I hope you are enjoying these posts on “God’s Plan for the Ages – Dispensations.” Again, I believe studying and interpreting the scriptures in a dispensational manner gives the student of God’s Word the “big picture.” We can see the wisdom, patience, and great love of God as He has “little by little, precept upon precept, line upon line” worked with man with the goal and purpose in mind of redeeming man back unto Himself. The great plan of Salvation was determined by the God-head before the “foundation of the Earth.” The Lord Jesus Christ was, according to scripture, “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the Earth.” [See Rev. 13:8]
This is really a very deep, yet beautiful truth. “Foundation” is the Greek, katabole. It is from the word, kataballo, which carries with it the meaning of, “to throw or cast down, or, to lay.” The feminine noun, katabole, is a picture of laying down, or throwing down a seed. It is the word in Greek used for the depositing of the virile semen in the womb of a woman, or the seed of plants and animals. It is also the word used for laying down a foundation for a building. So, before anything was ever brought forth in a creative sense, before even the life giving seed of all living things was ever sown, before the foundation of the created order was ever laid, God had our salvation all planned. He had the great plan of redemption determined. It had been determined that the second member of the God-head, whom we know as Jesus the Son, would at an appointed time, step into time and space as the God-Man, live and walk among humanity for thirty-three and a half years; and then lay down His life, shed His blood, to satisfy the demands of divine justice and redeem man-kind back to God. Our only part in any of this is to simply confess Him as Lord and believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. [See Rom. 10:9, 10]
Through the ages of time, at specific periods of time, God has made man responsible to Him in different manners. God has dealt with man by specific means, all with an end in mind, all with an awesome purpose, a goal in view; and that of course being the great plan of Salvation. These periods of time we refer to as Dispensations. I think we see a hint of this Truth in Hebrews 1:1, 2: God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…[Heb. 1:1, 2 NKJV]
We are in this current series looking at these Dispensations. We are at the fourth of these, referred to as, the Dispensation of Promise. It was a period of 430 years, covering the time from the call of Abram (later Abraham), to the call of Moses and the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt.
Last time we looked at the initial call of Abram to leave his father’s house and his land, Ur of the Chaldees, to go to an unknown destination that God promised to show him. This took a great deal of faith and consecration on Abram’s part. He moved out simply on a revelation from God.
We read that after Abram left Sichem, he pitched his tent toward Bethel, which means, house of God. There he built an Altar to the Lord and worshiped. When a famine struck the land, Abram continued his journey and “went down” into Egypt. [See Gen. 12:10.] In biblical typology, Egypt is a type of the World, or the world-system. When Abram “went down” into Egypt, or the world, it typified his failure, because he was to remain in the land.
Because he feared that the Egyptians would kill him and take his wife, Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians that she was his “sister” [Gen. 12:11 – 13]. This was not a total lie, as she was his half sister [Gen. 20:12]. The sin really was not the half lie, as much as it was his failure to believe that God would protect both himself and Sarai. He should have realized that the Egyptians could not have killed him, because he had no seed as yet, and God was bound by His own Word to keep His promise to Abram!
As is always the case, “your sin will find you out” [Num. 32:23]. Pharaoh discovered that Sarai was Abram’s wife, and commanded her and Abram to depart [Gen. 12:14 – 20].
Therefore, Abram then “went up” out of Egypt, and it is recorded that he was “very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” [Gen. 13:2]. There is a lesson to be learned here. It is important that we as God’s people move only in the perfect Will of God. It is the place of safety and blessing.
Many years had passed since the Call of Abram and God’s Covenant with him. Still the Promise had not come to pass. Abram did not have a great name. There was no great Nation, not even a son! Why was this the case? It may have been due to Abram’s incomplete obedience to the command “get you out of your Country, AND FROM YOUR KINDRED” [Gen. 12:1 Emphasis added]. And so Abram returned to Bethel and “called on the Name of the LORD” [Gen. 13:4]; and, no doubt, he repented for his doubt and unbelief.
It was at this point that Abram was forced to obey fully the Command of the Lord to separate from his kindred, for the land had become too small for Abram and Lot to dwell together with all of their flocks, herds, tents, and possessions [Gen. 13:5 – 7]. The Canaanites and the Perizzites (giant races) also were dwelling in the land. Therefore, Abram and his nephew decided to part from one another.
Abram gave Lot the first choice of the land. Lot chose the plain of Jordan, and “pitched his tent toward Sodom” and the cities of the plain. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan [Gen. 13:8 – 12]. After Abram fully obeyed the Lord, God confirmed His Covenant once again with him. [See Gen. 13:14 – 17] This second confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant concerned both Abram’s descendants as well as the land the Lord promised to he and his “seed”. It is important to keep in mind that the promise was to come through Abram and Sarai’s son, Isaac. We will say more concerning this shortly. It is also important to note that while many of God’s Promises are conditional (meaning that God has his part, and we have ours to bring about the fulfillment of them), the Promises made to Abram concerning his “seed” and the land were unconditional and guaranteed by Covenant. [See Gen. 15:8 – ff; Heb. 6:13, 14]
All of the Tribes mentioned in Genesis 15:19 – 21 refer to the giant races that inhabited the land God intended for Abram and his seed. The Rephaimsmentioned in Genesis 14:5 and 15:20 were also giants. In fact, the word is translated “giants” in several scriptures [Deut. 2:11; 3:11; Josh. 12:4; 17:15; II Sam. 21:22; I Chron. 20:4; et al]. The word translated “giants” in Genesis 6:4 in the KJV, NKJV, and a few others is the Hebrew nephilim and also refers to the giant races. The NASB and some other newer translations transliterate the word rather than translating it. The word “giants” actually comes from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.
At any rate, one of the last surviving members of the Tribe of Rephaim was Og, the king of Bashan, who stood nearly 13 feet tall! His bedstead was a bedstead of iron and measured 13 ½ feet long by 6 feet wide [Deut. 3:11]! Argob, one of the cities of Bashan, was known as “the land of sacred romance,” which has obvious reference to the cohabitation of the Sons of God (fallen angels) with the daughters of men, whose offspring became the giant races [See Gen. 6:4]. The remains of ancient Bashan show that the houses were constructed mainly of marble, with ceilings and doors measuring from 10 to 30 feet high! Goliath, whom David killed, stood over nine feet tall, and his coat of armor weighed 125 pounds [1 Sam. 17:4 – 6]! The forces of David killed the remaining giants [2 Sam. 21:22], one of whom was described as being of great stature and as having six fingers on both hands and six toes on both feet [2 Sam. 21:20]! It is possible that the pyramids of Egypt, the giant cities of Bashan, and other huge monolithic monuments were the result of the labor and skill of these giant creatures. If not, their origin remains a puzzling mystery. These giant races caused the Israelites continual struggle until finally they were killed.
After 15 years had passed, Abram and Sarai still did not have the son God had promised them. Therefore, Sarai sought to assist God by suggesting that Abram take her maid, Hagar, to be his wife and bear him a son [Gen. 16:1 – 3]. This was legal, for according to civil law the children of slaves belonged to the master. After Hagar conceived, Sarai was angry (and probably jealous) that the events had come to pass. Because the law would not permit Sarai to sell Hagar under such circumstances, she “dealt hardly with her,” making her life so miserable that she finally fled [Gen. 16:4 – 8].
“The Angel of the LORD” (who was the preincarnate Christ) appeared to Hagar and commanded her to return to Sarai and to submit under her hands, for He said:
“I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” [Gen. 16:10 -12 NKJV]
The Lord told Hagar that her son also would father a great nation. The characteristics that were given concerning Ishmael were certainly true of himself, but also have been true of his descendants, the Arabs,throughout history and even today!
It was not God’s plan for Abram to obtain the Promised son in this manner, and it brought about trouble and sorrow for the entire family. Abram was 86 years of age when Ishmael was born (Gen. 16:16), and after 13 more years he still did not have the Promised son!
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. [Gen. 17:1 NKJV]
We will talk about the Lord for the first time revealing himself as, El Shaddi, the all-sufficient one, the God who is MORE than enough, plus much more next time.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson