Thy Kingdom Come -The Sovereignty Of The Rapture – Part 2 – Dispensations
A. A dispensation is a way of ordering things—an administration, a system, or a management. In theology, a dispensation is the divine administration of a period of time; each dispensation is a divinely appointed age. Dispensationalism is a theological system that recognizes these ages ordained by God to order the affairs of the world. Dispensationalism has two primary distinctives: 1) a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy, and 2) a view of the uniqueness of Israel as separate from the Church in God’s program. Classical dispensationalism identifies seven dispensations in God’s plan for humanity.
B. Dispensationalists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible as the best hermeneutic. The literal interpretation gives each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Allowances are made for symbols, figures of speech, and types, of course. It is understood that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. So, for example, when the Bible speaks of “a thousand years” in Revelation 20, dispensationalists interpret it as a literal period of 1,000 years (the dispensation of the Kingdom), since there is no compelling reason to interpret it otherwise.
C. There are at least two reasons why literalism is the best way to view Scripture. First, philosophically, the purpose of language itself requires that we interpret words literally. Language was given by God for the purpose of being able to communicate. Words are vessels of meaning. The second reason is biblical. Every prophecy about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament was fulfilled literally. Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection all occurred exactly as the Old Testament predicted. The prophecies were literal. There is no non-literal fulfillment of messianic prophecies in the New Testament. This argues strongly for the literal method. If a literal interpretation is not used in studying the Scriptures, there is no objective standard by which to understand the Bible. Each person would be able to interpret the Bible as he saw fit. Biblical interpretation would devolve into “what this passage says to me” instead of “the Bible says.” Sadly, this is already the case in much of what is called Bible study today.
D. Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the Church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by grace through faith alone—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the Church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and that the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the Church. Dispensationalism teaches that the promises that God made to Israel in the Old Testament (for land, many descendants, and blessings) will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in Revelation 20. Dispensationalists believe that, just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the Church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (see Romans 9-11 and Daniel 9:24).
E. Dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into seven dispensations: Innocence (Gen 1:1-3:6), Conscience (Gen 3:7-8:14), Civil/Human Government (Gen 8:5-11:9), Patriarchal Rule (Gen 11:10—Ex 18:27), Mosaic Law (Ex 19:1—Acts 1:26), Grace (Acts 2:1—Rev 19:21), and the Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:1-15). Again, these dispensations are not paths to salvation, but manners in which God relates to man. Each dispensation includes a recognizable pattern of how God worked with people living in the dispensation. That pattern is 1) a responsibility, 2) a failure, 3) a judgment, and 4) grace to move on.
F. Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a premillennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and a pretribulational interpretation of the rapture. To summarize, dispensationalism is a theological system that emphasizes the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy, recognizes a distinction between Israel and the Church, and organizes the Bible into different dispensations or administrations.
II. Dispensations Explained.
A. A dispensation is a period of time, during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture.
a. Responsibilities: Keep garden. Do not eat one fruit. Fill, subdue the earth. Fellowship with God.
b. Judgments: Curses, and physical and spiritual death.
a. Responsibility: Do Good.
b. Judgment: Flood.
3. Civil/Human Government.
a Responsibilities: Fill earth. Capital punishment.
b. Judgment: Forced scattering by confusion of languages.
4. Patriarchal Rule.
a. Responsibilities: Stay in Promised Land. Believe and obey God.
b. Judgments: Egyptian bondage and wilderness wanderings.
5. Mosaic Law.
a. Responsibilities: Keep the Law. Walk with God.
b. Judgment. Captives.
a. Responsibilities: Believe on Christ. Walk with Christ.
b. Judgments: Death. Loss of Rewards.
7. Millennial Kingdom.
Responsibilities: Believe and obey Christ and His government.
Judgments: Death. Great White Throne Government.
B. Each of the dispensations of God show a plan that God has set forth for the redemption of fallen mankind. Of key significance to us of this time period, is that the dispensations will show God’s plan for: Rapture, Tribulation, Millennial Kingdom, and Eternal State. None of the events in God’s timeline are a matter of happenstance, but are a part of God’s sovereign plan, of which there is no room for mankind to dictate or change any of that which God has planned.
IV. About This Series Of Articles.
A. This study is one of Bible Exposition, which extends from the first verse of Genesis through the last verse of Revelation. The key focus of the study relates to Matthew 6:10, where Jesus tells the Jews to pray for the Kingdom to Come; there was never such a prayer that was addressed to Gentiles. The kingdom did not come during the time that Jesus was on this earth, and has not come since He ascended to Heaven. The Kingdom “does not” enter people; people will enter the Kingdom, and will be physically here on earth, which will be a prophecy that fulfills 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16-17.
B. The Davidic Kingdom is an unconditional gift, by promise to Israel; but, Gentiles will benefit from God’s unconditional gift of the Davidic Kingdom to Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). Those who enter the Kingdom from the earth will be those who are alive at the end of the Tribulation, and have come to belief in Christ during the Tribulation (Matt 25:31-34). Those whom have been in heaven during the Tribulation, will return to earth with Christ at the end of the Tribulation and will rule and reign with Him during the thousand year Kingdom on earth (Rev 19:11-20:4 (Jew and Gentile saints); Matt 19:27-28 (Jews); 1 Cor 6:2-3 (Gentiles).
C. Even though God unconditionally promised the Abrahamic Covenant to Israel (Gen 12:2-3), and was offered to Israel in the Gospels, Israel refused that free gift by denying Jesus as God’s chosen king (Matt 12:24;Deu 17:15). The promise of the Kingdom to Israel, which was refused by first century Israel, will be offered again to a generation of Israel who will accept Jesus as God’s chosen king (Matt 21:43). Such will be the generation of Jews who will be alive during the Tribulation (Zech 12:10). Then, believing Jews, and believing tribulation saints, will enter the time of the Davidic Kingdom, which will be on earth. Soon after, Jesus and the old and new testament saints in Heaven will arrive on earth to set up the thousand year Kingdom Age, which will be followed by the eternal state of the New Heaven, New Earth, and New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-2). The New Jerusalem that had been mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Gal 4:26 (“the Jerusalem, above”) will find its way down to the new earth.
III. Article References.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D. (1871-1952). J. Vernon McGee, Th. D. (1904-1988). Merrill F. Unger, Ph. D. (1909-1980). Charles L. Feinberg, Ph. D. (1909-1995). John F. Walvoord, Th. D. (1910-2002). J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. (1915-2014). Charles C. Ryrie, Ph. D. (1925-2016). Robert L. Thomas, Th. D. (1928-2017). Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. (1928-2017). Robert P. Lightner, Th. D. (1931-2018). Harold W. Hoehner, Ph. D. (1935-2009). Thomas S. McCall, Th. D. (1936-2021). Edward E. Hindson, Ph. D. (1944-2022).
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, “public domain,” is to be considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article, I have chosen theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references in this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor. Other source of information in this article: Henry C. Thiessen.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary; I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/
a. Mark Yarbrough. Th. M., Ph. D.
b. Professor of Bible Exposition. Author. Church Pastor/Elder.