Ages and Angels
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #06
April 22, 2014
"How can a young man cleanse his way by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word," Psalm 119:9. "Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee," Psalm 119:11. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path," Psalm 119:105. "Jesus prayed to the Father, to sanctify them in truth, Thy Word is truth," John 17:17. "For the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever," Isaiah 40:8.
We we'll have a few moments of silent prayer so you can make sure that you are in fellowship and ready to study the Word, then I will open in prayer. Let's pray. Our Father, it is such a great privilege that we have to come together to see one another and to be focused upon Your Word and to be reminded that we are not standing alone. You, of course, are always with us. It is good to know that there are other believers who we fellowship with who are standing firm for the truth. Our Father, as we gather together this evening our focus is upon You. It is upon Your Word and learning about Your grace; learning about Your purpose in human history so that we can properly understand what is going on in terms of Your plan and purpose, and understanding the basic themes and structures of the Scriptures. Father, we pray that You would open the eyes of our soul that we might have clear understanding of Your Word this evening; we pray in Christ's Name, Amen.
We are continuing our study on dispensations and last time we looked at the distinction between dispensations and ages. We are going to continue that tonight. We are also going to have a quick review of covenants, which I believe are the revelatory mechanisms through which God communicated a change in most dispensations, not every one, but in most of them there was a new communication via a covenant. Now the last time for the end of the class a couple of questions came in from Mary from Georgia. We are going to answer those questions as we go through tonight probably. One had to do with understanding what does it mean to glorify God and how do you glorify God? The other question had to do with why does God need to have His Character vindicated? So we are going to look at that within the structure of understanding the angelic conflict. We will get to that I hope before the class is over with this evening.
Just by way of review, we look at these covenants last time; that there are the initial Gentile covenants, which I believe are modifications of the same Creation Covenant. There are similarities but differences. Those differences are introduced because of sin. So you have some initial commands given to man: that he is to be fruitful and multiply; he is to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and the beast of the field; he is to take care of the garden; he is to take care of creation and give oversight there. There is one prohibition: that is, he is not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He is created in the image and likeness of God; so that means that he is God's delegated representative authority over Creation. The word that is used is vice-gerent, not vice-regent. Don't flip the consonants there. There is a word vice-regent. A regent is a king and a vice-regent is the one who is his assistant or next in line. That is like the vice-president; the one next in line in authority. A vice-gerent is someone who is sent to represent the king and who stands as the king's representative with authority over an entity whatever it might be, another country, an army, something of that quality.
So, the human beings are created as a vice-gerent. We represent God; we are created in His image to rule over the Creation as His representative. Now when man sins, disobeys the mandate, the prohibition, then certain changes occurred. There is a constitutional change in man. He becomes spiritually dead. There are constitutional defects that reverberate through all of Creation. So that you then, at this point, you have the introduction scientifically of the second law of thermodynamics. Prior to this matter the first law of thermodynamics came into effect during the Creation week. During the Creation week God creates matter, energy; at the end of the Creation week creation ceases and you have a finite amount of matter and energy. But starting with the Fall you now have energy running down, moving to a state of entropy. Sooner or later that will run out. But everything begins to deteriorate; everything begins to grow old; everything begins need; the grass needs to be cut; the house needs to be painted; things rust; everything begins to deteriorate. But essentially the focus in the Adamic covenant is on how the curse primarily affects the actors that is the people who are actively involved in that scene, the serpent, Eve and Adam.
And so there are changes that take place, and then that situation continues until the flood and then there is a judgment on the planet. Everybody is wiped out in the flood except for Noah, his three sons, and their four wives. The Noahic Covenant is still in effect, but there is failure again that occurred at the Tower of Babel; and so instead of working through the entire human race God began to work through one particular group, the descendants of Abraham. He made a covenant with Abraham that promised him land, seed, and blessing; and each one of those elements is further expanded in a subsequent covenant. The Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, the New Covenant.
The Abrahamic Covenant went into effect immediately when God cut that covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12-17. There are different stages of promise and then the actual cutting of the covenant in Genesis 15 and Genesis 17. The three subsequent covenants are expansions on the Abrahamic Covenant and they don't come into effect until the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the end of the age to establish the Millennial Kingdom. I am using that term age in a rather broad sense. In the Old Testament (OT) they did not understand all the different dispensations that were coming. They just knew that at some time the Messiah would come and establish a kingdom. That is when all of these three covenants would be fulfilled. There is the one conditional or temporary covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. In contrast to the temporary nature of the Mosaic Covenant, the other covenants to Israel are permanent, everlasting and will not change.
As we look at history (see slide #3), as we look at how the dispensations are laid out, we are talking about "ages," The Ages of Civilization (see slide #4). Just to give you an overview: we have ETERNITY PAST; and then the first broad age, which incorporates three dispensations, is the AGE OF THE GENTILES. It begins with the Creation in Genesis 1 and extends down past the Noahic Flood to the Tower of Babel. It is with the Tower of Babel that God ceases to work with all of humanity; they have united against Him as they did before the Flood and He comes up with a new plan to work through one individual and that is Abraham. This begins the AGE OF ISRAEL, because from this point on God is going to work through Abraham and His descendants as the primary path of blessing to the human race.
The Jewish people begin with Abraham; the nation doesn't begin until Mount Sinai, but God's plan to work solely and exclusively through the Jewish people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, begins in Genesis 12. So the AGE OF ISRAEL extends to the Cross, which is the First Coming of Jesus Christ and it is just after that that the CHURCH AGE begins on the Day of Pentecost. The CHURCH AGE extends to the rapture of the Church and then there is just a brief little seven year period that actually goes back to the AGE OF ISRAEL, that is the Tribulation, still part of the AGE OF ISRAEL, the last seven years in God's timetable for Israel. Then the Lord Jesus Christ returns at the Second Coming and we have the MESSIANIC AGE or the Millennium. When the Millennium ends then there will be a rebellion again, a judgment and God will then destroy the present heavens and earth and establish the New Heavens and New Earth and we go into ETERNITY FUTURE. That gives us an overview of these ages.
Now we will go back to the earlier slide to look at these ages in detail (see slide #5). We saw last time that an "age" is a large era or epoch marked by a definite boundaries; the word indicates a fixed timeframe; whereas a dispensation going back to the initial Greek word; everybody had a little trouble with this because too often you heard dispensation defined as a period of time where the period of time was the primary characteristic; administration if mentioned was a secondary characteristic. You go back to Scofield and others who were not as precise in their definition as they should be.
The reason I keep emphasizing this is the Greek word or the whole word group, whether it is OIKONIMIA, OIKONOMOS, any of those words, or OIKONOMEO, these words always refer to an administration or a stewardship. You can look at a hundred Greek dictionaries and you won't find a single one that includes anything related to time in the definition of OIKONOMIA. They all talk about the fact that it relates to an administration, stewardship, a responsibility. As I said last time, when we emphasize that aspect of it that brings in something we can unpack in terms of the responsibilities that distinguish each administration and these are related to the tests and the failures of each administration. So obviously, any administration is bordered by time; you can talk about the administration of Bill Clinton; and what you are emphasizing when you do that; what comes to people's mind are the characteristics and the qualities of that administration, not necessarily the time period during which it occurred, but obviously it is marked by a beginning and an end.
We looked last time at the AGE OF THE GENTILES (see slide #6), which is the first broad age that goes from the Creation to the Call of Abraham in Genesis 12:1, so it covers the first eleven chapters of Genesis. As such, it covers three dispensations:
1. Dispensation of Innocence, Genesis 1:28 to Genesis 3:8
2. Dispensation of Conscience, Genesis 3:9 to Genesis 8:14
3. Dispensation of Government, Genesis 8:15 to Genesis11:35
These are the different dispensations in the first AGE OF THE GENTILES. Now there are several characteristics we looked at last time (see slide #7.) There is:
1. One language; everybody on the earth spoke one language. There were no linguistic distinctions. Everybody could understand each other.
You cannot imagine the value of that unless you've travelled a lot internationally or if you have tried to communicate the gospel or tried to teach the Bible to people that don't understand your language. I remember years ago when in the year 2000, when I was invited by Jim Myers to come over to teach at a pastors' conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and we got there and the church building, the room we were in was rectangular. It was probably about half the size of this room or a little bit less; and at night they push all the desk up against the wall and the students would throw their pallets down on the ground in there and a couple of other rooms. They slept there. The next morning they would roll up their little pallet and put the little desks that they had back in place, and then we would be ready. We would sit there all day. The temperature in that room wasn't bad considering it was about 115°F outside. The two air conditioners, which were window units, which you had to talk over, pretty much kept the temperature down to about a comfortable 98 degrees; and then on top of that you had a communication problem.
On one side of the room you had Kazakh speakers; on the other side of the room you had Russian speakers. The Kazakh speakers had a Kazakh Bible, which didn't have anything translated from the OT. Half my stuff had to do with the OT. I was speaking on spiritual warfare; how can you teach somebody about the Fall of Satan in Isaiah and Ezekiel when they've never even read the OT. And then, the Kazakh translation they had was translated by a Baptist from the New International Version, not from the Greek. So you really weren't sure what was going on. So I would speak and I had a Kazakh translator who was excellent. She was the wife of the pastor and she was excellent; she fluently spoke six or seven languages. Then I had a Russian translator who wasn't that good because words like "justification, propitiation…" stumped him. He had been translating for American Christian pastors for at least 10 years, but those words stumped him. That ought to tell you a lot about what gets taught over there. Not much. And sadly nobody uses that kind of technical vocabulary because he was stumped.
Jim had to fly his regular translator, Margaret, in from Kiev so that she could handle the Russian translation. One day Juana, who was the Kazakh translator, had to go down to the visa office to take care of some problems with one of the students. So there wasn't a single student who could translate English to Kazakh. But there was one who could translate Russian to Kazakh. So I would teach and it would be translated by the somewhat barely competent translator form English to Russian; and then the other guy would translate it from Russian to Kazakh. I have no idea if they heard anything close to what I was saying. That is the Tower of Babel. So that judgment came and after that God called out Abraham. So initially there was one language.
2. One race; they still didn't get along. You couldn't cry racism because there weren't any distinctions.
3. They had no canon of Scripture that we know of; there may have been something because all those terms that we see, the repeated phrases that we see, "These are the records of; these are the records of Adam; these are the records of the Creation; these are the records of Noah; these are the records of Abraham…" indicate that they were probably writing something down, but I don't know if there was any kind of transmission. There is no indication of that.
4. Salvation was still by faith in Jesus Christ, but it was in the future promised seed of the woman; they did not know the name Jesus Christ, they knew there was a promised redemption through the seed of the woman.
5. There is no distinct administrative entity during that time.
6. The Divine institutions are developed, which we will cover when we get there; and they are attacked by Satan from the very beginning. Marriage wasn't just attacked recently; it has been attacked all along.
That pretty much covers the first "age," the AGE OF THE GENTILES. Then we have the AGE OF THE JEWS (see slide #8). Now the Scripture here is Genesis 12 through Malachi. The majority of the OT covers the AGE OF THE JEWS except for prophetic passages that focus on the way things will be during the millennium; passages such as Isaiah 11, 35, 64, 65; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John are included in this because they cover the period of the life of Christ ant that was all during the AGE OF ISRAEL; Revelation 6-19 are also a part of Daniel's 70th week, so that would be part of last seven year period of the age of Israel. So that is the Scripture for that. I have put the exception here of John 13-17 because that is the last night before the Lord went to the Cross when he is teaching His disciples about spiritual life truth for the Church Age. So that is somewhat prophetic. That wasn't what was enacted at that time. It is telling them about the coming of the Holy Spirit and He is teaching them about fellowship and walking by the spirit during that last teaching time with His disciples.
The AGE OF THE JEWS covers two dispensations (see slide #8):
1. The Dispensation of the Patriarchs sometimes referred to as Promise, from Abraham to the Sinai, from Abraham to the giving of the Law.
2. The second period, the second Dispensation is form the giving of the Law from Moses to Jesus Christ. Those are the two basic dispensations.
Now there is a third dispensation that I put in there and we will cover it when we get there. Most people today don't recognize it, but I think it is a distinct dispensation, at least it is a critical hinge dispensation, and that is the Messianic Age or the period when Christ comes the first time and that is the Period of the First Advent. We will cover that when we get there. I think it fits the criteria, but we won't get distracted with that right now.
3. Then the Tribulation, which is from the signing of the covenant that begins Daniel's 70th week to the Second Advent of Christ.
The basic characteristics of this age (see slide #9):
1. There are many languages now; at the Tower of Babel God scattered languages. When everybody gets a different language then people tend to group together according to those languages. That is when races developed because when everybody got different languages these five or six people would go off over here because they could not understand anybody else; and those six or eight people were probably paired up male and female. God is pretty accurate that way. And those eight people, four men and four women would go off that way. It was probably a lot more, but you understand the principle. They would divide up according to who could understand them because nobody else could understand them, you were pretty limited as to who you were going to select for a spouse, so they would select someone for a spouse. They would then have children and over time certain genetic characteristics would dominate. I have a sneaking suspicion that God didn't just randomly throw out those languages. But He knew what the various genetic tendencies were in different groups and He selected who would be in which language group in order to carve up the human race according to certain genetic characteristics.
2. So many languages lead to many tribes or nations.
3. In the AGE OF ISRAEL there is a specific administrator throughout the three dispensations and that is Israel. Israel was to give the gospel not only to their own people, but were to be a source of the gospel for those who came to Israel.
In the New Testament (NT) the church was sent out. Israel was positioned at the hub of the world. If you were on a trade route; if you were out driving a semi-camel hauling goods from Egypt to Mesopotamia, you had to go through Israel. If you were sending goods back and you first wanted to trade off some things in the Caucasus Mountains you would haul goods up to the Caucasus Mountains and get a new load of goods to take to Egypt and once again you are travelling south and you go through Israel. All roads went through Israel. As they would go to Israel, according to Deuteronomy, the system was set up so that if the people were obedient to the law and were being blessed by God, then people would be astounded by what they saw. They would see a nation where there was freedom, a nation where there was tremendous prosperity and blessing, and they would say:
What is it that makes a difference?
How come the Israelites are like this?
Why are they such a great nation?
Then they would find out and they would take the good news back to their nations. That is how God designed things. Now that failed. In the church age we take the Word out to people; and that is ultimately going to fail because people will reject it. As we go through this study what we are going to see is that in every dispensation and every age God sets up every possible set of circumstances whereby people can succeed or fail. And they are always going to fail because He is demonstrating something. He is demonstrating that unless human beings are completely dependent upon Him nothing works; nothing else works whether it is just a little bit or a lot. They have to be totally dependent; whether or not God's provision a little or a lot they have to be completely dependent upon Him; otherwise, nothing works.
4. Salvation wasn't on the basis of keeping the Law, but it was through faith in Christ, just as today, looking to the promise of the Seed, the Redeemer, the Seed of the woman Who would redeem them for their sins.
5. Revelation from God; how did you know the truth? Revelation came through Israel. They were the custodians of Divine Revelation. Not only did they receive it through the prophets, but they were to record it and preserve it for the ages.
And so this lasts from Abraham all the way to the Second Advent with the exception of the Church Age. The Church Age is sometimes called by dispensationalists the great parenthesis because it was not foreseen or prophesied about from the OT. That is because they did not want to give Israel a clue as to what might happen in the future. If Israel had known that God was going to have another plan for another people in the OT, then they would have known; it would have been a hint that maybe they weren't going to receive the Messiah. So by not announcing anything about the future Church Age or the possibility of it, then the test of whether or not they would accept a Messiah or not was a real test. They didn't know what might happen. So that is why that was kept a complete secret, which is referred to as a mystery.
Then we come to the Church Age, THE AGE OF THE CHURCH (see slide #10). In terms of the Gospels, the primary teaching about the spiritual life of the Church Age comes in John 13-17; those passages where Jesus is teaching His disciples the night before He goes to the Cross. The Church Age actually begins with the Day of Pentecost and it extends until the rapture of the church. So that is how we come to understand when and how long the Church Age lasts. The NT epistles, except for certain portions that deal with the Tribulation; Revelation 1-3 covers the Church Age. The only parts of the NT that doesn't address it are prophetic portions that deal with the Tribulation. But the NT epistles from Romans to Jude are addressed to Church Age believers. We are given a sufficient revelation there. We are given everything we need to know about living the spiritual life of the Church Age. So if there is something that is not there, it speaks volumes because God did not think it was important. But that is the primary focus of study for the spiritual life of the Church Age, are those epistles.
Now that doesn't mean we shouldn't study the rest of Scripture because the rest of the Scripture provides background, and provides a tremendous amount of information that we need in order to understand what is in the epistles. I've known of some dispensationalists who only teach Paul's Epistles. That almost smacks of hyper-dispensationalism. I've known of some dispensationalists who will only teach Paul's later epistles; that really is more like hyper-dispensationalism. But we are to teach the whole counsel of God. The Scripture teaches everything from Genesis through Revelation. Not all of it as directly applicable to us; some of it is indirectly applicable, but all of it is significant. For example, when we study the Mosaic Law, we study especially the passages in the OT that deal with government. It tells us a lot about God's standards for government; it gives us a pattern for government, of one government that God set up on the earth that is the government that is the theocracy of Israel. That doesn't mean that other countries should just copy that, but it gives us a framework, a guideline, a pattern for how government should function and how government should operate.
There application and implications from the rest of Scripture that applies to the church or can be applied to the church, rather than being directly addressed to the church. There are two subdivisions in the Church Age (see slide #10):
1. The first is the Pre-canon period when they did not have a completed NT; when it was still being written and still being put together. In fact, during this time revelation regarding the nature of the church was still being given. When the apostle Paul wrote his first epistle, which was Galatians, he did not have as firm a grasp on some aspects of the church and the Church Age as he did later when he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians; those three prison epistles really focus on a lot of key aspects related to the Christian life of the Church Age. So there is a progress of revelation even within the narrow confines of the two and a half decades or so in which the NT was written. I believe the earliest book was either Matthew or James around AD 45, 46, or 47. Then the Johannine Epistles, the Gospel of John, the whole body of Johannine writings were probably written last between AD 85-89. So you are roughly talking about a fifty year period there when the NT is being written. But there is even a progress of revelation during that particular time. So you have the Pre-canon period from Pentecost in Acts 2 until the completion of the canon in AD 96.
2. The second period is the Post-canon period, which builds on what is revealed in the canonical books of the NT from AD 96 until the rapture, when God's revelation has ceased.
The issue there is why doesn't God speak like He did before? Because He has already spoken; He has already given us the information. Now the test is are we going to go back to the Word; are we going to study the Word; are we going to learn what He has revealed and apply it to our lives? So that covers the third age, which is the AGE OF THE CHURCH.
Now there is some distinguishing characteristics and these relate to the unique assets that God has given Church Age believers (see slide #11):
1. First of all we Union with Christ through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Nobody in history has had that kind of union with Deity, but believers in the Church Age have. We are united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
2. We are also indwelt. Every believer is indwelt by the Jesus Christ.
3. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who creates a sanctified temple; a temple is a place where Deity dwells. So the Holy Spirit makes our body be a temple, sets it apart for the indwelling of Jesus Christ.
We have the universal indwelling of Jesus Christ; the universal indwelling of the Holy Spirit
4. We have the universal ministry of the believer, our ambassadorship, we represent the throne of God to this earth; our citizenship is ultimately in heaven.
The problem that a lot of folks have is that they confuse their earthly citizenship with their heavenly citizenship. We are talking about this in Romans 13; because we actually have a dual citizenship. It is not one or the other. There is a heavenly citizenship, which overrides the earthly one, but it doesn't replace it. We still have everyday responsibilities of our earthly citizenship in terms of whatever nation in which we live and being a good citizen of that nation. But it is overridden by the fact that we have a higher authority to which we are obedient and we have a higher calling, which is to represent God to the human race. We have a priesthood. This is how we represent ourselves to God. Every believer is a priest and we are able to have direct access to God by virtue of our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross for our sins. Nobody ever had that before in human history; nobody will have that afterword.
We have spiritual gifts. There is nothing comparable to spiritual gifts in Israel. There is nothing comparable to that in the future kingdom. There are some things related to revelatory gifts, prophesy; for example, Joel 2:28-30, talking about young men having dreams and young women seeing visions. That is not ecstatic; ecstasy is the modus operandi of the pagans. Ecstasy is pure emotion; that is how it is defined by anybody who has studied it. Ecstasy is not biblical; ecstasy is the absence of thought and the domination of emotion. This is what the priests of Baal did. This is what the priestesses of the Ashtoreth did when they are dancing around the sacrifice there with Elijah; and they are weeping and wailing; and they are screaming and gashing themselves to try to get the god's attention; that is ecstatics.
The role of the prophet in Scripture was that God pressed and communicated through his thinking. It could be through dreams; it could be through visions; but it was content. When you look at those examples of Joseph having dreams; that is not ecstasy that is how God is communicating to him. That is rational, logical communication via a dream. That is not what you see the priests of the pagan gods and goddesses do. There is nothing like the biblical relationship with God that we have in the Church Age.
5. Furthermore, we have a completed canon of Scripture. Today we have not only the completed canon of Scripture, we have about 1001 translations that we can examine, not to mention all the tools that we have. It seems like the more light that we have available, the more darkness there is in the world.
6. We have the Filling of the Holy Spirit to enable us in our supernatural way of life.
7. We have a Salvation that is by faith alone in Christ alone. We now understand the dynamics the work of Salvation. In the OT they just had shadows and pictures, but we have not only seen, but we have testimony of what happened on the Cross. We have its explanation and it books like Romans, Galatians and others to help us understand all the dynamics.
8. Also, spiritually, all racial/social/gender distinctions were removed as regards our standing before God. Men are still male; women are still female; slaves are economically still owned by their masters; masters still own their slaves; that physical reality doesn't change. But in the OT if you were not a free male you could not have direct access to God. That excluded women; that excluded slaves; that excluded Gentiles. That is why you had the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women in the temple. But once Christ died and the veil was torn from top to bottom access to God was equal for all without regard to social status, without regard to gender, without regard to ethnicity. It was equal for all immediate access to God.
9. We are dead to sin. We are all dead to sin. We went through that study in Romans 6 recently. That is unique. No believer prior to the Day of Pentecost was ever dead to sin. It doesn't mean that we don't have a sin nature; it means that our sin nature is no longer the tyrant over us that it once was. We died to sin. That never happened before. That explains why there were some problems in the OT. But even though we are dead to sin, we still willingly submit to it and have the same problems they had in the OT when they weren't dead to sin. That is God's object lesson. He is teaching how horrible sin is and the control of sin, and even when they were still under its control in the OT they could not do anything about it. In the Church Age we are not under its control, but we willingly submit ourselves to its control on a regular basis, more regular for some then others.
In the Church Age we have the Mystery Doctrine, which simply means information that was not disclosed by God until Jesus was rejected as Messiah by Israel. When that happens in Matthew 12-13 Jesus will begin to teach in parables so that He is veiling the revelation. Only those who are believers are going to get the clues to understand the parables. He intentionally veils His message to those who have already expressed their rejection of Him. In Matthew 13 you start getting information related to the interim period until the Kingdom comes (see slide #13):
1. The church is not revealed in the OT; issues related to the church are not revealed until the later part of Jesus' ministry. He prepares His disciples for that coming age.
2. Passages that talk about the Mystery are in: Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:25-27; Romans 16:25-26.
1 Corinthians 2:7 Paul says, "We speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory." That is the glory for the Church Age believer.
So the scope of the Church Age goes from Pentecost in Acts 2 to the Rapture.
Then we come to the AGE OF CHRIST (see slide #14). The Millennium covers 1,000 years during which time Jesus Christ personally rules the earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem. The time begins, depending on how you want to divide it, from His Second Coming, there is a 75-day interim clean-up period at the end of the Tribulation before the millennium rule itself actually begins. Key Scriptures are given in Isaiah 11, 35, 62, 64, 65; Revelation 20. Then I am just going to cover some basic points about the Millennial Kingdom, the Messianic Age:
1. The Second Advent of Christ kicks things off. Jesus returns to the earth, Revelation 19:7-8; 14-15.
2. There are also references in Jude 14-15; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; that begins the period.
3. (See slide #15). There is the removal of the abomination of desolation; there is a cleansing. There has to be a cleansing of Israel from the abomination that took place during the tribulation period.
4. The Antichrist and the False Prophet are going to be cast into the Lake of Fire. This all occurs in this 75 day interval that Daniel speaks about in Daniel 12:11 that takes place, this clean-up period.
5. Satan is cast into the Abyss; notice the Antichrist and False Prophet are sent directly to the Lake of Fire. Satan is cast into the Abyss. I believe that Satan and all of his demons are cast into the Abyss. Not just Satan, but all the demons because their released at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. I don't think it is just Satan, but I think it is all the demons for one last hurrah before they are completely destroyed and sent to the Lake of Fire.
6. There will be a judgment of Jews.
7. There will be a judgment of Gentiles.
8. Resurrection of OT saints. All of this occurs there in that 75 days interval between the Second Coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom.
9. Resurrection of the Tribulation saints.
That all takes place right at the beginning and then we have the most perfect dispensation or age in human history (see slide #16).
1. There is no satanic worship; there is no satanic activity, only true worship. The Millennial Kingdom begins with all believers, no unbelievers, everybody that starts are believers, but when we get to the end of the age, after a 1000 years, there are millions upon millions of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that will willingly follow Satan in deception and rebellion against God. And notice, it is not because they are not living in perfect environment; it is not because they do not have the right kind of government; it is not because they do not have the right kind of educational system; it is not because they do not have the right social system; it is not because there is no social justice; all of those things are going to be perfect. It is because their sin nature is oriented toward rebellion and they choose to reject God, the Lord Jesus Christ, anyway.
2. It is gong to be a period of the greatest period of spirituality according to Joel and Isaiah.
3. Israel will be restored to their land; all of the land God promised them, not just the amount that they have held in the past, but all of the land that goes from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. That will cover most of the Transjordan, Modern Transjordan, most of Syria, some of Lebanon, and some of Saudi Arabia. All of that will be part of Israel's domain during the Millennial Kingdom.
4. There will be genuine universalism at that time. There will be universal peace and prosperity, perfect world government; and a universal knowledge of God; so that everyone will know the truth to the degree that no one needs to be taught anymore. Everybody will know it according to the principles of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:34.
5. There will be radical changes in nature; creation will be loosed from its bondage to sin. Now that doesn't mean that it is going to be perfect, but it is going to be more like it was between the Fall of Adam and Noah, in some ways better. The wolf will lie down with the lamb; and so the antagonism among the animals will not exist. It will be like it was before the Fall. A child can put his hand in a viper's den, in an adder's den and not be bitten; so there will not be poisonous snakes. There is not going to be carnivorous animals anymore; there is going to be some sort of biological physiological shift that takes place in their systems, a reversal of what happened at the Fall. Animals lose their ferocity as indicated in those verses (see slide #17); plant life will abound, Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:7.
6. Life will be extended on the earth, Isaiah 65:20. This passage taught that if a person dies before they are a hundred, this is hyperbole, if a person dies before they are a hundred they will be thought to have died very young. Most people will live to be a thousand.
7. There will be a perfect administration of justice by a Perfect Judge.
8. All unbelievers are removed before the millennium begins.
9. Those born during the millennium will need salvation. So there will be a lot of evangelism; there will be a first hand accounting; they will be able to see Jesus Christ. So faith that is not by sight is not going to be as operative as it is now. They will be able to see things that people today don't and they will still reject. But salvation is still the same, faith in Jesus Christ.
So, what I have said so far is that we divide these periods into ages (see slide #18). They have things in common; the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of Israel, the Church Age, and the Messianic Age or the Millennium. Now these will then be divided into dispensations.
Now, let's look at an important factor as we begin this study because really dispensations focuses on history, understanding human history. One of the questions that has plagued mankind is: why did God create Adam and Eve? I recognize that even with this answer people are going to say, well, why did God even create the angels? Ultimately we do not know the answer to why God created anything other than the theological conclusion that it appears that God desired to have creatures who would worship Him, honor Him freely of their own volition without being forced and that there were ways in which He would be able to bless them out of His own desire; not because He needed too, but because He wanted to. That is a difference we see, for example, with Islam, where you have an eternal singular deity who needs, if he is loved as Islam asserts, although it is not there; love is not ever used to ascribe an attribute of Allah. Allah is not a loving god. If Allah were loving, Islam would have a real problem because there is no one for Allah to love in eternity past.
So, if Allah is loving, then he would be dependent upon his creatures so that he would have an object for his love. So he can't be loving because if he were loving he wouldn't be god. He is not loving he cannot be god either. So you are left with a conundrum that Allah, by the definition of his attributes, really can't be a self-sufficient god. If you are a god who is self-sufficient, then you are not much of a god. He is dependent; he becomes a slave as it were to his creatures, or he is just a tyrant and there is nothing good or kind or loving about him. God is self-sufficient. But He desired to create creatures who would have freewill to freely choose to obey Him so that He could share, bless, enjoy that fellowship with His creatures freely.
The first creatures He created were the angels. The original creation is mentioned in Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Now at the recent Chafer Conference Elliot Johnson takes a slightly different view; a view that is held by some scholars. That is the difference between his view and my view can be explained with this illustration (see slide #19). Let's say you are looking at a book on the life of somebody and the book, you get this photo album and the cover says, "The Life of John and Mary" and that is on the front cover. You open it up and the first photo is their wedding picture. Now you do not know anything about when they were born or where they were born; who their parents were; if they have any siblings; where they are getting married. You just see the title page and when you open it the first picture something has already happened. You know they have already courted; they have already met each other; they have decided to spend their life together because now you are met with the visual evidence of their marriage.
That is the way that Elliot explained it; that is his view of Genesis 1. Genesis 1:1 is like the title page, when you get to Genesis 1:2 you have opened the album and you have a picture and the earth is without form and void and darkness covers the face of the earth. That is the first picture you see. So you realize that something has happened already. And in his view, as in my view, what has happened is something that is dramatic; something that is related to a judgment. So on that we can agree. I disagree with that view because it doesn't tell us anything about original creation. I believe it is important; I believe that in his view Genesis 1:1 is often paralleled to Genesis 2:4; Genesis 2:4 is a concluding statement; Genesis 1:1 is just an introductory statement.
I disagree with that. I believe Genesis 1:1 tells us in the beginning God created the heavens; now that is the heavens; the heavens are a finite entity. There are not infinite. Often we are told in modern science that the heavens are infinite; they are without end. Only God is infinite; you can't have two infinites. Study philosophy; that is a mutually exclusive concept. There is only one infinite and that is God. God created the heavens; that means they are finite. There is an end to the heavens. He created the heavens and He created the earth. It doesn't say anything about stars. We read stars and we think heavens. No stars are hanging in the heavens. The heavens are just a spatial entity; there is nothing there. It is just bounded by space (see slide #20).
When I was in the seventh grade I did a science project where I took a box that a refrigerator had come in, closed it all up with duct tape or first of all I painted the inside all black and closed it all up with duct tape and cut an opening at one end so you could see in. And in the back corner I put a yellow Styrofoam quarter of a ball that I had painted; a big one to indicate the sun and then I put all the planets; and I painted little stars on the background. Now when God created the heavens it is like when I took that box and painted it all black; there were not any planets yet and there weren't any stars. There was just the space, just the heavens. Then God created the earth. We do not know anything more about it then that. There are the heavens; there is a spatial entity; and there is one entity in there and that is the earth. The sun is not created until later on. The stars are not created until later on; the moon is not created until later on. The words that are used there don't mean God made them appear. That is really bad Greek. The word there is ASHAH. He made them; He created them at that point. So at this point you only have two things.
Based on Ezekiel 28 this is Eden the Garden of God. It is a different type of planet then what we have today. This is the original earth of Genesis 1:1 and also of Ezekiel 28:14ff. Then we have the Fall of Lucifer. He was probably had his location there in the Garden of God because Ezekiel 28 says, Eden the Garden of God. The terminology and the description is very different from the description of Genesis 2. So then we have the Fall of Lucifer and a judgment upon the planet; the lights are turned off and it is packed in ice. When you turn the lights and heat off it is going to go to absolute zero and everything is going to be packed in ice. And then the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the deep and there is a renovation of the planet.
The words that are used there in Genesis 1:2, if you had just one of them I would think that maybe all this is talking about is the unformed building blocks that God is going to use to do the Creation. But you have three terms: tohu veboh, the darkness, and the deep. Later on in Scripture these terms all relate to sin and judgment. If you go to the opera, as soon as you hear the base, you know that the villain is coming on the scene. These are three base notes that are sounded in Genesis 1:2: tohu vebohu, darkness and the deep, the villain has arrived and there is judgment on the planet. So there are then stages of Creation; God creates the sun, He creates the stars, and we have the New Creation where God is going to place man. So we have to understand what happens here in terms of the original creation. There are the angels that have volition; Satan falls according to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. I am not going to get into it. You look at a lot of your modern study Bibles and they will tell you that Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 29:12ff.
A lot of people take Ezekiel 28 as the fall of Satan even though they may not take Isaiah 14 as the fall of Satan, but both of them refer to the fall of Satan. The Ryrie Study Bible is the only study Bible that I know of that is still treats both as actually the fall of Satan. I usually get into discussions with this with pastors and others because there are a lot of places where people no longer believe this in a scholarly way. We will look at this a little bit, but it has been defended in some pretty stout significant academic publications, doctorial dissertations; people just chose to be willingly ignorant of these sources. So God brings darkness, chaos, and judgment on Satan. (See slide #21). There is no death prior to this time. The angels don't die; they don't have physical death; they continue to live. There is no pre-Adamic race; there is no fossils, no stratification at this point. It is not a long period of time. This view use to be called the Gap view. I call it the Old View.
If you look at older dispensational books, almost all of them start talking with the fall of Satan. They understand that God's plan in human history is directly related to what happens with the fall of Satan. It is odd that among some recent dispensationalists they cut that connection, but I don't think you can cut that connection. I think that human history is going to be related to understanding what happens with Satan's fall. So Satan is going to fall and then there is going to be a restoration of the planet in order to demonstrate something. I want to close with this because I opened with the question that Mary in Georgia asked: How can God vindicate His character? If you look at the concept of vindicate, vindication is to prove in a court of law that you are not guilt. To demonstrate or validate what you have done. So there seems to be a charge; this is a theological deduction that Satan has brought against God.
How do we know that? We know that because; we will come back to this next time; but in Matthew 25:41 Jesus talks about the Lake of Fire which was prepared, perfect tense, in the past completed, was prepared for the devil and his angels. That means that it has already been prepared. Why isn't Satan there? Why aren't the demons there now? If it was prepared for them why aren't they there now? Something caused a delay in the application of their judicial sentence to the Lake of Fire. Now what we extrapolate based on, for good cause, based on what happens in Job 1-2; what happens in some other places in Scripture. It appears that Satan somehow challenged God's authority to send Him to the Lake of Fire. I don't think it is simply as simple as say, how can a just God send His creatures to the Lake of Fire? I think it is more complex than that. That is a summary. I think it is more complex than that.
What we see is that he is challenging. Is this a judicially righteous decision? How can a loving God send a creature to eternity, the eternal pain of the Lake of Fire? What crime merits that? I mean punishment should somehow fit the crime, right? How can that punishment fit a crime? One of the things God is demonstrating in history is that the basic crime in human history is that Eve disobeyed God and ate a piece of fruit. Not something most people would think is a great awful terrible thing to do. She ate a piece of fruit, but it was unauthorized; it was a disobedience to God. What God is demonstrating is that that simple little act of disobedience, even though it seems innocuous, that is the source of all war, all violence, all famines, all physical suffering, all disease, all heartache, everything miserable in human history was the result of eating a piece of fruit.
What God is demonstrating is that something that brings that much heartache and misery and horror in human existence is worthy of punishment in eternity in the Lake of Fire. He is demonstrating that this is a righteous judgment in human history. He has validated that eternal sentence in the Lake of Fire. That is what I mean He is vindicating His righteousness. He is demonstrating this was a righteous and just decision and in the midst of this His love and His grace are bestowed and everybody is given the opportunity to respond to His grace. Now we will get into that in more detail next time. We will start next time with how the angelic conflict relates to the dispensations.
Father, we thank you for this opportunity to study these things tonight. We ask that You give guidance and direction to our thinking and help us to understand what You have revealed and understand our role in history that we may glorify You by being obedient to You. If we are obedient to You that brings glory to You because it honors Who You are and it reflects the goodness and righteousness of Your Character. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen.