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Edition 277: September 16th 2015
I’ve never understood so-called Bible scholars resisting doctrines that are so clearly revealed in the scriptures. If you haven’t discovered it yet, this subject of dispensations is highly controversial and is repeatedly rejected by many.
Some of the dispensation critics are genuinely miss-informed, but many are deceived.
You see, Satan hates the powerful truths of God. He always attacks doctrines that are central to his downfall. He always tries to confuse what God has made clear. That in itself should give you a clue. The doctrines that are controversial and repeatedly attacked are in most cases those that are vitally important, liberating and of God.
There are essentially seven dispensations of time in which God operated differently with man. For the purposes of this edition, I want to look at the major characteristics of the dispensation of law, or the Old Covenant and the New Covenant or church age / dispensation.
We must understand that God does not change, but that He most certainly does change the way He deals with mankind at various times.
We are sitting right now at a major dispensation change which will affect every person and every aspect of life on the earth.
It is very important to know and understand the major differences, because they have extremely dramatic, monumental consequences.
If you are truly born-again of the Spirit of God, you will understand why you will not be on this earth in the new dispensation about to begin.
Without a correct understanding of dispensations and the big differences, you will not understand why there can only be a pre-tribulation rapture. You are about to see something amazing too. Read on!
Before we get going, we must have a look at dispensations from a pure biblical point of view.
The word “dispensation” in the original text is the word “oikonomia” meaning management or divisions of an economy. It is also referred to as the dividing and management of time periods, different from one another.
There are seven dispensations fitting into three major ones. These are the Patriarchal, the Mosaic and Christian (grace). The image below shows all the dispensation, but includes an eighth, which is the Millennium.
Here now are some of the verses describing what a dispensation is:
Hebrews 1:1-2 “God, who at various times (dispensations) and in different ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days (dispensation) spoken to us by His Son...”
Note in the verse above, the change in the way God speaks in the Old and New Covenants.
Ephesians 3:2-5 “He made known to me the mystery...which in other ages (dispensations) was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets.”
Note in the verse above that the revealing of the mystery (church age) is by the Spirit to New Covenant believers.
Colossians 1:25-27 “...I became a minister of God to fulfil the mystery (dispensation) which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints...this mystery which is Messiah in you the hope of glory.”
Note in the verse above that the major difference between the Old and New Covenants is the indwelling Messiah.
Ephesians 1:10 “In the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Messiah, both which are in heaven and on the earth – in Him.”
The verse above speaks of the dispensation of the Millennium.
The church age:
Pentecost began the dispensation known as grace or the church age. This marked a dramatic change in the way God deals with His own people.
At Pentecost the law was “transferred” from stone to our hearts. This means that in the church age or dispensation, we do not need external laws carved in stone to guide us, because we have the Law of the Spirit of God in our hearts to guide and lead us.
It is absolutely inconceivable that the church be part of the final seven-year tribulation, simply because of the numerous major differences between them. The current church dispensation ends with the removal of the church and the release of untold evil led and inspired by Satan himself operating through the antichrist.
Interestingly, when the law was first given it was accompanied by a trumpet blast which in fact was the voice of God Himself. (Exodus 19:19) Do you see the significance of that? The post tribulation rapture crowd always say that the last trumpet of Revelation is the same rapture trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:51! Now we see that this latter trumpet may in fact be the voice of God Himself.
The church age ends as the final seven-years of the Old Covenant dispensation comes into action.
This dispensation began dramatically and will end the same way, marked by the wrath of God, the wrath of Satan, the wrath of man and the wrath of nature all running together throughout the seven year period, with the last section being the worst.
What if there are no dispensations?
If there were no dispensations as many claim, the Bible would be a nightmare of contradictions. It would be a minefield and a paradise for atheists!
There are many things that apply to one dispensation and not others. There are some things that apply to all, but remove dispensations and you have a big mess.
For example, if there were no dispensations, we would all be under the law. We would all be under the demonstrative severe judgements of God.
The expectation of the church has never been wrath and judgement. It has always been grace, reward and glory. We await being received up in glory and called up on high.
Philippians 3:20-21 “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, Yeshua Messiah, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.”
2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to be present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Understanding Daniel’s seventy weeks:
In Daniel chapter nine, he delivers a spectacular prophecy outlining the course of time right up to the end. This is the skeleton of all Bible prophecy. I have simplified the main points into a diagram for you benefit.
Daniel speaks of seventy weeks. The original word used simply means a “seven”. So it could be a seven of days, months or years. The context here is clearly referring to sevens of years.
In the diagram below note the thick black bar on the left and the shorter one on the right. These represent the seventy weeks of years. (490).This prophecy comes to an end with a number of things being accomplished, which have not yet occurred. This includes: The finishing and end of sin and transgression, the bringing in of everlasting righteousness, and the anointing of the Most Holy and a few other things.
The prophecy is essentially divided into two sections. One is sixty nine weeks of years and the other is the final seven-year period also called the tribulation.
There simply has to be a gap between the sixty nine and seventieth week, because the events of the seventieth week have not occurred yet. If all seventy weeks were continuous they would have ended long ago with everything being accomplished, which is not the case yet.
The main point is to note that the seventieth week, the tribulation period, is part of the sixty nine, simply with a gap in between. Those two thick black bars in the diagram are part of each other.
Interestingly, the characteristics of the sixty nine weeks (Old Covenant) are similar to those of the seventieth week. They are not at similar to the gap period or church age, because we have two different dispensations here working completely differently.
Some major characteristics of the two dispensations:
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are the temple of the God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have from God and that you are not your own.”
2 Corinthians 6:16 “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As He said: I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Galatians 5:18 “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
The verses above are unique to the New Covenant dispensation. They show very clearly that God now indwells our spirits, effectively making us His temples. This was not the case in the Old Covenant or in the tribulation.
At Pentecost, the Spirit of God came to live in our hearts through the new-birth. There was a different, limited operation of the Spirit in Old Covenant times. This is a major difference and applies only to the church age and true believers.
The seven-year tribulation period will be similar to the Old Covenant days. There will not be a new-birth experience where these verses above will apply. People will get saved, but the essence of that salvation will be different.
In Old Covenant times the judgement of God was severe and demonstrative. Huge events like plagues, fire coming down from the sky and many such things occurred. We do not have now. Yes there are upheavals today, but these are all natural events.
Today God’s dealings with us are essentially internal through His indwelling Spirit in our hearts.
God does not pour His severe, demonstrative judgement out now in the church age like He did before. There is a very good reason for that, which you will see shortly.
So now we are in the dispensation of grace. We are in the time period known as the long-suffering of God. We are in a unique time in which God Himself takes up residence in the hearts of all true believers by His Spirit.
We are in a time period now where Satan is being restrained. Yes there are terrible things on the go, but wait until the restrainer is removed!!
Satan can only be released to indwell the fateful antichrist, once the church indwelt by the Holy Spirit is removed. That is what happens at the rapture.
God cannot and will not pour His judgements out upon Himself:
Please read that headline again. This is the amazing thing I was referring to earlier. This is the central issue of this edition. This is incredible, astounding news! You may be saying that the meaning of that headline is obvious isn’t it? Read on my friends!
Shall I tell you what the big difference is between the Old Covenant and the New? The huge difference is that in the Old, the Spirit of God did not indwell people as in the New Covenant after the new-birth. In fact there was no new-birth as such in the Old.
This is why God’s judgments were so enormous, severe and widespread and fell on so many people. In this present dispensation, God dwells in us.
Now then, how can God bring the same sort of Old Covenant judgements on the world today? God can’t and won’t pour His wrath and judgement out upon Himself dwelling in true believers! Have you ever thought of that? What a wonderful thought and reality! Do you see how far-reaching it is?
It is absolutely vital and of major importance to note what the new-birth is and how it differs from salvation in other dispensations. The term “born-again” is succinct. At the new-birth there is a “birth” that takes place inside our hearts. The Spirit of God takes up residence in our hearts immediately. We become the “temple of the Spirit of God” the moment we are born-again.
If we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we have God living in us. How can God destroy these temples and Himself?
The church indwelt by the Spirit of God is His body on this earth! God can’t pour His wrath out upon Himself!
Do you see why the true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit has to be removed before the judgements of God fall upon the world in the tribulation period?
Do you see why dispensations make all the difference?
The “restrainer” in the Bible is none other than the true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7)
We as the “restainer” of evil and of the antichrist from being revealed, prevent the “gates of hell from prevailing”. (Matthew 16:17-18). The second this restrainer is removed the gates of hell will advance and end up taking over the world in seven years. Do you really think that God Himself will allow Himself to be run over and destroyed by Satan working through the antichrist?
Only with the Holy Spirit’s operations within the true church removed, can God freely pour His severe wrath out.
Do you see the powerful link-up between the Holy Spirit and the biblical restrainer?
The coming dispensation change:
We are about to see a major dispensation change. I use the word “major” in its truest sense. As the tribulation period begins, the antichrist indwelt by Satan is revealed, released and the drama begins.
This dispensation of the tribulation period is the completion of the Old Covenant, which has been on hold for almost 2000 years. (See diagram above.)
The church age began at Pentecost in a moment in the Upper Room. It will end in a twinkling of an eye! As the restrainer is removed, the antichrist is revealed.
The antichrist indwelt by Satan can’t coexist with the true church indwelt by the Spirit of God. We have the authority to restrict and hinder the works of the devil. In the tribulation there is no restraint or hindrance of evil.
For God’s wrath and Satan’s wrath to begin the church must be removed.
The characteristics of the final seven years:
Jeremiah 30:5-7 “We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace...alas for that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.”
Please understand that the name Jacob is not used to describe the church once. That is zero times. It’s usage to describe Israel and the Jewish people is consistent throughout the Bible 100% of the time. Plain simple interpretive logic dictates that Jacob refers to the Jews and not the church.
The verse above speaking of the time of Jacob’s trouble (which is the tribulation period) means simply that this is a time where the Jews are in focus and not the church! You can’t make the church fit in there! The seven-year tribulation period is unique in that the Jews are the subject of the dealings of God.
Jeremiah 30:11 “For I am with you says the Lord, to save you; though I make a full end of the nations where I have scattered you (Israel) yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.”
Here, in the verse above, we again see Israel being the focus and not the church.
There are many verses describing God’s severe dealings upon the unsaved world in this seven-year tribulation as well. The only “believers” being killed in the tribulation are those who were saved in the tribulation period and not the church.
“He reserves His wrath for His enemies” (Nahum 1:2). God does not pour His judgement out upon His own and especially not upon His own who have God Himself living in them.
Only as we fully understand these incredible dispensations, can we see where and upon whom God’s judgement falls. It is only in this light that we can understand the absolute necessity for a pre-tribulation rapture.
I heard someone the other day say that the tribulation period won’t be so bad. He is wrong ,wrong, wrong. He doesn’t know his Bible.
The Bible says it will be a “time like never was nor ever shall be again!” It will be the worst times the world has ever seen.
Critics of dispensations:
The major critics of dispensation are those under the law, lurking in dark corners, waiting to jump out on unsuspecting, gullible believers to bring them under the law as well.
Those who deny the rapture, saying things like “the word rapture is not in the Bible” are also generally dispensation deniers.
Those who deny dispensations are normally very proud and arrogant people because dispensations are clearly all over the Bible and these people are blinded by their pride.
Those who deny dispensations must and do deny major portions of the Bible including the verses that speak directly of dispensations.
Dispensation deniers, like rapture deniers are often hostile people.
Some of the arguments presented by the post-tribulation rapture crowd are reasonable at face value, but when you dig a bit deeper, the answers are there, but I have never found or heard even one argument from a dispensation denier that has even the slightest validity.
1 John 4:4 “He who is in you (Messiah) is greater than he (antichrist) who is in the world.”
God has restricted and limited Himself in His own word to operate within the bounds of dispensations. It is good to know the differences and how they work; otherwise rightly dividing the word of truth is all a big mess.
I took this picture sitting at a waterhole in amazing Etosha, Namibia. This is one of the biggest (22,000 kms2) and most certainly the most beautiful game reserves in the world.
If you would like to see more pictures of this amazing place, click HERE.
Shalom and grow in grace!