Edition 53. 26th September 2010
In this edition:
●The great dispensation debate
This is a controversial subject with two major divergent views, but it's actually very clear if you take the Bible at face value. Those that reject the dispensation view have a problem making certain things fit together, while the dispensational view sees all pieces of the jig-saw puzzle of prophecy fit together perfectly.
What the Bible says:
Firstly, before we get into the meat of this subject lets define our terms from a pure Biblical perspective.
The word "dispensation" in the Bible comes from the root word Oikonomia, which is also the root word for "economy". It means a system of administration. God worked differently with man in the different dispensations. There were different ways God worked and different responses required by man. Each new dispensation brought in new factors. Sometimes various things were carried over from previous dispensations and sometimes certain things were not.
There are nine times the word is used in the New Testament. These are the most important:
Hebrews 1:1 "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 spoken to us by His Son."
Ephesians 1:10 "In the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both in heaven and on earth." (This relates to the dispensation of eternity, beyond the Millenium)
Ephesians 3:2 "If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which was given to me for you." verse 9 "and to make all people see what is the dispensation of the mystery (church age), which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God."
Those who believe there are no different dispensations have a problem with the above verses.
There are eight dispensations revealed in the scripture in which God spoke and dealt with mankind in different ways. Here the are:
In the above image note that the dispensation of law is the same colour as the later shorter tribulation period of seven years. This is simply because the age of grace or church dispensation is a parenthesis in the middle. In a certain sense the tribulation period is the closing of the Old Testament.
Some Bible names for the seven year tribulation period:
Here are some of the names or titles the Bible uses for the entire seven year period.:
The tribulation. The wrath of God. The wrath of the Lamb. The Day of wrath. The wrath of Almighty God. (17 references to wrath of God as the entire tribulation period) The time of Jacobs trouble. Daniel's 70th week (week of years-original) The time of affliction. the days of vengeance, the hour of temptation to come upon the whole world. The indignation. The time of sorrows and trouble.
In each of the above portions of scripture only Israel and the Jews are in view. The church is called the mystery dispensation. It was hidden to previous dispensations. It is not in view in any of the tribulation verses. If it is not, this adds weight to a pre-tribulation rapture of the church.
Why the controversy:
The controversy essential boils down to one big issue. Will we go in a pre-tribulation rapture or go through the tribulation, which is also called the wrath of God. Rapture or wrath is the question.
The Bible teaches that "God reserves His wrath for His enemies." Nahum 1:2 Romans 9:22-24
Some argue that there are no dispensations, because God doesn't change. Of course God is the same yesterday today and forever, but God changes the way he deals with man from time to time and He requires man to change in his response.
The question and controversy relates to the Mosaic law and the church age or dispensation of grace. The tearing of the veil n the temple in Jerusalem as our Lord died, indicated that the law of Moses was no longer in effect as a rule of life, because the veil separated believers from the Holy of Holies. The Bible declares that we are now a "kingdom of priests a holy nation and a royal priesthood" This is new and very different from the Mosaic law period.
The grace of God was obviously here in the Old Testament period, but the new dispensation of grace brought about a new way of functioning. Paul says that "you are not under law but under grace."
The final seven years of the Mosaic dispensation is also called the time of Jacob's trouble or the tribulation period. It is also called the 70th week of Daniel. This period completes the Old Testament in a way.
Let's have a look at the incredible prophecy of Daniel's 70 weeks. The word "week" is the original word 'shabua' and means "a seven" It can refer to a week of days or a week of years. In the context its a week of years. The prophecy indicates a 490 year period of God's dealings exclusively with Israel and Jerusalem and not the church.
The prophecy reveals that it will take 69 weeks of years until Messiah is cut off. Then comes the 70th week or seven year tribulation. God determined that all 70 would be for Israel. The church was not in the 69 and can't be in the 70th! To be consistent with other portions of scripture there has to be a gap between the 69th and 70th week. This gap is the 2000 year church age or age of grace, also called the mystery dispensation in the Bible.
The church will not be present during any part of the 70th week.
The church is absent in all verses of scripture relating to the 70th week, the tribulation or Jacob's trouble in the entire Bible.
The only references to the church in the Revelation are in chapters one to three, preceding the 70th week or tribulation period and right at the end where they are seen returning with our Lord to the earth at the end of the period. (There are references to tribulation saints on earth in this time. These are they that are saved during the tribulation period)
The 144000 of the Revelation who are commissioned with evangelism during the tribulation are all Jews. (Revelation 7:4-8) If evangelism is the job of the church how come only Jews are in view here?
Arguments against dispensations:
Many argue that the word dispensation is not in the Bible. Well, as seen above, it is and many times!
Some argue that the last trumpet of Revelation 11:15 is the same as the last trumpet of 1Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:51. It is not the same. In the Revelation it says "The seventh angel sounded his trumpet...the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord." This is simply the last trumpet for the tribulation. It signals the end of the tribulation period or the close of the Old Testament dispensation.
1 Corinthians 15:51 "Behold I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep (die) but we shall all be changed, in a moment in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." This trumpet is the last trumpet of the dispensation which began at Pentecost, called the church age or mystery dispensation. There is a last trumpet for both the church and Israel.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first."
The last trumpet for the church sounds before the wrath of God. The last trumpet in Revelation sounds right at the end of the wrath of God or tribulation.
The last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 has no trumpets preceding it, so it is not the last in a series. It is the last for the church dispensation. The last trumpet of Revelation is the last of a series of seven trumpets.
The trumpet closing the church age occurs in a "twinkling of an eye" while the last trumpet of the Revelation does not.
There are resurrections of the dead who are part of the church and a different resurrection at the end of the tribulation. Some argue that this can't be. Actually there have already been many resurrections in history. For example; Elijah, the dead body of Moses, many at the resurrection of our Lord and others. So it is quite conceivable that we have two resurrections!
If you mix these up into one, there are many problems created with many other portions of scripture. Many things will not add up.
Many argue that God doesn't deal separately with Israel and the church. This makes a total mockery of a huge number of passages of scripture and creates an untidy illogical mess.
There are many who become believers in the tribulation period. These are called tribulation saints and will meet the Lord at His second coming. But they are not part of the church as such.
The rule of logic:
If the way you put the Bible together ends up with pieces that don't fit, something is wrong. This would mean that you have to either ignore portions of scripture or adhere to the terrible allegorical method of interpretation, which allows you to make it say what you want it to.
Logic dictates that the method or belief that has has everything fitting together like a jig saw is correct. We need to consider and take all of scripture in its context.
If you reject dispensations:
If you reject dispensations there can be no rapture at all. The dispensation rejecters believe in a post tribulation rapture. It's also called the grand U-turn. At the end of the tribulation the Lord returns to the earth with His saints. If the rapture happens then, people will rise to meet the Lord in the air and came straight back to the earth with Him.
A simple view of the church as a mystery dispensation in between the Old Testament is consistent with the Bible.
The dispensation problem:
The problem that continues to hover around dispensationalism has nothing to do with the Bible itself. It has been and is caused by some people who take dispensations to an extreme and over-apply it. They claim that there can be nothing carried over from one to another. This is not the case. Many people over-apply dispensations on the one hand and on the other many reject dispensations completely. Both are wrong.
The Bible itself is clear. The big picture can only be seen without contradiction with dispensations in view.
Titus 2:13 "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Heaven or hell:
Young Palestinian, you still have time to make right with God. You have a very, very important choice before you. You can go the way of your family and your friends and your people or you can break away from the traditions that will lead you to hell. Our Lord and Messiah may be Jewish, but he loves you much more than any of your own people ever will or can. He will set you free indeed.
Old woman, you have very little time left. Have you made right with God? If you have God will make right with you and welcome you into His glorious Kingdom for all eternity. It would be a terrible situation if you have a hard life of suffering now and on your death your eternal suffering begins. The Kingdom of our God is a Kingdom of never ending peace, and joy.
Here is a painting by Rembrandt of the prophet Jeremiah mourning over the future of Jerusalem.
Kind regards and many blessings...Shalom and grow in grace!