Why did God wait so long for the Incarnation? Why couldn’t he have come in the Stone Age, and saved so many more?
Heaven Can’t Wait
You could also argue that the incarnation should have happened later, when it could have been televised and blogged globally. “Why’d you choose such a backward time, and such a strange nation?” as lyrics in Jesus Christ Superstar ask.
First, I don’t think it matters when it happened, since the grace of the resurrection is eternal; it reaches backwards as well as forwards in time.
Second, it seems reasonable to suppose that some preparation was needed. Too much truth too soon can be too much for a child to accept; so too with all mankind. So it was probably necessary to work humanity through the revelations of the shamanic period, then form a covenant with one chosen nation, the Jews, then expand this to all comers.
Third, it could be said that Jesus’s death and resurrection occurred during a fairly brief window when the conditions were optimal to spread a covenant with the Jews to a covenant with all mankind. Specifically, Israel was a part of the Roman Empire from 37 BC (legally from 6 BC) to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Before that time, events in Israel would probably not have spread very far into neighbouring cultures. After that time, Judaism entered the diaspora; the handoff from the Old to the New Covenant would have been, at best, ambiguous, since many of the formal requisites for the first covenant were then no longer available anyway.
Spreading to the Roman Empire, given the subsequent development of world history, was probably more valuable than spreading to India or China—though the trade routes from Rome made it possible for the Nestorians to spread the gospel to those countries very soon in any case. It was Europeans, after all, successors to the Romans, who first sallied forth to make contact with the Americas, much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the people of Australia. If the message had gone first and most strongly to the Arabs, or the Chinese, or the Indians, it would have taken longer to become global.
So if you are going to incarnate, and ensure that the message reaches all mankind, God probably did it at the first available opportunity.
One might almost think it was all part of a plan.