I have heard people over the years challenge God by saying, “If God was so merciful, why did it take thousands of years for Jesus to show up? “ I think that’s a good question. Why wasn’t Jesus standing outside of the Eden as Adam and Eve were being kicked out? There’s no reason (that I know of) that would have prevented Jesus being there. It’s not like it was impossible for God to do that. Yet the question lingers: why did Jesus wait so long to enter the scene?
I think the answer lies in the journey itself. God is more concerned about a relationship with us, then forcing us to be obedient. It’s the same if you have kids. You really want your kids to love you by their own choosing, not because you control their allowance, TV, or car privileges. We know that deep down, a bribed love is no love at all. Isn’t this the moral of many of those after-school-specials? In those specials we learn that Betsy Sue’s “real friends” are the ones who want to spend time with her, not the ones who just want to ride in her new car. (And if it’s on TV, it has to be true.)
It’s impossible to know for sure why God didn’t act faster. But I think the evidence points to the fact that God was preparing us. All of history, from Adam to Jesus is filled with examples of who God is, and what he wants for us. He used the history of Israel to lay down the story that would guide our understanding of Jesus. He time and again gave us a glimpse of who Jesus was. Abraham, Moses, and David all demonstrate parts of God’s personality (just like you do, by the way.) He showed us his power and redemption with stories like Daniel in the lion’s den and Esther’s position as a queen to save the Jews.
God wants us to be in relationship with him. He wants us to be sons and daughters not servants and slaves. If Jesus had come sooner, we wouldn’t have had the frame of reference to understand who he was, let alone why we needed him. We would have been right back where Adam and Eve were. And I think we would have been making the same choices as they did. Because let’s face it, we all make daily choices against God. It’s just that Jesus assumes our guilt.
I for one am glad it took Jesus so long to show up.