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DISPENSATIONS

The Study of God’s Oversight of History

 

Dispensations are the divine administrations of human affairs from Adam through the end of time. Though time is not a primary consideration, each divine administration, or Dispensation, relates to a definite period of human history. The vast majority of the Bible deals with three such Dispensations: the Dispensation of Israel from the call of Abraham to Christ (which itself may be divided into the age of the patriarchs or promise and the age of the law), the present Dispensation of the Church from Pentecost to the Rapture, and the future Dispensation of Christ’s 1000 year kingdom, theologically designated as the Millennium. There should be no blurring or confusion of Israel and the Church; God deals distinctly with each group (Genesis 12:1–3; John 1:17; Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Galatians 3:19; Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 20:1–7).

 

Dispensations are not different ways of forgiveness and eternal life, but differentadministrations of God as He superintends the way mankind lives on earth.
Eternal salvation was, is, and always will be a free gift by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:9–10).

"Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance [lit., inherit the kingdom], the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world’" (Matt. 25:34). Why are they being granted this blessing? Because they ministered to Christ’s brethren, the Jews, during the terrible holocaust of the great Tribulation (25:35-40).

Here inheriting should be given its full sense of reward for faithful service as the context requires. But there are only two categories of people mentioned as being at this judgement, not three. We see only sheep and goats, Christians and non-Christians, and not two categories of Christians and one of unbelievers (p. 73).

The faithful sheep are now being rewarded with the inheritance. This is the fulfillment of the Lord's promise: "But he who stands firm unto the end will be saved." They are they who persevered under persecution unto the end (Rev. 14:12). Jesus had already explained that Christians who annul the least of the commands and teach others to do the same will be in the kingdom but will be "called least" there (Matt. 5:19) (p. 74).

All saints will enter the kingdom through faith alone (John 3:3), but only obedient saints who endure, who overcome, and who perform works of righteousness (e.g., minister to Christ’s brethren) will inherit it, i.e., rule there (p. 82).

The inheritance can be forfeited because of disobedience, as in the case of Esau (Heb. 12:17), and it is only obtained by perseverance, i.e., by "faith and patience" (Heb. 6:12). Jesus has inherited a superior name to that of the angels (1:4). He achieved this inheritance by persevering in suffering (Heb. 2:10; Phil. 2:9-11). Similarly, His companions (Heb. 1:9, Gk. Metochoi) will "inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14) in the same way. We share in that future glory, the inheritance-salvation, only if we remain faithful to the end. Christ’s obedience as the condition of obtaining His new name, Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11, "therefore"), seems to be a similar idea to His receiving of His inheritance (p. 82).

FIRSTBORN -- Now we stand to lose even our firstborn position and rights in Christ. We are surely to arrive naked and bleeding, if at all!

The rights and privileges of the firstborn were given provisionally, at birth. The right of the inheritance was his, but he could lose it. It was necessary that the firstborn maintain his rights. He must be worthy of the elevated status and honor.

True Christians fully parallel the description of Esau. We are children of God and we are firstborn sons. Because of that we possess the rights of the firstborn. We do not have to earn those rights. They are given to us through the grace of God. However [they give with the left, and take with the right], we must value and keep these rights and are warned by Esau's example regarding the possibility of not doing so.

 

JOINT HEIR -- If the firstborn position can be lost, can the loss of the joint-heirship be far behind?!

"The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs--heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ--if so be that we suffer with Him, that we be also glorified together" (Rom. 8:16,17).

Being an heir of God is unconditional, but being a joint heir of the kingdom is conditioned upon our spiritual perseverance. The inheritance is usually conditioned upon obedience, but salvation from hell is always by faith alone. In order to become a joint heir with Christ, one of His metochoi, we must faithfully endure our sufferings to the end (p. 87).

REST -- Now we have the dispensational violation of merging the Church with all of Israel's covenants.

This gospel was not only preached to Israel, but it was preached to us! Where? A major theme of the NT is that the Church has been grafted into Israel's covenants and are now heirs of the same promises (Rom. 11:17). God has not set aside His promises to Israel. The promise of the inheritance, the land, is eternally valid, and those Christians who remain faithful to their Lord to the end of life will share in that kingdom along with the OT saints (p. 109).

THE NEW COVENANT -- Here Dr. Dillow writes the law upon our hearts as the ultimate of our salvation. Whatever happened to the indwelling Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Life--"Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27)?

The [Israel's] New Covenant was certainly inaugurated at the Cross, and we enter into some of its benefits at the time we believe. But its final fulfillment has not yet taken place and indeed will not until the coming kingdom and eternal state. Similarly, the ultimate writing of His law upon our hearts and minds will be characteristic of the believer when he has achieved the goal of his justification and glorification (p. 150).

ERADICATION -- The new creation of the heavens and the earth does not refer to a renovation of the old creation, but a new order. Peter tells us to look for the total destruction of the present order (2 Peter 3:12), and the creation of a new heavens and a new earth (3:13).

Similarly, the "old man" was crucified. He no longer exists, and we are a new man in Christ. Lloyd-Jones finds evidence for the perfect, sinless, new man in Christ in these Romans Seven verses. He notes that Paul will say, "I am not doing this or that, it is this sin that remains in my member only that does so. Sin is no longer in me, it is in my members only. That is the most liberating thing you have ever heard. Our old self is gone, we should never think of ourselves in those terms again."

PRIESTS -- It is clear that not all believers will function as priests: "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenants, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession...you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5,6).

Only those believers who obey Him are priests. It was and is God’s intent that we all attain to that privilege both here and in the coming kingdom, but to say that a disobedient believer has obtained that part of Christ’s priestly house is not automatic to all Christians. It is the intent, the ideal, but it is actual only in the lives of those faithful Christians who persevere in holiness (p. 202).

 

VICARIOUS LAW-KEEPING -- Many of Dr. Dillow's errors are Arminian, but most of them are Covenant. All of them are dispensationally disastrous.

The Reformed [Covenant] faith has commonly held that sanctification of the believer involves the work of God and man. With this the writer agrees. But the only works of obedience which God performs related to our justification are imputed to us and not worked in us. These works are known as the active obedience of Christ, His perfect obedience to the requirements of the law on our behalf. These merits are reckoned to our account in the act of justification (p. 276).

 

MILLENNIAL DISINHERITANCE -- All of the overcomer movements either split the Rapture, or split the Bema. Either way, for them, if you do not overcome, you will surely be undercut! As one has well said about them, "Partial rapturists expect to be taken up in ‘bunches,’ but I have never met one yet who did not expect to be taken up in the first ‘bunch!’" See you later!

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10 NASB).

There are negative consequences in the judgment seat of Christ. In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14, such a disinheritance is in view. At the marriage feast of the Lamb a great celebration will occur. However, not all will participate in that joy. Jesus describes this lamentable fact in His parable of the unprepared wedding guest.

The parable says nothing about those who are not truly Christians being at the wedding banquet. Those who are not truly Christian will never enter the kingdom at all, much less the wedding banquet. Rather, it describes the varying responses different Christians have to the command of their Master. The parable teaches that the unfaithful Christian will be excluded from the light and joy of the celebration. It will become painfully evident that there are those who are regenerate slaves who do not persevere in their efforts to be properly attired at the marriage feast (p. 345).

"But when the King came in to look over the dinner guests, He saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless" (Matt. 22:11,12 NASB).

What is the indispensable wedding garment? The nature of the garment is made explicitly clear in Revelation 19:7,8: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give gory to Him, for the marriage of the Lame has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."

What the friend at the wedding banquet lacked was not justification but a life of righteous acts. He was a "friend" and a "servant" of his Master, and responded to the invitation (vs. 10) and had believed in Him. His failure was to persevere in his life of works. The consequences were terrible (p. 246).

"The King said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:13,14 NASB).

Several questions are raised by this striking warning. (1) Is the servant a saved man? (2) To what does the "outer darkness" refer? (3) What is the meaning of "wailing and gnashing of teeth"?

(1) Is the servant a saved man? -- The basis for believing this man is saved is that (a) he responded to the invitation of salvation (22:10), and (b) he was apparently not only in the kingdom but actually at the wedding banquet itself. According to Jesus one cannot enter the kingdom unless one is born again (John 3:3). (c) The man is addressed as "friend" by the Lord.

(2) What is the "outer darkness"? -- The man is said to be bound "hand and foot" and then cast into "outer darkness." Whatever the illustration of binding pictures, it must be severe and causes the cessation of all meaningful activity. Perhaps [!] the point is that, while the servant kings will participate in man’s final destiny, this bound one will not be free to do so (p. 347).

This is the darkness outside of the light of the wedding feast! It is not the darkness of hell. In Matthew 8:12 we are told that it is the "sons of the kingdom" who will be cast outside this joyful banquet. The phrase "sons of the kingdom" refers elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel to true believers--the "wheat" in the parable of the wheat and the tares (13:38).

Yet there are sons, and there are "sons indeed." All are sons by faith in Christ, but Matthew uses the term in some places in the sense of sons indeed, when he says we must perform good works in order to become "sons of God" (5:9,44,45). There is evidently a difference between being a son of God and being publicly revealed as such, i.e., "called" a son. Those who are peacemakers and who love their enemies are not only sons but "sons indeed."

The Synoptics (especially Matthew), the Sermon, and Israel's earthly Kingdom, when applied to the Body, result in mutilation. The Bride of Christ is identified in heaven with her glorified new-creation Head, via the Church Epistles, where alone she is being conformed to the image of the One who is "altogether lovely."

Matthew leads us to imagine a great feast of rejoicing. All the faithful Christians in history are there to celebrate victory with their King. This joyful banquet is portrayed by the Lord as occurring in the evening in a brightly lit banquet hall. Outside the banquet where the shining lights of the feast are not present, a relative physical darkness prevails that evening.

(3) What is the meaning of "wailing and gnashing of teeth"? Those Christians who are not "sons indeed," who lack wedding garments at the wedding banquet, will not only be excluded from the joy of the banquet but will also experience profound regret, "wailing and gnashing of teeth." This phrase does not refer to the experience of the unsaved in hell in this passage. It speaks instead of the grief experienced by a true Christian over a wasted life.

It must be remembered that this is a parable and contains figures of speech. There is no literal "wailing and gnashing of teeth," just as there will be no literal binding and casting. Rather, these Oriental symbols evoke ideas of severe rebuke followed by profound regret. These believers will experience great grief ("wailing") and will be angry with themselves, or despairing because of their wasted lives ("gnashing of teeth") (p. 350).

We will spare you the remainder of the tome, nothing more needing to be said concerning what Dr. Ryrie referred to as "this scholarly and well-written book." In closing, Dr. Dillow says:

We now come to the end of the matter. The Lord promises to all who really know Him and see Him that they will enjoy unspeakable privilege in the final kingdom of David's Greater Son. The great future must constantly be set before the vision of all who name the Lord Jesus as their King. We should daily evaluate our lives, our priorities, and our hearts in view of how we will feel about our decisions ten thousand years from now.

Only those who live like this and who finish their course with the flag at full mast will share in the future reign of the servant kings. Let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." After all, we "have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm unto the end" (Heb. 12:1; 3:14) (p. 605).

Dear friend, don't allow anyone to "threaten" you into spiritual growth. Don't allow anyone to lead you down the primrose path to Israel's earthly kingdom. Don't be intimidated, either, concerning the Lord Jesus’ Bema (reward seat). As Mr. Darby wrote:

In what state does the believer appear before the Lord at the Bema? He is raised in glory. No judgment can apply to him which can affect his being in glory, for he is in it already when he appears There. What is judgment, if we are completely like the Judge--we in His image, in a body like unto His glorious body, and Himself our righteousness and very Life? "Herein is love made perfect with us [marg.], that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).

We shall be in glory. We shall not have the nature, the flesh in which we sinned. But we shall know as we are known, and give account of ourselves to the Father, re-pass our whole life and all His blessed ways with us. We shall see it all as our Father sees it, and wonder at the all-perfect grace which has led us onward from our birth. We shall see the thousands of instances of how His loving eye has watched over us to bless us.

It would be a shame not to let Dr. Chafer share a relevant word concerning all this that we have just been subjected to:

It has been a constant disposition in the past of certain writers to invest OT saints with the same position, qualities, and standing as those which belong exclusively to the believers who comprise the Body of Christ. And there is more recently a disposition to carry the same qualities which belong to the saved of this dispensation over into the Kingdom dispensation and to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Such erroneous assumptions are avoided when it is recognized that to the Church alone is accorded the heavenly position and glory. Of her alone is it declared that each of her members who make up Christ’s Body is made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12).

But when all is said and done, there is nothing like the glorified Lord Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, speaking tenderly to His Beloved Bride, through Paul:

"If [since] ye, then, be [already] risen with Christ, seek those things which are above [in the Holiest of All, not down in Israel's kingdom], where Christ [and you] sit on the right hand of God.

"Set your affection [heart] on things above [all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ], not on things on the earth [millennial, or otherwise]. For ye died [on the Cross], and your life is [now] hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our [Christian] life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:1-4).

DISPENSATIONAL DISASTER -- It is barren outside the realm of true dispensationalism. The following several paragraphs exemplify the total disregard, if not ignorance, of the rightly-divided Word of truth. This is some of the "exegetical clarity and consistent biblical theology" extolled by Dr. Radmacher. What are these Christians doing in the Kingdom? Sheep and goats indeed! And why are heavenly Christians seeking to inherit the earthly kingdom of the Jews?

(Materials by Miles J. Stanford are republished here under exclusive permission from the author.)

 


 


I. The Dispensation of Innocence


1. Man's condition.

Genesis 1:26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:28: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:29: And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Genesis 1:30: And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Genesis 1:31: And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 2:7: And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Genesis 2:8: And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:15: And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 2:25: And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

 

Man was the product of direct, Divine creation (Genesis 2:7), not evolution. Our first parents were made in the image of God their Creator. They were given to the responsibility of reproduction; were to exercise dominion over the earth and its contents; and during that age were to be vegetarians (Genesis 1:28-30). They resided in the garden of Eden and were to be the keepers thereof (Genesis 2:8-15).

 

Adam and Eve were originally innocent; that is, they were pure and untainted by sin. They were, however, free moral agents. They were self-governing, had the power of choice, and were responsible for their own acts.

 

2. God's requirement.

Genesis 2:16: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

Genesis 2:17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. They were to totally abstain from the fruit of a certain tree-"The tree of the knowledge of goodand evil”. Its fruit was prohibited. The species of that tree is unrevealed. It could have been any fruit-bearing tree. The tree was not bad in itself (Genesis 1:12: And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:31: And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.).

The wrong was in disobeying God and partaking of that which had been forbidden. The prohibition was, in our judgment, only a property restriction to constantly remind Adam and Eve of their indebtedness and responsibility to God. The penalty for disobedience was revealed – "death".

 

3. Man's conduct.

Genesis 3:6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Our first parents disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit. Thus sin entered the race and man became a fallen creature. Adam was the Federal Head, or Representative of the race and in him all fell (Romans 5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:). Through the solicitation of Satan man became a rebel against the authority of Heaven and a sinner before God, thereby allying himself with the devil.

 

4. God's retribution.

Compare:
Genesis 2:17: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 3:6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of
the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:8: And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of
the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
 

Genesis 3:10: And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Genesis 3:16: Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Genesis 3:19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:23: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Genesis 3:24: So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Having disobeyed God, Adam and Eve had to suffer the consequences. Their spiritual life was immediately forfeited. They lost their vital contract and communion with God. Through the fall they became spiritually dead, at enmity against God, and totally depraved. They were expelled from the garden of Eden and had to toil for their daily bread.
Life was to be sustained by battling against hostile forces in nature and was to be accompanied by sorrow, sickness, suffering and sadness. Physical death would finally come and remove them from the earth.
 

Note: The opening chapters of Genesis give the only safe, sane, sound, scientific, and satisfactory explanation of the origin and present condition of things about us and the origin and present condition of man himself.

 

II. The Dispensation of Conscience and Sacrifice.

Boundaries: From man's fall and expulsion from the garden to the Great Flood.

 

1. Man's condition.

Genesis 3:7-19: And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

 

And the LORD God said unto the woman, what is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Man is now no longer innocent. He has within him that something called "conscience" and by it he knows that which is right and that which is wrong. He is to do the good and to abstain from the evil. Adam as a transgressor had a sense of guilt and was afraid of God. In sorrow and suffering he toiled for a living and had to sweat for his daily bread. Following the fall he was a sinful creature inhabiting a mortal body. Each generation multiplied and the race soon became a great multitude.

 

2. God's requirement.

Compare:
Genesis 4:4: And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
with:

Genesis 3:21: Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
and with:

Genesis 8:20: And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
and with:

Hebrews 11:4: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Prompted by conscience man was to espouse the good and eschew the evil. By deduction we observe that when guilty of transgression he was to offer, by faith, a bloody sacrifice to God. God must have made His will known or else man could not have acted "by faith".

 

3. Man's conduct.

Genesis 4:3: And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

Genesis 4:8: And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Genesis 4:17: And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

Genesis 4:22: And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Genesis 6:5: And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 6:11: The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

Genesis 6:12: And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

Genesis 6:13: And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Cain rejected Divine revelation and substituted natural religion. Apparently he had many heirs. Men knew that which was right but did not always do it. They knew that which was evil but did not always abstain from it.

 

The masses apparently lived in selfishness and sin and devoted themselves to world progress. Cities were built and the arts and trades developed. Moral standards were lowered as is evidenced by the practice of polygamy. In the process of time wickedness, evil plans, corruption and violence prevailed.

 

4. God's retribution.

Genesis 6:13: And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Genesis 6:17: And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

Genesis 7:4: For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

Genesis 7:10: And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

Genesis 7:11: In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great
deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

Genesis 7:12: And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 7:17: And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

Genesis 7:18: And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 7:19: And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Genesis 7:20: Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

Genesis 7:21: And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

Genesis 7:22: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

Genesis 7:23: And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

Genesis 7:24: And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
 

God's patience came to an end and His righteous wrath against sin was manifested. The entire human race, save the eight souls in the ark, perished and went down to a watery grave. Likewise, every creature of the earth that breathed was destroyed, save those in the ark. The waters of the flood prevailed on the earth for five months.

 

III. The Dispensation of Human Government.

Boundaries: From the Great Flood to the Confusion of Tongues at Babel.

 

1. Man's condition.

Genesis 7:1: And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Genesis 8:15: And God spake unto Noah, saying,

Genesis 8:16: Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.

Genesis 8:17: Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

Genesis 8:18: And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:

Genesis 8:19: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

Genesis 8:20: And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Genesis 9:1: And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Genesis 9:2: And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Genesis 9:3: Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Genesis 9:4: But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Genesis 11:1: And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. Immediately following the Flood four men and their wives constituted the world's population. They were righteous before God because they offered the proper sacrifices by faith. They were not perfect in their conduct, but because of their faith, righteousness was imputed to them. Their obedience to God with reference to sacrifices evidenced their faith. They multiplied and in the process of time became a vast multitude.

 

2. God's requirement.

Genesis 9:1: And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Genesis 9:5: And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
 

Genesis 9:6: Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Genesis 9:7: And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Genesis 11:4: And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad
upon the face of the whole earth.
 

Genesis 11:8: So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Genesis:11 9: Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
 

God at this time instituted Human Government. Men were to govern themselves. Society was given the responsibility of legislating for its own good and had to administer penalty for wrong doing. The highest prerogative of Civil Government is capital punishment; and with it all lesser prerogatives and responsibilities are understood. That man was to govern for God and to His satisfaction is axiomatic. Apparently God wanted men to scatter themselves over a wide-spread territory.

 

3. Man's conduct.

Genesis 11:2: And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

Genesis 11:3: And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

Genesis 11:4: And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
 

Having selected a location in the "land of Shinar" men determined to make it a rallying base, or a place in which to permanently abide. Their ambition was to make "a name for themselves". Contrary to the purpose of God, their objective was to stay together and erect a great monument to their own glory.

 

4. God's retribution.

Genesis 11:7: Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

Genesis 11:8: So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Genesis 11:9: Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD
scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
 

In a miraculous manner, God sent confusion of tongues into their midst, thus dividing them into various companies. The result was that one group could not understand other groups. This was the beginning of the divisions of the race into nations and the speaking of various languages. The building of their "tower" and "city" ceased and they were compelled by circumstances to scatter and go their several ways.
 

Note: Babel means confusion and the nations of the earth have been more or less in confusion and turmoil since that time.

 

IV. The Dispensation of the Promises. (Made) To Israel

Boundaries: From the call of Abram to the giving of the Law at Sinai.

 

1. Man's condition.

Genesis 12:1: Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 12:2: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Genesis 12:3: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 12:7: And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Genesis 13:14: And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward,
and southward, and eastward, and westward:
 

Genesis 13:15: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. Genesis 13:16: And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Genesis 13:17: Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Genesis 15:4: And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.

Genesis 15:5: And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

Genesis 15:18: In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Genesis 17:6: And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.

Genesis 17:7: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Genesis 17:8: And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Genesis 18:18: Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Genesis 22:15: And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

Genesis 22:16: And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
Genesis 22:17: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
Genesis 22:18: And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Genesis 26:3: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;

Genesis 28:13: And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to
thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

Genesis 28:14: And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Beginning with Genesis, chapter 12, the Old Testament Scriptures are occupied chiefly with one man, Abram, and his posterity, the nation of Israel. God called Abram from Ur and directed him to Canaan or Palestine.

God promised to Abram personal blessing; an earthly and spiritual posterity; the land of Canaan for a perpetual possession; and a Seed through which would
flow national and universal blessings. Not because of any superiority or merit on his part but through Sovereign grace God chose Abram, and the nation which came from his loins, to be a channel through which He would work and through which He would accomplish His eternal purposes in grace.

To Abram, God made numerous gracious, unconditional promises. Then he renewed those promises from generation to generation with Abram's posterity.
Jehovah's habitual dealings with that people were sovereign, miraculous, and gracious.

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