I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
I want to return to our ongoing study we have entitled, “God’s Plan for the Ages.”
Since it has been so long since our last post along this line, it would be helpful to review what exactly we mean when we speak of, “dispensations.” By simple definition a dispensation is the management of a household. The word, “dispensation” appears four times in the King James Version: 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; and, Colossians 1:25. Lets take a look at these four verses:
“For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” [1 Corinthians 9:17 KJV Emphasis added]
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” [Ephesians 1:10 KJV Emphasis added]
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:”[Eph. 3:2 KJV Emphasis added]
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;” [Col. 1:25 KJV Emphasis added]
In all four of these verses from the King James Version, the word, “dispensation” translates the Greek word, oikonomia, which is the management of a household or household affairs. It is the management, oversight, or administration of the property of another. This same Greek word is translated in some other translations as: “stewardship” (NKJV, NASB, ESV, LEB, AMP); “Work” (CJB); “administration” (HCSB). It is not only how God has dealt with man through the various ages of time, but more importantly, the study of dispensations reveal man’s responsibility to God, and how man related to and was responsible to God in the various ages. We are stewards overseeing God’s household or property.
Most dispensational scholars see seven distinct and specific dispensations in the scriptures:
- Human Government
- The Millennial Kingdom
Finis Dake in his Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, saw nine distinct dispensations. However, for our study, we will stick with the seven above.
Thus far in our study, we have looked at: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, and Promise. The Dispensation of Promise takes in the time of the calling of Abram in Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31), to the time when God brought His people out of Egypt and brought them to Sinai. We know from at least two passages of scripture that this was a period of some 430 years (Ex. 12:40; Gal. 3:17).
When God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, He did so with a desire to separate to Himself a people, from whom He would make a great nation, a peculiar people, distinct from all others. The Lord wanted a holy people, an elect race that would be a special possession to Him (see Deut. 7:6). It was God’s intention that Israel should be a pure theocracy both politically and religiously.
Right in the midst of a corrupt and idolatrous society, Israel as a sanctified nation, was to display her devotion and loyalty to Jehovah – the one who had separated her to Himself. Israel was God’s chosen people, upon whom He lavished His blessings and who were led by His continued presence (Ex. 14:19).
God bound Himself to Israel through the Covenant He made with Abraham. Just how important was it? It was so important that God confirmed it six times to Abraham and twice to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 12:1 – 3; 13:14 – 17; 15:1 – 7; 17:1 – 8, etc.). The seed of Abraham was symbolized by “the stars of the heaven” (Gen. 22:17), which spoke of a spiritual posterity, and the “sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen. 22:17), or, “the dust of the Earth” (Gen. 13:16), which spoke of the physical posterity. It is important to understand that the blessings of the Covenant were spiritual as well as physical.
The Bible makes it clear that God’s Covenant with Abraham is eternal. No provision was made for its recall. The Dispensation of Law did not revoke the provisions and blessings of the Covenant:
“17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” [Gal. 3:17, 18 NKJV]
The promises are definitely all going to be fulfilled, and Israel is guaranteed an everlasting continuance as a nation with eternal possession of the Promised Land. Israel exists as a nation, as a people today, back in their homeland after 2,000 years in diaspora, because of the eternal Covenant between Yahweh God and Abraham! Don’t listen to the lie which says that the sins of Israel, primarily that of rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, have transferred the Covenant blessings from Israel to the Church, which has become “Spiritual Israel.” In essence this teaching, known as “Replacement Theology”, states God will no longer deal with Israel because the Covenant was broken. The Apostle Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, showed clearly that God has not cast off Israel forever, but will fulfill the Covenant just as He promised:
“ I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS. Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” [Romans 11:1, 2a, 25 – 29 NKJV]
It is important to understand that which Paul is saying here. If correctly understood, it should put to rest the notion that God has permanently cast off His people Israel. According to the Prophets Paul quotes here, Israel, regathered from all the nations of the world, restored to her own land and fulfilled in her Messiah, is yet to have her greatest earthly exaltation and glory (See Zechariah 12:8 – 10; 13:1 – 9; Amos 9:11 – 15; Micah 4:1 – 8; Isaiah 59:20, 21). Further, the Prophet Jeremiah declared that only if the sun, moon, and stars departed, would Israel cease to be a nation (Jeremiah 31:35, 36). The Prophet Ezekiel prophesied:
“Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.” [Ezek. 37:25 Emphasis added]
Even though the moral and spiritual failure of Israel has resulted in untold misery and punishment through the centuries, Israel’s transgression has not defeated the plan of God, or permanently alienated His people from Him. If you don’t believe that, or if such a notion doesn’t fit your theological construct, then I say it as kindly as I can; your disagreement is not with me, but with the once and for all settled written Word of God. God’s Covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled.
We are discussing the Dispensation of Law in this study. How long a period of time did it take in? The Dispensation of Law generally speaking lasted from Moses to Jesus Christ and specifically from the Exodus from Egypt to the preaching of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah:
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” [John 1:17]
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” [Matt. 11:12, 13]
““The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” [Luke 16:16]
This Dispensation lasted for approximately 1,718 years. We can calculate this from the following:
- 41 years from the Exodus to the entrance into Canaan
- 520 years (or more) from the entrance into Canaan to the reign of King Saul
- 513 years from King Saul to the Babylonian captivity
- 164 years from the Babylonian captivity to the Restoration
- 480 years from the Restoration to Christ’s ministry introduced by John the Baptist
This makes for a total of 1,718 years (or more) from Moses to Christ or from the Exodus to the preaching of John the Baptist.
We have laid some foundation for our continued study this time. Next time, I would like to look at the prophetic period of time referred to by Jesus as, “The Time of the Gentiles.” This time figured very prominently in the Dispensation of Law, as throughout it, Israel continued to be more or less dominated by Gentile powers. It figures very prominently prophetically in our time as well.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson