“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham…” (7:17).
Transcendent: “(of God) the quality of being above and independent of the universe; transcending the universe, time, etc.”
Timing: “the selecting of the best time or speed for doing something in order to achieve the desired or maximum result.
As I read, and re-read Acts 7, I saw Him repeatedly revealed throughout every word: the God of glory; His sovereignty in Abraham’s call; His will and purpose through Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; His divine direction in guiding His children to Egypt; His sparing of the baby Moses; His appearance in a burning bush; His raising up His deliverer; His miraculous deliverance out of Egypt; His selection of David; Him repeatedly repudiated and disowned; His promise of grace to raise up His prophet; Him Most High; and the Righteous One betrayed and murdered.
As Stephen recounted the history of the nation of Israel to those who were so very well-acquainted with the details, one phrase captured my attention, as though brilliantly highlighted in my mind’s eye so as not to to be missed.
“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham…” (7:17).
And this impression of Him Transcendent (above and independent over time and the universe), and His Timing (His sovereign selection of the best time and speed to achieve His desired result), was reiterated throughout every detail of Stephen’s account.
Consider His Transcendent Timing
- His Transcendent Timing in His call of Abraham:
- And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham… 3and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you,’” (7:2-3).
- His Transcendent Timing in His promise of inheritance:
- “But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him,” (7:5).
- His Transcendent Timing in His covenant of circumcision:
- “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs,” (7:8).
- His Transcendent Timing in His favor upon Joseph:
- “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him,” (7:9).
- His Transcendent Timing in moving His children to Egypt:
- “Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time,” (7:11-12).
- His Transcendent Timing in His people increasing:
- “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt,” (7:17).
- His Transcendent Timing in the birth of Moses:
- “ It was at this time that Moses was born,” (7:20).
- His Transcendent Timing in His preparation of Moses:
- “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush,” (7:30).
- His Transcendent Timing in His coming down to rescue:
- “I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt,” (7:34).
- His Transcendent Timing in the midst of rebellion:
- “At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands,” (7:41).
- His Transcendent Timing in the construction of His dwelling place:
- “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen,” (7:44).
- His Transcendent Timing in His driving out the nations:
- “And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers…” (7:45).
- His Transcendent Timing through the acts of the kings:
- “… until the time of David. 46 David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for Him,” (7:46).
- His Transcendent Timing in His announcing the coming of the Righteous One:
- “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it,” (7:51-52).
- His Transcendent Timing through His indwelling Spirit and risen Son:
- Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,” (7:54-55).
- His Transcendent Timing in His work in the life of a young man named Saul:
- When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul,” (7:58).
- His Transcendent Timing in receiving His faithful servant:
- They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep,” (7:59-60).
And as we take a sneak peak into what quickly follows, we see,
- His Transcendent Timing in scattering His church:
- … And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles, (Acts 8:1).
How do we respond to His Transcendent Timing?
As we see Him Transcendent over all Time, knowing His will, purposes and plans shall never be thwarted, can we not entrust our whole beings to Him, His ways, and His will?
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted,” (Job 42:2).
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation, (Psalm 33:11).
For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27).
In this lifetime, we will never fully understand His Transcendent Timing. But we can fully trust Him Who has set eternity in our hearts (a desire to commune with Him for all eternity). And we can be sure He will make everything beautiful in its time.
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 NIV).
And while we cannot fathom His work from beginning to end in this lifetime, there are two things in which we can certainly find security and contentment.
- His Transcendent Timing is beautiful in sending His Son.
- But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (Galatians 4:4).
- His Transcendent Timing is beautiful when we believe and are sealed in Him.
- In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13).
And while He is Transcendent, above and beyond, in His Timing, in selecting His best time to bring His plans to pass, still He has gifted us with a free will, that we might freely accept by faith to choose His greatest gift, eternity in His Son.
“Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me,” (Hebrews 3:15).
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him, (Hebrews 9:27-28).
When we accept His payment for our sins through His sacrifice on the cross, there is no fear of judgment. And now, we can eagerly await Him as we rest in His Transcendent Timing.
May we never lose heart as we wait on Him to accomplish His perfect plans for us, for our families and loved ones, for our churches and communities, for our nation and our world.
Whatever need we find ourselves in today, whatever promise we are waiting for Him to fulfill, may we never forget His lovingkindness and compassions, new every morning. Let us intentionally remember we belong to Him, we are His Beloved in Christ; and in that safe place let us surrender all, in faith and hope, to His Transcendent Timing.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord, (Lamentations 3:22-26).
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day, (2 Peter 3:8).