fairly good roads—unheard of prior to the Roman takeover. And they certainly needed to be forced to travel . . . hence a required census from Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1) that forced Joseph to register in person in the city of his family roots, Bethlehem (2:4).
But before a Savior could be born, there also needed to be some natural means of common communication—a familiar tongue that would quickly spread the news. No problem. Thanks to Alexander the Great, the father of koine Greek, that language was ripe and ready for rapid dissemination of the gospel message through the pen of the evangelists and apostles from then on.
Thanks to good roads, a decision in Rome, and a bothersome census, it happened at just the right place. At just the right time . . . with an articulate language as the perfect verbal vehicle. A little baby that the world hardly noticed arrived. Rome was too busy building and conquering. Augustus thought he was hot stuff prancing about the palace demanding that census. In reality he was little more than a wisp of lint on the prophetic page . . . a pawn in the hand of the Commander of "Operation Arrival."
The things God pulled off to get His Son delivered on time twenty-one centuries ago would make the pride of American ingenuity look like an organizational afterthought by comparison.