It was some 20 years ago when as a business editor I first encountered “Just in Time”, and in doing so made a fool of myself. “Quality Control” was all the buzz back then and I was interviewing a leading practitioner of this new discipline now being enjoined upon business.

How did it work and what were the benefits, I asked? “Take a large assembly line manufacturing cars, machinery or even houses,” came the reply. “And then bring in ‘Just in Time’”.

“OK, so who’s ‘Justin Time’?” I asked thinking, in my woeful ignorance, he would be some acclaimed guru of this new management art. “Oh. It’s not a person. It’s an applied quality control procedure that improves efficiency and really cuts costs,” my interviewee answered.

“It works like this,” he went on. “To assemble a car, for example, hundreds of parts made in hundreds of outlying factories are needed. Just to store them would require a warehouse probably twice the size of the assembly line factory itself. So, instead, the parts are brought to the assembly line separately but only just as they are needed, thus avoiding costly storage. So, along the line components are added – just in time.”

Suitably abashed, I could only thank him for improving my education. But herein lies a lesson for us Christians. The Lord wants us as believers to know that we too have been saved “just in time”.

How so, you ask? Well, the devil would have us believe we are ineffective, unimportant in the scheme of things. Given that our witness falls largely on deaf ears, that few are saved and that the world is fast going to hell in handcart and we seem powerless to stop it, he has a point.

So, he argues, what does it matter when you were saved? You won’t win many to Christ or change the world anyhow. Perhaps you weren’t born or saved for such a time as this. Come to that, he suggests, does it really matter if you’re saved at all?

But God says both the time of your life and the date of conversion do matter. Just as a key part must arrive at the exact moment it is needed on the car assembly line, so you have been born and saved at just the right time to be fitted in as an essential component into that which God is doing now.

So, just as Esther came to the “kingdom” for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), you and I as grace-saved believers come at a critical time in the purposes of the Lord. You see, right now the Lord Jesus Christ has an important project underway and you and I are chosen to be a part of it.

Fact is, He is building, stone by stone - that is, believer by believer - a “holy temple” which He inhabits through his Spirit (Eph.  2:19-22). No, this not the rebuilding of the physical temple in Jerusalem, long ago destroyed as Jesus said it would be. This is a living, spiritual temple with Jesus Christ as its “chief cornerstone” that grows by itself as each saint is “fitly framed” into it (Eph. 2:21)...  

Clearly in any building process each stone (or brick) must laid correctly at the right time as each course is built. Thus, there would be gaping gaps if you and I were not fitted in “just in time”. The fact that God has chosen to include you and I in this wonderful building He is constructing gives meaning and purpose to our life and call.

It’s important to understand that this temple is not a static, fixed structure. Rather, it is a new creation that “lives and moves and has its being” in God. Accordingly, in Eph. 4:12-16 we are told it is a “body” but the same truth of our importance in being part of it applies. For example, how could this body be a “whole body” (verse 16) if you and I were not included?

And how can we as saints grow together to become “a perfect man” with “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (verse 13) if we are not organically joined to the Lord? Importantly, Eph.4: 1 and 13 teach that the “perfect man” is achieved when the saints are found believing the same thing.

Thus both the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” are essential building components in the “temple” and also in the maturing of us as saints into the “perfect man”.

Now, granted, our Saviour is not operating an assembly line as such. However, from each generation as the current dispensation of grace continues, He is adding chosen individual believers as “fellow citizens” (Eph.2:19-22) “with the saints and of the household of God” to the “temple” He is building. With Himself as “the chief cornerstone”.

The timing of your salvation and mine is crucial because while a place on the construction has been earmarked for all who will believe in Him for salvation the day will come when the structure is complete and no more stones will be laid.

Thus, in Young's Literal Translation renders the verse Luke 21:24 in question as follows: “and they shall fall by the mouth of the sword, and shall be led captive to all the nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by nations, till the times of nations be fulfilled.

The Apostle Paul makes allusion to something called the “fullness of the Gentiles” in the following passage. Rom: 11:25-27 (NASB):

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

One view is that “the Times of the Gentiles” has to do with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Luke 21:20) as a precursor of a future time of tribulation (Rev 19:19). But is that the right interpretation?

I suggest that the "Times of the Gentiles" is the period of time when the visible theocratic kingdom on earth (i.e. the rule of God over mankind) is absent. Clearly it was present when David and other Jewish rulers were in power. They were holding sway under God and for more than a thousand years their time was denoted as Israel kingdom time.

But the glory of the Lord departed shortly before the Babylonian captivity began and the Hebrew Bible referred to the power of other nations as “the time of the Gentiles” from that point forward. 

As one commentator wrote: “Thus, Gentile governance began at the time of the Babylonian Captivity, and continues to this day, and therefore the fulfilment of the “times of the Gentiles” awaits a future day, when the visible kingdom of God will be established again on earth”.

John Dudley Aldworth July 2024.

Email: john.aldworth@hotmail.com