Divine Outline # 1
Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father..
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24)
The Believers Place in Time
WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S PURPOSE on earth? Every believer in Jesus Christ should ask himself and God this question. After Salvation, what do I do now? Eternal Salvation becomes an accomplished fact at the moment of faith in Christ. (Rom 8:1; John 3:18) But the quality of the believer’s life on earth, and in eternity, depend on his execution of God’s plan after Salvation. Impact and blessings in time and eternity depend on fulfilling God’s plan in time! Every believer has been given time, (Eph 5:16) how we us it determines our usefulness now, and our rank in heaven, (Matt 25:19-30) we must stay in fellowship day and night; every day, (1Jn 1:7) and take in, and use a maximum amount of TRUTH EVERYDAY! (Jos 1:8-9) The question becomes emphatic! What is God’s plan for the believer following that initial instant of personal faith in Christ? God freely gives “all things” after providing Salvation. (Rom 8:32) What are they? After Salvation, what? The simplified answer is: Learn God's Thoughts on EVERY SUBJECT. The Bible reveals God’s Person and plan. Only through knowledge of God can anyone appreciate, love, and worship Him. As Christians we are commanded to “renovate our thinking” with God's Thinking so God’s gracious purpose can be fulfilled in and through our lives. (Rom 12:2; Eph 1:18; Eph 4:22-24) God's purpose for the post Salvation life of the believer calls for Spiritual growth. (2Pe 3:18) The Christian is kept alive on earth to fulfill his destiny, which is to become a Spiritually mature believer, a Spiritual winner, a “mature person to the measure of Spiritual maturity which belongs to the fullness [Spiritual maturity] of Christ.” (Eph 4:13-16) Each believer's life becomes a unique expression of the glory of God in both time and eternity, (Rom 8:29-30; Rom 9:23-24) but only the Spiritually mature believer glorifies God by receiving the highest and best that God has prepared for him. (Rom 6:1-2; (1Jn 1:5 (1Jn 2:6) Divine blessings that the Christian can understand and experience, and the overt manifestations of the Christian way of life come as results of Spiritual growth! The means of Spiritual growth is the believer's consistent: Rebound, Reception, Retention, Recall, Resisting temptation and Repeating — through all the circumstances of his life.
Truth is Divine Thinking, God's Thinking. (John 1:1) It is the content of the Word of God, which God designed to be communicated to the believer so that it becomes his Thinking, (Rom 12:2; (2Ti 3:16-17) and the source of his mental attitude. (Php 2:5; Heb 4:12) Doctrines, Promises and Commands are in the body of orthodox teaching, which is drawn from Scripture and which serves as the Standard for the believers REALITY! Pastors have a Spiritual gift for teaching Truth to their congregations. (Eph 4:8, Eph 4:11-13) The pastor is responsible before God to diligently study the Bible in order to accurately handle the Word of Truth. (2Ti 2:15) Pastors who have reached Spiritual maturity, and stay filled with God the Holy Spirit are able to be used to communicate the Word of Truth. (John 12:48-50; (1Th 2:13; (1Co 4:20) The importance of Truth can hardly be overestimated. Why does God go so far as to magnify His Word above His person? (Psa 138:2) Jesus Was and IS the perfect God-man, who put the Word of God above His rejection, and judgment, we must do the same, the Word of God is more important than we are! (Matt 24:35; Rev 20:4) God's Word reveals His nature and essence. Only the Scriptures allow us to glimpse God's absolute nature and for His nature to be created in us, (Gal 5:22-23) and to love the revealed member of the Godhead, who is Jesus Christ. (John 1:18) Truth is called the “Mind of Christ” (1Co 2:16) It is absolute Truth, the very Thinking of Jesus Christ. (Php 2:5) “Though [We] have not seen Him, [We] love Him” when we learn Who and what He IS and begin to share His Thoughts. (1Pe 1:8) Understanding God’s Word is the root of all Christian Virtues. Our persistent intake and application of Truth enlarges our capacities for life, for love, for service, for blessings and for happiness. (2Co 9:7-8) God’s “greater grace” fills up the mature believer’s greater capacities “to all the fullness of God.” (Jas 4:6; Eph 3:19; Rom 8:32) In so blessing the believer, God is glorified. (Eph 1:3) Since Truth is so vitally important, the believer needs to understand an essential fact about the Word of God. Truth is dispensational. The Concept of dispensations, therefore, is a key to understanding the whole realm of Scripture.
A dispensation is a period of human history defined in terms of Divine Revelation. According to the Bible, history is a sequence of Divine administrations. These consecutive eras reflect the unfolding of God’s plan for mankind. They constitute the Divine Viewpoint of history and the Theological interpretation of history. The Doctrine of dispensations is the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time can orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for their lives. God never changes. In the essence of God there is “no variation, or shifting shadow.” (Jas 1:17) Change, however, is an integral characteristic of His plan for creation. But God is never impulsive or arbitrary. The changes He incorporates into His plan are designed to attain His unchangeable purpose. (Heb 6:17) In different periods of human history, the Biblical answer to “After Salvation, what?” involves different illustrations and procedures, for the reception, retention, and recall of Truth. (Psa 1:1-6) The Doctrine of dispensations recognizes these differences as well as the continuities that run from one period to the next. This Doctrine, therefore, becomes essential for understanding the believer’s post Salvation experience. Knowledge of dispensations enables the individual believer to handle the Word of Truth accurately and to appreciate the magnificent grace of God both in its particular provisions and in its overall objectives. In contrast, failure to distinguish one Biblical era from another creates apparent contradictions in Divine Commands, and prevents the believer from understanding current Divine guidance, thus retards his all-important Spiritual growth. Any study of the Bible must deal with the distinction between Israel, the Old Covenant, the Church, and the New Covenant. This contrast, which is a recurring theme in the New Testament, (Acts 10:45; Rom 11:25; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:11-22; Heb 3:5-6) and is the starting point in the Doctrine of dispensations. What makes the separation of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant so significant? The phenomenon that divides these two parts is the first advent of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ makes all the difference. He is the key to the Divine interpretation of history. (Gal 4:4-5; (Eph 3:10-11; Rev 1:8) The Doctrine of dispensations spotlights the Lord Jesus Christ; His-story! The recognition of historical eras in the Bible; unlocks the Scriptures, revealing profound Divine Thoughts that have tremendous positive impact on our lives.
Human history may be classified into two parts the Old Covenant (For racial and political Israel) which was a ministry for the condemnation of the old sin nature in man; and also served as a system of freedom for the nation of Israel. (2Co 3:7-9; (1Ti 1:8-10) While the Temple service was to teach the Spiritual life for the believers; for the law was fulfilled by being in fellowship. (Rom 7:12-14) And served as illustrations of Who Christ would Be, and what He would do; and the Spiritual life He would build in His soul and use to defeat Satan and bring many sons to Himself! (Matt 4:10; John 1:29; Col 2:14-17; Heb 2:10) And the New Covenant: (For Spiritual Jew and Gentile; Rom 2:29; Gal 3:28) a ministry of righteousness and justification of the Spiritual man (Rom 4:25; (2Co 3:9) and of Who Christ Is and what He did! (Heb 9:15) Human history is also set in three priesthoods, the outer court: The Age of the Gentiles: The Patriarchal priesthood, from Adam to Moses. (Gen 4:4; Job 1:5; Exo 12:21) The Inner court: The Age of national Israel: The Levitical priesthood, from Moses to Christ. (Num 3:10; Matt 8:4) The Holy of Holies: The Royal priesthood, from Christ to the end of the Millennium. (Heb 10:19-21; Rev 20:6) And after the completion of human history, Royal priests forever! (Heb 7:17) There are two main parts of progressive Revelation for the Church age pre-canon period: Apostles (Before the Bible was completed) and the post: Pastors, (In 96 AD. Revelation, the last book was completed) in the time of the Gentile nations; for the communication of Truth. (Acts 13:46-49; Isa 42:6; Rom 1:5) Excluding the Two Witnesses, during Jacobs’s distress, (Jer 30:7-10; Gen 32:25; Rev 11:3) and time of Israel: after the Second Advent of Christ, for the communication of Truth in the Millennium. (Eze 37:24-27) This is the study of the destiny of the human race, that the Bible Prophesies and Promises for the end of human history, the Church age, (Acts 3:24; Gal 3:8) Tribulation, (Zec 14:12) and Millennium. (Eze 36:26-27) God’s unified, integrated, unchanging plan for human history calls for many expressions of His grace. In every dispensation God has a particular plan for the believer’s post Salvation way of life. He graciously provides the means for executing that plan, and the Bible reveals these various provisions. (Heb 1:1-2) Salvation itself is appropriated the same way throughout human history — by grace through faith. (Gen 15:6; Rom 3:22-31; Eph 2:8-9) In every dispensation there is only One Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in that dispensation. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) Faith in Christ secures an eternal relationship with God.
And there is Salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
The Savior’s name has different forms in different languages. In Hebrew His name is JHWH, a word considered too sacred to pronounce, so He is called Adonai. He appeared in many forms before His incarnation, including walking in the garden, (Gen 3:8) the burning bush, (Exo 3:2) the cloud, the pillar of fire, (Exo 13:21) and the Angel of Jehovah. (Jdg 6:12) He has many functional titles as well, like Messiah, (Dan 9:25) Son of David, (Matt 9:27) Lord of the Armies, (1Sa 17:45) or Prince of Peace. (Isa 9:6) In the Greek of the New Testament, He is Christos or kurios or Iesous or any combination of the three. We know Him in Modern English as Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 1:4) The Gospel of Christ is revealed to everyone who desires to know God. (Jer 29:13; Acts 17:24-28) God reveals Christ in many ways throughout the ages, but faith in Him is the only way of eternal Salvation, except to die in youth before the chance to believe, and or being unable mentally (Brain damaged) to make the choice. (2Sa 12:23)
THE REASON FOR DISPENSATIONS
Many Principles, Policies, and procedures that God establishes remain constant throughout history. But no careful student of the Bible can overlook certain changes that distinguish one epoch of Biblical history from another. Why does God alter His administration of human history? He does so to reveal His unchanging glory, wisdom, and power under different conditions. From God’s eternal perspective the ultimate in this long and varied demonstration of His essence is the relationship between Christ and the New Covenant believers, in which the believer is in union with Christ. In the Church, (1Co 1:30; (2Co 5:17; Gal 3:28) the Tribulation, (Rev 14:1-5; Rev 7:9-17) and Millennium. (Eze 36:26-28) This is Holy of Holies dispensation. (Heb 6:19-20; Rev 22:16-17)
For Israel in the Millennium.
For finding fault with them, [Israel] He says, BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD. FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. (Heb 8:8-10) cf. (Jer 31:31-33)
For the New Covenant Church Age through the Tribulation.
For by One Offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; [The New Covenant Church Age] for after saying, THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM, He then says, "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE. (Heb 10:14-17) cf. (Jer 31:33-34)
Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. (Heb 10:18-20) cf. (Heb 10:5) (His body offered for us)
The explanation for this multifaceted Divine Revelation which unfolds throughout human history lies in an ancient conflict. Before human history began, Satan revolted against God. (Isa 14:13-14) Satan and the host of angels who joined his revolution were brought to trial and convicted, (Eze 28:16-19) for their sentence is recorded in Scripture. (Matt 25:41) The sentence of fallen angels to “eternal fire” was pronounced before mankind existed. Why, then, was the execution of the sentence postponed until after human history ends? (Rev 20:10) Satan objected to God’s verdict, just as he continues to contend against God. Any objection to perfect Divine judgment slanders the essence of God. In a momentous action, God convened an appeal trial in which He would demonstrate His perfect essence; (Psa 145:21; Zec 3:1-10; Luk 2:14; Rom 9:23-24; Rom 11:25-36) while allowing Satan every opportunity to prove his own case. (Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Matt 4:1-11) God created mankind to resolve the angelic conflict, and to bring many sons to Himself. (Heb 2:10) Both angels and men; this is for our benefit and for the benefit of the angels; God magnificently answers every aspect of Satan’s objection in the prehistoric trial. Simultaneously, Satan is attempting to prove himself equal with God, (Isa 14:14) while God in His infinite wisdom, is using ALL THINGS, the good the bad and the ugly! To show His Ways and Thoughts (Isa 55:8-9) are beyond anything any creature could even imagine! And His complete self-sacrifice in all that He does. (Psa 36:5; Psa 103:11; Php 2:2-8) But the devil displays only arrogance, incompetence and evil, which confirm his guilt, and the guilt of unbelievers (Rev 20:15) and believers who refuse God's plan. (Jud 1:12-15; Matt 22:13) Human history is the appeal trial of the angelic conflict. The “numerous and diverse aspects of God’s wisdom” are revealed through mankind, and most dramatically through Christ, the Church, and during the Tribulation period, “to the rulers and the authorities [Fallen angels] in the heavenly places.” (Eph 3:10-11; Eph 6:12) During the Millennium Satan and the demons are in prison. (Rev 20:3-8; Rev 20:7-10) This shows, even in perfect environment, people will choose not believe in Christ or as believers His Word, and that the devil does not make us negative, we as humans choose to be. (The same conditions, that existed before Satan's revolt) As the appeal trial of Satan unfolds, the grace of God and the perfect justice of His verdict are proven again and again. God introduces changes into His administration of human history in order to present His case, disprove Satan’s case, and deliver a decisive closing argument. These changes produce the dispensations.
TIMES AND EPOCHS
Shortly before Christ ascended into heaven, His disciples pressed Him regarding the timing of future events.
And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:6-7) cf. (Matt 6:34)
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (1Th 5:1-2)
The Greek word translated “times” is chronos. “Epochs” is kairos. Chronos regards time as a succession of events, one following the other in chronological order. Occasionally chronos is used in the Bible for a segment of time and has a dispensational connotation. (Rom 16:25-27; (1Pe 1:20) In contrast, kairos indicates an era, a system or order of chronology, a period of time characterized by a distinctive development. This noun is frequently used for the organization of historical events in their dispensational categories. In various passages kairos refers to the Church Age, (Rom 8:18; Rom 11:5; Rom 13:11) the Jewish Age, (Eph 2:11-12) and the “times of the Gentiles,” which is a broader period encompassing the Church Age and Tribulation period. (Luk 21:24) In the New Covenant Age; why were the disciples not told about “the times or epochs?” Actually, they had been told a great deal; Christ had taught them at length concerning dispensations. (Matt 23:29-39; Matt 25:46; John 14:1-18) Furthermore, the Concept of dispensations was already familiar to them. (Matt 5:17; cf. (Matt 24:3) The disciples did not doubt the existence of dispensations. But their idea of the kingdom of God was distorted by thinking the kingdom of the New Covenant was a racial and political kingdom, instead of Spiritual! (John 3:5; John 4:23-24; Luk 17:21) Even though the disciples had believed in Christ as Savior, their preconceived ideas about the kingdom of God had kept them from comprehending Christ’s teaching. They also had missed the significance of His rejection by Israel and, therefore, had failed to notice a major shift in His message. Christ presented Himself to the Jews as the Son of David, the King of the Jews, the fulfillment of all God’s unconditional Covenants with Israel, and the fulfillment of the Law; the Old Covenant, the Tabernacle, Temple, Offerings and Feasts. All the illustrations that explained who Christ Was, (John 1:29; (1Co 5:7; Heb 11:28) and what He would do. (1Pe 1:18-19) When Israel refused to accept her rightful King; (Luk 13:34; Luk 19:41-44) there would be no more client nation (The Spiritual Thinking of Christ, being taught from a political Jewish state) for New Covenant Israel until the Millennium. (Luk 13:35; Matt 21:43) The disciples were still thinking in terms of an immediate Jewish kingdom on earth after Jesus had already shifted His focus temporarily away from the Jews, who had rejected Him, to a new body of believers, the New Covenant Church. The New Covenant priesthood consists of all individuals who believe in Jesus Christ as personal Savior during the Church Age until the end of the Millennium. (Luk 22:20; Heb 13:20; Rev 20:6) And then forever! (Heb 7:21) God is forming the Church to play a special role in the eternal glorification of Christ. (Eph 3:10-11) In the midst of the time of Christ, the disciples noticed the end of Christ’s ministry to Israel and the beginning of His ministry to the approaching Church. (John 16:12-15; Acts 1:8) Christ is the bridge between the two Covenants! (Heb 9:15) The New Covenant brought a new teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit, (John 14:26) and the complete Revelation of the Doctrines of the Church, (1Co 13:12-13) which Jesus had introduced. The Church also has a better vantage point from which to see the Covenants and the dispensations that are in them. In the Old Covenant: Ritual worship: the Patriarchal priesthood, and the Levitical priesthood, (Gen 4:4) and the New Covenant: Spirit and Truth worship, a Royal priesthood; From Christ, through the Church Age, Tribulation and Millennium. (John 4:23) The Church Age believer has a more complete perspective than Christ’s disciples had when He lived in their presence. (Dan 12:4) Ultimately, Paul taught to the Gentiles, and Peter, James and John taught the Jews; (Gal 2:7-9) and through their Canonical Epistles, they continue to communicate to believers in every generation of the New Covenant Age. (1Pe 2:9-10) Peter is quoting, (Exo 19:5-6) and (Hos 1:9-10) showing the consistency in the plan of God, even in the change of Covenants, and dispensations. (Heb 13:8) The way of Salvation, (Acts 4:12) and Spiritual maturity (Isa 55:1-9; Acts 15:14-18) are always the same, (Heb 11:1) thru (Heb 12:4). Now we have a greater Spiritual life, (John 14:10-21) than Jesus used to win the Angelic Conflict and be judged for ALL the sins of the world! We just have to learn how to use it.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, (Rom 8:10-13) keep seeking the things (Divine Thoughts) above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things (Spiritual Thoughts) above, not on the things (Thoughts) that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, (Now!) is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Rewarded for using Christ's Thoughts) Therefore consider (Think) the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (To think our thoughts are more important than His, is idolatry) For it is because of these things (Thoughts) that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, (Eph 5:5-7) and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, (Thoughts) and have put on the new self (Gal 4:19) who is being renewed to a true knowledge (Spiritual Thinking) according to the image (Thinking and Virtue) of the One who created him (The Spiritual life of Christ)--a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (New Covenant believers) (Col 3:1-11)
Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, [Dispensations, in context specifically the eschatological — “end time” dispensations] in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2Pe 3:15-16)
At the time of our Lord’s ascension, the disciples (Including Peter, who later wrote the passage just quoted) had been well taught by the Lord Himself, but they were unstable in the political turmoil of the day, especially unstable after the shock of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Their outlook was impaired by their desire for an immediate racial and political kingdom of God on earth. They could not shed this narrow view of dispensations in the final moments before His ascension, and Jesus did not attempt to teach them beyond their capacity to understand. (John 16:12-13) He answered their question only in brief. And a fuller explanation simply was “not for [Them] to know” during His sojourn with them on earth. (Acts 1:7) The New Covenant Church Age was coming, whether they realized it or not. (Luk 17:20-21; (1Co 4:20) Appropriate to the new dispensation, He stated only that precise details of timing would not be revealed and left additional Divine Revelation concerning dispensations for later. Twenty one years after Christ’s ascension, Paul would describe believers who were oriented to the times and epochs.
Now as to the times and the epochs, [Chronos and kairos] brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord [His Second Advent] will come just like a thief in the night. (1Th 5:12)
Paul previously had taught the Thessalonians about that change of times which the disciples had been so eager to see and which is still future today. The exact day of our Lord’s return is not disclosed through Paul or any other writer of Scripture. (Mark 13:28-32) But a study of Scripture reveals a great deal about the sequence of times and epochs from the beginning of human history to the end. This is the Doctrine of dispensations. To know this Doctrine “full well” makes the Christian alert to the plan of God for his life.
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. (1Th 5:4)
AGES AND ADMINISTRATIONS
Besides chronos and kairos, two other Greek words complete the New Testament vocabulary for dispensations. The noun aion, usually translated “age and or ages,” refers to dispensations as categories of human history, just as in English we say Age of Israel or Church Age. (Rom 16:25-26; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26)
Perhaps the most descriptive term for dispensations, however, is oikonomia. Four centuries before the New Testament was written, Xenophon and Plato used oikonomia to mean household administration, the authority of parents over their children, the policy and provisions of parents for their children. In the Greek of the New Testament, oikonomia had come to mean the management of a household, the administration of a business or estate. Oikonomia implies order, (Rather than chaos) a plan, (Rather than confusion) an arrangement. (Rather than disarray) Oikonomia itself does not denote time. However, the King James Version translates this ancient word as “dispensation,” a term that legitimately has come to connote a period of time, because oikonomia describes Divine administration during a distinct historical era. (And or business; and used negatively to condemn the taking of money for the teaching of the Bible) (1Co 9:17; Eph 1:8-10; Eph 3:2-9; Col 1:25-29; 1Ti 1:3-4) In these passages oikonomia identifies the management of God's Treasure, His Thoughts! (Prov 23:23; Prov 8:10-11) During which time God administers a set of Divine Policies and provisions unique to the New Covenant age believer. Administration becomes an important issue in distinguishing the dispensations from one another. At decisive junctures in His overall plan for mankind, God institutes changes in delegated authority, responsibility, procedure, and available assets. These changes in the Divine administration of human history involve first one group of people, then another, and another. Hence, nomenclature for the dispensations is derived from the people at the focus of Divine Revelation in a specific period of time. In the march of history, this focus passes from Gentiles to the nation of Israel, from Israel to Jesus Christ in His First Advent, from Christ to the Church, from the Church to a besieged remnant of Jacob in the Tribulation, and finally to Christ the deliverer, conqueror, and ruler in the Millennium! Each administration involves new Divine Commands accompanied by new Divine resources for fulfilling those Commands. As a result, the post Salvation way of life for believers may be significantly different in the various eras of human history. Scripture reveals the believer's way of life most comprehensively in the dispensations of Israel and the Church. Less is revealed of God's post Salvation mandates for the other dispensations, but the details that are disclosed confirm the Principle of change against a background of continuity! (Heb 11:1) thru (Heb 12:4) the very same system for all of human history, IT in (Heb 11:2) is God's Thinking used to reach Spiritual maturity, from Abel to Christ! And is the same for the Church, the Tribulation, and Millennium! (Heb 13:8)
DISPENSATIONS AS TAUGHT BY PAUL
Dispensations are not an arbitrary classification superimposed by man on the Bible. They are an integral part of Divine Revelation. The Greek vocabulary establishes that the subject of dispensations is presented in Scripture. Furthermore, as noted, Jesus Christ affirmed the existence of distinct “times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:7-8) In presenting the unique characteristics of our own dispensation, the New Covenant Church Age, Paul repeatedly teaches the Doctrine of dispensations. He borrows a Greek term that everyone in his day could understand. Musterion, “mystery,” referred to the secrets of an exclusive religious sect. Numerous mystery cults flourished throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, and although the secrets themselves were closely guarded, everyone knew that these secretive organizations existed. Everyone knew that there were certain rituals, formulas, objects, and rites of the cult of Isis, for example, which were “mysteries” never revealed to outsiders. Only members could learn the mystery doctrines. Paul gave this pagan term a Christian meaning. The Church, (Was not called Church in the Old Testament, but reference is made to Gentiles) (Gal 3:8) was entirely unknown prior to Christ’s announcement of the Church Age. But is mentioned (By Gentiles or Nations) in Old Testament Prophecy, (Acts 3:18-26) but is fully developed in the New Testament epistles, (Eph 3:5-6; (1Pe 1:10-12) this body of Doctrine, sets up the “mystery Doctrine” [Spiritual Thinking] of the New Covenant, and unveils the characteristics of a unique way of Thinking and life, because we are on the victory side of the Cross! The mystery pertains to all people sharing in the Royal priesthood, (Gal 3:28) and Thinking with the Mind of Christ — (1Co 2:16) and Christ being formed in us, (Gal 4:19; Eph 4:13) in this New Covenant age. Today the English word “mystery” denotes something incomprehensible, an enigma, or a puzzle. But that is not the meaning of the Greek word. In the ancient world a “mystery” was well-known — although only to the members! Likewise, Church Age Doctrine should be thoroughly familiar to each Church Age believer! Every Christian is (Should Be) an insider, an initiate, a member of the Church Universal. Why was mystery Doctrine concealed for so long? In the upper room on the night before His crucifixion, Christ prophesied the coming of the Church Age. (John 14:1) thru (John 17:26) God gave Him the honor of first revealing Royal priesthood Doctrine for several reasons. First, the Church exists to glorify Him to the maximum. (John 16:14; Eph 1:21-23; Eph 5:25-27) The Doctrines of the Church depend on the glorification of Christ, (John 7:39) (The completed Spiritual life sent to us) which resulted from His work on the Cross! In the hour of His rejection, by Jew, Gentile, male, female, criminal, and free. (Matt 27:37-44) He unveiled His coming glorification. On the eve of His judgment by the Father, Christ displayed His complete confidence in the Father’s plan by announcing its success: the formation of the Church through which God would glorify Him forever. (John 13:31-32) Second, Israel had been given every opportunity to accept the Messiah. Christ revealed the Church, only after Israel had rejected Him. The Jewish Spiritual Kingdom of God, had been taken from them, (Matt 21:43) and now Gentile nations, have the privilege of the communication of Truth: Salvation (Acts 22:21) and Spiritual Thoughts for growth to maturity. (Rev 22:16) The New Covenant Jewish political and racial client nation for the communication of Truth, has be postponed until the Millennium. (Rom 11:25) And a new set of Commands for believers became appropriate. If revealed sooner, Church Age Doctrine would have confused the issue for the Jews. (Matt 10:6) Third, soon after Prophesying the Church, Jesus Christ would become the Victor of The Cross and Resurrection! It was fitting that He be the one to announce the dramatic change of dispensations that His victory would produce. Indeed, His unprecedented Prophecy of the Church was one of the most stunning moments in the entire angelic conflict. This announcement was a brilliant, unexpected Revelation of God’s grace, revealed not only to man but also to Satan and his fallen angels, who constantly observed our Lord. (1Ti 3:16; (1Pe 1:10-12) Finally, Jesus Christ was Personally passing along the dynamics of His Own life to be the New Covenant way of life for the Church. (John 13:34; John 15:10) Throughout His incarnation He had utilized the system of Divine power that the Father had designed to support His humanity. On the day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:1) Christ bequeathed this proven system of Divine power to every Church Age believer. This power system — the dynamics of the Christian way of life — lies at the heart of mystery Doctrine. Church Age Spiritual Thinking was concealed until the New Covenant Christian way of life went into effect. (Isa 65:1-2) Making reference to the mystery Doctrine of the Church Age: to be specific No Jewish client nation, Gentiles are in the Royal priesthood, Christ formed in the believer, Baptism into union with Christ, no ritual etc.... These might have been hard to explain to the nation of Israel! (Matt 9:17) New Truth in a New Covenant Spiritual life! Two passages of Scripture illustrate Paul’s approach to the subject of dispensations.
For this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles (The new dispensation that is no longer administered through Israel) — since you have heard about the dispensation of the grace of God [Name for the Church Age, in which God pours out grace more liberally than in any other dispensation] which was given to me for your benefit, that through Revelation (Gal 1:12) the mystery [The Spiritual Thinking of the New Covenant Church Age] was made known to me, as I have already written briefly. (Rom 16:25-26) and (Eph 1:9) By reading this [Ephesians] you ought to be able to understand my technical knowledge about the mystery of Christ [Unique and previously unrevealed Doctrines of the Church Age] which was not made known to other ages [Believers living in the dispensations prior to the Church Age] so that now [For the new dispensation] it has been revealed to His Holy Apostles and Prophets [The Apostles to the Church, who recorded the New Testament] by means of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 3:1-5; (2Pe 1:20-21)
In a second major passage Paul again presents the Doctrine of dispensations by contrasting with all previous ages the special advantages, opportunities, and responsibilities of the Church Age.
Of which [Church] I have become a minister on the basis of this dispensation from God, which has been given to me for your benefit, that I might implement your deficiency of the Word of God, that is, the mystery, [Church Age Doctrine] which has been hidden from past ages and generations, [Previous dispensations] but now has been revealed to the saints, [“Saints” is a technical term for believers] to whom God has decreed to make known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles [Which one mystery is] Christ in you, (Gal 1:16) the hope of glory. [Christ; and the Spiritual Thinking and Virtue of Christ formed in the believer] (Col 1:25-27)
God remains the same. The way of Salvation remains unchanged. But against a background of immutability and continuity, the Doctrines of the mystery reveal the strategic changes that make this new dispensation unique. Church Age believers are a new Spiritual species (2Co 5:17) with a totally new position in Christ, (Rom 8:38-39; (1Co 1:30) and a magnificent array of privileges, responsibilities, and opportunities never available to believers of earlier ages. (Eph 1:3-23) This book will conclude with a survey of the Church’s unique advantages. Divine assets currently available, along with the Biblical Commands for using them. Answering the pressing question, “After Salvation, what?” But first the Church Age must be presented in context with the other dispensations so that its uniqueness may be properly understood.
AN OUTLINE WILL INTRODUCE God's Viewpoint of human history. Again, there are two conditional Covenants and three general classifications: The Patriarchal, Levitical, and Royal priesthoods which include the dispensations and their subdivisions. After this framework is presented, a descriptive summary of each dispensation will fill in the outline. Most of the dates cited here are approximate.
I. THE THEOCENTRIC DISPENSATIONS (From the creation of Adam to the virgin birth of Christ)
A. The Dispensation of the Gentiles (From the creation of Adam to the Exodus, Genesis 1— Exodus 11)
1. The Age of Positive Volition (From the creation of Adam to the fall of man, Genesis 1:26 — 3:6)
2. The Age of Negative Volition (From the fall of man to Abraham, Genesis 3:7—11:32)
3. The Age of the Jewish Patriarchs (From Abraham to the Exodus under Moses, Genesis 12 — Exodus 11)
B. The Dispensation of the Jews (From the Exodus to the rejection of Christ; 1441 — A.D. 30; Exodus 12 — Malachi — Matt)
1. The Theocratic Kingdom (From the Exodus to Samuel; 1441—1020 B.C.)
2. The United Kingdom (From Saul to Rehoboam; 1020 — 926 B.C.)
3. The Northern Kingdom (From Jeroboam to Hoshea; 926 — 721 B.C.)
4. The Southern Kingdom (From Rehoboam to Zedekiah; 926 — 586 B.C.)
5. The Restored Nation of Judah (From Nehemiah to Christ; 516 — 4 B.C.)
II. THE CHRISTOCENTRIC DISPENSATIONS (From the birth of Christ to the Second Advent (Rev 19:11-21)
A. The Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, which is the incarnation or first advent of Jesus Christ (The era of the New Testament Gospels; 4 B.C. — A.D. 30)
B. The Church Age (From A.D. 30 to the Second Advent. (Rev 19:11-21)
1. The Precanon Period (The era commencing with the Book of Acts and continuing until John wrote Revelation, completing the canon of Scripture; A.D. 30 — A.D. 96)
2. The Postcanon Period (The Gospels, the New Testament Epistles, and Revelation; from AD. 96 to the Second Advent)
III. THE ESCHATOLOGICAL DISPENSATIONS (The April 02, 2009 G20 agreement, is the start of the countdown to the Tribulation period; THAT BEGINS September 2012. (Dan 8:11-14; Dan 9:27; Dan 12:11) to the end of human history)
A. The Tribulation (Approximately seven years from the breaking of the peace treaty, to the second advent of Christ; Prophesied in the Old Testament, (Zec 14:1-13) Christ's Olivet Discourse, [Matt. 24 — 25] and Revelation 6 — 19)
1. Satan's Failed Utopia (From (Dan 9:27) Satan's expulsion from heaven) (Rev 12:13)
2. The Great Tribulation (From Satan's expulsion until the second advent of Christ) (Jud 1:14)
B. The Millennium (The thousand-year reign of Christ on earth from His second advent to the end of human history, Prophesied throughout the Old Testament (Zec 14:9) and in Revelation 20)
C. The Eternal State (Following the final dispensation of human history; Revelation 21 — 22)
Throughout this study several descriptive terms will be used interchangeably in discussing dispensations. Epoch, time, age, ages, era, period — these synonyms indicate an extent of time, a segment of history. Interchangeable forms of expression are used as well. The Dispensation of Israel, for example, may be called the Age of Israel or the Jewish Age. And the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union is also called the Incarnation, the Incarnation of Christ, or the first advent of Christ. The particular period under discussion will be apparent from the context. (With help from the above outline) One final point of terminology: the word “Christian” will be used only in connection with the Church Age. Hence, the Christian way of life is the life Commanded by God for believers living during the New Covenant Age. (1Jn 3:23)
RESPECT FOR DIVINE DISTINCTIONS
The panorama of dispensations reveals the majestic essence of God through the progression and Variety of His grace. Each dispensation has a Divine purpose, supported by the right Divine provisions. The riches of grace available in the Church Age, for example, agree with God's special objective of glorifying the resurrected Christ to the maximum. This purpose and these provisions explain why the Christian way of life differs from the outpouring of God's grace to believers during other periods of history. The Church Age believer should be eager to understand and use what God has designed specifically for him, and thus allow the glory of God to be manifest in his life!
Still, someone might ask, why not regard the Bible as a single whole? Isn't that simpler? Why complicate things with all these distinctions? The primary reason is that the Bible itself makes these divisions. Continuities and distinctions established by sovereign God receive our complete respect, for they reveal something about Him. The unity of God's Word actually is embodied in this Doctrine which presents the relationships between the Bible’s many parts. A second reason for recognizing distinctions in the Bible is that the believer needs to know how to conduct his life. As he learns to utilize what God has given to him, he becomes aware of Divine Policies and assets that are legitimate for other dispensations but that do not directly govern the Christian way of life. When there seem to be contradictions, which Commands, should he obey? When questions arise, he needs answers. The Doctrine of dispensations provides the Biblical system of interpretation for understanding why certain Divine provisions are currently nonoperational, as well as why others are currently operational. In no way does this mean the believer can pick and choose which Divine Commands he wants to obey. Each dispensation is God's administration, not man's; and God gives firm and extended guidance for every period of history. Advancing believers are not disobedient or in danger of lawlessness simply because they do not observe the rules God set forth for another age. Indeed, their Spiritual growth comes from obedience to God's instructions for the current dispensation. The Doctrine of dispensations relieves the Christian's doubts about whether or not God holds him responsible for observing certain practices. This gives his life direction, frees him from a false sense of obligation or guilt, and by answering his questions encourages him to dig deeper into the riches of the Word of God.
The well-informed believer is able to compare and contrast the dispensations. He understands the implications of many statements such as:
But to this day whenever Moses [The Law] is read, a veil lies over their heart; (2Co 4:3-4) but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. [The sin nature's Spiritual blindness is cut of] Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, [In fellowship] beholding as in a mirror [Our soul] the glory [The Spiritual life] of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image [Thought and Virtue] from glory to glory, (Rom 1:17) just as from the Lord, [God the Holy Spirit] the Spirit. (2Co 3:15-18)
And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, (Rom 2:28-29) in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; (Php 3:3) having been buried with Him in baptism, [Death to the Law, the sin nature, and sin] in which you were also raised up with Him [The Resurrection Spiritual life] (Rom 8:11) through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col 2:11-12)
Or do you not know that all of us [Believers] who have been baptized into Christ Jesus [In union with Christ] have been baptized into His death? [Retroactive positional death — judgment and death on the Cross] Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, [To the Law, the sin nature and sin] so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory [Resurrection Spiritual life] of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [New Spiritual Life] For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, (2Co 4:10-11) [Experiential death; By not using the sin nature. But using the Divine nature; 2Pe 1:4] certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, “Spiritual life” knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin [Sin nature's thoughts and desires] might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom 6:3-7) cf. (John 12:24-26)
For sin [The sin nature] shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, [The Mosaic Law, that condemned the sin nature's production] but under grace [Removal from condemnation by faith in Christ, (Rom 8:1) and freedom to live the Resurrection Spiritual life] (Rom 6:14)
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection “Spiritual life” and the fellowship of His sufferings, [Thought, sin nature, people, system and disaster testing] being conformed to His death; (John 12:49; Luk 22:42) [Experiential death of Christ's human desires and our own] (1Pe 4:1-2) in order that I may attain to the resurrection [Spiritual life] from the dead. [The sin nature's control] Not that I have already obtained it (Rom 6:17-18) or have already become perfect, [Completed the Spiritual life] but I press on so that I may lay hold of that [Full maturity and complete my mission] for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Php 3:10-12)
Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; [The Lake of fire] and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Rom 8:3) When He had disarmed the rulers [Ruler demons] and authorities, [Officer demons] He [God The Father] made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. [Christ] Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day [All illustrations of the Spiritual life That Christ would use to reach Spiritual maturity, and that the Old Testament believers could use] -- things which are a mere illustration of what is to come; but the meaning [The completed Spiritual life] belongs to Christ. (Col 2:14-17)
The study before us will provide a framework for understanding the Word of God. It also will help protect the Christian from blurring Biblical distinctions, from distorting true Doctrinal meanings, and from misapplying Divine Commands. The Doctrine of dispensations teaches what the Christian way of life is — and what it is not.
The Theocentric Dispensations
THE AGE OF THE GENTILES: THE OUTER COURT: THE PATRIARCHAL PRIESTHOOD
THE DISPENSATION OF THE GENTILES ENCOMPASSES three subdivisions: the age of positive volition, the age of negative volition, and the age of the Jewish patriarchs. The age of positive volition involved only two individuals over an indeterminate length of time. Adam and the woman, whose name was Ishah, were created perfect in body, soul and spirit. They lived in perfect environment in the Garden of Eden. They received direct Revelation from God because the Deity of Christ, who is the revealed member of the Godhead, (John 1:1-4; Heb 1:1-3) walked with them in the evenings. (Gen 3:8) No written canon of Scripture was needed. Nor was there need of Salvation because man had not yet fallen. The historical record of this period is found in, (Gen 1:1) thru (Gen 3:6) written retrospectively by Moses under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, who insured the perfect accuracy of the record. (2Pe 1:20-21) This period of positive volition, or perfection, or “innocence” as it sometimes is called, because of the absence of sin, and was characterized by two Divine institutions: volition and marriage. By planting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the Garden and banning its fruit, God made the volitional issue clear: obedience or disobedience to God. Precedence in marriage also was lucid. Just as God created Adam the ruler of the world, (Gen 1:26-28; Gen 2:19-20) God also gave him authority over Ishah. (Gen 2:23-25)
The fall of man involved human failure in each Divine institution. Both the man and the woman ate the forbidden fruit, violating the volitional issue. By succumbing to Satan's temptation directed at the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life, (Gen 3:6) the woman also disregarded the authority of her husband. And the man, in accepting the fruit from the hand of his wife, defaulted in the exercise of his authority over her. After the Fall, God sustained the institution of volition by holding the man and woman responsible for their own decisions. (Gen 3:11-19) He upheld the institution of marriage by reconfirming the husband’s role over the wife (Gen 3:16) Even with the changes that resulted from the Fall, the perpetuation of the Divine institutions is an early example of continuity from one period of Biblical history to the next. Neither human perfection, perfect environment, Divine warnings, nor the Divine institutions, kept man from the original sin. Human volition is truly free. Furthermore, vital lessons from the age of positive volition still applies to us today, for certain events in the Garden illustrate and illuminate Principles found in Church Age Doctrine. For example, we see that neither perfect environment nor the ideal marriage can solve man’s most basic problems, which are solved by the power of God.(Php 4:11-13; Eph 5:22-23)
The age of negative volition began with the fall of man. Adam and the woman were now imperfect outside the Garden of Eden. Both were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, who revealed Himself as the Seed of the woman. (Gen 3:15) As a believer, the woman was called Eve, “Living,” in recognition of woman’s role in the coming of the Promised Savior. (Gen 3:20; Isa 7:14; Matt 1:20-23) At the time of their original sins, Adam and Eve had lost the status of perfection. They had become Spiritually dead — separated from God and totally incapable of a relationship with Him. (Gen 2:17; Gen 3:8) Originally trichotomous, (With body, soul and spirit) Adam and Eve had become dichotomous. (Only body and soul) Faith in Christ brought regeneration, (Tit 3:5) which restored the human spirit, making them trichotomous again. The human spirit has always been essential for a relationship with God. (1Co 2:12-14) Throughout human history, with the humanity of Christ as the only exception, every descendant of Adam and Eve is born dichotomous and remains Spiritually dead until he personally believes in Christ. (John 3:18) In all dispensations, everyone who believes in Christ becomes at that moment regenerate and trichotomous, possessing body, soul, and human spirit. (1Th 5:23) No canon of Scripture existed in the age of negative volition. God revealed Himself to man through dreams, visions, angelic appearances, and, as in the Garden of Eden, through direct, physical manifestations in the form of Theophanies. (Preincarnate appearances of Jesus Christ) Spiritual authority was vested in the head of the family, who held the family priesthood. Through this system of authority, God’s revealed Truth was communicated to the human race orally and visually in rituals that included holy days and animal sacrifices. (Gen 3:21; Gen 4:4; Gen 8:20) The historical record of this period is found in (Gen 3:7) thru (Exo 12:21) again written retrospectively by Moses.
No human missionary agency was required apart from individual believers carrying the Word of God to people in their periphery. The Gospel existed in the form of Promises of the coming Messiah, (Gen 3:15) who was depicted in the animal sacrifices: the innocent judged in place of the guilty. Since the fall of man, the means of Salvation in every dispensation has always been faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in that era. (Rom 4:1-16; Gal 3:6-9, Gal 3:26-29) The period of negative volition began with one language, one race, and one culture, but none of these anthropological unities solved problems in human relationships or in man's relationship with God. Furthermore, a third Divine institution, the family, was added to volition and marriage. But neither parental authority nor family bonds nor the Patriarchal priesthood prevented the first murder, in which Cain killed his brother Abel. (Gen 4:8) Evil ran rampant during the age of negative volition, (Gen 6:1-7) and God took severe measures to prevent the human race from destroying itself. The universal flood spared only the family of Noah, the one family of believers that had remained true to God's plan. After the flood God reiterated His blessing and encouragement, given in the Garden, to “be fruitful and multiply,” (Gen 9:1; Gen 1:28) but with certain changes instituted concerning food. (Gen 9:3; Gen 1:29-30) Here was yet another early instance of change against a background of continuity. From Noah's sons sprang three groups of Gentiles, the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, which eventually became differentiated nations and races. (Gen 10:32) Following the flood yet another evil trend culminated at the tower of Babel. (Gen 11:1-9) There fallen man presumed, (Because of satanic influence) that he could “reach into heaven” (Isa 14:14) through his own ability and concerted effort. Human achievements often are admirable. They have an evil effect, however, when man's apparent brilliance obscures the Reality of his total separation from God or substitutes the grace of God as the one real solution to basic human problems. At Babel, therefore, God restrained man's capacity for evil. God had Promised after the flood that never again would He “curse the ground on account of man,” (Gen 8:20-22; Gen 9:8-17) an unalterable Covenant that remains in effect through all generations as part of the continuity that runs through all the dispensations. True to His Own Covenant God did not make widespread changes in nature. (As at the Fall and in the flood) This time He dealt with evil by “confusing mankind's language,” effectively separating the human race into groups that could not easily communicate with one another. Thus God established the fourth Divine institution: the national entity. He scattered mankind so boundaries between peoples would limit the range of any expression of human arrogance and would impede the spread of evil. (Satan's thinking) (Gen 11:8) Even today, internationalism, or the movement to unify the world under one government, lends itself to evil on a grand scale and opposes the plan of God. Paul's address to the Athenians establishes this Principle for the Church Age, allowing Christians to apply this ancient lesson from Babel to the current dispensation. Paul emphasizes that God's purpose in separating the nations and setting “the boundaries of their habitation” is “that they should seek God” rather than be inordinately impressed with the achievements of human genius, which Paul noted in the philosophy, astrology, sculpture and poetry of the Greeks. (Acts 17:21-31)
The age of the Jewish patriarchs was a transitional period from which would emerge the Dispensation of Israel. In this period God founded the Jewish race; in the Age of Israel He would establish the Jewish nation. Although no written Scripture existed, God entered into a Covenant, or sworn contract, with Abraham, (Heb 6:13-18) a citizen of the highly cultivated third dynasty of Ur. (Gen 11:31) In a Covenant, one party makes a favorable agreement toward another party. God Promised unconditionally to “make Abram a great nation.” Abraham believed God, and at age seventy-five he obeyed God’s Instructions to leave his home and migrate “to the land which I will show you.” (Gen 12:1-4; Heb 11:8-10) The fourth Divine institution took on new significance as God prepared to found a particular nation by forming a new racial, political and Spiritual species. His purpose was not only to constrain evil in the world but also to create a model for the protection of human life, freedom, privacy, and property within a nation’s own borders. Israel would exemplify the Divine laws of establishment. In addition, the Spiritual impact of this new race and new nation would continue forever. Abram (Father of high places: a family of idol worshipers) was born a Gentile. He remained so until he reached Spiritual maturity at ninety-nine years old. (And received a new name: Abraham father of a multitude) (Rev 2:17) Then with the act of circumcision he became the original Jew, the father of the Jewish race, a new racial and Spiritual creation. (Gen 17:1-24) Circumcision was the ritual of confirmation of his Spiritual maturity, the dead flesh being cut off, is the same as the old sin nature being cut off and the new man being completed. (Col 3:9-11) cf. (Jer 9:25; Eze 36:26; Eze 18:31-32) In the New Covenant we become a new Spiritual creation. (Not racial or political) (Gal 6:14-15) This ritual signified the blessings of restored sexual vigor through which God would “multiply Abraham’s seed as the stars of the heavens.” (Gen 22:15-18; Rom 4:17-21; Heb 11:11-12) Abraham’s obedience demonstrated his Spiritually mature confidence in God’s Promises. (In sexual death Abram and Sarai believed God would provide a son, and were made alive, sexually) (In Spiritual death we believe God provided a Son for us, and are made alive Spiritually) (Rom 9:7-9) The Jews were to be a unique demonstration of God’s glory among all the nations of the earth. God confirmed His Covenant to Abraham’s believing son, Isaac, (Gen 26:3-5) and reconfirmed it to his believing grandson, Jacob. (Gen 28:13-16; Gen 35:11-12) The Jewish race, therefore, is Spiritual in origin, descending from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, each of whom was a believer in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Gen 15:6) The twelve sons of Jacob are the Jewish patriarchs, the founders of the tribes of Israel. God’s unconditional Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is an everlasting Covenant. The Jewish race is permanent. Its existence depends on God alone. Israel’s eternal heritage is both Spiritual and ethnic, just as God Promised. He will preserve the regenerate Jewish race and the Jewish nation throughout history and eternity. (Gen 13:15; Rev 21:12)
Therefore, one of the many blessings that come to the human race through the Jews is a long-term demonstration of God’s faithfulness. He committed Himself to specific Promises that He will keep through all the changes of human history. Herein lays encouragement for anyone who trusts in Him. The very existence of the Jews is proof for all to see that God keeps His Word. Even when the majority of the Jews themselves reject Him, even when the nation slips into degeneracy, even when He must severely discipline His people, the Promise still stands. God never ceases to care for His people. Israel has a future, precisely as God swore to Abraham. In terms of continuity and change, God’s Covenant with Israel and its literal fulfillment are woven into the fabric of history that remains intact no matter what! (Jer 31:35-37) The origin of the Jewish race anticipates an important difference between Israel and the Church. God founded the Jews as a “new racial, political and Spiritual species.” In contrast, the Church is only a “new Spiritual species.” (2Co 5:17) Regenerate Jews are God’s chosen people and nation, while the Church includes believers of every race and nationality. The age of the patriarchs ended with the Jews as slaves in Egypt. Moses was born during the age of the patriarchs, but the last forty years of his life belong to the Levitical priesthood, the Age of Israel. Abraham is the father of the Jewish race; Moses, the father of the Jewish nation.
As the population of the earth grew and nations proliferated, God had begun to deal with man in a new way through the Covenants that heralded the founding of the nation of Israel. Israel would be God’s client nation, His protected representative on earth to whom He would entrust the human authorship and custodianship of written Divine Revelation.
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