Dispensationalism is a religious interpretative and metanarrative system for the bible. It considers Biblical records as divided via God into dispensation. In dispensationalism, every age of God’s plan is a result administered surely, and humanity is held responsible as a steward all through that time.
It is also an evangelical, futurist, Biblical interpretation that is familiar with God to have related to people in extraordinary approaches under one-of-a-kind Biblical covenants in a sequence of “dispensations,” or durations in records. The theology of dispensationalism consists of an exclusive eschatological cease instances perspective, as all dispensationalists hold to premillennialism, and most hold to a pretribulation rapture. Dispensationalists agree that the kingdom of Israel is distinct from the Christian Church and that God has but to meet his promises to country-wide Israel. Those guarantees include the land promises, which in the destiny world to come result in a millennial state and 1/3 Temple wherein Christ, upon his return, will rule the arena from Jerusalem for one thousand years. In different regions of theology, dispensationalists hold to a huge range of ideals inside the evangelical and fundamentalist spectrum. With the upward thrust of dispensationalism, some conservative Protestants came to interpret the book of Revelation not as an account of beyond activities but as predictions of destiny.
the Word “dispensation” occurs four times in the new testament in 1 Cor. 9;17; Eph. 1.10; Eph.3:2, and Col. 1:25. It is the Greek word “Oikonomia” “economy:” and originally meant a “stewardship” or the managing of a House or household.
As applied to God’s activities it Is a study; of how God is managing His great universal household; of His various methods of dealing with all intelligence under His moral sway, both jangles, and men; of His great plan of redemption; of His testing of men fort place in His great future perfect kingdom. As applied to the Bible itself, it reveals the different classes of people God addresses in the Scripture, the various periods, or ages, marked off by the Lord for the accomplishing of his purposes, etc. One needs, then to make the necessary distinctions to “rightly divide the word of truth,” as Paul exhorted Timothy. 2 Tim, 2:15.
If we are to “rightly divide the word of truth,” we must first of all study. This means the diligent application of our God-given mental faculties to a proper apprehension of the meaning of God’s revelation. A lazy man will never become a Bible Student: he will not study. God is constantly j addressing Himself to our common sense, to our intelligence, for example in Isa. 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together.” Let us respond | and endeavour to find out what He has to say to us.
Then, the Bible student is likened to a workman with his tools in! I sand fashioning a clear understanding of the Word which shall meet with | the approval of God and bring commendation and not shame to him. This workman is to “rightly divide” the word of truth- ‘Rightly divide” here means to “make straight furrow; if he is a tentmaker, as was Paul, he is to cut straight his camel’s – hair cloth; if he is a Bible student, he must produce a correct interpretation, a proper exegesis of the Scripture. As Dr A. T.I
Robertson has said, “Certainly plenty of! exegesis is crooked enough (crazy-quilt patterns) to call for careful cutting to set it straight.”
Paul suggests in 2Cor. 4:2 the possibility of “handling the word of ! God deceitfully,” a procedure of which he was never guilty. This expression comes from a Greek verb that means “to catch with bait” and is the common verb “to ensnare, to corrupt with an error.” It was used for adulterating gold or wine. False teachers, and false prophets have arisen through the centuries which have done this very thing to the everlasting destruction of those who listened! to them. Peter shows in 2 Pet. 3:15, 16 that in Paul’s epistles there “are some things hard to be understood” and that unstable and unlearned people can wrest (twist) the Scriptures to their destruction. How solemn is the warning, then, that we seek to understand correctly the Word of God! This certainly implies that all preconceived opinions, notions, and prejudices have no place in arriving at this understanding.
Before we proceed to a study of dispensational periods, etc., let us first have a few brief lessons to illustrate the vital importance of proper conclusions in Biblical interpretation.
There are three outstanding things to be avoided in handling the Word of God:
Take for example the Parable of the Leaven in Matt. 13:33. The popular interpretation of this parable is that the “woman” (the church) takes the ”leaven” (the gospel) and puts it into “three measures of meal” (the world)
with the result that “the whole was leavened” (the whole world converted o the truth).
The gospel is, of course, a good thing, but “leaven” is consistently used throughout the Scriptures to mean something evil, to be avoided. For example, in Ex. 12:8,15-20 we see that Jehovah forbade the use of leaven in the Passover, and from all the sweet-savour offerings of the Old Testament, it was excluded in marks 8:15 and Matt. 16:11, 12, Christ uses
leaven as a symbol of the false doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians. Paul, in 1 Cor.5:16,8, uses this symbolism to mean “malice and wickedness” in contrast with “sincerity and truth”. If the same symbolism can be used to represent both good and evil, there can be no sound basis for a safe and sane interpretation.
Among some of the early church fathers there arose a tendency to an extreme spiritualization of Scripture, especially of the Old Testament; that is, to give a meaning other than the clear literal sense to certain passages. This tendency persists. For example, passages in the Old Testament that refer to Israel are made to apply to the church. Those who believe that the Lord will come after the whole world is converted, make the grave error of applying such words as “Zion” “Jerusalem” “Israel,” “Jacob,” etc., to the church. They believe that God has cast off the nation of Israel finally, that they are under the curse, and that the church has superseded Israel for God. The consequence of this wrong application of terms is that the nation of the Jews is cut off from her blessing of restoration to divine favour foretold in the Word and all God’s purposes to make Israel the “head of the nations and not the tail” fail of realization.
ln 2Peter 3:10-14 we read of the final renovation of the heavens and earth by fire, resulting in a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. The question is, “When will this be accomplished?” The time of the fulfilment of this scripture is put by some right at the close of this dispensation of grace. This dislocation of Scripture fulfilment gives no place to the Millennium, the restoration of the Jews, and the reign of Christ on the throne of David. The proper time of fulfilment of this renewal of heaven and earth is at the close of the thousand years rule of Christ. See Rev. 20:11 and 21:1.
II. We must clearly distinguish between the literal language and that which is figurative or representative. That which is literal (according to the letter) comprehends the plain, common-sense, obvious import of the words as usually understood, not metaphorical. As an example of this, note Luke 1:31-33. This scripture means that Christ was to be born of a virgin, to be called the Son of God, to be heir to the throne of His father David in the flesh, and to reign on that throne over the descendants Jacob.
In contrast with this, we find in the Scriptures language, which is figurative, representative, and symbolic. In Heb. 4:7 we are told “Harden not Your hearts.” In John 10:9 Jesus says, “I am the door,” and in John
6:48, “I am the bread of life,” These scriptures do not mean that we can make our hearts hard, but that we should keep our inner being impressionable to the touch of the Spirit of God; nor that Christ is a literal door, but as a door into the sheepfold, He is the entrance into the realm of
eternal life; nor that He is literal bread but that He is like bread in that He sustains our spiritual life as we feed on Him. A symbol is an animate or inanimate object that is thrown or placed alongside something else for the sake of comparison or representation. For example, in the second and seventh chapters of Daniel, the kingdoms of the Gentile world from Nebuchadnezzar down to the second coming of Christ are first represented as an image composed of various metals and then as wild beasts devouring each other.
III. We must distinguish three main classes of people to whom God ICor. 10:32. The necessity of knowing to which one of these classes a particular passage of the Word of God is addressed must be obvious to the student of Scripture.
IV, Scripture distinguishes three offices in the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God:
1, As Prophet, from Eden to the cross. In Deuteronomy 18:18 Moses foretells the appearance of a coming prophet, greater than he. In the Old Testament, there are frequent references to a being called “the angel of Jehovah” the “angel of His presence,” etc., who appeared to Abraham, Manoah, Gideon, and others, who are worshipped as God and who speaks as God’s messenger or prophet. This was likely none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared temporarily |in bodily form to bring God’s word to various individuals. Christ’s prophetic ministry continued when He came to. abide permanently in human flesh in His incarnation.
2. As Priest, from the Ascension to His appearing again. Heb. 7:25;8:1.
Jesus Christ is now our priestly representative in heaven at the right hand of God’s majesty
3. As King, during the Millennium and succeeding ages.
Rev.19:16. During the millennial age, Christ will rule this earth from Jerusalem where He will sit on the throne of His father David. The word implies that His kingly sway will never cease in the words “and of His kingdom, there shall be no end”.
There are three main ages within the scope of time – the antediluvian age, the present age, and the age to come (the Millennium).
An age in scripture is a period from one violent or decided change in the earth’s surface or condition to another marked change involving the earth’s inhabitants. Cf. Matt. 13:39,49; 2Cdr. 4:4; Gal. 1:4. In these scriptures, the word “world” should be rendered “age”.
Note.-The Bible student needs carefully to distinguish four decidedly different Greek words used in the New Testament, all of them translated by our English word “world”.
They are –
Kosmos-Meaning “order, regular disposition, ornament, decoration”(1 Peter 3:3); “the putting on (kosmos-embellishment) of apparel”; the material universe (2 Peter 3:6); the present order of things (John 18:36 et al.)
Aion-a is a period of significant character, an era, a state of things marking an age or era (Matt. 13:39).
Ge-the earth, the soil, the surface of the earth, the land as opposed to the sea (Rev. 13:3).
Oikoumene the habitable earth, the world (Matt. 24:14; Heb. 1:6, et al). As an illustration of the ending of one age and the beginning of a new one, note the change in the earth’s surface and condition at the time of the Flood. Gen. 7:11;7:23;8:15-17. Again at the close of the age in which we are living God’s judgments will be poured out upon ungodly nations, Christ will appear from heaven, and a completely new order of things will be set up here on the earth. Dr Frank Gaebelein in his excellent book on dispensational study mentions seven guiding principles for Bible study, which we briefly restate:
1. God, the Great Creative Sovereignty.
The Scripture makes no special effort to prove the existence of God. It simply takes this for granted. God is supreme in the universe. it is He who brought this wonderful system of “world” and all the beings. He maintains them in perpetual orderly relation and harmony and rules over all the created intelligence, angelic or human, which inhabit them. He is the active governor, not an absentee landlord who created the universe and then left it to work out its destiny. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is concerned about the interests of even the smallest of His creatures. He observes the sparrow’s fall and has numbered even the hairs of our heads.
2. A Personal Power of Evil.
During the World War in denial of the existence of God, men often asked this question: “if there be a God, how could He permit such a tragedy to happen in the world?” The answer is simple. God was not responsible for this or any other war or for awful conditions in general which prevail in the world. There has come rebellion into God’s universe. Another being, Satan, the archenemy of God and man, is responsible. He is the “murderer from the beginning,” the destroyer of men, the opposer of all God’s beneficent purposes for the world.
God is a being of the absolute holiness of nature. His holiness must react in banishing from His presence that which is out of harmony with Himself, a perfect Being. When man fell, as a consequence of his sin, he was barred from the Garden of Eden and the place of fellowship with a holy God. This lesson is outlined in objective reality throughout the Old Testament in the sacrificial economy of the tabernacle and the temple, Man was excluded from the Holy of Holies of the divine presence and could come only representatively, only annually, and only with sacrificial blood.
God’s love flowed out to the being whom He had created in His image and likeness and even before the fall, in anticipation of this calamity, prepared a “Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.,” who should give His spotless life for man’s redemption.
God is a God not only of love but of the most absolute and inflexible justice. God is a being of the perfect symmetry of character. His justice requires that the fullest satisfaction must be given for the outraging of His holy lay, and penalty must be visited upon the head of the transgressor. Even though He has prepared a way back to His fellowship and favour, all men do not and will not accept this provision of His love. Man is a free moral agent and can lift his puny will in defiance even of the God who created him. Rejection of God’s love is an eternal sin and must be visited with its awful consequences, banishment from the presence of a holy God. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”.
5. A Chosen People
In His divine sovereignty and wisdom God has chosen a people, the Israelitish nation, as a medium for the giving of the revelation of Himself and His covenant dealings to the world; as a witness to His existence as the true and living God: and as a channel for the display of His matchless grace to an unworthy, “stiff-necked” nation.
6. The Principle of Structure.
The structural plan of Scripture is seen in the seven dispensational periods of the Word. Dr Scofield’s definition of a dispensation can hardly be improved upon-” A dispensation is a period during which man is tested as to his obedience to some specific; revelation of the will of God.” God has endowed His creatures with free Will and consequently, that will must be tested as to whether it will side with God or disobey Him. In Rev. 21:27 we see God’s ultimate purpose to have a universe of the kingdom over which He shall preside and from which there shall forever be excluded everything that is out of harmony with Himself.
We can readily see that for this to be realized, the free will of His creatures must be tested and confirmed in obedience to Himself, or else there would continually arise the possibility of the marring of God’s plan through recurring disobedience. God did not make us like a mechanical toy, to be wound up and set in motion, but He made us with the capacity and power to love Him, glorify Him, and have fellowship with Him. He brought us into being that to us and through us, He might reveal Himself. Isa. !66:1,2;57:15.
After Satan’s fall, man, the new creature coming forth fresh from the hand of God, must of necessity be tested. The record of the test and fall of man in the garden is logical and reasonable. The dispensations, then, show the various methods by which God has tested, and will test, man.
These dispensations are innocence, conscience, human government or first organization, patriarchal or promise law, grace, and millennial or divine government. This does not mean that the Scriptures can be put into separate watertight compartments, completely isolated from each other. These dispensations often overlap, and some of them belonging to the past is still, as to God’s dealings, in effect;
e.g., the dispensation of human government. There is ultra-dispensational teaching which takes away from us as Christians, not only the whole Old Testament but large portions of the New and which classifies and applies Scripture in such an ironclad way that we dare not claim the blessing of any part not strictly allocated to us by such teachers.
This is wrong. Cf. Rom. 15:14; 2Tim. 3:16.
Scripture also reveals eight covenants that God has made:
1. The Edenic (Gen.1:28-31
2. Adamic (Gen.3:14-21
3. Noahic covenant(Gen.9:1-1)
4. Abrahamic covenant Gen16;1
5. Mosiac covenant Exo19:1-25,20:7-13
6. Palestinian (Lev.26: Deut28:1to30:3)
7. Davidic (2sam7:16:31-40;
8. New convenient-Jer31:31-40, Ez36:25-28, Lk22:20. Heb. 8:8).
The Edenic Covenant conditioned the life of man in innocency; the Adamic Covenant conditions the life of fallen man and gives the promise of a Saviour; the Noahic established the principle of human government and j assured the continuance of life on the earth; the Abrahamic founded the nation of Israel and gave to them the land of Palestine; the Mosaic Covenant condemns all men for ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God the Palestinian assures the final restoration and conversion of Israel and of all who believe in Christ, making them acceptable to God.
The Principle of Consummation.
God has planned and God is moving toward a definite goal in the Working out of His redemptive purpose. He has ordained a glorious destiny for His redeemed people, both earthly and heavenly. This purpose is to be consummated in the second advent of the Redeemer, who will rule the world in righteousness and when He has administered the earthly kingdom during the Millennium He will deliver it over to the Father. Then will be established new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness forever. God will be supreme and will be obeyed implicitly in all His universe.
There is a decided difference of opinion among devout Bible students as to the method of creation. Some believe that Gen. 1:1 is just a preliminary statement to the creation narrative and that what follows records the manner of procedure in bringing what was originally a formless world (v.2) into a beautiful cosmos,? accomplished in seven long periods designated as “days”. Others believe that Gen. 1:1 refers to the original creation of the solar system in the (dateless past, perfect and complete; and that Gen. 1:2 refers to some (calamity which caused the world to become a wreck; and then that the Retailed account which follows is of a reconstruction period of six literal days during which the earth was restored to order and harmony. The following outline accords with the latter view:
1. Original Creation, Gen. 1:1,
This scripture refers to the creation of the heavens and the earth (the solar system) somewhere in the dateless past. God could form the universe either By setting in motion forces that would gradually bring to consummation an orderly cosmos or he could do it by one command of His mighty power. We believe the latter to be the truth. There is no conflict between the Bible and science. How long the creation continued is unknown.
Gen 1:2, “The earth was without form and void” (“the earth became a waste and a desolation” -Hebrew), refers to some calamity that caused the whole world to become a wreck. The probable cause is found in Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek, 28:12-17. Satan may have been the ruler of the original earth and God, to punish him, caused the earth to become uninhabitable. This may explain his enmity toward the human race, to whom was given in Adam the dominion over the earth and its creatures.
2. Chaotic Earth. Gen. 1:2
. The original earth has not created waste, Cf. Isa. 45:18, R.V. It was thrown into a condition of darkness and chaos by being submerged in water. The present earth, as we now know it, is preserved for a final renovation by fire. Cf. 2 Pet, 3:5-7. In the period which geologists call the glacial period are found the remains of prehistoric animals but no remains of man have ever been found. This is evidence that man as at present constituted did not inhabit the original earth.
Lack of space forbids a lengthy discussion on this subject, but the student is referred to a most interesting treatise “The Biblical Story of Creation” by Dr Giorgio Bartoli. (This book may be obtained from the Gospel Publishing house, 434 W. Pacific St., Springfield, Mo)
3. The heavens and earth which are now. 2 Peter 3:7.
The record of Gen. 1:3-31; 2i-3 refers not to the work of the original creation, but to a period (why not seven literal days? — “And the evening and the morning were the first days” of also Ex.20:9-11) of regeneration or reconstruction administered by Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2, last clause) to bring the earth out of its chaotic condition.
a. The First Day. Gen. 1:3-5.
The use of two words, “created” and “made,” seems to indicate that this work was principally reconstructive. The word.-“created” after verse 1 is not used until verse 21 when a new order of water animals is brought into being. The work of the first day does not concern the sun, moon, and stars, for they appeared on the fourth day, but rather the manifestation of light as such and divided from the darkness.
Scientists used to scoff at the record of Genesis because it spoke of light existing before the creation of the sun since the sun was considered the source of all light. It has been proved, however, that cosmic light could and does exist on the earth apart from the sun.
b. Second Day. Chap. 1:6-8
The work of this day embraced the placing of the firmament called heaven, or atmosphere above us, whose clouds retained the moisture (“water above the earth”), separating them from the waters upon the earth.
c. Third Day. Chap 1:9-13.
On the third day, the earth’s .surface was formed into great mountains and big valleys in which the waters were gathered called “seas.” Between these, the dry land appeared. Verse II embodies what we see in the springtime, the resurrection of plant life from the seeds which lay sleeping on the earth during the winter. The submergence of the earth in water did not destroy these seeds. Evidence of fossil remains of plant life in the earth’s strata proves the existence of plants on the earth before the (calamity which befell it. God simply called these seeds again to spring forth.
d. Fourth Day. Chap. 1:14-19
Witnessed the shining forth of the sun, moon, and stars. The first to preside over the day; the moon and stars |o rule the night. Day and night, years and the changing seasons resulted and time began. “Light” in Hebrew (v.14) is “Light holders”, showing that they were not necessarily the sources of light in themselves.
e. Fifth Day. Chap. 1:20-23
God “created” the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea on the fifth day. This shows that all animal life was destroyed in the calamity that came upon the earth originally. Fossil and actual remains (bones) of birds and animals of species not belonging to our present known order of animals are found on the earth today.
f. Sixth day. Chap. 1:24-31.
The double work of the sixth day included “land animals” and man.
These land animals were probably the same as we have today. The fact that they were created after their kind, which expression is six times repeated, .shows that they were not evolved from one common species
That man was also “created” shows that he is not descended from an ape.)
The man was created in the image of God, not in the image of an ape, and was;
not formed from that brute, but of the dust of the earth.
The fact is, there is an impassable gulf between the lowest order of man and the highest type of beast, which science has failed to bridge. “The missing link” has never been found. That all the different kinds of animals were created separately is proved by the fact that when different species are crossed, their offspring is sterile. The crossing of the jackass and the mare produces the mule, and the mule is a “hybrid” and is sterile. That! the whole human race is of one species and a common origin (Acts 17:26)
is clear from the fact that when the different races of the earth intermarry, their offspring is not sterile, but fertile. This nullifies the argument that the white race alone is the Adarhic race.
“Neither has Adam created a baby or a primitive savage, but a full-grown man, perfect in intellect and knowledge, else he could not have named the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air. The fact that his descendants had such skill in the invention of musical instruments and Mechanical devices and could build cities and towers and such a vessel as the ark, proves that the men of antediluvian times were men of gigantic intellect and attainment, and that, instead of having ‘evolved upwards; man has ‘degenerated downwards’. “-Larf-kin.
g. God’s Rest on the Seventh Day, Chap. 2:1-6.
A. Dispensation of Innocence. Gen. 2:7 to .3:24.
Man, fresh from the hand of God, was placed in a most beautiful environment 2:8-15; 18-24. while details are not given, doubtless everything that head could desire was to be found in the garden of Eden.
From the mention of the two rivers, Euphrates and Hiddekel (Tigris), we gather that this region was located somewhere near the headwaters of these rivers in the present land of Armenia In creating Eve, God provided for Adam what He desires, that is fellowship and communion with a being of like nature. Of the woman’s creation, Matthew Henry says, “Not out of his head to top him,
Nor out of his foot to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him; under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved”.
Since, as we have seen, man is a free moral agent with the full power of choice it is reasonable and logical that God should propose a simple test of his obedience and loyalty. 2:16,17. God simply chose one tree in the garden and designated it “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and forbade eating of its fruit, warning of the consequences of disobedience and providing a penalty for the same.
Man and his helpmeet disastrously failed, 3:1-9; 1Tim. 2:13,14. Satan’s entry into the garden in the form of the serpent (literally, “Shining lone”) was doubtless motivated by hatred of God and jealousy of man. His success has brought dire results to the human race.
God’s judgment was visited upon Adam and Eve arid upon the serpent:
a. On the serpent. Gen. 3:14,15. We may rightly infer, we believe, from the judgment that fell upon the serpent, that it was originally a beautiful creature with an upright posture. Surely it was not the repulsive creature that we know today.
b. on the woman. Gen. 3:16
c. On the man. Gen. 3:17-19. Both were expelled from the Garden (3:22-24) and God mercifully barred them from the “tree of life” lest they
return and eat thereof and continue endlessly in their sinful state. Gen.
3:24. “So he drove out the man and He caused to dwell the cherubim at the east of the garden and there was a fierce fire (or Shekinah unfolding)
Itself to preserve the way of the tree of life” (Hebrew paraphrase).
God’s love for His fallen creatures is seen in the promise of a Redeemer and in the provision of coats of skins to cover their nakedness. The skins evidenced the death of the animal, which died as a substitute for them. The shedding of the blood of the animal is a type of the poured-out life of God’s Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:29), and the skins typify His righteousness, our covering. 1Cor. 1:30; Gal.3:27.
B. Dispensation of Conscience. Gen. 4:1-8:14
This dispensation lasted about 1656 years from the Fall to the Flood.
Adam and Eve by their disobedience became aware of four things:
(1) of a principle and power of evil in the universe opposed to God and His purposes.
(2) of the consequences of disobedience and unbelief.
(3) of the advantage of faith and confidence in God and His wisdom.
(4) of the necessity of choosing the good and rejecting the evil.
Conscience was awakened by the Fall. Adam and Eve had no conscience before then. Conscience is a knowledge of good and evil, which they acquired by eating the forbidden fruit. Man is untested as to which he will choose, good or
The following are some of the outstanding features of this period preceding the Flood:
1. Cain and Abel:
In these men, we see two seeds, one godly, the other self-willed and rebellious. Cain and Abel have doubtless grown men at the time here recorded, for Adam was 130 years old at the birth of Seth. Abel’s approach to Jehovah was in full accord with what his parents had doubtless told him and in harmony with the lesson presented in the clothing of skins, which Adam and Eve wore. He knew that the basis of an approach to God was that of sacrifice, of substitution of life for a life, of the shedding of the blood of an Offering Cain could not have been ignorant of this, but in and self-satisfaction offered to God on the altar the product of his labours.”
These men are symbolic of two classes of people today. One class represented by Cain, is willing to acknowledge the existence and beneficence of God, but refuses to acknowledge themselves as sinners and would present to Him their good works. The other class, represented by Abel, conscious of the holiness of God and or unworthiness and sin, come presenting in faith Christ, as their only plea for acceptance.
God put His seal of approval upon Abel’s offering Heb. 11:4. Cain’s jealous anger was aroused because he felt he was being superseded in God’s favour by Abel and would doubtless lose his rights as the firstborn.
Jehovah intervened before Cain’s wrath should immediately produce tragic results and said to Cain, “Wherefore hath it angered thee, and wherefore hath thy countenance fallen? Shall it not, if thou do right, be invited up? But if thou do not right, at the entrance a sin-bearer is lying:
Unto thee, moreover, shall be his longing and thou shall rule over him
In other words, the Lord was allowing Cain to cool down, acknowledge his wrong position, and to go out and even yet bring a lamb for a sin-offering, available at the entrance.
Cain in his pride and self-sufficiency refused and later murdered his godly brother, and there was pronounced upon him the dire judgment of the record.
2. The Godless Civilization of the Antediluvian Age (4:17-24).
a. The city with all its attendant evils (v.17) God’s wise intention in a world marred by sin and the wickedness of the human heart was that its populations should live in scattered communities (“be fruitful and multiply and replenish (fill up) the earth”) and not in great centres, such as our modern cities. Evil spreads so much more rapidly, where great;
numbers are brought into close contact, just as rottenness in apples | spreads from one to another when they are left in a barrel, rather than spread out over a large space. The rural communities of the earth have been always the most wholesome.
However, in modern times even these are being corrupted by the! easy means of access to cities through modern transportation facilities and by the radio.
b. Jabal, one of the sons of Lamech in the line of Cain.
He Was remarkable as being the first man to accumulate cattle in large numbers He lived with his descendants in tents, a nomad life. Pember suggests probably introducing in defiance of God’s command, animal flesh and milk as a food, with the view of escaping the labour of tilling the ground, thus avoiding some of the consequences of the curse.
Be this as it may, there is certainly a marked modern movement through mechanical invention and legislation to make life more comfortable arid easy, to provide more time for leisure and pleasure, and to palliate the
C. Jubal, another son of Lamech
, was the inventor of musical instruments. Music is of the Lord and there will ‘be wondrous harmonies in heaven, but we are here in Gen. Ch.4 reading of the ungodly line of Cain. These men Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain were ungodly as 4:26 proves, consequently, we see a wrong use of things which under divine direction are good, Jubal was not intent on glorifying god. By him was Satan’s effort through perverted music to dull man’s sensibilities toward God and to hinder him in meditation and contemplation of God.
It is a known fact that the best music of the modern centuries has a Christian background and was written by men of devotion to God and spiritual sensibilities. Modern Jazz is positively Satanic and tends to the sensuous and immoral, as well as exciting the nerve centres with marked detrimental physical results
d. Lamech was the first polygamist.
We can gather instruction concerning the boastful, blasphemous spirit of this man from the address
to his wives”. cf. Gen. 4:23, 24. Pember suggests that this was a kind of song which may have been popular among the antediluvians. Literally
translated, it runs as follows: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice, Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech,
For I have slain a man in return for my bruise For sevenfold shall Cain be avenged
But Lamech, seventy and sevenfold.
“The meaning of this appears to be that he had quarrelled with a young man and, having been wounded and bruised by him, had slain him 19 in revenge. God had promised a sevenfold punishment upon one who should kill Cain, but let all know that if anyone injured Lamech, seventy-sevenfold would be the vengeance He would bring upon him”. – Pember.
The modern counterpart of this is in what practically amounts to polygamy in the ease with which divorces are obtained, in *.he growing looseness in moral standards, and in the growing confirmation of the public in this looseness by the novels, magazine articles, and moving picture shows of the day. All this is given impulse by the lack of positive Christian emphasis on Divine standards, as embraced in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the pulpits of modern ecclesiasticism
e. Tubal-Cain was a worker in brass and iron.
He was possibly the first man who forged weapons from these metals. We learn from Gen. 6:13 that the earth was filled with violence. This would certainly indicate that a wild orgy of murder and evil work was manifest in those days”. Compare the increase of crime and violence, war, class, and civil strife of today.
“The Cainites, with the restlessness of men alienated from God, were ever striving to make the land of their exile a pleasant land: to reproduce Paradise artificially instead of longing for the real garden of delight, they were ceaselessly trying by every means to palliate the curse, instead of patiently following God’s directions for getting rid of it altogether.
“Cain himself, who had been condemned to wander, was the first to build a city which he called Enoch after the name of his son, the first to attempt to settle comfortably upon the earth”. – “Earth’s Earliest Ages”,
f. The prominence of women in the Cain line (4:19,22)
The name Adah means “Ornament, beauty”; Zillah means “shade”; and Naamah means “lovely”. These names were given doubtless in recognition of the physical beauty and charm of these antediluvian women. There is no mention of the woman in the line Seth.
In modern times feminine physical charm and beauty are exploited commercially in advertising displays, beauty contests, theatricals, and fashions.
3. The New Godly Line of Seth. Gen. 4:25-5:32.
Seth, and his immediate descendants, were godly as proven in the statement of 4:26 – “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord”. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is singled out for honourable mention as a man of God (5:22). Because of his faithful walk with God, he was caught away from the ungodliness prevalent before the Flood and stands as a type of the overcomes of the last days who will escape the tribulation judgments.
When we turn to Seth’s posterity, an: scene changes. Envyings, strifes and licentiousness, and violence are no longer before us. our ears cease to be assailed with the lowing of herds, the strains of soft music for the soothing of uneasy consciences, the clatter of the anvil, the vauntings of proud boasters, and all the mingled din which arises from a world living without God and struggling of overpowering His curse.
“But we see a people, poor and afflicted, toiling day after day to procure food from the soil according to God’s appointment, and patiently waiting till He shall be gracious and humbly acknowledging His chastening hand upon them. They have no share in earth’s history: that is entirely made up by the Cainites. As strangers and pilgrims in the world they abstain from fleshly lusts, they build no cities, they invent no arts, they desire no amusements, they seek a better country, that is heavenly”. Pember, “Earth’s Earliest Ages”.
4. Mixture of the Descendants of Seth and the Ungodly Cainites.
God expects His people to maintain their character of separation from the evil of their day. 2Cor. 6:14-18. The evidence is clear that these Sethites were gradually drawn away from their walk with God and finally overwhelmed in the judgment of the Flood. Only eight individuals were saved from the Flood.
In modern ecclesiasticism and denominationalism, one can hardly distinguish between the professor of Christianity and the out-and-out worldling. Their lives run parallel in almost every activity of life.
The dispensation of conscience ended with divine intervention and the judgment of the Flood, which lasted for one year and ten days. 6:3-8:14. The close of that ancient period does not mean that man is no longer responsible for a conscience which has been called “the voice of God within the soul”. Noah and his family had seen bet! the good and the evil and were responsible with their posterity to heed the voice of conscience and choose the good. The Flood simply marks the close of an era with divine intervention in the affairs of men and a new beginning with God.
C. The Dispensation Of Human Government
The Sons Of Noah.
God is still dealing inexorably in judgment with an ungodly world. If some of the sickly sentiment displayed toward the hardened criminal were turned into a demand for law enforcement and the purging of our courts and our whole system of jurisprudence, of unjust
judges, shyster lawyers, easy bail, and underserved parole, with the prompt visitation of capital punishment upon the guilty murderer, there would be less talk of “the crime wave”. Our Anglo-Saxon neighbour across the sea can give us some salutary lessons in this direction as statistics
clearly show. God knows best what deterrent to violence and crime is needed and any effort to change this o man’s part ends only disastrously.
As the descendants of Noah and their sons began to multiply, there is a very evident departure from God. Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, was the founder of the ancient kingdoms of Babel (Babylon) and Asshur (Assyria).
“He began to be a mighty one in the earth”, that is a great hero or leader of men, an organizer, a builder, His leadership was evidently in defiance of the Lord. The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament translates 10:9, “He was a mighty hunter against the Lorde,” the sense of which in accord with some ancient Hebrew paraphrases, is that he was a mighty rebel against the Lord.
The spirit of rebellion against the Lord which culminated in the building of the tower of Babel doubtless found its source in this “giant” of ancient times. In defiance of God’s command to Noah (9:1) these ancient inhabitants of the land of Shinar (Mesopotamia) (11:2), lifted in pride, boastfulness, and self-assertion, presumed to build a tower that would reach up to heaven. They purposed to concentrate in one spot of their own choice, to organize with the marks of confederated greatness (11:4). How like the spirit of the leaders of modern Russia, whose defiance of God is pictured in one of their posters, showing a Soviet workman at the top of a ladder reaching to the clouds. On the edge of the clouds are seen the three persons of the Trinity, who are about to be dislodged from their eminence by a hammer in the hand of the workman.
God will tolerate that spirit for only a brief period and will quietly and deliberately deal in judgment with such blasphemers, as He did of old when He came down, confounded their language, and scattered them upon the face of the earth (11:6-9)
Patriarchal Dispensation (Family Promise).
D. THE DISPENSATION OF PROMISE.
Genesis 12 to Exodus 14.
After the Dispersion God permitted the nations to work out their own devices and chose one family, that of Abraham, to be His witness and to be the channel of redemption blessing to the world. Terah had taken Abram, his son, his daughter-in-law, Sarai, and his grandson, Lot, from Ur, their native city in Chaldea, to Haran far to the northwest, on their way to
the land of Canaan (11:27-32). Here Terah died and the Lord appeared to Abram with the call to complete separation from his loins should come to a great nation, that He would give him prosperity and fame, and make him a great blessing (12:1-?). So the signal was to be this divine choice and favour that those who dared to thwart God’s purpose in Abraham would be cursed, and those who showed kindness to him and his posterity would, in turn, be blessed by the Lord (v.3).
Abraham obeyed and in simple confidence toward God took Sarai and his nephew, Lot, and journeyed southward to the land of Palestine, which was later to be the possession of his posterity (12:4-9). One stipulation of God’s covenant with Abraham seems to have been that he remain in the land, else the blessing of the Lord would be withdrawn. This is seen in the record of Gen. 26:1-3 wherein reaffirming the covenant with Isaac the Lord said, “Go not down into Egypt, … sojourn in this land.”
This seems to be the reason why Abraham got into difficulty when he left the land in time-of famine and went down into Egypt (12:10-20).
God intervened with Pharaoh that Sarah should not be defiled and at the same time disciplined Abraham and sent him back to Canaan.
There was a real failure in these patriarchal families and degeneration after Abraham, for Isaac was not so godly as his father, nor was Jacob so spiritual as Isaac. The family of Jacob, except Joseph, lacked godliness. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi acted Line a band of freebooters in their dealing with Hamor and Shechem (Gen. 34), and these sons of Jacob except Reuben would have taken Joseph’s life, but all agreed to sell him into Egyptian bondage. Gen. 36:22,
We can well wonder if the subsequent servitude of this family’s posterity rather than being God’s highest will, was only permitted by Him, for surely their place was the land of Canaan, to which they finally went, and they suffered intensely under the hand of cruel Pharaoh and his taskmasters in Egypt. Ex. 1:7-22; 2:23; 5:6-9.
However, God displayed His covenant favour to them as a nation and redeemed them by blood (Ex.12) and by His mighty power and stretched out arm (Ex. 14). This deliverance from Egypt by blood and by the display of His miraculous power is His standard of intervention on behalf of His chosen people. Micah 7:14-17.
E. Dispensation of Law
This dispensation of the law extended from the exodus from Egypt to the crucifixion of Christ. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” John 1:17. when Israel cried to God in their bondage He gave them a deliverer, Moses, who became also their leader and king – “He was king in Jeshurun”. Deut. 33.5. From this time on God planned to organize a commonwealth based on His own choice, with a visible system of worship and a place for His glory to be manifested. Ex. 19;24:9-18.
Upon Mount Sinai, God manifested His glorious presence and majesty. The purpose of this was to reveal to Israel the holiness of the God whom they were to worship and serve and to show them their lack of fitness for His presence. When the law was given the people promise three times to obey God’s requirement. Ex. 19.18;24:3,7I Not realizing the subtleties of their sinful human hearts they were at least guilty of haste, if not of presumption, in so quickly committing themselves. There was surely no evidence of humility here Terrible failure soon followed.
Previous dealings of God with the human race have failed to restrain man from sin, God now proposed to give His perfect, holy law, and make known His will in every detail. The law of God is comprehended in three main divisions: (1) The commandments, which express the holy God and comprehend all else (Ex. 20:1-17); (2) the judgments, which interpret the relations of man with his fellow man in the family, in the household of servants or employees, and the wider relation of neighbour (Ex. 21:1-23:33); (3) the ordinances, which made provision for their religious life and worship. Ex. 24:1-2-31:18.
After the people had given three times their unconditional promise of obedience, the covenant was sealed by the sprinkling of blood, which signified that their lives were forfeited if they did not obey. Ex.24:8.
The history of Israel in the wilderness, in the promised land, under the kings and the ministry of the prophets, in the captivity, in the period of restoration, is one long record of failure and rebellion, culminating in the supreme sin of the crucifixion of the Heir, the promised Messiah.
Even while Moses was up in the mountain receiving the law, Israel was dancing lewdly around the golden calf and proclaiming, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 32. Later on, in the wilderness journey, becoming dissatisfied with the manna of God’s supernatural provision, they murmured against the Lord and lusted for flesh. Numbers 11. Despite God’s assurance of His victorious leadership against their enemies, proven by the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts, in unbelief they refused to enter Canaan. Choosing to follow the ten faithless spies, rather than (lie bold faith of Caleb and Joshua. Numbers 14. Moses himself through whom the law was given sinned against the commandment- of the Lord and failed to glorify Him amid the people. He was told to speak to the rock, but in his provocation, he acted as if the power to produce water was resident in himself, and smote the rock. Mum. 20:7-12;27:14.
After Israel had conquered a large portion of the land, just before their leader Joshua died, they gave their solemn promise that they would obey the law. Joshua 24:14-26. The whole book of Judges is a record of failure after failure of the nation, despite repeated deliverance from the Gentile nations which surrounded them. God allowed these aliens to smite them again and again, because of their apostasy; but when Israel cried to the Lord, He sent one deliverer after another to judge them and lead them to victory.
Alter Samuel’s successful judgeship, his sons were unfit for leadership, and so Israel demanded a king like the nations around them. The Lord granted their request and gave them Saul, “a choice young man and a goodly. I Sam. 8:3-8; I Samuel 9 and 10. But Saul lifted in pride, failed to obey God, and intruded into the priestly office. (1 Sam. 13:8-14), and finally spared Agag, king of the Amalekites, along with his wife the choicest of the flocks, contrary to God’s specific directions. Sam. 15:17-26.
David, the “man after God’s own heart” soiled the pages of his fine record by the murder of Uriah, the Hittite. 2 Sam. 11:13-15, 18-25. Solomon, a man of peace, and builder of the temple fell into the snares of his multiplied wives, who turned his heart after other gods in whose honour he built the high places and sacrificed. I Kings 11:1-13. Because of the arrogance of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, ten tribes of the nation revolted under Jeroboam’s leadership and established the Northern Kingdom, named Israel, or Ephraim. 1 Kings 12. without exception, the kings of Israel from Jeroboam, through the King of that king of evil eminence, Ahab, to Hoshea, in whose reign Israel was taken captive to Assyria, were assassins, idolaters, and flagrantly wicked. 2 Kings 17:7-23. Except for a few godly kings like Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah, the kings of Judah, the Southern kingdom, were wicked and idolatrous until finally, Judah became even worse than Israel and the Lord had to remove them into Babylonian bondage. 2 Kings
One would think that the exiles in Babylon would have learned their lesson, but the ministry of the prophet Ezekiel was to an impudent, stiff-hearted people, who had “set up their idols in their heart”. Ezek. 2:3,4;14:3. The lesson of the captivity was only partially learned, for the remnant who returned soon departed from the Lord by intermarrying with the ungodly Canaanites, etc., who had remained in the land. Ezra. 9:1,2. The second instalment of exiles who returned under Nehemiah’s leadership bound themselves by an oath to keep the law (Neh. 9:1;10:29), but before long some of them began to violate the Sabbath and intermarry with the alien nations. Neh. 13:15-30. The last prophetic voice whom God sent to them, Malachi, rings out in stern denunciation of their apostasy and indicts them for offering polluted bread, blind, lame, and sick animals on God’s altar. Mal, 1:7-14. Even the priestly family corrupted the covenant of Levi and departed out of the way. Mal. 2:7-15. The nation finally decided that it was vain to serve the Lord. Mal.3:7-15.
Malachi was the last prophetic messenger sent to Israel. Jehovah was silent toward them until He sent His own Son. During the interim of four hundred years between Malachi and Christ, Palestine was under Persian, Syrian, and Roman rule During the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes *( 175-164 B.C), king of Syria, the Jews produced some real heroes in the sons of Mattathias, the priest. Judas was the most prominent of these seven sons and led the godly element of the nation against Antiochus and his vile agents-. would have turned the nation completely to idolatry against and to the lewd abominations of the worship of Bacchus. The mass of the Jews, however, were apostate and when Christ came we find them led religiously by the hypocritical, proud, self-sufficient scribes and Pharisees. The culminating sin of the nation was the crucifixion of their Messiah and King under the leadership of these men.
God’s judgment fell upon the nation in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies under Titus, A.D -70. History records that over a million Jews perished at this time and the nation was scattered among the kingdoms of the earth in fulfilment of the warning given through Moses.
Deut 28:25. we may well sum up this dispensation which shows the failure of man under the law by quoting several New Testament scriptures: The law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20); “The law was our schoolmaster
to bring us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24); “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit”. Rom. 8:3,4. Romans 8:3, 4 appropriately explain the relation between the two dispensations of law and grace.
F. Dispensation of Grace:
The dispensation of grace extends from Calvary to the second advent of Christ. Already almost 2,000 years of this period have elapsed. God’s dealing in grace with mankind was made possible by the death of Jesus Christ, which provided a new and living way of access to “the throne of grace”. Heb. 4:16. This access to the divine presence and the abolishing of the old ceremonial method of approach was typified by the rending of the veil when Christ died. Matt. 27:51. Potentially, this dispensation began with the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came to make real in the experience what Jesus had accomplished objectively on the cross.
Because the man had failed under every test in previous dispensations and was utterly unable to meet the Divine requirement, becoming worse all the time, God sent His only begotten Son to become a man and to take man’s place. He perfectly fulfilled the law at every point; died as a sin offering and paid in Himself the penalty for our sin. Because death, the penalty for sin, could have no hold upon Him who was sinless, He rose again triumphantly and bore our glorified humanity back to “the throne of grace”, where He is now our High Priest and Intercessor, our life – yea, all we need. 1Cor. 1:30. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them”. 2 Cor. 5:19. Christ’s work was a once-for-all work (Heb. 10:10); “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin”.
While this salvation is available for all (Titus 2:11; Heb. 2:9; John 2:2), its benefits are received only by those who believe in Jesus Christ and apprehend Him as their personal Saviour. Mark 16:15, 16; John 1:12. This is the test during this present dispensation.
God purposes now not the conversion of the whole world, although He willeth not the death of the wicked, nor that -any should perish, the calling out of the world a people for His name “Ekklesia”, the Greek word for “church”, means a “called out assembly”. Through the proclamation of the gospel (good news) God is accomplishing His purpose of calling out for eligibility to a place in His coming kingdom, those who will respond. Acts 15:14-17. Paul says, Tor I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile)”. Rom. 1:16. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching (or the apparent foolishness of the thing preached) to save them that believe”. 1Cor. 1:21.
The parables of Matthew 13 clearly show that the world will not be converted by the preaching of the gospel, but that the whole course and end of this dispensation is characterized by a mixture of good and evil. In the parable of the sower (13:3-8; 18:23), only one part in four of the word seed produces fruit or brings a harvest. “The word of the Kingdom” (v. 19) refers to the entire word of God as lived and proclaimed by Christ and through the Holy Spirit by the apostles. In the first instance, the word is not understood and Satan easily snatches it away before it has time to germinate (v. 19) In the second instance the word-seed germinated, but since it had no depth of soil, it was rooted up by the fierce winds of persecution or scorched by -the sun of tribulation (v. 20,21). In the third instance the thorns, among which the seed is sown, typify “the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches” which choke the word (v22). Paul sorrowfully writes of an example of this – “Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world”. In the fourth instance, the good ground represents the understanding, receptive heart, which produces abundant spiritual fruitage (v.23).
Further evidence that the issue of this present order of things is not a world made ready for Christ by the preaching of the gospel is seen in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Even in the fruitful field, Satan sows his tares which grow with the good grain until the harvest. Matt. 13:24-30;36-43. The seed is different from the word seed in the parable of the sower in that it represents in “The children of the kingdom” what the good seed produces (v37,38). Satan introduces his seed of false gospels into the world of human activity, producing a counterfeit of Christianity represented by the “children of the wicked one” (v.38). The harvest is the end of the world (age), when God divinely intervenes through His chosen agents, the angels, to gather the real grain into His garner and to bundle up the tares for destruction (v. 39-42).
The parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31,32) contrary to the popular interpretation that it represents the growth of the church from a small beginning until it finally fills the whole earth and shelters the nations (birds) in its branches, is a picture of abnormal and unsubstantial growth. The mustard, only a herb of the field, contrary to its nature, becomes a great tree. This pictures Christendom, beginning small, but instead of fulfilling its normal life of separation from worldliness, becomes a great institution, even political (cf. the Romish Church), within whose fold the birds (unconverted people and even demon powers, cf. Rev. 18:2) find shelter. Birds in this parable cannot mean something good when in the parable of the sower (v. 4,19) in the same series of teachings they represent Satanic activity.
The parable of the leaven has been partially expounded in chapter one. It represents the introduction by a false church (the woman) of a threefold form of evil doctrine into the true teaching of Christ. The three measures of meal in the symbolism of the Old testament meal or meat offering represent Christ the “Bread of Life” and His teaching. John 6:35. False doctrine as we find it in the Christian church today is quite fully comprehended in what Pharisaism, Sadduceeism, and Herodianism represent. The Pharisees (Matt. 23:14-16,23-28) represent mere externalism in religion, hypocrisy, and a “form of godliness without the power thereof; the Sadducees (Matt. 22:23) were the liberals, the modernists of Christ’s day who denied the supernatural; and the Herodians (Matt. 22:16-21; Mark 3:6) were Jews who were quite willing to come under the yoke of Rome and who had given up completely the Messianic hope. They were a worldly political party. They have their modern counterpart in the political activities of Christendom, which would set up the kingdom of God upon the earth by reform, legislation, education, and alliance with the world.
We sum up the teaching of these four parables in the words of Dr G. Campbell Morgan: “Thus it is evident that these four parables do not give the picture of an age in which there is to be a greater increase of goodness until the final perfection is attained, but rather one characterized by conflict, and one in which it appears as though evil triumphed rather than good. In the parable of the sower, the work of the King is revealed, namely that of scattering seed to produce kingdom results. The work of the enemy is manifested in his attempt to prevent kingdom results by the injury of the seed through the soil in which it falls. In the parable of the two sowings, the work of the king is manifest and also the spoiling work of the enemy who sows the same field with darnel. In the parable of the mustard seed, which contrary to all law, produces a great tree, we have a revelation of an unnatural growth, and abortion, something never intended, and therefore lacking the true elements of strength. In the leaven, we have the simplest symbol of corruption.
“We must remind ourselves again that the Lord in these parables is not dealing with the true nature of the kingdom, neither is He declaring the ultimate issue thereof.
The parable of the dragnet (Matt. 13:476-50) vividly pictures the separation of the good from the evil during the end time of the world (age), likely during the tribulation period. It is the gathering “out of the kingdom all things that offend”. This parable seems to find its Scriptural counterpart in the description of the harvest and the vintage in Rev. 14:14-20.
Since the church occupies such an eminent place in the plan and purpose of God both in her relation to this present age and the age just ahead, the Millennium, a study in dispensation would not be complete without reference to this “called out assembly”.
The church is likened to a house or rather a household of God. 1Tim. 3:15. In this passage, we see the family aspect of the church, like one great household over which God presides and in the circle in which we are to conduct ourselves praiseworthily. The church is compared to a temple (1 Cor. 3:16, 17: Eph. 2:20-22) for God’s indwelling, where He may manifest Himself, and where His glory can be displayed. God dwells in the heart of the individual believer, but collectively His church is the place of His abode.
The church is compared also to a body, like the human body, of which live as believers are members and He the Head. 1Cor. 12:27-31; Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18. The tremendous import of this relationship of the believer to the believer and our living Head is revealed in Eph. 4:16. Note this verse in Wey – mouth’s translation: “Dependent on Him (Christ, the Head), the whole body, its various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another, grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each part, to build itself up in the spirit of love”.
This latter scripture shows that our relationship to each other as “Members one of another” is a vital one, that we each have some function to perform which contributes to the growth and health of the entire body of believers. The church is not an organization, then, which we join like a society, lodge, or union of some kind. To many people, joining the church is just this very thing, a mere outward consent to creed or doctrine along with other people, who occasionally come together ostensibly to worship God, and in whose circle the social aspects of life are prominently emphasized.
But the church is an organism, like the human body. One cannot mutilate or injure any part of the body without seriously affecting the whole.
Even the loss of a thumbnail can at least cause distressing inconvenience, in the lack of ability to readily pick up small objects. This in turn may cause impatience or exasperation at the futile effort to pick up a pin, for instance, and “lower one’s spiritual tone. If we, as believers, are members of one body, vitally related to each other, how important it is that each member shall be spiritually healthy, to contribute vigour to every other member.
Paul calls the church a mystery. Jesus spoke of His church (Matt. 16:1^19), but further, than revealing the foundation truth on which it was t be built, He did not go. The mystery of the church was first fully revealed to the apostle Paul. Eph. 3:3-6,9; Rom. 16:25,26. Except that blessing was promised to the Gentiles (Isa. 11:10; Rom. 9:24-30), the church was unknown to the prophets. To Paul was revealed that God purposed to form one body of both Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:12-16), bringing together the alien Gentile and the bigoted, exclusive Jew.
The church is being perfected by the various ministries (Eph. 4:11-13) for the day of Christ’s appearing when she, “His Body, will be a perfect medium for the manifestation of Christ. As Christ manifested the Father, so will the church be relatively a perfect manifestation of Christ, filled and permeated with His very life.
The church is to be the Bride of Christ. At present she is espoused to Him as a chaste virgin. 2 Cor. 11:2. The first Adam had his bride, and so will the second Adam have a bride. CF. Gen. 2:18, 21-24 with Eph. 5:29 – 33. The was brought to Adam and presented to him, and so will Christ’s bride be presented to him Eph. 5: 27. Rev. 19: 7-9 Pictures a wonderful scene in heaven when our kingly bridegroom will take unto himself his bride in holy spiritual wedlock.
The most beautiful type of Christ and his Bride is given to us in the story of how Isaac got his bride. Genesis 24. In the Scriptures, Abraham seems to be a God the Father; Sarah a type of Israel; Isaac a type of Jesus; Eliezer a type of the Holy Spirit; Rebekah a type of the church; and Keturah, whom Abraham married after the death of Sarah, a type of Israel was restored and fruitful. There are two brides in Scripture. In the Old Testament Israel is the wife of Jehovah. Of Israel, it is said, “Thy Maker is thy husband”. Isa. 54:5. Because of her unfaithfulness, she is cast off as a
wife, but upon her repentance, she will be restored to His divine favour.
Ezekiel 16; Hosea 2 :1 -23. In the New Testament the church Bride of Christ. Israel is to abide in the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium, while the abode of the saints, the church, will be that glorious city which John saw coming down from heaven, the New Jerusalem.
As to the origin of the church, in the mind of God, she was chosen before the foundation of the world. Eph. 1: 4,5. When Jesus faced the cross He revealed to His disciples the purpose of founding the church.
Matt. 16: 13 -20. The contention of the Roman Catholic Church that the church was founded upon Peter and that the Pope’s successor, is not borne out by scripture. The name “Peter” is from the Greek word “Petros” which means according to the distinction observed in classical Greek, a fragment of rock, while the Greek word ” petra”, used in this same passage, means a mass of rock and is used of a ledge of rocks or a rocky peak.
The name Peter, “Petros”, is clearly distinguished from the confession of Peter – “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” – Upon which, as a fundamental article of faith (see John 3:18; 20 -31), or upon Christ, Himself, the ROCK, the church was to be founded. CF. Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Peter 2 : 3-8; 1 Cor. 3: 11; Eph. 2: 20-22. If Peter were the rock upon which the church was to be built, surely the mystery of the church would have been revealed to him rather than to Paul. Eph. 3:9-10.
Let us ask ourselves the question, who belongs to the church? There is a different opinion here among the devout Bible student and we hesitate to dogmatize. There seem to be some scripture truths relative to which there is an element of uncertainty or lack of definiteness. This may
divinely purpose that we shall not take anything for granted but we aspire because of the very uncertainty to the very highest standard of the Christian walk. The church period extends from Pentecost to the rapture of the saints. (This does not mean that there will be no salvation for those living during the tribulation period.) Therefore, those who make up the church or the bride of Christ must be those, or of those, who are saved between these two events. The Old Testament Saints do not belong to the church in the strictest interpretation of this term, for it did not then exist. However, God has ordained a vital relationship between the Old Testament saints and the “out calling” by the gospel, for we read in Heb. 11: 40 that “they without us should not be mar’ perfect”.
We would hesitate to follow too closely the analogies of a wedding in interpreting the details of the heavenly marriage. The following is suggestive. At a wedding, there are not only the bride and the bridegroom, but the groomsman, bridesmaids, guests, etc. John the Baptist, representing the Old Testament Saints, speaks of himself as “the friend of the bridegroom”. John 3:29. Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb”. The bride is not invited, therefore “the called” must be the guests. At the Rapture “the dead in Christ” will rise and that includes, doubtless, the Old Testament saints, who may be analogous to the guests, along with the multitude of blood-washed tribulation saints (Revelation 7) who will come up before the Lord and will be present at the marriage supper. The assembled hosts of angels will doubtless be wondering spectators at this glorious scene.
The mission of the church in the world is clearly defined in the Word. God never intended the church to be a social organization with an emphasis on gymnasiums, pool tables, bowling alleys, etc., for the entertainment of men. While there is a place for social service in a limited and proper relation to more vital activities, the church is not primarily to be engaged in making this present world the ultimate Utopia. God will do that in His own time. Nor is she to be a house of merchandise like Romanism for the sale of indulgences and privileges in the afterworld. God has called
His church is to be light in this dark world to guide men to eternal safety. Matt. 5:14-16; Phil. 2:15,16. She is to be a preserving element like salt to retard corrupting influences in society. Matt. 5:13. Her members are to be flaming evangels proclaiming God’s message of salvation to a lost
world (Mark 16:15-20), and within her fellowship, each member is to seek to edify all the rest. Eph. 4:16. Every Christian is to be an example to live Christ (1 Peter 2:9), and all are to be ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven in a world which is alien and foreign to us (2 Cor. 5:20;
Phil.3:20), “for our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven”.
THE CHURCH AND THE TRIBULATION
The destiny of the church.
The church and the tribulation.
God’s redemptive purpose for His church and the world is moving toward a very definite, predestined goal. Scripture reveals that those who have died in real saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead, and along with them believers living at the end of the age will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when the trumpet of God sounds. 1 Thess. 4:13,17; 1Cor. 15:51,57. Jesus Himself in His conversation with Martha at the time of Lazarus’ death males this clear distinction, not always apprehended in reading these verses. John 11;25;26. To those who have died in Him, He is the “resurrection”, the power to call them forth from the realm of death; to those alive at His coming, He is the “Life” the energy sufficient to change in the twinkling of an eye from bodies of limitation to glorified ones.
In the Old Testament, there are two remarkable instances of men translated from life here on the earth immediately into heaven— Enoch before the flood (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (2Kings 2:11). Luke 9:28-31 is the record of a miniature and representative rehearsal of the glory of Christ when He shall come again and of the classes who will participate in that glory. On the Mount of Transfiguration along with Christ, whose essential deity blazed forth through His humanity on that occasion, were seen, Moses and Elijah. Moses was representative of those who have died and Elijah of those who did not taste death, both sharing the same destiny.
the time of the rapture is a matter of the utmost moment to believers. Some teach that the church will be caught up before the tribulation, others that believers will go through the tribulation. Some misapprehensions concerning the Lord’s return and the related event will be cleared up if we state the fact that strictly speaking the rapture is not the second coming at all. The second coming is the visible, local, bodily appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven as He returns to this earth to the Mount of olives whence, He ascended. Acts 1:11,12; Matt. 24:30;
Zech. 14:4. It is His manifestation in power and great glory to Israel and the nations of the earth. The rapture, so-called, is the summons by Christ of living and dead believers into His presence in heaven (1 Thess 4:13-18). Between the rapture and the revelation of Christ from heaven, there is an interval of surely three and one-half years, more likely seven, during which the church is judged for rewards, the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place in heaven, and upon the earth Antichrist rules and the great tribulation runs its course. (See Zech. 14:5; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14; Matt. 24:27-30 for teaching on the revelation of Christ from heaven). Lord is to come with His saints (holy ones) as pictured in Rev. 19,8,14, He must first have gathered them unto Himself, and since we are to rule and reign with Him on the earth, our place during the millennial age must have been assigned to us previous to the revelation. The pre-tribulation rapture is certainly logical and reasonable. (The subject of the tribulation will be discussed in the next chapter.)
Now let us look at some of the reasons from Scripture itself why we believe that the church will not go through the tribulation.
First, we look in vain through the Word for specific mention of the church in connection with the tribulation. Israel is identified therewith, the visuals, but not the church as the body of true believers.
Second, the book of Revelation deals mainly with the last seven years of this age, Daniel’s seventieth week. Dan. 9:27. After having recorded in chapter 1 his vision of the glorified Christ and in chapters 2 and 3 of the seven churches, which represent in their seven-fold unity the entire church dispensation from Pentecost to the rapture, John begins to unfold in chapter 4 what will be “after this” – literally, “after these things”; that is, after the church period. Chapter 6 to 19 of Revelation pictures the tribulation times. The significant point is, that there is no mention of the church after chapter four, either directly or representatively. In chapter 4 the elders are seated on the thrones encircling the throne. God, are representative of the rewarded, reigning church.
Third, is the promise to Thyatira. Rev. 2:28. “I will give him the morning star.” In Rev. 22:16 Christ speaks of himself as “the bright and morning star,” This promise to the overcomer seems to refer to that aspect of the reward in Christ, embraced in his being gathered to the Lord’s presence before the sunrise of the kingdom. If one desires to see the morning star, he must rise early, because it appears at the darkest hour of the night just before dawn begins to break.
The rising of “The Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:1-2) is a distinct promise to Israel of the coming of Christ in the full-orbed day of His glory, breaking upon her after the dark hour of Jacob’s trouble.
When the millennial day breaks, the morning star will have appeared and the saints will have been gathered secretly into the presence of the Lord, afterwards to come forth with him to share in the administration of the kingdom, which is to be ushered in by the rising of the “Sun of Righteousness”.
Fourth, the promise to Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, the true church of the last days – “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth”. Rev. 3:10. We do not know to what else to refer to “the hour of temptation” (testing, proving, affliction), universal in its scope, then to the tribulation time so frequently outlined in the Scripture. The language of the promise here in Greek is unmistakably clear and specific. It is literally “I will keep out of, not “I will keep you in”, or “I will keep you through”. We all know the import of a sign “Keep out”. This is just the meaning.
Fifth, the tribulation time is distinctively a time of judgment, a time of “wrath”, visited upon an ungodly world, an apostate church, and a backslidden Israel. The most awful of these judgments are the “vials”. Revelation 16. Note the language used in Rev. 15:1;16:1,19-“plagues… filled up the wrath of God”, “vials of the wrath of God”, and “wine of the fierceness of His wrath”. The assurance of the Lord to his own is that they “shall not come into condemnation (judgment)” John 5:24; that “God hath not appointed us unto wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9); that “we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Christ)” (Rom. 5:9); that the believer is “delivered from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
Sixth, the tribulation, while affecting the whole earth, is specially mentioned in connection with Israel. Jer, 30:4-9; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:15,21.
Seventh, the promise to the church concerning her gathering unto the Lord is signless and timeless. Various signs and chronological measurements distinctively apply to Israel – “weeks”; “time, times, and half a time”; “forty-two months”; “1260 days”; “2300 days”, etc.; but such are not recorded in connection with the church and her destiny. One reason why we believe that the book of Revelation largely concerns the tribulation period is the Jewish signs, symbolisms, and chronological measurements which appear.
Much, much more might be said concerning this phase of dispensational truth but space forbids and an exhaustive discussion cannot be entered into here, we might say in conclusion of this particular subject that the typical teaching of the Old Testament lends emphasis to the view that the church will not go through the tribulation. Our Lord in Luke 17:26-30 states the analogy between the days of Noah at the time of the Flood and the days of Lot when God overthrew the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Enoch has always been regarded as a type of raptured saint. When was he translated about the Flood before, during, or after? Certainly before. God’s fiery judgment upon the cities of the plain did not fall until after righteous Lot had departed. If the Lord thought enough of compromising Lot, He surely will regard with favour His true saints of the last days when He visits with retribution the ungodly at the close of this age.
Further typical teaching is seen in the Old Testament in Joseph, a recognized type of Christ, who married Asenath (gen. 41:45), a Gentile bride during the time of rejection by his brethren and before the famine. His bride, mainly Gentile, during the time of His rejection by Israel, His brethren, before the tribulation.
In His discourse on the Mount of Olives in answer to the pertinent questions of the disciples the Master, Himself mentions the coming of an unparalleled time of tribulation. Matt. 24:21,21. This tribulation time was not fulfilled by the sufferings that befell Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in A.D.70, as some would wrongly interpret, for the coming of the Lord from heaven which is prophesied in 24:30 to immediately follow the tribulation did not take place after the fall of Jerusalem.
In Jer. 30:4-9 the prophet has a vision of the ultimate deliverance of Israel from the yoke of foreign nations and of their restoration to divine favour, but immediately before this is realized he sees the nation passing through the “time of Jacob’s trouble”. Ezekiel sees the same ends accomplished by a process of purging the rebellious element of the nation from among the true-hearted as they “pass under the rod”. Ezek. 20:33-44. both passages are references to the tribulation. Dan. 12:1 is a specific reference to this time of trouble at the end of this age, when the heavenly hosts led by Michael, the archangel, take up the struggle against Israel’s enemies, both visible and invisible, and bring about the deliverance of the righteous Israelites.
In the prophecies of the Old Testament an expression, “the day of the Lord”, is frequently, found, eg., Joel 1:15; 2:1;2:3:14; Isa. 2:10-22. It sometimes refers to a more immediate judgment of the Lord nearer the prophet’s day, as the context clearly shows often comprehends a more remote judgment just preceding the time of Israel’s restoration. This day of the Lord is the tribulation period.
The length of the tribulation period can be worked out from that important dispensational passage in Dan. 9:&4-27. It was revealed to Daniel at the time of his earnest prayer and seeking of God’s face on behalf of his people Israel that seventy weeks (sevens of years as the context, v.2 shows) were determined (divided off) concerning his people
Israel transgressions, to make an end to their national sin (Zech. 13:1), to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to fulfil all prophecy, etc. This period of seventy-sevens (490 years) was to being with the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Such a decree was made by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, in 445 B.C.
This stretch of 490 years was to be divided into three periods of seven sevens (49 years), sixty-two sevens (434 years), and one seven (7 years). The city of Jerusalem after the captivity in Babylon, in troublous times as recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The end of the further period of sixty-two sevens (434 years) is marked by the rejection of Christ by the Jewish nation at the time of His triumphal entry about April 6, A. D. 32, and His subsequent crucifixion. From March 4, 445 B. C, the date of Artaxerxes’ decree, to April 6, A. D. 32 is exactly 483 years, according to Jewish chronological reckoning. This leaves one seven (7 years) yet to run its course.
Now, what will happen during this period? Let us return to further consider Daniel 12:1 and what precedes it. In the latter part of Daniel 11,w. 36 to 45, is recorded the rise to power in the last days of a great ruler who is “the king” (v.36). This is none other than the Antichrist (cf.2 Thess. 2:3-10) who in blasphemous self-exaltation and lawless disregard for all established order, tradition, and religious standards (v.37), by his military genius and wealth (v. 38,39) gains the ascendancy over the Near East (Syria, Egypt, and Palestine) and establishes himself in Jerusalem and the Holy Land (w. 40-45). Apostate Jews (Dan. 12:10) will yield their allegiance, but a faithful remnant will be loyal to God. It is on behalf of these that God moves through Michael. Dan 12:1. This will take place in the latter half of Daniel’s seventieth week of seven years, (cf. Dan. 12:7 -“time, times, and a half means 3 % years).
John saw this same period in his vision in Revelation 12, where Israel is revealed symbolically as the sun-clothed, star-crowned woman from whom the man child (Christ) is born. This same intervention of heaven” takes place. (Note In Rev. 12:6,14 the same chronological period as in Dan. 12:7) This spiritual conflict is to defeat Satan and to preserve the “Woman” from destruction. This is Satan’s final effort to do away with God’s chosen people during the millennium. This effort of the nations, inspired by Satan, to destroy the Jews constitutes for them the “time of Jacob’s trouble. World War II produced some of the most sadistic inhumanities ever recorded in history involving any nation or race. The anti-Semitic spirit persists and is increasing, despite the defeat of Nazism.
Let us see further what will happen during the last seven years of this age. At the beginning of this period, Antichrist makes a covenant with the mass of apostate Jews. Dan 9:27. After three and one-half years he breaks this covenant, which probably permits the re-establishing of their ancient religious worship, and sets up in the Holy of Holes of the renewed temple, what is called by Daniel and Jesus himself “the abomination of desolation”. Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15. This is probably an image of himself placed there with the requirement that all shall worship it See Rev. 13:15. The last half, then, of Daniel’s seventieth week will be the GREAT TRIBULATION. Cf. Matt 24:15,21.
To sum up, the tribulation directly concerns Israel and is the judgment of God upon them for their long apostasy and neglect of their King, and is also a refining process to prepare some for Christ’s coming and to purge the rebels. The tribulation affects the whole world because of its ungodliness and ill-treatment of the Jews. The first part of these seven years will likely be a time of great prosperity “peace and safety” (1 Tess. 5:3) – When the; world will believe that they have reached Utopia under the rulership of superman, whom scripture calls Antichrist.
But in the latter part of this period, God’s judgments will be poured out in increasing severity (see Revelation 16), and the earth will be visited with frightful plagues. At the end of this period when Jerusalem is encompassed with the armies of the confederated nations under Antichrist to be cut off and they are about to be swallowed up by their enemies,
repentant Israel will call upon the Lord for help. Isa. 64′: Zech. 12:8-10. The Lord will manifest Himself from heaven as their Deliverer and will take vengeance on their enemies. God will judge the nations and set up His glorious millennial kingdom. Matt. 24:27-31; Malt. 25:3.
Dispensation is Called the Millennial kingdom.
Classic dispensationalism is a theology inferred from Scripture rather than a doctrine of God’s Word. Its value lies in a schematic view of history’s different eras and the various ways the Ancient of Days interacts with His creation.
The seventh and final dispensation brings about the culmination of life on Earth and the closest thing yet to how God really wanted to live with us on this planet. As its name suggests, the Millennial Kingdom of Christ will last for 1,000 years.
The Millennial Kingdom is the seventh dispensation (Revelation 20:1-10).
Stewards: The resurrected Old Testament saints, the glorified Church, and survivors of the Tribulation and their descendants
The Period: From the Second Coming of Jesus Christ until the final rebellion, a period of one thousand years
Responsibility: To be obedient, remain undefiled, and worship the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 11:3-5; Zechariah 14:9)
Failure: After Satan is loosed from the Abyss, sinful man rebels one more time (Revelation 20:7-9)
Judgment: Fire from God; the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:9-15)
Grace: Jesus Christ restores creation and rules righteously in Israel, with all saints assisting (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20)
The Millennial Kingdom will be a time characterized by peace (Isaiah 11:6-7; Micah 4:3), justice (Isaiah 11:3-4), unity (Isaiah 11:10), abundance (Isaiah 35:1-2), healing (Isaiah 35:5-6), righteousness (Isaiah 35:8), joy (Isaiah 55:12), and the physical presence of Christ (Isaiah 16:5). Satan will be bound in the Abyss during this period (Revelation 20:1-3). Messiah Jesus will be the benevolent dictator ruling over the whole world (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11). The resurrected saints of all times will participate in the management of the government (Revelation 20:4-6).
The Millennial Kingdom is measurable and comes after the Kingdom of God (embodied in Jesus Christ) came to man during the dispensation of Grace. On Jesus’ first visit to the earth, He brought grace; on His, Second Comincomes will execute justice and usher in the Millennium. Jesus mentioned His glorious return at His trial before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:62), and He was referring to the Millennial Kingdom when He taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom comes” (Matthew 6:10, KJV).
The rebate mansion at the end of the Millennial Kingdom seems almost incredible. Mankind will have been living in a perfect environment with every need cared for, overseen by a truly just government (Isaiah 11:1-5), yet they still try to do better. Man simply cannot maintain the perfection that God requires. Mankind follows Satan any chance he gets.
At the end of the Millennium, the final rebellion is crushed, and Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Then comes the Great White Throne Judgment where all the unrighteous of all of the dispensations will be judged according to their works and also cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
After the final judgment, God and His people live forever in the New Jerusalem on a new earth with new heaven (Revelation 21). God’s plan of redemption will have been completely realized, and the redeemed will know God and enjoy Him forever.
I SHALL STOP HERE FOR NOW, TILL THE NEXT UPDATE.
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