Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Quick Tour of Dispensations

I think I've mentioned before on the blog that I hold to the dispensational interpretation of the scriptures. In a nutshell that means I believe that human history as recorded in the Bible can be looked at in terms of different time periods or ages, during which God had different policies of interaction with men, particularly those who were saved.

That there have indeed been different ways in which man was to relate to God seems obvious. While salvation has always been the same (believe in the messiah and you shall be saved), the methods of serving God and learning about Him and interacting with Him as believers, have not.

In the age of the patriarchs (Adam to Moses), the male head of the family served as priest for that family, interceded with God on their behalf, carried out the required sacrifices, and taught them the things they needed to know about God. There was no written scripture. God communicated through visions, dreams, angels and the stars.

With the coming of the Law and the nation of Israel, the patriarchal priesthood changed to the Levitical priesthood, where a line of (male) priests descended from Aaron took over the job of representing the nation and individuals to God, carrying out the required sacrifices (which were much more elaborate and numerous) and, along with the prophets, teaching the people about God. Moses penned the first written word of God in the Torah, which was added to throughout the period of the Jews to form the Old Testament.

Most scholars delineate the next period as that when our Lord was on the earth in human form, beginning with His birth and ending with His resurrection and the subsequent beginning of the church age on the Day of Pentecost. The priesthood had been completely corrupted by that time. Though the Pharisees, scribes and priests knew the Bible backwards and forwards, somehow they were unable to correlate all the obvious scriptures and prophecies that pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, and instead crucified Him, unwittingly fulfilling the very prophecies they had ignored.

With the coming of the church age, things changed dramatically. Not only is the Law no longer in effect, but now the priesthood resides in each person who believes in Jesus -- male, female, Jew, Gentile, slave, free. All the sacrifices from the OT Law are set aside because they were all shadows (teaching aids) of what Jesus had just completed on the cross. We no longer need to offer a sacrifice, merely confess our sins and in so doing cite the completed work of Christ on the Cross on our behalf.

The Apostles added the final section of written scripture to the canon with the New Testament, producing new revelation directly from God in the form of "mystery" doctrine. The church age, which was inserted into the age of Israel, and of which we are a part today, will conclude with the miraculous rapture, where all church age believers (the dead first, then those who are alive) are taken up to meet the Lord in the air. (I Th 4:16, 17)

At that point begins the seven year period of the Tribulation, which also comprises the final days of the age of Israel as computed by Daniel. It is said to be the worst period of time to be alive on the earth and if it were not cut short by the Lord's return would see the total destruction of mankind.

Why am I suddenly going on about dispensations? Because I found a video today I want to share, and I think it has more impact if you think of it from the standpoint of Dispensations. And the signs of the times...

But more on that tomorrow.