DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY:

IS IT BIBLICAL?

I) AN INTRODUCTION TO DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

A) A SIMPLE DEFINITION OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

[Renald E. Showers states, (THERE REALLY IS A DIFFERENCE! A COMPARISON OF COVENANT AND DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., Bellmawr, N.J., 1991, p. 27-53)]:

"Dispensational Theology can be defined very simply as a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible's philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God. It represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by several dispensations of God's rule."

C. I. Scofield states, (THE NEW SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE, NIV, Oxford Univ. Press., New York, 1967, p. 3):

"A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect to his obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.

Three important concepts are implied in this definition:

(1) a deposit of divine revelation concerning God's will, embodying what God requires of man as to his conduct

(2) man's stewardship of this divine revelation, in which he is responsible to obey it

(3) a time-period, often called an 'age,' during which this divine revelation is dominant in the testing of man's obedience to God.

The dispensations are a progressive and connected revelation of God's dealings with man, given sometimes to the whole race and at other times to a particular people, Israel. These different dispensations are not separate ways of salvation. During each of them man is reconciled to God in only one way, i.e., by God's grace through [faith in] the work of Christ that was accomplished on the cross and vindicated in His resurrection. Before the cross man was saved in prospect of Christ's atoning sacrifice, through believing the revelation thus far given him. Since the cross man has been saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ in Whom revelation and redemption are consummated.

On man's part the continuing requirement is obedience to the revelation of God. This obedience is a stewardship of faith. Although the divine revelation unfolds progressively, the deposit of truth in the earlier time-periods is not discarded; rather it is cumulative. Thus conscience (moral responsibility) is an abiding truth in human life (Rom. 2:15; 9:1; 2 Cor 1:12; 4:2), although it does not continue as dispensation. Similarly, the saved of this present dispensation are 'not under law' as a specific test of obedience to divine revelation (Gal. 5:18; cp. Gal. 2:16; 3:11), yet the law remains an integral part of the Holy Scriptures which, to the redeemed, are profitable for 'training in righteousness' (2 Tim. 3:16-17; cp. Rom. 15:4).

The purpose of each dispensation, then, is to place man under a specific rule of conduct, but such stewardship is not a condition of salvation. In every past dispensation unregenerate man has failed, and he has failed in this present dispensation and will in the future. But salvation has been and will continue to be available to him by God's grace through faith.

Seven dispensations are distinguished in this edition of the Bible: Innocence (Gen 1:28); Conscience or Moral Responsibility (Gen 3:7); Human Government (Gen 8:15); Promise (Gen 12:1); Law (Ex 19:1); Church (Acts 2:1); Kingdom (Rev 20:4)..."

[Showers, cont.]:

B) HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF DISPENSATIONALISM

There is evidence from early church writers of dispensational thinking. Ref. "The Moody Handbook of Theology" by Paul Ennis.

Writings of Justin Martyr, (A.D. 110-165)

Iranaeus (A.D. 130-200)

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-220)

Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

Pierre Poiret (1646-1719)

John Edwards (1637-1716)

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

C.I. Scofield (1843-1921)

Lewis Sperry Chafer

Charles Ryrie

Dwight Pentecost

John Walvoord

C) THE MEANING OF THE WORD DISPENSATION

The word which is translated dispensation in the New Testament is oikonomia, from which the English word economy is derived. The New Testament word is a combination of two words - oikos, which means house and nemo, which means to dispense, manage, or hold sway. 11 Thus, the word literally means house dispensing or house managing.

It 'relates primarily to household administration.'12

The English word dispensation sometimes refers to 'the system by which things are administered' and 'the divine administration of conduct of the world.' Theologically it is 'A religious order or system, conceived as divinely instituted, or as a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs of a particular nation or period of time.'13

The English word economy in its theological usage refers to 'The method of the divine government of the world, or of a specific department or portion of that government.'14

D) THE USAGE OF THE WORD FOR DISPENSATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

The word oikonomia appears nine times in the New Testament. In six of these appearances (Lk. 16:2-4; 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25) it is translated stewardship or dispensation and refers to a responsible office or ministry entrusted to one's care by a higher authority. In the other three appearances (Eph 1:10; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:4) it is translated dispensation, fellowship, and edifying in the King James Version and administration in the New American Standard Bible. In these three passages it refers to a particular way of God's administering His rule over the world. Ephesians 1:10 is of special interest, for it appears to refer to the particular way that God will administer His rule in the coming Millennium (the Millennial Dispensation). Ephesians 3:9 and 1 Timothy 1:4 refer to the particular way that God administers His rule now (the present dispensation).

E) DEFINITION OF THE TERM DISPENSATION AS IT RELATES TO DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

In light of the usage of the word for dispensation in the New Testament, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God's administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose for world history.

F) ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH DISPENSATION

In order for each dispensation to be distinct from all other dispensations, it must have three essential characteristics.

1) FIRST IT MUST HAVE A PARTICULAR WAY OF GOD'S ADMINISTERING HIS RULE

Each dispensation is characterized by a unique ruling factor or combination of ruling factors.

2) SECOND IT MUST INVOLVE A PARTICULAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAN

Each dispensation makes man responsible to obey God in accordance with it unique ruling factor or combination of factors.

3) THIRD, IT MUST BE CHARACTERIZED BY DIVINE REVELATION WHICH HAD NOT BEEN GIVEN BEFORE

In order for man to know God's new way of ruling and his new responsibility, he must have these things revealed to him. Each new dispensation requires new revelation from God. 15

4) [Eph 3:2-10]:

For example, Paul indicated that the present dispensation is definitely related to new revelation which God gave to the apostles and New Testament prophets:

(v. 2) "Surely you have heard about the administration [oikonomian = dispensation] of God's grace that was given to me for you,

(v. 3) that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.

(v. 4) In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

(v. 5) which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

(v. 6) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

(v. 7) I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power.

(v. 8) Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

(v. 9) and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

(v. 10) His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,"

G) SECONDARY CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH DISPENSATION

The fact that each new dispensation involves a newly revealed responsibility for man indicates that each dispensation also has three secondary characteristics.

1) FIRST, EACH DISPENSATION APPLIES A TEST TO MAN

The nature of the test is whether or not man will perfectly obey God's rule by fulfilling the responsibility which is characteristic of that dispensation.

2) SECOND, EACH DISPENSATION DEMONSTRATES THE FAILURE OF MAN TO OBEY THE PARTICULAR RULE OF GOD WHICH CHARACTERIZES THAT DISPENSATION.

3) THIRD, EACH DISPENSATION INVOLVES DIVINE JUDGMENT BECAUSE OF MAN'S FAILURE.16

H) SOME IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

In order to understand the approach of Dispensational Theology to the Bible's philosophy of history, several important points of clarification must be taken into consideration.

1) THE DIFFERENT DISPENSATIONS ARE DIFFERENT WAYS OF GOD'S ADMINISTERING HIS RULE OVER THE WORLD. THEY ARE NOT DIFFERENT WAYS OF SALVATION.

Throughout history God has employed several dispensations but only one way of salvation. Salvation has always been by the grace of God through faith... [alone in Christ alone]

2) A DISPENSATION IS NOT AN AGE OF HISTORY, EVEN THOUGH A DISPENSATION MAY COVER THE SAME TIME PERIOD AS AN AGE.

A dispensation is a particular way of God's administering His rule, but an age is a particular period of time.

3) A DISPENSATION MAY INVOLVE A PARTICULAR WAY OF GOD'S ADMINISTERING HIS RULE OVER ALL OF ANY KIND OR OVER ONLY ONE SEGMENT OF MANKIND.

For example, the Dispensation of Human Government was over all of mankind, but the Dispensation of the Mosaic Law was over only the nation of Israel.

4) A NEW DISPENSATION MAY CONTINUE OR DISCONTINUE SOME RULING FACTORS OF PREVIOUS DISPENSATIONS, BUT IT WILL HAVE AT LEAST ONE NEW RULING FACTOR NEVER INTRODUCED BEFORE.

Dispensational Theologians normally name each new dispensation after the new ruling factor or factors.

5) EACH NEW DISPENSATION DEMANDS NEW REVELATION. GOD MUST REVEAL HIS NEW WAY OF RULING AND MAN'S NEW RESPONSIBILITY NEAR THE BEGINNING OF EACH DISPENSATION.

Since Dispensational Theology recognizes several successive dispensations, it has a strong concept of progressive revelation.

I) CONCLUDING REMARKS

Numerous things in the Bible indicate that God has employed different dispensations or ways of administering His rule throughout history. For example, before the Noahic Flood God did not institute capital punishment for murderers...

[Gen. 4:9-15]:

(v. 9) "Then the LORD said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don't know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother's keeper?'

(v. 10) The LORD said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.

(v. 11) Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.

(v. 12) When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.'

(v. 13) Cain said to the lord , 'My punishment is more than I can bear.

(v. 14) Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.'

(v. 15) But the LORD said to him, 'Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over'

[Notice that there is no capital punishment commanded here]

Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him."

...but He did institute [capital punishment] after the flood....

[Gen 9:5-6]:

(v. 5) " 'And for your lifeblood I [God, (v. 1)] will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

(v. 6) Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.' "

...Between the giving of the Mosaic Law and the death of Christ, God commanded that adulterers in Israel be put to death...

[Lev 20:10]:

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife - with the wife of his neighbor - both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."

(Cp. Dt. 22:22; Jn. 8:5)

...but since the death of Christ God does not so command...

[1 Cor. 6:9-11]:

(v. 9) "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

(v. 10) nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

(v. 11) And that is what some of you were. [Notice that although some of them were adulterers and sexual offenders they are being addressed, i.e., they are alive and no mention of being liable for their lives for such offences, instead they have been forgiven]: But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

...While the Mosaic Law was in effect, God required Jews to worship on Saturday...

[Ex. 20:8-11]:

(v. 8) "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

(v. 9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

(v. 10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant of maidservant, nor you animals, nor the alien within your gates.

(v. 11) For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

...but since the death of Christ God does not so require...

[Rom. 14:4-6]:

(v. 4) "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

(v. 5) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

(v. 6) He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord...."

[Cp Col. 2:13-17]:

...God's people today do not offer animal sacrifices for sins, but people before Christ's death were required to do so.

FOOTNOTES FOR SECTION I:

1 For an excellent demonstration of this, see the two-part series 'Rudiments of Dispensationalism in the Ante-Nicene Period' by Larry V. Crutchfield in the July-September and October-December 1987 issues of Bibliotheca Sacra.

2. A. C. Coxe (ed.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, II, 476.

3. Augustine, To Marcellinus, CSSSVIII, 5, 7.

4. Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), p. 71.

5. Ibid., p. 72.

6. Ibid., p. 73.

7. William A. BeVier, 'A biographical Sketch of C.I. Scofield' (unpublished Master's Thesis, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, 1960), p. 25.

8. Ibid., p. 74.

9. Ibid., p. 95.

10. Ibid., p. 90-91.

11. Liddell and Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: The Clarendon Press), p. 528.

12. Otto Michel, 'Oikonomia, 'Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. V., ed. by Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 151.

13 The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1933), III, p. 481.

14 Ibid., III, p. 35.

15 Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, pp. 37-38.

16 Ibid., pp. 38-39.

II) AN EXAMINATION OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

A) THE DISPENSATION OF INNOCENCY

1) INTRODUCTION

Traditionally Dispensational Theologians have called the first dispensation the Dispensation of Innocency. Since Dispensational Theologians normally name each new dispensation after its new ruling factor or factors, it might be better to call the first dispensation the Dispensation of an unconfirmed Favorable Disposition. The reason for this suggested name will be seen later.

The first dispensation began with the creation of man and ended with the fall of man from God. The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Genesis 1:26-3:24.

2) RULING FACTOR: AN UNCONFIRMED FAVORABLE DISPOSITION TOWARD GOD

The ruling factor which God used to govern man during the first dispensation was an unconfirmed favorable disposition. Before man fell, he was favorably disposed toward God. Adam and Eve fellowshipped with God. They obeyed God by cultivating the Garden of Eden in accordance with His will. They did not run and hide from Him when He approached them. These things indicate that man originally had a disposition which was favorably oriented toward God.

It should be noted, however, that this favorable disposition was unconfirmed. This means that man was not locked into it forever. He could lose it by his own choice.

Man's favorable disposition toward God was unconfirmed because man had not chosen it for himself. It had been given to him by God at the time of his creation. When God created Adam, He gave him this type of disposition in accordance with His own sovereign choice. He did not show Adam all the types of dispositions which were possible and then give him the option of deciding which type he wanted.

The only way that man's favorable disposition could become confirmed was for man to be confronted with an alternative to being favorably disposed toward God and then for him to choose to remain favorably disposed.

The special revelation which God gave to man for the first dispensation is recorded in Genesis 1:28-29; 2:15-17, 24...

[Gen 1:28-29]:

(v. 28) "God blessed them [men and women, (v. 27)] and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'

(v. 29) Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."

[Gen 2:15-17]:

(v. 15) "The LORD God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

(v. 16) And the LORD God commanded the man [Adam], 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

(v. 17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." [Heb = die, dying indicating both an immediate spiritual death and an eventual physical death]

[Gen 2:24]:

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

...God revealed that man was to abstain from eating the forbidden fruit and was to cultivate and keep the Garden of Eden. As male and female, human beings were to live together in a marital, one-flesh relationship, reproduce themselves, and exercise dominion over animal and plant life.

3) SECONDARY GOVERNING RULES OVER MANKIND

a) Be fruitful and fill the earth. Multiply. Gen. 1:28

b) Rule over all creatures and the earth. Gen. 1:28

c) All plants are for man's food. Gen. 1:29

d) Man is to take care of the Garden of Eden. Gen. 2:15

e) Man may eat of all trees in the Garden. Gen. 2:16 6.

f) Man MUST NOT eat of the Tree of Moral Knowledge. Gen. 2:17

g) Man will have marital unity. Gen. 2:24-25

4) CONCLUSION: FAILURE OF THE FIRST DISPENSATION

Man's responsibility during the first dispensation was to obey God on the basis of his unconfirmed favorable disposition toward Him. This responsibility subjected man to the following test: Would man obey God on the basis of his unconfirmed favorable disposition?

Man failed the test. Satan entered the garden and confronted him with an alternative to being favorably disposed toward God. The alternative was for man to reject God's rule over him and assert his own self-rule - just as God is His own Self-Ruler. Man chose to adopt this alternative rather than to remain favorably disposed toward God. He displayed his choice outwardly by eating the forbidden fruit in violation of God's command.

Man's failure resulted in judgment which consisted of several tragic consequences. Man died spiritually as soon as he made his fateful choice...

[Gen 2:16-17]:

(v. 16) And the LORD God commanded the man [Adam], 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;

(v. 17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

[Hebrew = die, dying indicating both an immediate spiritual death and an eventual physical death]

...A great separation took place between man and God. Man lost his favorable disposition toward God and replaced it with a disposition of enmity against God...

[Rom 5:10]:

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life."

...This is evident from the fact that Adam and Eve hid from God when He entered the garden to talk with them after their original sin...

[Gen 3:8]:

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden."

Because man had chosen to go this route, this disposition of enmity was a confirmed disposition. Man was so thoroughly locked into it that he could not rescue himself from it. Only the redemptive work of God could accomplish such a rescue.

In addition to spiritual death, man became subject to disease, deformity, accidents, and physical death. The woman was cursed with pain in childbirth and with the desire to rule the man. The ground was cursed, thereby making man's work of growing food much more difficult. Man lost his perfect environment. Because man followed Satan's lead to rebel against God's rule, Satan was able to usurp the rule of the world system away from God temporarily. Instead of living in a world system ruled by the benevolent God Who loved him, man was doomed to live in a world system dominated by a tyrant who would use man for his own selfish ends.

In the midst of this dismal tragedy, at the end of the first dispensation God gave a ray of hope. In Genesis 3:15 He pronounced the first promise of the Redeemer Who would be born of woman into the world during the course of history. As God progressively worked out His purpose for history, two of the great things which He would accomplish through the Redeemer would be the provision of redemption for fallen man and the defeat of Satan.

B) THE DISPENSATION OF CONSCIENCE

1) INTRODUCTION

The second dispensation extended from the fall of man through the Noahic Flood. The Scripture which covers this dispensation is Genesis 4:1-8:19.

Inasmuch as man had lost his favorable disposition toward God, that ruling factor of the first dispensation was no longer available. As a result, in the second dispensation God administered His rule over man in a different way. It appears that He used two ruling factors to govern man during the new dispensation.

2) FIRST NEW RULING FACTOR: THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE

The first new ruling factor was the human conscience. In Romans 2:14-15, " For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them," the Apostle Paul indicated that human beings have a conscience. That the conscience functions as a ruling factor over human beings is evident, for Paul declared that it caused pagan Gentiles to "do by nature the things contained in the law," even though they had never been given the Mosaic Law. Paul also indicated that the awareness of good and evil which exists inside of human beings.

Genesis 3:5 and 22 indicate that man obtained this awareness of good and evil as a result of eating the forbidden fruit. In other words, the human conscience began when man rebelled against God. Since the conscience functions as a ruling factor over human beings, it became one of the ruling factors of the new dispensation. Because of this, Dispensational Theologians have chosen to name the second dispensation after this new ruling factor.

3) THE SECOND NEW RULING FACTOR: THE RULE OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CONSCIENCE OF MEN

The second ruling factor which God began to use in the second dispensation was the restraint by the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 6:3, "Then the LORD said, ’My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years’", God talked about His Spirit striving with man during the days prior to the Noahic Flood. The verb which is translated strive signifies to rule. Thus, the Holy Spirit was also a ruling factor during the second dispensation.

4) SECONDARY GOVERNING RULES OVER MANKIND

a) Spiritual Salvation is by God alone (grace) thru believing (faith) (Eph. 2:8-9) in Christ alone (Rom. 6:23). This governing rule will never be set aside. Spiritual death that became a reality happened at the Fall. Rom. 2:16; Heb. 11:4; Gen. 3:15; 4:7. See Rom. 3:23-27 where faith in the shed blood of Christ on the cross; i.e., propitiation for the sins of the whole world, provides justification unto eternal life.

b) Women shall experience pain and trouble in childbirth. Gen. 3:16

c) Women's desire is for her husband and he shall rule over her. Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22

d) The ground is cursed that no longer bears freely and abundantly. Gen. 3:17

e) Man's food is from the ground: plants it will grow. Gen. 3:18-19

f) Man must till the ground and work hard for food. Gen. 3:18-19

f) Man's physical body will decay back into dust: physical death. Gen. 3:19

5) CONCLUSION

In Genesis 4:3-7 God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice but rejected Cain’s bloodless sacrifice. This implies that the special revelation which God gave to man for the second dispensation was that man was to approach God only by means of a blood sacrifice (cf. Heb. 11:4). Sinful man, no matter how sincere, could not come to God in his own way. He could come only in the one way that God had ordained.

Mans responsibility during the second dispensation was to obey God on the basis of his conscience and the restraint by the Holy Spirit. This responsibility subjected man to the following test: Would man obey God on the basis of his conscience and the restraint by the Holy Spirit?

Man failed the test miserably. Cain refused to bring the kind of sacrifice which God required. When God rejected his improper sacrifice, Cain then began to build a godless civilization which became characterized by polygamy and violence. By Noah's day "the wickedness of man was great in the earth" and "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). Things had become so bad that God could find only one righteous man left - Noah.

This serious failure brought horrible judgment. Through a worldwide flood, God destroyed the perverted segment of mankind. Through the ark, God preserved Noah and his family. In essence, God wiped the slate clean in order to give man a fresh start.

It should be noted that murder began as the result of man’s rebellion against God’s rule and that the flood took place because of that rebellion and God’s judgment of it.

C) THE DISPENSATION OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT

1) INTRODUCTION: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ORDAINED BY GOD

The third dispensation extended from the Noahic Flood to the call of Abraham. The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Genesis 8:20-11:32.

Inasmuch as man had failed to obey God on the basis of his conscience and the restraint by the Holy Spirit during the second dispensation, once the flood ended God started a new dispensation by instituting a new ruling factor. Since the fountainhead of all human corruption prior to the flood was the continued existence of the first murderer, Cain, God determined that never again would He allow murderers to infect the rest of humanity with their rebellious attitudes. Shortly after Noah and his family left the ark, God ordained capital punishment for murderers (Gen. 9:5-6).

2) NEW RULING FACTOR: HUMAN GOVERNMENT

Capital punishment necessitates a human government agency to administer the sentence of execution. God required that the murderer’s blood be shed by man. Thus, when God ordained capital punishment, He was thereby instituting human government as a further restraint against the lawless rebellion of man. In Romans 13:1-7 the Apostle Paul indicated that governmental authority derives its existence from God, that it was ordained for the purpose of restraining evil, and that it functions as the minister of God when it uses the sword for capital punishment.

Human government, then, with its authority to administer capital punishment, was the new ruling factor which God instituted for the third dispensation.

3) SECOND & THIRD RULING FACTORS CONTINUED: HUMAN CONSCIENCE & RESTRAINT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

Human conscience and the restraint by the Holy Spirit continued on as ruling factors in this new dispensation (indeed, Rom. 2:14-15, 2 Thess. 2:7 and other passages indicate that they continue as ruling factors even into today’s dispensation). Thus, the third dispensation had three ruling factors which God used to govern man: human conscience, the restraint by the Spirit, plus human government. Dispensational Theologians have named the third dispensation after the new ruling factor, since that is the factor which made the third dispensation distinct from the second.

4) THE SPECIAL REVELATION WHICH GOD GAVE TO MAN FOR THE THIRD DISPENSATION IS RECORDED IN GEN 9:1-17:

[Gen 9:1-17]:

(v. 1) "Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

(v. 2) The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.

(v. 3) Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

(v. 4) But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

(v. 5) And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

(v. 6) Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

(v. 7) As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.

(v. 8) Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:

(v. 9) 'I now establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you

(v. 10) and with every living creature on earth.

(v. 11) I establish My covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.'

(v. 12) And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:

(v. 13) I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

[Note: the text here does not indicate that the rainbow was at this time created, but that it would now represent a sign of the covenant between God and the earth of never again causing a world wide flood]

(v. 14) Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,

(v. 15) I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

(v. 16) Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.'

(v. 17) So God said to Noah, 'This is the sign of the covenant I have established between Me and all life on the earth.'

5) SECONDARY GOVERNING RULES OVER MANKIND

a) All creatures, man, to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. Gen. 8:17; 9:1

b) Never again be destruction of all by a flood. Gen. 8:21; 9:8-17

c) Earth has fixed cycles, seasons that won't be changed. Gen. 8:22

d) All creatures given the fear of man. Gen. 9:3

e) Every creature now becomes food for man. Gen. 9:3

f) Man can not eat blood of any living creature. Gen. 9:4

g) Capital punishment instituted (to be done by man). Gen. 9:5-6

6) CONCLUSION

[Showers, cont.]:

"God commanded man to multiply and populate the earth. He indicated that animals would now have fear of man. God made animals a source of food for man. He promised that there would be no more universal floods, and He required the execution of murderers.

Man’s responsibility during the third dispensation was to obey God on the basis of human conscience, restraint by the Holy Spirit, and human government. This responsibility subjected man to the following test: Would man obey God on the basis of these three ruling factors?

Man also failed this test of the third dispensation. Noah became drunk, which led to an indiscretion on the part of his son, Ham. Through time Noah’s descendants rebelled against God’s command to populate the whole earth (Gen. 11:4). In order to prevent their scattering over the entire earth, they began to build the city and tower of Babel.

This failure brought God’s judgment. Up to this time Noah’s descendants spoke only one language (Gen. 11:1). This universal language enabled them to work together on their building project. God judged these rebels by confusing their language. For the first time man began to speak different languages. This brought the building project to a halt because the builders could no longer understand each other’s speech. It also caused Noah’s descendants to separate from each other and relocate to different areas of the earth. Thus, they would begin to populate the entire earth.

Through time this beginning of different languages caused the development of nations. Thus, different languages and nations began as the result of man’s rebellion against God’s rule and God’s judgment of that rebellion."

D) THE DISPENSATION OF PROMISE

1) INTRODUCTION

The fourth dispensation extended from God’s call of Abraham to the giving of the Mosaic Law at Mount Sinai. The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Genesis 12 - Exodus 18.

2) NEW RULING FACTOR: GOD'S PROMISES TO ABRAHAM

Since man had failed to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, and human government, God started a fourth dispensation by instituting promise as a new ruling factor. The fact that promise began as a significant factor with God’s special dealings with Abraham is made evident by such passages as Galatians 3:15-22 and Hebrews 6:13-15. A principle is a ruling factor if it makes a difference in the way people live. God intended His promises to Abraham and his descendants to make a difference in the way that they would live. Hebrews 11:8-30 demonstrates the fact that God’s promises did make such a difference in the lives of Abraham and his descendants. Thus, promise functioned as a ruling factor.

The fourth dispensation had four ruling factors which God used to govern Abraham and his descendants: human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, plus divine promise. Dispensational Theologians have named the fourth dispensation after the new ruling factor, since that is the factor which made the fourth dispensation distinct from the third.

a) GOD'S PERSONAL PROMISES TO ABRAHAM

The special revelation which God gave to Abraham and his descendants for the fourth dispensation is recorded in Genesis 12:2-3; 13:14-17; 15, 17:1-2; and 22:16-18. God made personal promises to Abraham: He would bless him, make his name great, give him many physical descendants, make him the father of a multitude of nations, give him the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him.

b) GOD'S NATIONAL PROMISES CONCERNING ISRAEL

God made national promises concerning Israel: He would bring Israel into existence as a nation and make it great, give Israel the land of Canaan forever, and establish the Abrahamic Covenant with the nation as an everlasting covenant.

c) GOD'S UNIVERSAL PROMISES

God also made a universal promise: He would give blessing to all families of the earth through Abraham’s line of descent (the Redeemer would come through Israel).

3) SECONDARY RULES GOVERNING MANKIND

a) From Abraham will come a great nation & other nations. Gen.12:2; 17:5

b) Abraham will be blessed by God and have a great name. Gen. 12:2

c) Those who bless Abraham will be blessed, those who curse will be cursed. Gen.12:3

d) All families of earth will be blessed in Abraham. Gen. 12:3

e) Abraham and his descendants will have the Promised Land forever. Gen. 13:15

f) Ishmael will cause trouble and will have trouble with everyone. Gen. 16:12

g) All male babies from Abraham and his house to be circumcised. Gen. 17:10

4) CONCLUSION: FAILURE AGAIN

The responsibility of Abraham and his descendants during the fourth dispensation was to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, and promise. This responsibility subjected Abraham and his descendants to the following test: Would they obey God on the basis of these four ruling factors?

Abraham and his descendants failed the test of the fourth dispensation. On several occasions they disobeyed God as the result of lapses of faith concerning the fulfillment of His promises. Abraham fathered Ishmael through Hagar. Twice he lied concerning his wife Sarah. Isaac lied concerning Rebecca. Jacob was a great deceiver. The Jews did not return from Egypt to Canaan after the famine of Joseph’s time ended. Apparently they forgot that their destiny was related to the land of Canaan rather than to Egypt.

This failure brought divine judgment. Throughout their history the Jews have continued to have problems with Ishmael’s descendants. Through time they were subjected to slavery and threatened with annihilation in Egypt.

E) THE DISPENSATION OF THE MOSAIC LAW

1) INTRODUCTION

The fifth dispensation began when Moses was given the Law on Mount Sinai and continued until our Lord was crucified on Mt Calvary, when it was interrupted before it came to a final close, leaving 7 years to complete as prophesied in Daniel chapter 9 and as examined in the study of this passage:

Ref:[ ] (DANIEL 9:24-27)

The tearing of the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem when Christ died, (Mt 27:51), indicated that the Law was no longer in effect as a rule of life since the veil was intended to separate the believers from the Holy of Holies sanctuary in the Temple and from dealing directly with God which was the Levitical Priest's job for the believer according to Mosaic Law provisions. Now the believer himself had the same direct access and New Testament passages indicate that the believer was now his own priest with access directly to God:

[1 Peter 2:9]:

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."]

The final 7 years of the Mosaic Law period will commence when the Grace Age period closes with the rapture, (catching up), of all the church age saints to meet the Lord in the stratosphere Who will then take them back to heaven with Him, (1 Thes 4:13-18), leaving no believers on earth who are part of that dispensation until the Second Coming.

Ref: []

[Showers, cont.]:

"The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Exodus 19:1 through Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:41, Luke 23:49, and John 20:30.

[And for the final 7 years of that dispensation we have Revelation chapters 6-19]

2) NEW RULING FACTOR: THE MOSAIC LAW

Since Abraham and his descendants had failed to obey God on the basis of the four ruling factors of the fourth dispensation, God began a fifth dispensation by instituting the Mosaic Law as a new ruling factor.

3) FOUR OTHER RULING FACTORS ARE CONTINUED:

The fifth dispensation had five ruling factors which God used to govern the people of Israel: human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, plus the Mosaic Law.

4) GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE MOSAIC LAW

The central core of the Mosaic Law was written on tables of stone. The Law inflicted the death penalty upon those who broke a number of its precepts. Thus, the Mosaic Law was a totally external way of God’s administering His rule over Israel. For this reason, the Apostle Paul declared that the Mosaic Law functioned as a pedagogue (an external moral restrainer, Gal. 3:23-25). Dispensational Theologians have named the fifth dispensation after the new ruling factor because that is the factor which made the fifth dispensation distinct from the fourth.

The special revelation which God gave to Israel for the fifth dispensation is recorded in Exodus 20 - Deuteronomy. It consisted of the Mosaic Law with its 613 commandments. These gave in detail God’s will for the moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of Israel’s life []

5) SECONDARY RULES GOVERNING HUMAN BEHAVIOR

a) The detailed Law of God from Ex. 19-Dt. 34 made Israel a Nation. Ex. 19:5-8

b) Obedience brings blessings to entire nation: Ex. 19:5-6; Lev. 26:3; Dt. 28:1-4;Dt. 29:9. Disobedience brings punishments to entire nation: Lev. 26:14-26; Dt. 11:10-17; Dt. 28:15-68.

c) Israel will be a separated, holy nation of God's priests. Ex. 19:5-6; Ex. 34:14

d) Restoration is promised when they return to Lord from disobedience. Dt. 30:2-9

e) Israel promised a future King (God) and kingdom under Him. Dt. 30:3-9; I Sam. 7:12-16

f) Strict dietary laws which restrict eating of unclean creatures. Lev. 3:17; 11:2-47 7. The National sign of the Sabbath as a day of rest. Ex. 31:13-17; Ex. 35:2-3

6) CONCLUSION: FAILURE

Israel’s responsibility during the fifth dispensation was to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, and the Mosaic Law. This responsibility subjected the Jews to the following test: Would they obey God on the basis of these five ruling factors?

The people of Israel failed the test of the fifth dispensation. The Jews broke the Mosaic Law repeatedly (Jer. 31:32; Ezek. 16). God was forced to tell them that they had a heart of stone (Ezek. 36:26; Zech. 7:12). This was His way of saying that their inner control center was inflexible. It refused to bend, to conform to the Mosaic Law as an expression of God’s rule over them. Also, during this dispensation Israel rejected its Messiah and had Him crucified.

This failure brought God’s judgment upon Israel. The nation suffered many judgments during the fifth dispensation. Among the worst were the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and Israel’s temporary removal from its place of blessing (Rom. 11) and worldwide dispersion as the result of its rejection of Christ...

[Note that the worst discipline of all on the nation Israel will be yet to come in the Tribulation Period when God's wrath will pour out on all the nations of the earth and Israel will be the focal point, (Rev chapters 6-19)]

...Toward the end of the dispensation God will remove the Holy Spirit’s restraint of evil (2 Th. 2:7-8), apostate organized Christendom will be destroyed (Rev. 17:16), God will pour out divine judgments upon the world (Rev. 6-19), and God will crush the revolt of the unsaved (Rev. 19:17-21). "

F) THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE

1) INTRODUCTION

Before the sixth dispensation is examined, several important truths concerning the grace of God should be considered. First, in the Scriptures the grace of God deals with far more than salvation from sin. For example, it was by the grace of God that Noah survived the flood (Gen 6:8), that Israel was restored to its homeland after the Babylon captivity (Ezra 9:8), and that the afflicted were sustained in their trials (Prov. 3:34). It is by the grace of God that believers are given spiritual gifts and ministries (Rom. 12:6, Gal. 2:9). Indeed, the grace of God has so many facets that Peter called it "the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).

2) NEW RULING FACTOR: GRACE

[Showers, cont.]

"Although the grace of God was functioning throughout Old Testament times, it began to function in some new sense as a result of the ministry of Jesus Christ in His first coming. John indicated this when he wrote, "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). John appeared to be making this new function of grace parallel with the function of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law never functioned as a way of salvation (Gal. 2:16), but it did function as a rule of life (a ruling factor). In light of this, John is saying that grace began to function as a rule of life (a ruling factor) as a result of Christ’s ministry in His first coming...

...Other passages indicate that grace began to function as a ruling factor as a result of Christ’s ministry. Paul wrote to believers in the present (sixth) dispensation, "ye are not under the law but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). In this passage the function of grace which Paul had in mind is parallel with the function of the Mosaic Law. In other words, grace has now taken over the function which the Mosaic Law had in the previous dispensation. As noted earlier, the Mosaic Law never functioned as a way of salvation, but it did function as a ruling factor. Thus, the function of grace which Paul had in mind in this passage is that of a ruling factor. This is indicated further by the word under which implies being under rule. Paul was saying that believers in the present dispensation are now under grace, rather that the Mosaic Law, as a ruling factor. Thus, while grace continues to function as the way of salvation during this present (sixth) dispensation, it has assumed the additional function of a ruling factor as a result of Christ’s ministry in His first coming.

In Titus 2:11-12 Paul indicated that one of the functions of the grace of God is that of "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." The word teaching means to "practice discipline, correct, give guidance." Thus, Paul was saying that grace practices discipline over believers for the purpose of prompting them to reject a godless lifestyle and to adopt a godly one. Paul stated that the grace of God is functioning as a ruling factor 'in this present world.' The word which is translated world means age.4 Grace is the ruling factor which uniquely characterizes the dispensation during this present age...

[The sixth dispensation extends from the day of Pentecost, (Acts chapter 2), to the Rapture, (1 Thes 4:13-18; 2 Thes 2:1-12) and includes Mt 27:57; Mk 15:42; Lk 23:50 and John 19:31 to Rev 6:1]

...Israel clearly demonstrated man’s inability to obey God on the basis of the five ruling factors (including the external Mosaic Law) of the fifth dispensation. Thus, God began a sixth dispensation by instituting His grace as a new ruling factor.

...The sixth dispensation has five ruling factors which God uses to govern people: human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, plus grace. It should be noted that the Mosaic Law is not a ruling factor in the present dispensation. God intended it to be in effect only until the ministry of Christ (Gal. 3:19, 23-25; cp. Rom. 6:14, 1 Cor. 9:20)...

[Note: neither all nor any part (Ceremonial, Moral, or Civil) of the Mosaic Law is a ruling factor in the present dispensation. (See Gal. 5:4)]

...As a ruling factor for the believer, grace consists of two things: a confirmed favorable disposition toward God (the law of God in the heart, Rom 7:22; 2 Cor 3:3-11; Heb 8:8-12 - fulfilled in part in believers during this age via the indwelling Holy Spirit) and the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Dispensational Theologians have named the sixth dispensation after the new ruling factor because that is the factor which makes the sixth dispensation distinct from the fifth.

The special revelation which God gave for the sixth dispensation is recorded in the latter part of the Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation 1-19. Unsaved Jews and Gentiles are to receive the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ. The organized Church is to fulfill the Great Commission, to maintain a pure membership, to discipline unruly members, to prevent false teaching from existing within it, and to contend earnestly for the true faith. Individual believers are to live sensible, godly lives, to be associated with a local church, to evangelize and make disciples, and to use spiritual gifts properly.

Man’s responsibility during the sixth dispensation is to obey God on the basis of human conscience, the restraint by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, and grace. This responsibility subjects man to the following test: Does man obey God on the basis of these five ruling factors?

3) SECONDARY RULES GOVERNING HUMAN BEHAVIOR

a) Acts 1:8 All Believers shall be witnesses of Christ: Evangelism. I Cor. 1:17; Gal. 1:6-9

b) Acts 1:8 All believers are indwelt with Holy Spirit: Spirit Life. I Cor. 6:19-20; Gal. 4:6; 5:16-26; Eph. 1:13-14; 5:9

c) Acts 1:11 Christ will return for His Church: Blessed Hope. I Thes 4:13-18; Titus 2:13

d) Mt. 28:19-20 The Church shall make disciples: Spiritual Growth. Gal. 2:4; Eph. 4:11-16; II Tim. 2:2; Titus 2:4

e) Acts 15:29-29 The Church shall abstain from idolatry: Worship God. Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; Heb. 10:25

f) Acts 15:29 The Church shall keep from fornication: Marriage & Purity. 1 Cor. 5 & 7; Eph. 5:3; Heb. 13:4

g) Acts 15:29 The Church shall keep from things strangled and from blood: Sanctity of Life.

4) CONCLUSION

Man fails the test of the sixth dispensation. The majority of unsaved Jews and Gentiles do not accept the gift of righteousness. Organized Christendom does not fulfill the Great Commission, maintain a pure membership, discipline unruly members, prevent false teaching from existing within it, and contend earnestly for the true faith. Individual believers do not always live sensible, godly lives, associate with a local church, evangelize and make disciples, and use spiritual gifts properly....

...This failure during this present dispensation brings God’s judgment and chastisement. God chastens and even brings premature physical death to some believers for disobedience (Acts 5:1-6; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 11:27-32; Heb. 12:5-13; 1 Jn 5:16). He puts some local churches out of existence (Rev. 2:5)."

G) THE FINAL SEVEN YEARS OF THE MOSAIC LAW DISPENSATION

1) THE FINAL SEVEN YEARS OF THE MOSAIC LAW DISPENSATION = THE SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD = DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK OF YEARS

a) DANIEL'S 70 WEEKS PROPHECY INDICATES GOD'S 490 YEAR PLAN EXCLUSIVELY FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM WITHIN WHICH THE MESSIAH WOULD PRESENT HIMSELF TO ISRAEL, BE REJECTED & THEN EXECUTED IN THE 483RD YEAR INTERRUPTING THIS PERIOD AT THAT TIME - THE CHURCH BEING IN VIEW AT NO TIME DURING THIS PERIOD; INSTEAD COMMENCING SHORTLY THEREAFTER AT PENTECOST

[Renald E. Showers states; "Maranatha Our Lord, Come!", Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Bellmawr, N.J., 1995, pp. 239-244]:

"Near the end of Israel's Babylonian captivity, in response to the Prophet Daniel's concern about Israel's future, God sent a significant prophecy to him through the angel Gabriel. This prophecy is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. For the purpose of this present study, we must note several significant facts concerning this prophecy.

i) THE PROPHECY INVOLVED 490 YEARS

This prophecy involved 'Seventy weeks' (lit., 'seventy sevens') of time (v. 24). Seventy sevens is the same as 70 times seven or 490. Thus, the prophecy involved 490 units of time. How much time would be involved in these 490 units? Would these units consist of 490 days, weeks, months, or years? We shall note later that these units of time were determined by God specifically for Israel. Seventy sevens of years would have been very meaningful to the people of Israel. God had divided their calendar into seven-year periods with every seventh year being a sabbatic year (Lev. 25:3-9). In addition, Israel's Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years because the people of Israel had violated 70 sabbatic years over the course of 490 years (Lev. 26:34-35; 2 Chr. 36:21). These facts, together with the fact that Daniel himself had been thinking in terms of years in the context of this 70-weeks prophecy (9:1-2), indicate that the units of time involved consist of 490 years.

ii) GOD DID NOT DETERMINE THE 70 WEEKS/490 YEAR PROPHECY FOR THE CHURCH, BUT FOR ISRAEL & JERUSALEM

God determined all 70 weeks or 490 years for Daniel's people and holy city (v. 25); therefore, all 70 weeks were determined specifically for Israel and Jerusalem. God did not determine the 70 weeks for the church. This is significant because... ...the church is distinct from Israel. []

iii) THE TIME FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE 70 WEEKS PROPHECY UNTIL THE MESSIAH IS PRESENTED TO ISRAEL AND THEN EXECUTED WOULD BE 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS

Gabriel said that the time from the beginning of the 70 weeks until the Messiah, the Prince, would be 69 weeks or 483 years (v. 25). Thus, 483 years after the beginning of the 70 weeks, the Messiah would be present in the world. The fact that this prophecy gave a very specific time when the Messiah would be present indicates that a significant event would happen with regard to the Messiah at the end of the first 69 weeks. What could that event be?

The fact that Gabriel referred to the Messiah as 'the Prince' implies that the event must be related significantly to the Messiah's being Israel's Prince or coming King. Zechariah 9:9 declared that Israel could identify its coming King by the fact that He would come to Jerusalem mounted on the foal of a donkey. In light of this, it would appear that the specific event that would happen at the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years would be the Messiah's official presentation of Himself to Israel as its Prince or coming King by coming to Jerusalem mounted on the foal of a donkey.

Jesus Christ fulfilled this part of the 70-weeks prophecy when He officially presented Himself to Israel as its Messiah-Prince through His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey on Palm Sunday. Several things indicate that this was the specific event that ended the first 69 weeks or 483 years of the 70-weeks prophecy. First, some of the crowd on that Palm Sunday recognized the significance of Jesus' actions on that day, for they called Him 'King' (Lk 19:37-38).

Second, as Jesus approached Jerusalem on that day, He wept over the city and said, 'If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hidden from thine eyes.' He warned Jerusalem that it would be destroyed by enemy forces 'because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation' (Lk 19:41-44). Jesus' language indicated that that particular day had been marked out by God as the time of Jerusalem's visitation by her Messiah-Prince - the day that could have brought lasting peace to that city if its people had accepted Jesus for Who He was. It also indicated that the people of Israel should have recognized that that particular day was the day when the Messiah would visit Jerusalem as Prince because several centuries earlier, in Daniel 9, God had revealed the exact time when the Messiah would present Himself as Prince to Israel.

Third, the 70-weeks prophecy foretold that the Messiah would be 'cut off' after the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years (vv. 25-26). The word translated 'cut off' was used for the death penalty (Lev 7:20-21, 25, 27) and often referred to a violent death (1 Sam. 17:51; Obad. 9; Nah. 3:15). In this instance, it referred to the fact that the Messiah would be condemned to suffer the death penalty and thus would experience a violent death after the end of the first 69 weeks. It is a fact of history that Jesus was condemned to death and crucified several days (less than a week) after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mk 11-15).

Fourth, the 70-weeks prophecy foretold that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed after the end of the first 69 weeks (vv. 25-26). It is a fact of history that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D., some 30 to 40 years after Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As we noted earlier, on that Palm Sunday Jesus warned Jerusalem concerning that destruction by enemy forces as He approached the city.

Taken together, these four items indicate that the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy ended on the day when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey and officially presented Himself to Israel as its Prince or coming King.

iv) THE CHURCH DID NOT EXIST DURING ANY PART OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS OF THE 70 WEEKS

The church did not exist during any part of the first 69 weeks or 483 years of the 70 weeks. We have just observed that the first 69 weeks ended on the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem... The church did not begin historically until the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which took place nearly two months after the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem []; therefore, the church did not begin historically until nearly two months after the end of the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy.

We should note that God consistently kept the church out of all the first 69 weeks. Thus, it is evident that He intended the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks prophecy to be His program specifically for Israel, but not for the church. This was consistent with the concept ... that Israel and the church are distinct entities. In addition, it was consistent with the second significant fact noted earlier concerning the 70-weeks prophecy - that God determined all 70 weeks specifically for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

v) GOD TEMPORARILY INTERRUPTED HIS 70 WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AT THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS WITH A GAP OF TIME THAT IS NOW APPROACHING 2,000 YEARS IN DURATION

God temporarily interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel at the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years with a gap of time that is now approaching 2,000 years in duration. Thus, the 70th week or last seven years of the 490 years involved in the prophecy did not follow immediately after the end of the first 69 weeks or 483 years. This indicates that the seven-year Tribulation period has not yet begun.

There are several evidences for this gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week. First, Daniel 9:27 teaches that abomination will come with desolation during the 70th week, but Jesus indicated that this abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel will come shortly before His Second Coming immediately after the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:15-21, 29-31), meaning that the 70th week or last seven years of the prophecy must also come shortly before Jesus' Second Coming.

Second, Daniel 9 indicates that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans fits within the scope of the 70 weeks or 490 years of the prophecy. Thus, this destruction was to occur before the end of the 70th week or last period of seven years. In light of this and the fact that the first 69 weeks ended with Jesus' triumphal entry, if the last seven of the 490 years had followed immediately after the end of the first 69 weeks, Jerusalem and the Temple would have been destroyed just seven years after Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem in the early 30s A. D. It is a fact of history, however, that Jerusalem and the Temple were not destroyed until 70 A. D., several decades after Jesus' triumphal entry. Only if there were a gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks and the beginning of the 70th week could this destruction have taken place so late and still be within the scope of the 70-weeks or 490-years prophecy.

Third, it is not unusual for biblical prophecies to contain gaps of time. For example, Isaiah 9:6 says, 'For unto us a child is born' (referring to the Messiah's first coming), and 'the government shall be upon His shoulder' (related the Messiah's Second Coming). Zechariah 9:9-10 states, 'behold, thy King commeth unto thee... lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass' (referring to the Messiah's triumphal entry during His first coming), and 'His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth' (related to the Messiah's Second Coming).

vi) GOD STARTED THE CHURCH VERY SHORTLY AFTER HE INTERRUPTED HIS 70 WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM WITH A GAP OF TIME AT THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS

God started the church very shortly after He interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with a gap of time at the end of the first 69 weeks. God brought the church into existence just 57 days after the first 69 weeks ended with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

vii) A SUMMARY OF THE FACTS RE: THE 70 WEEKS PROPHECY OF DANIEL 9

[Showers, cont.]:

"The examination of the 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 has produced several significant facts. First, the Daniel 9:24-27 prophecy involved 70 weeks or 490 years of time. Second, God determined all 70 weeks or 490 years specifically for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church. Third, the first 69 weeks or 483 years ended with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey on Palm Sunday. Fourth, the church did not exist during any part of the first 69 weeks or 483 years. Sixth, God started the church very shortly after He interrupted His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with a gap of time at the end of the first 69 weeks."

viii) STRONG INFERENCES RE: DANIEL'S 70-WEEKS PROPHECY AND THE PRESENCE OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH

[Shower, cont.]:

"These six facts, when taken together and combined with the distinction between Israel and the church [] noted at the beginning of this chapter, prompt three strong inferences.

viii_a)GOD DOES NOT INTEND THE CHURCH TO BE PRESENT ON THE EARTH FOR ANY PART OF THE 70 WEEKS OR 490 YEARS HE HAS DETERMINED SPECIFICALLY FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM

God does not intend the church to be present on the earth for any part of the 70 weeks or 490 years He has determined specifically for Israel and Jerusalem. He intends to keep His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem and His program for the church separate and distinct from each other, just as Israel and the church are distinct entities.

This does not mean that God stopped working altogether with Israel and Jerusalem when He interrupted the 70-weeks program and started the church. Instead, it means that God temporarily stopped one specific program (the 70-weeks program) with Israel and Jerusalem while He works His program with the church in the world. There is a major difference between saying that God stopped working with Israel altogether and saying that He Temporarily stopped one specific program with that nation. God worked with Israel and Jerusalem in ways other than the 70-weeks program for many centuries before He started that specific program after Daniel's time. In like manner, during the present interruption of the 70-weeks program, He works with the nation and city in ways other than that program.

viii_b) GOD INTENDS THE CHURCH TO BE PRESENT ON THE EARTH SPECIFICALLY DURING THE INTERRUPTING GAP OF TIME BETWEEN THE END OF THE FIRST 69 WEEKS OR 483 YEARS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE 70TH WEEK OR LAST SEVEN YEARS

God intends the church to be present on the earth specifically during the interrupting gap of time between the end of the first 69 weeks or483 years and the beginning of the 70th week or last seven years. If God intended to mix any part of His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem with His program for the church, why didn't He start the church during the first 69 weeks of the 70-weeks program?

viii_c) GOD WILL REMOVE THE CHURCH FROM THE EARTH BEFORE THE 70TH WEEK BEGINS WITH THE RESUMPTION OF HIS 70-WEEKS PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM

God will remove the church from the earth in a premillennial rapture before the resumption of His 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem. []

viii_d) THE CHURCH IS ABSENT ON EARTH IN PASSAGES REFERRING TO THE 7 YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD, (DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK)

[Showers, op. cit., pp. 245-251]:

"A seventh inference for the Pretribulation Rapture of the church is gained from an examination of the references to the church and Israel in the Book of the Revelation."

REFERENCES TO THE CHURCH IN REVELATION - ONLY OCCUR BEFORE THE SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD

[Showers, cont.]:

"Twenty-four verses in the Book of the Revelation refer to the church. Nineteen of these verses refer to the church as the 'church' or 'churches' (ekklesia); two verses refer to it as the 'bride' (numphe); two verses indicate that the church is the Lamb's 'wife' (gune); and one verse refers to the church as both the 'bride' and the 'wife' of the Lamb. Revelation never refers to the church as the 'body' (soma).

Twenty of the 24 verses refer to the church in the present church age (1:4, 11, 20; 2:1, 7,8, 11, 12, 17, 18, 23, 29; 3:1, 6, 7, 13, 14, 22; 22:16, 17). Two verses refer to the church in the marriage of the Lamb, which will take place in heaven, not on the earth (19:7,8). Two verses refer to the church in the future eternal state (21:2,9).

It is important to note that there are not references to the church on the earth in chapters 4 through 18, the chapters relating specifically to the 70th week of Daniel 9, including the seals, trumpets, and bowls."

REFERENCES TO ISRAEL IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION DECLARE THE PREDOMINANCE OF ISRAEL DURING DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK AND MAGNIFY THE ABSENCE OF THE CHURCH DURING THAT 7 YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD

[Showers, cont.]:

"Twenty-two verses in the Book of the Revelation refer to Israel. One of these verses refers to Israel as 'the twelve tribes of the children of Israel' (21:12). Ten verses refer to the 144,000 Jewish men by several designations (7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 14:1, 3, 4, 5). Ten verses describe Israel through various terms as the woman who is pursued by the dragon (Satan) [12:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. One verse refers to 'the children of Israel' (2:14).

One of the 22 verses refers to Israel in Old Testament times (2:14). One other refers to the nation in the future eternal state (21:12). Four verses refer to Israel during the time of the first coming of Christ (12:1, 2, 4, 5). It is important to note that the remaining 16 verses refer to Israel on the earth during the 70th week (7:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 12:6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17; 14:1, 3, 4, 5)."

Furthermore, the sacrificial system in the Tribulation Temple will be an ongoing practice at that time - pointing to a resumption of the rule of the Law of Moses, (Ref., Dan 9:27; 12:11-13; Isa 66:1-4; Mt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3-4; Rev 11:1-2).

SAINTS WILL BE PRESENT ON EARTH DURING DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK BUT THEY WILL NOT BE CHURCH SAINTS

NOT ALL SAINTS ARE CHURCH SAINTS

[Showers, cont.]:

"The Book of the Revelation clearly indicates that saints will be present on the earth during the 70th week. For example, Revelation teaches that the Antichrist will wage war against the saints (13:7; cp. Dan 7:21, 25) during the 70th week and that many saints of that period will be martyred (6:9-11; 20:4).

This teaching prompts the following question: Doesn't the fact that saints will be present on the earth during the 70th week require the conclusion that the church will be present on the earth during the 70th week? The answer to that question is: The fact that saints will be present on the earth during the 70th week does not require that conclusion because not all saints are church saints.

That answer is based on two factors. First, the Bible clearly teaches that there were saints on the earth in Old Testament times. For example, Psalm 16:3 referred to 'the saints who are in the earth,' and Psalm 116:15 declared that the death of God's saints is precious in His sight (cp. 1 Sam 2:9; 2 Chr 6:41; Ps 79:2; Hos 11:12).

Second... the church did not begin historically until the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, after the death and ascension of Christ. []

Since the church did not begin until that time, the saints who lived and died before the day of Pentecost did not belong to the church; they were Old Testament saints, not church saints. Thus, there was an extensive period of history prior to the birth of the church when saints were not church saints.

THE SAINTS ON EARTH DURING DANIEL'S 70TH WEEK ARE NOT CHURCH SAINTS

The fact that saints in the Old Testament were not church saints prompts several conclusions. First, not all saints in the Bible are church saints. Second, since the Bible refers to saints who are not church saints, the fact that saints will be present on the earth during the 70th week does not require the conclusion that they will be church saints. They could be designated as 70th week or Tribulation saints. Third, since we are not required to conclude that the saints present on the earth during the 70th week are church saints, we are not required to conclude that the church will be present on the earth during the 70th week."

Finally, since the church is raptured before the Tribulation begins

[], then we can conclude that the saints on earth during the Tribulation/Daniel's 70th week are not church saints but Tribulation saints as part of the group of saints of the Mosaic Law period.

THE GREAT MULTITUDE OF REVELATION CHAPTER 7 ARE NOT CHURCH SAINTS

INTRODUCTION

[Showers, cont.]:

"Between the sixth and seventh seals, John saw a great multitude of redeemed people from 'all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues' standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb in heaven (Rev 7:9-17)."

[Rev 7:9-17]:

(v. 9) "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

(v. 10) And they cried out in a loud voice:

'Salvation belongs to our God, Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'

(v. 11) All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

(v. 12) saying:

'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'

(v. 13) Then one of the elders asked me, 'These in white robes - who are they, and where did they come from ?'

(v. 14) I answered, 'Sir, you know.' And he said, 'These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(v. 15) Therefore, 'they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple;

and He Who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them.

(v. 16) Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.

(v. 17) For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.' "

BEING CLOTHED IN WHITE ROBES AND HOLDING PALMS DOES NOT DEMAND A PHYSICAL RESURRECTION BODY AND THUS POINT TO THE RAPTURED CHURCH SAINTS

[Showers, cont.]:

TWO NECESSARY QUESTIONS

"Two questions must be asked concerning this great multitude. First, does the fact that they were clothed in white robes and held palms in their hands require the conclusion that they are resurrected with literal, physical resurrection bodies (cp. Lk 24:36-43)? Second, if they are resurrected, since the Rapture of the church will involve the resurrection of church saints' bodies, is this great multitude the church, having just been raptured from the earth between the sixth and seventh seals of the 70th week? If it is the church, having just been raptured between the sixth and seventh seals, it would mean that the church will be on the earth through the first six seals of the 70th week.

THE ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION

The fact that these people were clothed with white robes and held palms in their hands does not require the conclusion that they are resurrected with literal, physical resurrection bodies. There are several reasons for this answer.

First, when Christ broke the fifth seal, John saw under the altar in heaven the souls of saints who had been slain for the Word of God during the 70th week (Rev 6:9-11). Since they had been slain, they were without physical bodies, and yet they were given white robes to wear (v. 11). Thus, in Revelation the wearing of a white robe did not require a resurrection body. Even bodiless souls could wear such a robe.

Second, when the rich man of Luke 16 [The rich man &Lazarus] dies, his body was buried (v. 22), and his soul went to [hades] (v. 23). Even though his soul was without its body, Jesus ascribed eyes (v. 23) and a tongue (v. 24) to his bodiless soul.

Third, angels are spirit beings (Heb 1:14; Eph 6:12). As a result, by nature they do not have physical bodies (in Eph 6:12 Paul put angels in a different category from those beings who have flesh and blood bodies; in Lk 24:39 Jesus stated that a spirit does not have flesh and bones such as He had in His resurrected body). In spite of the fact that angels do not have physical bodies by nature, the Bible ascribes wings, faces, feet, and hands to them (Isa 6:2; Rev 10:1-2, 5, 88, 10) and portrays them wearing clothing (Mt 28:2-3; Mk 16:5; Acts 1:10; Rev 15:6).

Fourth, God is a Spirit (Jn 4:24). As a result, by nature He does not have a physical body. In spite of that fact, the Bible ascribes to Him a head and hair (Dan 7:9), eyes and a face (Jer 16:17), an arm (Isa 40:10), hands (Heb 10:31), feet (Nah 1:3), and a finger (Dt 9:10) and portrays Him wearing clothing (Dan 7:9).

All four of these reasons indicate the same truth: Although the Bible ascribes such things as hands, feet, faces, tongues, and the wearing of clothing to human, angelic, and divine beings, it does not mean that those beings have literal, physical bodies such as resurrected people have. Since this is true, the fact that the people of the great multitude of Revelation 7 were clothed in white robes and held palms in their hands does not require the conclusion that they are resurrected with literal, physical resurrection bodies."

THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND QUESTION

[Showers, cont.]:

"This answer is twofold. First, since we are not required to conclude that the people of the great multitude are resurrected people, we need not conclude that they are the church, having just been raptured from the earth between the sixth and seventh seals.

Second, several things militate against identifying the great multitude of Revelation 7 as the church, having just been raptured from the earth. First, as noted above, one of the 24 elders declared that the people of the great multitude 'came out of the Great Tribulation' (v. 14). Concerning this Tribulation, William Barclay stated, 'It is not tribulation in general of which he is speaking, but of the tribulation of the end time, that tribulation which the Gospels tell us that Jesus foretold' in Matthew 24:21 and Mark 13:19. Thus, the elder's declaration indicated that the great multitude was limited just to those saints who lived on the earth during the Great Tribulation part of the 70th week.

Since this is true, if the great multitude is the church [and it is not], having just been raptured between the sixth and seventh seals, we must conclude that this was only a partial Rapture of the church - a Rapture of only the part of the church that had lived on the earth during the Great Tribulation. This Rapture would not include all the church saints who had lived and died during all the centuries of the church's existence on the earth during any part of the 70th week, including the Great Tribulation. When would all those other church saints be raptured?

By way of contrast with a partial Rapture, the biblical passages that clearly present teaching concerning the Rapture of the church strongly imply that the entire church will be raptured at the same time (Jn 14:2-3; 1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Th 4:13-18 []).

The second thing that militates against identifying the great multitude as the church, having just been raptured, is the fact that the expression 'they who came' in the elders declaration 'These are they who came out of the Great Tribulation,' is a translation of a present tense participle [i.e., 'These are they who are coming out of the Great Tribulation']. Concerning the use of this specific present tense participle in Revelation 7:14, A. T. Robertson wrote, 'Present middle participle with the idea of continued repetition.'

R. H. Charles came to the same conclusion as Robertson. He asserted that the combination of this present tense participle with the two finite verbs ('washed' and 'made...white') in the same verse (14) is a Semitic type construction giving the sense of continuous action to the participle.

In light of the significance of this participle, we can conclude that the elder was indicating that the people of the great multitude were coming out of the Great Tribulation individually (one by one) and continuously through death, mainly death by martyrdom. Thus, when discussing the continuous action significance of the participle in the elder's declaration, Charles stated, 'The martyrs are still arriving from the scene of the Great Tribulation.' Jeremias also concluded that the great multitude of Revelation 7 consisted of martyrs.

This means, then, that the elder was not indicating that the great multitude came out of the Great Tribulation as one body all at the same time, which would have been true if it had been the church, having just been raptured.

The third thing that militates against identifying the great multitude of Revelation 7 as the church, having just been raptured, is the fact that John did not know the identity of the great multitude. In response to the elder's question, 'Who are these who are arrayed in white robes? And from where did they come?' (v. 13), John replied, 'Sir, thou knowest' (v. 14).

Numerous scholars assert that the force of John's language in his reply reveals that he was ignorant of the great multitude's identity. For example, Henry Swete stated that John's reply 'is at once a confession of ignorance, and an appeal for information.'

If the great multitude were the church, it seems strange that John did not recognize it (at least those who belonged to the church in his time), in light of the fact that he was one of the church's apostles and part of its foundation (Eph 2:20)."

ix) CONCLUSION: THE CHURCH IS RAPTURED BEFORE THE 7 YEAR TRIBULATION PERIOD AS GOD RESUMES THE 70-WEEKS PROGRAM WITH ISRAEL IN THE 70TH WEEK

[Showers, cont.]:

"A strong inference in favor of the Pretribulation Rapture of the church has been derived from this... study of the 70-weeks prophecy recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. The pretribulation view is the only view of the Rapture that has the church being removed from the earth before the 70th week begins (before God resumes His 70-weeks program with Israel and Jerusalem). Thus, it is the only view of the Rapture that keeps God's specific 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem separate and distinct from His program for the church.

All other views of the Rapture have the church going through at least part of the 70th week, meaning that all other views mix God's 7-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem together with His program for the church."

2) EVENTS DURING THIS PERIOD

a) Appearance and rise to power of the Antichrist 2 Thes 2:1-12

b) Seven years of Tribulation. Dan. 9:27; Rev. 6-18

c) The Second Coming of our Lord. Mt 24:27-30; Dan 7:13; Isa 27:13

d) Battle of Armageddon. Rev. 14:20; 19:11-21

e) Judgments of Israel Ez 20:35-37, 40- 44; Joel 3:2; Zech. 14:4

f) Judgment of the Gentile nations Mt. 25:30, 34, 41

H) THE DISPENSATION OF THE MILLENNIUM

1) INTRODUCTION

[Showers, cont.]:

"Traditionally, Dispensational Theologians have called the seventh dispensation the Dispensation of the Millennium. Since Dispensational Theologians normally name each new dispensation after its new ruling factor or factors, it might be better to call the last dispensation the Dispensation of the Righteous Reign of Christ. The reason for this suggested name will become obvious.

The seventh dispensation will begin after the Second Coming of Christ and will end immediately before the release of Satan from the abyss and his final revolt. The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Revelation 20:1-6."

2) THREE RULING FACTORS - ONE NEW: HUMAN CONSCIENCE, HUMAN GOVERNMENT AND THE NEW THEOCRATIC RULE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

[Showers, cont.]:

"Apparently the seventh dispensation will have three ruling factors which God will use to govern the world: human conscience, human government, plus the theocratic rule of Christ. Inasmuch as the seventh dispensation will be the final one, it will be characterized by the final fulfillment of the promises which God made to Abraham and his seed. Once promises are fulfilled, they cease to be promises. Thus, promise will no longer be a ruling factor in the last dispensation. In addition, although salvation will continue to be by grace throughout the seventh dispensation, grace will not function as a ruling factor. The evidence for this is that during the theocratic rule of Christ, those who rebel against that righteous rule will be executed (Isa. 11:3-4; 29:20-21), and those nations which refuse to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths will be punished (Zech. 14:16-19).

The most significant ruling factor of the seventh dispensation will be the righteous rule of Christ over the entire earth (Isa. 11:1-5; Zech 14:9; 10). The world will have a theocratic government in which the rule of God will be administered worldwide through His representative, Jesus Christ.

The special revelation which God gave concerning the seventh dispensation is contained in numerous Old Testament passages (passages dealing with some of the major biblical covenants and prophecies concerning characteristics of the future Kingdom), Gospel passages (such as Mt. 5-7; 19:28; 25:21-46), Acts 3:19-21, passages in the Epistles (such as 1 Cor. 15:24-25; Eph. 1:10; Heb. 6:5), and Revelation 20:1-6. According to this special revelation the Messiah, Jesus, will restore the theocratic Kingdom of God which was on earth before man’s fall but was lost through that fall. The absolute, righteous, just rule of God will be enforced worldwide. Nature will be restored to its prefall condition (Mt. 19:28; Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 8:18-23). The climate and natural elements will be controlled perfectly for the good of man (Isa. 30:23-26; Ezek. 47:1-2; Joel 2:21-26; Zech. 14:8). There will be unprecedented growth and fruitage of trees (Isa. 41:19-20; Ezek. 36:8-11, 29-30; 47:6-7, 12; Joel 2:21-26). Animals will experience great productivity (Ezek. 36:11; 47:8-10). Food will be abundant (Ps. 72:16; Isa. 30:23-24; Jer. 21:10-14; Ezek. 34:25-30; 36:29-30; Joel 2:21-26; Zech. 8:11-12). All animals will be tame and vegetarian in diet (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25). Diseases and deformities will be abolished (Isa. 29:18; 33:24; 33:5-6). Human life will experience great longevity (Isa. 65:20-22). War will be abolished (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3). Satan will not be able to instigate any activity on the earth (Rev. 20:1-3). Man will be required to submit to the righteous rule of Messiah.

Man’s responsibility during the seventh dispensation will be to obey God on the basis of conscience, human government, and the theocratic rule of Christ. This responsibility will subject man to the following test: Will he obey God on the basis of these three ruling factors?"

3) SECONDARY RULES GOVERNING HUMAN BEHAVIOR

a) The absolute theocracy of Christ. Ps. 2:6-12; 22:27-28; Ez. 37:22-28; Is. 2:2-4; 65:21-23; Dan. 7:14 & 28

b) The resurrected believers shall reign with Christ. Mt. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 5:10

c) New Covenant with Israel (Heb 8:8-11) All will worship Christ in Jerusalem (or have drought). Is. 2:3; Zech. 14:16-19

d) Strict enforcement of Civil law stops crime. Is. 65:19-20

e) Length of biological life restored. Is. 29:18; 33:24; 35:5-6; 65:20

f) Peace restored in animal kingdom (become plant eaters). Is. 11:6-8; 65:25

g) Restored productivity in plant kingdom. Is. 35:1-2; 65:21-22; Amos 9:13

4) CONCLUSION

[Showers, cont.]:

"Man will fail the test of the last dispensation. Some unsaved individuals will rebel outwardly against Christ’s rule during His reign (Isa. 11:3-4; 29:20-21; Jer. 31:29-30). Others will not rebel outwardly, but they will chafe inwardly. They will despise the absolute, righteous rule of Christ but will know better than to rebel outwardly. When the seventh dispensation ends and Satan is released from the abyss, these people will follow Satan in his last revolt against God’s rule (Rev. 20:7-10).

This failure of great multitudes of people in spite of the perfect government and exceptional conditions of the seventh dispensation will demonstrate that the ultimate cause of man’s failure and rebellion throughout history is not his external environment and circumstances but his own inward, sinful nature which rejects the rule of God and asserts self-rule.

Man’s failure in conjunction with the seventh dispensation will bring God’s judgment. Those people who rebel outwardly during Christ’s reign will be executed (Isa. 11:3-4; 29:20-21; Jer. 21:29-30). In addition, God will crush the huge revolt which will take place immediately after the seventh dispensation by sending fire to destroy the human rebels and casting Satan into the lake of fire for everlasting torment (Rev. 20:9-10)."

III) CONCLUSION: DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY IS INDEED SCRIPTURAL AND IT NEVER FAILS TO GLORIFY GOD

A) KEY ELEMENTS OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY'S EXPOSITION OF THE BIBLICAL PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY

[Showers, cont.]:

"Earlier in this study it was noted that in order for an exposition of the biblical philosophy of history to be valid, it must contain certain necessary elements. Now that Dispensational Theology has been surveyed as a system, it is essential to determine how it deals with those necessary elements as it attempts to exposit the Bible’s philosophy of history."

1) KEY ELEMENT #1: DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY'S ULTIMATE PURPOSE IS TO GLORIFY GOD TOWARD WHICH EACH DISPENSATION MOVES AND WHICH IS FULLY CONFIRMED IN SCRIPTURE

a) INTRODUCTION

[Showers, cont.]:

"The first necessary element of a valid exposition is an ultimate purpose or goal for history toward the fulfillment of which all history moves. According to Dispensational Theology, the ultimate goal of history is for God to glorify Himself by demonstrating the fact that He alone is the sovereign God.

The Bible ascribes great glory to God, indicating that everything is for His glory. It calls Him "The God of glory" (Acts 7:2), "the Father of glory" (Eph. 1:17), and "the King of glory" (Ps. 24:7-10). It declares that His name is glorious and expresses the desire that the whole earth be filled with His glory (Ps. 72:18-19). Because all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him, the Bible ascribes glory to God forever (Rom. 11:36).

It is interesting to note that the Scriptures repeatedly associate the glory of God with His sovereign rule. For example, David declared,

Wherefore, David blessed the LORD before all the congregation; and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel, our father, forever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name (1 Chr. 29:10-13).

Many other passages associate God’s glory with the concepts of His Kingship, throne, Kingdom, dominion, and authority (Ps. 29:1-2, 9-10; 96:7-10; 97:1-6; 113:4-5; 115:1-3; 145:10-13; Isa. 6:1,3,5; Jer. 14:21; Dan. 7:14; Mt. 19:28; 25:31; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25; Rev 5:13; 7:10-12).

The Bible indicates that God is glorified through His sovereign dealings with nations (Ezek. 39:17-21), rulers (Rom. 9:17; Dan. 4:17, 34-37), Israel (Isa. 43:1, 7; 46:13; 60:1-3; Jer. 13:11), the Church (Eph. 3:20-21), and the nonelect (Rom. 9:17-18, 21). God is glorified by His sovereign act of creation (Ps. 19:1; Rev. 4:11), His sovereign acts in storms (Ps. 29:1-3, 9-10), His sovereign judgments (Isa. 2:19, 21; 59:18-19; Ezek. 39:17-21; Rev. 11:13; 19:1-2), and His sovereign act of hiding knowledge from human beings (Prov. 25:2). God glorifies Himself by sovereignly redeeming lost human beings and sovereignly keeping those whom He has redeemed (Rom. 9:23; 15:7-9; Eph. 1:5-6, 12, 14, 18; Phil. 4:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:18). God is to be glorified through the righteous deeds of believers performed through the equipment which God sovereignly gives (1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 1:11; Heb. 13-21)."

b) DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY DEMONSTRATES THAT GOD IS THE SOVEREIGN RULER THROUGHOUT HISTORY

[Showers, cont.]:

"The successive dispensations glorify God in several ways. First, they demonstrate that God is the sovereign Ruler throughout history in spite of Satan’s attempt to overthrow that rule and man’s rebellion against it. The fact that God can hold man responsible to obey His different ways of administering His rule throughout history and can judge man for his failures to obey clearly demonstrates that God is sovereign through history."

c) DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY DEMONSTRATES THAT MAN NEEDS TO SUBMIT TO GOD'S RULE IN ORDER TO HAVE THINGS RIGHT ON EARTH AND THIS REFLECTS WHAT SCRIPTURE TEACHES

[Showers, cont.]:

"Second, the dispensations show how desperately man needs to submit to God’s rule in order to have things right on earth. They display the disorder and tragedy which result from the rejection of God’s rule."

d) DISPENSATIONS PROGRESSIVELY MOVE HISTORY TOWARD THE FULFILLMENT OF ITS GOD-INTENDED CLIMAX AS TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE

[Showers, cont.]:

"Third, the dispensations progressively move history toward the fulfillment of its God-intended climax. In the final "dispensation of the fullness of times" (Eph. 1:9-10), God will fully glorify Himself by crushing Satan and his kingdom (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:1-3), restoring His own Kingdom rule to the earth through Jesus Christ (Rev. 11:15; 20:4-6), and reversing the tragic consequences of man’s rebellion (Mt. 19:28; Acts 3:19-21)."

2) KEY ELEMENT #2: DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY'S RECOGNITION OF DISTINCTIONS OR THINGS WHICH DIFFER IN HISTORY

[Showers, cont.]:

"The second necessary element of a valid exposition of the Bible’s philosophy of history is the recognition of distinctions or things which differ in history. Dispensational Theology asserts that distinctions are the result of God’s administering His rule in different ways at different periods of history. In other words, distinctions are the result of the different dispensations of God’s rule."

3) KEY ELEMENT #3: DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY HAS A PROPER CONCEPT OF THE PROGRESS OF REVELATION

[Showers, cont.]:

"The third necessary element is a proper concept of the progress of revelation. Dispensational Theology states that each new dispensation, since it involves a new way of God’s administering His rule of the world, requires new revelation."

4) KEY ELEMENT #4: THE SOVEREIGN RULE OF GOD IS THE PRINCIPLE TOWARD WHICH THE DISPENSATIONAL DISTINCTIONS AND PROGRESSIVE STAGES OF REVELATION ARE UNITED IN POINTING

[Showers, cont.]:

"The fourth necessary element is a unifying principle which ties the distinctions and progressive stages of revelation together and which directs them toward the fulfillment of the purpose of history. Dispensational Theology’s unifying principle for all of history is the sovereign rule of God."

B) INDISPENSABLE FACTORS OF DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY

1) INTRODUCTION

[Showers, cont.]:

"Three factors are indispensable to Dispensational Theology. They clearly make Dispensational Theology distinct from Covenant Theology. Any system of theology which does contain all three is not dispensational in the truest sense of the term."

a) THE FIRST FACTOR IS THE RECOGNITION OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE NATION OF ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

[Showers, cont.]:

"As noted earlier, Covenant Theology believes that the Church existed in Old Testament times and that Israel was a major part of the Church in the Old Testament. Thus, it is convinced that Israel and the Church are essentially the same. By contrast, Dispensational Theology believes that Israel and the Church are distinct entities. It is convinced that although both have had special relationships with God, they are not essentially the same...."

REF: CHURCH VS ISRAEL

b) THE SECOND INDISPENSABLE FACTOR IS THE CONSISTENT USE OF A SINGLE HERMENEUTIC (A SINGLE METHOD OF INTERPRETING THE BIBLE) - NAMELY, THE HISTORICAL-GRAMMATICAL METHOD

[Showers, cont.]:

"In this method, words are given the common, ordinary meaning which they had in the culture and time in which the passage was written. As noted earlier, Covenant Theology employs a double hermeneutic – the historical-grammatical method for many passages but also the allegorical or spiritualizing method of a number of prophetic passages dealing with the future of Israel and the future Kingdom of God...."

However, in order for the Bible to have an absolutely consistent interpretation throughout without contradiction - one which is within the reach of every individual, only the normative method of language interpretation should be used: the historical grammatical method.

REF: PROPER APPROACH TO SCRIPTURE

c) THE THIRD INDISPENSABLE FACTOR IS THE RECOGNITION THAT THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF HISTORY IS THE GLORY OF GOD THROUGH THE DEMONSTRATION THAT HE ALONE IS THE SOVEREIGN GOD.

[Showers, cont.]:

"As noted earlier, Covenant Theology advocates that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect. By contrast, although Dispensational Theology recognizes that the redemption of elect human beings is very important part of God’s purpose for history it is convinced that it is only one part of that purpose....

[It is evident in Scripture that there are other programs which God is carrying out. For example, God's program relative to angels, to non-elect humans, to the universe]

...Thus, the ultimate purpose of history has to be large enough to incorporate all of God’s programs, not just one of them. Dispensational Theology proposes that the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God is the only purpose capable of doing this. It also is convinced that the Scriptures indicate that this is the ultimate purpose of history."

FOOTNOTES: SECTION II

1. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary On The Old Testament, Vol. I, trans. by James Martin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959), p. 134.

2. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament (4th rev. ed.; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 851.

3 Ibid., p. 608.

4 Ibid., p. 27.

5 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), pp. 43-47.