The Difference Is In The Dispensations
How to make sense of the differences in the Bible
The Covenants And The Dispensations cont.
The Abrahamic Covenant and The Dispensation
Nine generations after Shem, Abraham was born. Abraham was about 75 years
old and living in Ur of the Chaldees when God one day spoke to him. God,
through His amazing grace, wanted to make another covenant with man and
chose Abraham as His partner. The covenant He made with him was again unconditional
and contained many promises (Gen 12:1-3). The only hint of a condition
appears to be that Abraham had to forsake his home and family and go to
a land God would show him. When Abraham obeyed and entered the land the
promises became fixed. God promised to:
1. Make Abraham a great nation (vs. 2). This promise has been
fulfilled both physically and spiritually. Physically through Isaac and
Ishmael, spiritually through all those who have Abraham's faith (Gal. 3:7).
2. To bless him (vs. 2), and He did this also both physically
(13:14-18) and spiritually (15:6).
3. To make his name great (vs. 2). Still today the name of Abraham
is known and respected by millions.
4. Make him a blessing to others (vs. 2). Abraham blessed people
in his own time and blessed humanity by his seed Jesus Christ.
5. To bless those who bless him (vs. 3).
6. And curse those who curse him (vs. 3). God has not only blessed
those who blessed Abraham, but He also blessed those who blessed the nation
that sprang from his loins, Israel. On the other hand, those who cursed
Israel (Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Germany, etc.) must suffer. Some have suffered
already, but these promises will not be completely fulfilled until the
7. Bless all the families of the earth in him (vs. 3). The fulfillment
of this is Christ himself, who blesses all those who believe on Him with
salvation and who will also physically bless all who are in the millennium.
Though this covenant is unconditional it does not apply universally
to everyone. Doctrinally, it only applies to the Hebrew race through Isaac
and Jacob (Israel). Gentiles can only get in on it by receiving Abraham's
promised Seed—Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to receive Him, Jew or Gentile,
will be judged by Him.
Like the Noahic Covenant this covenant also has a sign, and it
is circumcision (Gen. 17:9-14). Circumcision is a token of the promises
God has made to Abraham and his seed, and anyone who refused or neglected
to accept it was cut off from his people and the promises (excommunication).
Circumcision was the only obligation Abraham and his people had under this
covenant. If they performed it by faith, they had full access to all the
promises. God again reconfirmed this covenant in Genenis chapter 15 after
Abraham "believed in the Lord..." and asked for more details. After
Abraham offered five offerings as God commanded, the Lord again affirmed
the covenant and revealed how Abraham's seed would be a stranger in a land
(Egypt) and afflicted for 400 years. God also revealed the boundaries of
the land given to Abraham. Moreover, God promised all of this to Abraham
while Abraham was asleep! This proves the covenant is unconditional.
God reconfirmed the covenant again after Abraham passed his severe but
revealing test of offering Isaac (Gen. 22:15-18).
Another significant thing about this covenant is it apparently has no
ending. It goes beyond the Millennium and renovation of the earth and even
past the New Heaven and New Earth. Therefore, the nation of Israel, governed
by its Messiah and King, will still be in existence at the gate of eternity.
The dispensation that began with this covenant is called the Dispensation
of Promise for obvious reasons. For the first time God has made promises
to one group of people at the exclusion of all others. From the time of
Abraham on in the Old Testament, the only way someone other than an Israelite
could partake of the promises was to become an Israelite himself (Ruth,
for example [Ruth 1:16]). Again, the only way now is to receive Jesus Christ.
By some this dispensation is called the Dispensation of the Family
because everything God had to say to man He said to this one family. The
promises He made to Abraham He reconfirmed to his son Isaac, his grand-son
Jacob, and then to Jacob's sons, the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The manner of behavior God expected in this dispensation is much like the
previous except that He told Abraham to go to a certain land and stay there
Abraham obeyed in going to the land, but when a famine came and times
got hard he fled into Egypt for food. He could not yet trust God enough
to stay. This again shows the weakness and failure of man to live up to
God's requirements. In every dispensation man in some way fails to keep
God's word and consequently brings judgment upon himself.
Moreover, the character of the descendants of Abraham degenerated from
that of Abraham. Even though Abraham was afraid and lied in Egypt about
Sarah, Isaac seemed to lie more easily (Gen. 26:7). Jacob (meaning Deceiver
or Supplanter) was even more blatant in sin. He lied, deceived, tricked,
and schemed it appears without a second thought (Gen. 27:6-29). Likewise,
his sons (with the exception of Joseph) were even more mixed up in vice
and evil. From adultery with handmaids and harlots to murder and kidnapping
(Gen. 34:25, 37:23-36, 38:12-18), they all seemed to think lightly of sin.
The actions of everyone concerned, from Abraham on down, and the degeneration
of the character of the family in each succeeding generation caused God
to send Abraham's seed into Egypt and later into bondage. It was 430 years
from the call of Abraham to the exodus from Egypt, the length of this dispensation.
Covenant and The Dispensation of the Law
By the time Moses was born, the 75 people that went with Jacob into Egypt
had grown into millions. The new king that "knew not Joseph" put
them into heavy bondage and eventually the Israelites began to cry upon
the Lord for deliverance. God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer
from among their own—Moses. Since the self-governing of man in the dispensations
of Conscience and Promise failed, God established a highly comprehensive
and detailed dispensation where He could rule man Himself from a central
place of worship.
After revealing Himself to Moses in the wilderness, God sent Moses back
into Egypt to free his brethren from their slavery. With great signs and
wonders He performed through Moses, God forced Israel's release and brought
the people across the Red Sea to make a nation out of them as He promised
to Abraham. On their way to the promised land (Canaan), God established
His covenant with them at Mt. Sinai, and this time the covenant is completely
conditional. That is, for God to continue to do His part, the Israelites
had to continue to do theirs. The bulk of this covenant is called "the
law," a detailed list of rules and regulations concerning nearly every
aspect of life. No longer were they to be guided only by their conscience
or the opinions of other men, God had given them very specific WRITTEN
commands which were easily understood and could be consulted at any time.
In Exodus 19:5-6 God, through Moses, lays the covenant before the people
and tells them what He will do for them "if" they obey His voice.
The people of one accord reply "All that the Lord has spoken we will
do" (Ex. 19:8) and the covenant is sealed. In the next chapter God
gives them the "Ten Commandments," and in much of the rest of Exodus, nearly
all of Leviticus, and a good portion of Numbers and Deuteronomy, He reveals
more requirements. This covenant can be broken into three parts:
1. The Moral Law (Ex. 20: 1-26, the Ten Commandments, etc.).
2. The Civil (or Judicial) Law (Ex. 21:1-24:18). This was the
precepts of the judicial system for the punishment of crimes and settlement
3. The Ceremonial Law (Ex. 25:1-40:38, etc.). This was in essence
their religious system and included all the details of sacrifice and worship
(the tabernacle, priesthood, offerings, etc.).
This covenant also has a sign: the sabbath day—the seventh day
of the week (Saturday [Ex. 31:13-17]).
Here, we must remind the reader that this covenant was only between
God and the Israelites. No part of it applied to any Gentile then
and neither does it now. The moral law of God found in the Ten Commandments
is a reflection of God's nature and is profitable for anyone in any dispensation,
but doctrinally as given in Exodus and Deuteronomy they are binding
only on the Jews. All of the commandments, excluding the fifth (the sabbath),
can be found in some form in the New Testament, thus making their message
apply also to born again Christians, but as they are found in the Mosaic
Covenant, they apply ONLY to Israel.
As we have said much of the Scripture wresting that goes on today is
a result of people not properly dividing the Scriptures and forcing doctrines
from one dispensational arrangement into another. The Sabbath, for instance,
is one that is today heavily abused. God clearly states in Ex. 31:13-17
that the Sabbath is to and for the children of Israel alone and binding
on no one else. Some think since it is found in the Ten Commandments it
is an "eternal" law to everyone, but as mentioned above, no one else was
ever commanded to keep it. In fact a born again Christian is not commanded
to set apart any particular day for worship, not even the Lord's day (Sunday).
He is free to meet on any day he esteems best (Rom. 14:5). Most believers
usually meet on the Lord's day, however, by following the examples found
in the New Testament (Acts 20:7, etc.). Again, when one tries to place
a doctrine peculiar to one dispensation into another he will always end
up with heresy.
The Dispensation of the Law lasted from the exodus out of Egypt
until the cross (around 1500 years), and God kept his part of the covenant
despite many failures of the Israelites to keep theirs. Just a short period
of time after they promised to obey it, the Jews rebelled against the Lord,
but God graciously gave them many more chances to obey. When they rebelled
against Moses over the bitter water, God made the water sweet (Ex. 15:25).
When they murmured about the lack of food, God gave them manna for 40 years
(Ex. 16). When they became idolaters and worshipped the golden calf, clearly
breaking the covenant, God again had grace and mercy on them though He
had a mind to do otherwise (Ex. 32).
Over the years God was very long-suffering with Israel and overlooked
many of their transgressions. When Moses died God was gracious and gave
them another leader, Joshua. When he died God gave them judges to lead
them. When they sought to be like the heathen and wanted a king, God warned
them against it but nevertheless gave them Saul. After Saul came a man
after His own heart, David. After David, God gave them His wisdom through
Solomon, and on and on. God gave His people every advantage and opportunity
to love obey and serve Him as He desired, but the Jews were a stiff-necked
and rebellious people. With a pitiful few short periods of semi-obedience
and loyalty to their credit, the Jews were usually characterized by rebellion,
immorality, and idolatry.
Though God was long-suffering with Israel, He would not put up with
their rebellion forever, and after almost 1000 years His patience ran out.
In the meantime He sent numerous prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.)
to warn them of what He was about to do if they didn't repent, but for
the most part they either ignored them or persecuted them. God faithfully
protected Israel from her enemies for centuries, but around 606 BC, because
of their failure to return to Him, He let their enemies have them. The
Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people into Babylon to
again be slaves. Only after 70 years, after a new generation came along,
did God allow them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it under Ezra and
Nehemiah. Though they rebuilt it with the purest of intentions, they again,
over the next four centuries, degenerated and became so filled with unbelief,
self-righteousness, and hatred that they did not even recognize their
own promised Messiah when He walked among them (Jn. 1:10-11)! More
than that they mercilessly persecuted and then crucified Him! So much for
the humanistic notions there is "a spark of divinity in every man" or "man
is basically good."
God has up to this point set up five different doctrinal arrangements
with man, five different methods of testing and dealing with him, and man
has miserably failed in every one!
Covenant and The Dispensation of Grace
This covenant and dispensational arrangement is different from the others
because the covenant is given nearly 1000 years before it and its accompanying
dispensation go into effect. Instead of starting when it was first mentioned,
this covenant is not fully in effect until David's seed comes along (Jesus
Once when Israel was at peace and David was at rest from his enemies,
David wanted to do something for God and proposed building Him a permanent
house (temple) to dwell in. Through Nathan the prophet God told David He
did not yet want a house, but appreciated the thought (1 Ki. 8:18), and
He then told David He was going to make a house out of HIM.
God made three promises to David in this unconditional covenant found
in 2 Sam. 7:4-17:
1. That his house (posterity) would never cease (vs. 12-13).
2. That his throne will never be completely destroyed and continue
forever (vs. 13, 16).
3. That his earthly kingdom will also continue forever through his
promised seed (vs. 13, 16).
In some respects this covenant could be speaking of Solomon as the seed,
but Solomon's reign ended in apostasy (1 Kings 11), thus another seed of
David must be the ultimate fulfillment—the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ
is the only person who can possibly fulfill it. He is the seed of Adam,
Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David, and he is the
only person in history who fulfills the more than sixty other prophesies
God had given concerning the "seed." Before Christ was born the
angel Gabriel told Mary the son to be born of her was to be the "son
of the highest" (God), the "son of David" (man), and He would
reign on David's throne forever (Luke 1:30-33). This covenant, like the
Abrahamic Covenant continues to the gate of eternity.
Since the fulfillment of this covenant is Jesus Christ, and God is going
to keep all of His promises to David in Christ, the covenant did not come
into effect until Christ was born. That no seed of David has reigned in
Jerusalem since the Babylonian captivity has nothing to do with the fulfillment
of this covenant. It is not until after Israel's full chastisement for
rejecting Christ is completed (Tribulation) that Christ comes as a King
to reign on David's throne (Millennium). Christ came the first time as
a Servant and sacrificial Lamb; the second time He will come as
a Warrior and King.
The dispensation ushered in by the Davidic Covenant is our present
Dispensation of Grace. Again, that this dispensation is named grace
does not mean that God's grace cannot be found in the other dispensations,
only that it is more prevalent and visible in this one. God often had mercy
and grace on many in the past (Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, etc.), but now
He freely offers His saving grace to everyone through the shed blood of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
Technically, this dispensation does not begin with Christ's birth but
with his death and resurrection. It extends from the cross to the calling
up of all believers, dead or alive, at the rapture. (1 Thes. 4:13-18).
In some ways this is a parenthetical dispensation because it is in the
form of a mystery and sandwiched between the two Jewish dispensations of
Law and the Millennium.
The subject of this dispensation is a group called "the church"
or "the body of Christ." The Church is the mystery referred to in
Eph. 3:3-9 and is so named because God had not revealed in the Old Testament
that He was going to form such an organism, especially from both Jews and
Gentiles. The New Testament tells us God's purpose in the Church is to
gather a "people for His name" from all humanity, Jew and Gentile,
in Jesus Christ to (among other things) become Christ's bride. "Whosoever
will" can become a member of this living organism by simply repenting
and by faith receiving the risen Jesus Christ into his heart. No works
are required to obtain or keep this eternal salvation; all one must have
is Jesus Christ in him. Christ has promised to freely come into and save
all who will admit they are sinners, abandon all other means of salvation,
and trust Him alone as Savior.
In this dispensation God is no longer dealing with man primarily as
nations but as individuals. Every individual can have a personal
relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ and he does not have
to go through any priest or religious system to receive atonement for his
sins. Israel, as a nation, has been placed on a "back burner" because of
their blindness, but individual Jews can be saved just the same as Gentiles
until this dispensation ends. The "Church of God" is a distinct
body from both Jews and Gentiles and has many blessings these two groups
don't enjoy. God has poured many extremely rich blessings upon the saved
of this dispensation that He has not given to those of any other. Even
those saved in future dispensations do not have many of the precious treasures
the Body of Christ has now. For example:
1. The new birth (regeneration [Tit. 3:5, etc.]). There is no
clear, biblical proof that the new birth is valid in any other dispensation
(More on this later).
2. A completed atonement (described under the salvation doctrines
propitiation and redemption [Heb. 9:12; 1 Jn. 2:2]). Until
Christ's death salvation was "on credit."
3. Eternal and everlasting life that the believer cannot loose
(described under the salvation doctrines justification, adoption, reconciliation,
imputation, etc. [John 3:16, 5:24; etc.])
4. Salvation by faith alone, no works at all required to obtain
or keep it (Eph 2:8-9; etc.).
5. The indwelling Holy Spirit who comforts, empowers, and seals
believers (Eph. 4:30).
6. A position in Christ's Body and Bride (Eph. 5:30-32).
7. The promise of a supernatural body like Christ's resurrection
body (Phil. 3:21).
8. A future mansion in the New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3).
Clearly, born again Christians, by no value of their own, have been
given more blessings and promises than any other group of saved people,
all by the good pleasure and pure grace of God. Why God selected this group
to shower these amazing privileges on is fully known only by Him, but how
much more should we who are saved and partake of them obey God's wishes
with love and thanksgiving?
The obligation of believers during this dispensation is simple and direct.
Each believer is to:
1. Evangelize by preaching the gospel of the grace of God to
every creature (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15).
2. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and let Him direct his every
thought and action (Gal. 5:16; Eph.5:18).
3. Present himself as a living sacrifice for God's service and
separate himself from the world (Rom. 12:1-2).
Whether the believer obeys or disobeys these duties has nothing to do
with his salvation, but disobedience will cost him rewards and crowns at
the Judgment Seat of Christ where every believer will give account of himself
to God (Rom. 14:10).
Even with the multitude of great blessings and privileges God has showered
upon believers in Christ, this dispensation still ends in failure. Their
failure was hinted at by Christ before the cross. He said when He returned
the times would then be like the days of Noah thousands of years earlier
(Matt. 24:37-39), characterized by unrestrained rebellion, wickedness,
and apostasy. With all God has given believers in this present dispensation,
they have again willingly refused to consistently do as He commanded.
Soon Christ will return and secretly take away all the Christians to
Heaven and judgment and let the world continue, then even faster, toward
its destiny of destruction.
Sometime after the rapture, possibly immediately or maybe years later,
the Tribulation Period will began. In Jer. 30:6 this period is called
"the time of Jacob's trouble" because God is going to judge Israel
as a nation by allowing Satan to "trouble" them (through the Antichrist)
for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Though Satan will have his
own reasons for punishing the Jews, God will allow him to do it because
they said concerning Christ "crucify him, crucify him" (John 19:6)
and "his blood be on us and on our CHILDREN" (Matt. 27:25). God
simply gives them their request. This is the time period Christ was referring
to when He said, "...for then shall be great tribulation, such as was
not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be"
(Matt. 24:21). It will be disaster and sorrow on such a scale that the
strongest men will hide in caves and beg for death (Rev. 6:15-16).
When Christ said, "I am come in my father's name, and ye receive
me not, if another will come in his own name him ye will receive" (John
5:44), He was speaking of the coming Antichrist (also called "the Beast,"
"the man of sin," the "abomination of desolation," etc.). This evil
character is second only to Christ as to the amount of information the
Bible gives him. Daniel tells us he will make a covenant with Israel (Dan.
9:27) for "seven weeks" (years) and then break it in the middle
(at 42 months). Many Jews will think him to be their Messiah until he breaks
the covenant and demands to be worshipped as the God of Heaven (2 Thes.
2:4). When the Jews refuse, the Beast (now Satan incarnate) will persecute
them with a fierce vengeance. He will slaughter millions of them (and also
Gentiles who refuse to worship his image or take his mark—666, Rev. 13),
but 144,000 will be sealed by God and protected from harm.
Finally, after no more than seven years from the signing of the covenant,
Jesus Christ will return and destroy the Beast and his armies at Armageddon.
The few Jews that are left will then "look upon him whom they pierced"
and receive Christ as their true Messiah and King. At that moment God will
save them as a nation (Rom. 11:26). They will, after 20 centuries, have
finally accepted Christ for WHO He really is—"God manifest in the flesh."
Though the Tribulation will severely punish them, almost to extinction,
God was forced to allow it to get them to receive the truth. Being "stiff-necked"
(Acts 7:51) they would not accept it under any other means. Once they repent
and receive Jesus Christ, they are then ready to receive the kingdom promised
to their fathers Abraham and David.
Dispensationally, the Tribulation period is basically the Dispensation
of the Law with a few added features. Since the Church will have left
in the rapture, the parenthetical Dispensation of Grace will be
gone along with the doctrines unique to it. Thus the nation of Israel will
again be the main object of God's concern. There will be a temple in the
Tribulation, sacrifices will be offered, and salvation will again
have a Jewish ring to it. More on this in the following chapters.
Covenant, The New Covenant, and The Messianic Dispensation
1400 years before Christ, at the end of their 40 years of wandering in
the wilderness, God made another covenant with Israel besides the one He
made at Mt. Sinai. Called the Palestinian Covenant because they
were about to enter the land of Palestine, the covenant contains a promise
of what God will do for them when they repent of their sins and return
to Him after a period of rebellion. God promised after He dispersed them
among the nations as punishment for future disobedience (ultimately the
rejection of Christ), He would regather and return them to their land after
they repent. This covenant is closely linked with the Mosaic Covenant,
and some say the two are joined together at the beginning of the Millennium.
It is found in Deut. 30:1-10 and its specific elements are:
1. Israel's dispersion for disobedience (vs. 1). Though Israel is a
nation today, more Jews live in New York City than in the land of Palestine.
The bulk of the Jews on earth are still scattered and those in Israel do
not possess all the land promised to them.
2. Their (foreknown) repentance while dispersed (vs. 2). This is during
3. The return of the Lord (vs. 3). Christ will personally regather
them after the Tribulation.
4. The restoration of all their land (vs. 5). Christ will give them
the entire land grant promised to Abraham.
5. Their national conversion (vs. 6). All Israel will be saved (nationally)
in a day (Rom. 11:26).
6. The judgment of their enemies and oppressors (vs. 7). The judgment
of the nations (Matt. 25).
7. Their national blessing and prosperity (vs. 9).
This covenant comes into effect at the end of the Tribulation period
when the remaining Jews see the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and receive
Him as their Messiah. They will nationally repent and mourn for their sin
of rejecting Him and admit before all their acceptance of Him as King.
God will then, in Christ, forgive them and bless them as He desired to
bless them from their beginning. He will give them all the land promised
to their fathers and reign over them Himself from Jerusalem. Christ will
judge their enemies at the Judgment of Nations (Matt. 25:31-46) and place
the other nations under them in privilege and importance. Israel will be
the premier nation on earth, and that purely by the promise and good pleasure
of God. This covenant lasts, at least, until the end of the Millennium.
The New Covenant is called "new" because unlike the previous
covenants it has not yet been made. It was promised in Jer. 31:31-37 and
confirmed again in Heb. 8:7-13, but it has not yet been officially given
to the nation of Israel. Again, after the Jews repent and receive Christ
as their Messiah, God will formally establish this unconditional covenant
with them. This is the "new testament" Jesus was referring to in
Matt. 26:28 when He said, "for this is my blood of the new testament,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Thus this covenant
is based on the shed blood and atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Many today insist this New Covenant doctrinally applies to the present
"church age," but this is another wresting of Scripture. By letting the
Scriptures speak for themselves one can easily see that the New Covenant
only applies doctrinally to "the house of Israel" and "the house
of Judah" (Jer. 31:31, Heb. 8:8). It has nothing to do with the born
again believer or the present Dispensation of Grace. The main thrust of
this "new testament" is not the Church Age, but a future covenant
with Israel based on the atoning death of the Jewish "testator,"
Jesus Christ. Of course, the salvation Christ bought with His blood is
available to all today, Jew or Gentile, but as found in Jeremiah and Hebrews
the New Covenant will apply only to Israel. The specifics of this covenant
are (as found in Jeremiah 31):
1. God will put His laws in each individual's heart (vs. 33).
2. God will again be their God and Israel His people (vs. 33).
3. There will no longer be any preaching or witnessing because all
Jews will know the Lord (vs. 34).
4. God will completely forgive them and remember their sin no more
5. It is as permanent as day and night, the moon and stars, the waves
of the sea, and the unmeasurable vastness of the earth and heavens (vs.
This covenant is in effect from the beginning of the Millennium through
to the gate of eternity.
The Messianic Dispensation (the Millennium), along with the New
Covenant, will begin when the Palestinian Covenant is fulfilled
at the end of the Tribulation. This dispensation is the "golden
age" and "utopia" man today dreams about. It will be characterized by a
perfect, righteous, and holy Ruler, universal righteousness, world peace,
greatly reduced sickness and death, extended life span, gentleness and
compatibility of wildlife, more cooperative earth for crops, perfect climate
and environment, no random natural disasters, most of the curses lifted,
little or no crime, and the binding of man's constant enemy, Satan.
In the Millennium man will have everything he says today he wants, but
will he fare any better in this dispensation than in the others? Hardly.
There are scores of passages in the Old Testament concerning this blessed
period, and in the New Testament it is called the "kingdom of heaven"
(Matt. 3:2, 5:3). The kingdom of heaven truly was "at hand" when
Christ began His earthly ministry, but when the Jews rejected the King
it was postponed until they were willing to receive Him. The "sermon on
the mount" (Matt. ch. 5-7) will essentially be the Constitution of this
kingdom and lay down the rules and principles of behavior required in it.
During this 1000 year period, Christ will rule with a "rod of iron"
and compel everyone to obey these principles and His will. Those who don't
will be punished (Zech. 14:16-19).
With Satan bound in the bottomless pit and no longer able to influence
nations or individuals for evil (Rev. 20:2), man will not be able to blame
him for their sins. God will remove every form of outside negative influence
during the Millennium, thus giving man every opportunity to do right. But
even in this much sought after environment man will ultimately fail. It
appears that during this period the people will begin to get tired of compelled
obedience and of the righteous King in Jerusalem and rebel against Christ
in their heart (Jer. 17:9). At the end of the 1000 years, God will release
Satan from prison and give him access to the nations one last time. Very
quickly Satan will organize a revolt against Christ and form a huge army
to oust Him from Jerusalem. He will likely use pride to convince man he
can do a better job "governing himself" (remember the Dispensation of
Human Government?). The entire revolt is devoured by fire from Heaven
and Satan's usefulness to God is over (Rev. 20:9).
It has taken God seven dispensations to do it, but He has proved his
point. The problem with man is not his circumstances or misfortune,
neither is it his environment or upbringing, man's number one problem
is HIMSELF. Man by nature is evil, and no matter what kind
of world or environment he is placed in he will remain evil. The only remedy
is God must give him a new heart (2 Cor. 5:17).
During this time those who make up the body of Christ and have gone
up in the rapture will reign with Christ from Jerusalem. They may act as
His ambassadors to the nations enforcing His righteousness all over the
earth. Nevertheless, each born again believer's old sinful nature will
be literally and forever dead, leaving him with no capacity for
sin. He will also have a supernatural, glorified body like Christ's (Phil.
3:21). Therefore, he cannot rebel with the world against Christ, he has
already went through his testing period. The Jews and Gentiles that enter
into the Millennium from the Tribulation, however, will still have only
their natural bodies and the same old sinful Adamic nature all sinners
are born with.
The New Heavens,
The New Earth, and The New Jerusalem
After the rebellion at the end of the Millennium and the destruction of
all those involved, God's series of testing periods for man will be over;
the time for final judgment will have come. God will judge everyone who
has not been judged before in a final, all encompassing judgment at the
Great White Throne. Every saved person from Adam to the end of the
Millennium who was not part of a group that was previously judged (like
the Church), along with every person of every other age who died lost will
be resurrected to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and be judged according
to their works. Those whose names are found in the "book of life"
will be granted the privilege to enter into the New Heaven and New Earth.
Those whose are not found in the book will be cast into the "lake of
fire," there to spend eternity in torment (Rev. 20).
Many today claim there will be no saved people from any dispensation
before the White Throne for judgment, but what about those saved in the
Tribulation and Millennium? There is no other judgment to cover
these people. We agree no saved person from the present Dispensation
of Grace will be judged there because the "Judgment Seat of Christ"
will cover them, but those saved in other dispensations must be judged
at some time (Heb. 9:27), and this is the only judgment left. These people
will have their names recorded in the book of life when they are saved;
the Great White Throne Judgment will simply reveal their salvation,
and their works, to all.
While the above judgment is in progress, God will be forming the New
Heaven and the New Earth. He will do this by renovating the old heaven
and earth with fire, melting the elements and purging them from the contamination
of sinful man and preparing them for future habitation. The White Throne
Judgment apparently occurs in the void of space.
After the judgment and renovation God will be ready to establish His
final dispensational arrangement. Calling this arrangement a dispensation
may not be entirely accurate because it has no clear ending. It appears
to join with eternity. Furthermore, three covenants will still be in effect
at this time, the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants; therefore,
the nation of Israel will still be in existence (Isa. 66:22).
Including Israel there will be three distinct groups of people in this
final arrangement. Israel will be made up of saved Jews from every dispensation
except the Dispensation of Grace; the second group will be saved
Gentiles from every dispensation except Grace; and the third group will
be all those saved, Jew and Gentile, in the Dispensation of Grace—the
Bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ is a fixed number that cannot
increase or decrease after the rapture, but the other two groups can increase
Since there will be no more death (Rev. 21:4), the kingdom will increase
and rapidly fill the earth and then spread throughout the heavens. Isaiah
9:7 says, "of the increase of his government there shall be no end,"
thus Christ's kingdom may expand from earth to the other planets, then
to the stars and beyond towards infinity. After 7000 years of dealing with
man, God has redeemed those who obeyed him and put them in a suitable condition
to populate the universe. Out of billions and billions of people who have
lived on earth, God has saved a relatively small remnant and these now
love Him in return. With
them God may begin to populate the entire universe.
The Bride of Christ will dwell in New Jerusalem, a city prepared
by Christ for her habitation that contains "many mansions." The city will
descend from Heaven to earth and among other things contain the throne
of God and the "tree of life" (Rev. 21). At this point God will
have in some respects made a complete circle in His dealings with man.
The Bible begins with man in a garden with the "tree of life," and
after more than 7000 years of revealing many things to him, God has him
again in a garden like setting with a tree that brings life.
Although there are other more minor divisions in the Bible one could
mention, the eight major divisions we have outlined above are the ones
most essential for understanding the Scriptures. If a believer will spend
a little time in study and by noting these divisions keep the different
issues separate and the alike together, he will be well on his way to understanding
God's program for man and all creation as He has revealed it. Things that
are different are not the same, and in the Bible the difference is often
in the dispensations.
The Great Lesson
Of the many things God has showed man through the dispensations, the lesson
that should stand out above the others is that man is a hopeless rebel,
utter failure, and without hope without God. He is simply not capable
of living up to God's righteous standard no matter how "enlightened" and
able he may think he is.
Place him in a beautiful garden with everything he needs, including
fellowship with God, a beautiful and compatible wife, the earth under his
dominion, access to the Tree of Life, etc., and man will forsake it
all and choose death. Leave him alone with his conscience to guide
him and man will become so exceedingly wicked that he must be removed
from the earth with a flood. Give him great and sure promises and man will
flee them and speak lies in unbelieving fear. Make of him a chosen
nation for God to speak through and dwell among, with His holy Law and
priesthood, and man will abandon his God and worship dumb idols.
Give him an eternal redemption from sin and hell, everlasting life, an
indwelling Holy Spirit, the promise of a new body, a home in New Jerusalem,
and birth him into God's own family making him His son, and man will repay
his Savior with rebellion, worldliness, and indifference. Give him
a perfect, uncursed earth, a cooperative environment, no Satan to tempt
him, extended lifespan, and Jesus Christ himself to reign over him, and
man will revolt and try to force Christ from His throne. All is
clear. Man is a wicked, vile, evil, selfish, and vain creature, and apart
from God he is utterly hopeless and bound for hell. The surest proof of
this is God is near the last millennium of his dealings with man (now 6000
years along), and man collectively has not learned this ONE lesson yet!
Go To Chapter II