Skip to comments.What are the seven dispensations? (Dispensational Caucus)
Posted on 04/21/2014 2:32:58 PM PDT by wmfights
Question: "What are the seven dispensations?"
Answer: Dispensationalism is a method of interpreting history that divides Gods work and purposes toward mankind into different periods of time. Usually, there are seven dispensations identified, although some theologians believe there are nine. Others count as few as three or as many as thirty-seven dispensations. In this article, we will limit ourselves to the seven basic dispensations found in Scripture.
The first dispensation is called the Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15-17). This dispensation covered the period of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this dispensation God's commands were to (1) replenish the earth with children, (2) subdue the earth, (3) have dominion over the animals, (4) care for the garden, and (5) abstain from eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned of the punishment of physical and spiritual death for disobedience. This dispensation was a short-lived and was brought to an end by Adam and Eves disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit and their expulsion from the garden.
The second dispensation is called the Dispensation of Conscience, and it lasted about 1,656 years from the time of Adam and Eves eviction from the garden until the flood (Genesis 3:88:22). This dispensation demonstrates what mankind will do if left to his own will and conscience, which have been tainted by the inherited sin nature. The five major aspects of this dispensation are 1) a curse on the serpent, 2) a change in womanhood and childbearing, 3) a curse on nature, 4) the imposing of work on mankind to produce food, and 5) the promise of Christ as the seed who will bruise the serpent's head (Satan).
The third dispensation is the Dispensation of Human Government, which began in Genesis 8. God had destroyed life on earth with a flood, saving just one family to restart the human race. God made the following promises and commands to Noah and his family:
1. God will not curse the earth again. 2. Noah and family are to replenish the earth with people. 3. They shall have dominion over the animal creation. 4. They are allowed to eat meat. 5. The law of capital punishment is established. 6. There never will be another worldwide flood. 7. The sign of God's promise will be the rainbow.
Noahs descendants did not scatter and fill the earth as God had commanded, thus failing in their responsibility in this dispensation. About 325 years after the flood, the earths inhabitants began building a tower, a great monument to their solidarity and pride (Genesis 11:7-9). God brought the construction to a halt, creating different languages and enforcing His command to fill the earth. The result was the rise of different nations and cultures. From that point on, human governments have been a reality.
The fourth dispensation, called the Dispensation of Promise, started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs, and ended with the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, a period of about 430 years. During this dispensation God developed a great nation that He had chosen as His people (Genesis 12:1Exodus 19:25).
The basic promise during the Dispensation of Promise was the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some of the key points of that unconditional covenant:
1. From Abraham would come a great nation that God would bless with natural and spiritual prosperity. 2. God would make Abrahams name great. 3. God would bless those that blessed Abrahams descendants and curse those that cursed them. 4. In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His work of salvation. 5. The sign of the covenant is circumcision. 6. This covenant, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, is confined to the Hebrew people and the 12 tribes of Israel.
The fifth dispensation is called the Dispensation of Law. It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after Jesus Christs death. This dispensation will continue during the Millennium, with some modifications. During the Dispensation of Law, God dealt specifically with the Jewish nation through the Mosaic Covenant, or the Law, found in Exodus 1923. The dispensation involved temple worship directed by priests, with further direction spoken through the Gods mouthpieces, the prophets. Eventually, due to the peoples disobedience to the covenant, the tribes of Israel lost the Promised Land and were subjected to bondage.
The sixth dispensation, the one in which we now live, is the Dispensation of Grace. It began with the New Covenant in Christs blood (Luke 22:20). This Age of Grace or Church Age occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel 9:24. It starts with the death of Christ and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). This dispensation is worldwide and includes both Jews and the Gentiles. Mans responsibility during the Dispensation of Grace is to believe in Jesus, the Son of God (John 3:18). In this dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells believers as the Comforter (John 14:16-26). This dispensation has lasted for over 2,000 years, and no one knows when it will end. We do know that it will end with the Rapture of all born-again believers from the earth to go to heaven with Christ. Following the Rapture will be the judgments of God lasting for seven years.
The seventh dispensation is called the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth. This Kingdom will fulfill the prophecy to the Jewish nation that Christ will return and be their King. The only people allowed to enter the Kingdom are the born-again believers from the Age of Grace and righteous survivors of the seven years of tribulation. No unsaved person is allowed access into this kingdom. Satan is bound during the 1,000 years. This period ends with the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-14). The old world is destroyed by fire, and the New Heaven and New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22 will begin.
Always wondered why Satan is released after the 1000 years?
It didn't last only 1656 years...it's still in effect. The serpent is cursed, women have pain in childbearing, nature is cursed, we work for food, and the Promise is in effect. Because sin is in the world (although not dominant over those who believe in Christ's atonement), this condition of the world will last until the end of time.
Because that is the Day of the end of the world and he and his followers will then suffer final defeat (Rev 20:10).
Satan will be taken out of prison and thrown into the lake of fire.
Predestination is a different topic.
In all of the dispensations, some degree of predestination occurred. Volition(free will) is an institution established by God for all humans, believers and unbelievers alike. Both can enjoy the fruits of that institution, provided they respect legitimate authority. Along with volition, comes volitional responsibility.
That’s why we are held accountable at the Great White Throne Judgment and the bema seat judgment. It’s also why we aren’t condemned for sin at those judgments. Christ has already been judged for human sin. Good and evil have not been so resolved.
It’s all part of the angelic conflict and His Provision for all His Creation.
Free will rules. Apparently, even the angels had free will.
I’ve always found it interesting that the angels are described as “fallen” and “elect”.
I believe God gives people free will during the Millenial Reign and when Satan is released shows how undeserving of His Grace and Mercy we are. Yet He is so great and merciful He saves some of us. So Satan being released results in God's Glory.
I don't include Angels because they are entirely different than us.
I do believe Adam and Eve operated freely. However in a different dispensation the Pharaoh's heart was hardened by God so that the plagues would continue. In that case the Pharaoh couldn't have stopped the enslavement of the Jews even if he wanted to.
No, I'm thinking in terms of different dispensations. We know God's Grace is the same throughout all dispensations, but that doesn't mean God only interacts with his creation in one way all the time.
I am not omniscient, but I could predict that my preschoolers would get into the cookies when they were left out.
How much more would an omniscient Creator be able to know what will happen before it does.
The Lord created time, stands outside time, and sees all things throughout time.
That is not “predestination”. That is just seeing what will happen, not making it take place.
Man always has free-will. God knows what we will do, but loves us enough to let us have our way, and hopefully the lessons we learn will not be lost.
I think it’ll show man capable of rebellion and disobedience without temptation from Satan.
I don't believe this is always true.
One example I gave already was the Pharoah's heart being hardened. Another example would be in our current era, The Age of Grace.
Rom. 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son,... (30)Moreover who He predestined these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
A different example would be the Millennial Reign where I believe man is given free will and the result was rebellion.
But it does show how great God's mercy is for an undeserving people who left to their own devices rebel.
Amazing...here you are with proof of God...but yet you still think your better.
That was also true of Eve and then Adam.
There is a further explanation in Rom. 9:13-23, especially v. 18 and 19.
"So then he has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?'"
It did not work when Adam pointed the blame back to God for his sin, "the woman whom Thou gavest me...".
It will not work for us to say "Lord, you made me this way."
No biggie either way. I think it comes down to the Lord being the Lord of time and seeing the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.
I don't disagree. I would add that in addition to seeing everything before it has even transpired, He is the creator of all and is Sovereign over it. We are blessed to be a part of His plan and to Glorify Him.
It will not work for us to say "Lord, you made me this way."
I agree. A pastor made a great comment to me when he said, "I'm always amazed by people who think that they will come up for judgement at the White Throne and argue with God."
My question about predestination vs free will in different eras is just a topic to see if we can learn more and understand more.
Lets see somewhere between 3 and 37 dispensations, as if it is not important how many there are, I would think the number is of great importance, because God in our scriptures tells exactly how many there are.
Knowing and believing this will make the scripture and the gospel so much easier to understand, our scripture abounds with simplicity:
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
(Eze 28:11-15 KJV)
Remember Satan was in the presence of God too and see what he did.
My hope is for an open discussion among fellow believers exploring some of the differences and why they exist. I'm posting these threads so that Dispensationalists can discuss these things without all the "noise".
The Angels that rebelled against God were stupid...(like a computer, able to do things and figure out things very fast but only as good as the input provided). So sin is not a human thing only. To be in the spiritual world as God, to see “him” and to deny “him” = stupidity.
Before God removes the heart of stone and replaces with a heart of flesh, how free is the will of man? His thoughts are evil continually. He has no faith, and can have no faith of his own doing and therefor finds it impossible to please God. His will is bent towards sin, so much that it is said the he is a “slave to sin”. Not very free if you ask me.
But in the sense that man makes his choices based on his own desires, yes man is free. Just his “desirer” is corrupt.
I look at it this way, in a broken analogy. At 9:30 pm I’m watching a show on TV. A commercial comes on for a juicy cheeseburger. All of a sudden I make the freewill decision to get up and leave the house to go to that establishment and get a burger. I made a freewill choice...that resided inside a set of circumstances created by advertisers who have spent billions to get to know the inner me and what makes me tick.
In a similar way, God knows me so well, better than I know me, and can create the correct circumstances in my life to allow me to make the freewill decisions and yet still be subjected to His sovereignty and the working out of His will through His providence.
Pharaoh made every choice of his own freewill, and yet was directed by God to those decisions due to God knowing what it would take for Pharaoh to be hardened. To fit it in my analogy, the plagues were commercials, done by an all-knowing, always successful God.
To continue along this line of thought. I think the degree to which God influences free will decisions may be different depending on the dispensation. God being omniscient knows the outcome from the beginning, but God also knows how much He has chosen to direct the outcome.
The rebellion at the end of the Millenial Reign never made sense to me until I thought of it in terms of God leaving us to our free will and as a final example of how lost we are without His involvement in directing us. Also, it reveals how great God's mercy is because without His undeserved direction our default behavior since the fall is rebellion. Yet he seeks us out and saves us.
Sorry I'm slow responding.
Hard to believe that descendants of those that came through the Tribulation and who travel to Jerusalem to worship and see the living Lord Jesus Christ would rebel. I think there is a significance to this willingness to believe Satan and rebel. My thought is we are being shown how fallen our nature is without God directing us.
I hadn't really thought that was a "hill I was willing to die on".