Thu, May 05, 2005
11 - Jesus Christ Made the Dispensations [b]
Hebrews 1:2 by Robert Dean
Series: Hebrews (2005)

Hebrews Lesson 11    May 3, 2005


NKJ Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Something came in my email the other day that I thought related to tonight's clause in Hebrews 1:2.  This was posted on the website for Answers in Genesis.  A group called the Answers in Genesis is building a creationist museum near Cincinnati, Ohio.  It has come under some attack.  That is what this is in reference to.  Ken Ham, who used to be Institution for Creation Research, is the director of AIG.  Ham writes the following.


A National Embarrassment by Ken Ham


In one of several recent salvos lobed by the secular media at AIG USA and its future creation museum, a commentary on the on-line news service of USA Today declared last week (this was in February 2005) that the museum near Cincinnati, Ohio is a national embarrassment.  Here is Cantor's alarmist, scare mongering in his own words.


Cantor writes, " If we still had an Aristotelian view of the world (that is four elements – air, earth, fire, and water), we would never accept chemistry.  Without chemistry, material science disappears and with it an untold number of better cars, safer packaging, more fuel efficient airplanes and who knows what else.  If we didn't accept quantum mechanics we never would have realized how electrons orbits work or how those electrons give off photons as they drop from one energy level to another.  So we wouldn't have lasers, no CD's, no DVD's, no laser surgery and no fiber optics.  Thomas Edison couldn't have made a light bulb without understanding oxidation". 


Ken Ham comments:  It's a shame that Cantor couldn't mention the incredible MRI technology since that was pioneered by the creationist Dr. Raymond DeMadian.  It was actually the creationist Robert Boyle who fathered modern chemistry and demolished the Aristotelian 4 elements theory.  He also funded lectures to defend Christianity and sponsored missionaries and Bible translation work. Lasers depend on electromagnetic radiation theory, which was pioneered by creationist James Maxwell.  More specifically Einstein who first proposed the stimulated emission of radiation that is the basis of lasers frequently acknowledged his debt to Maxwell.  The creationist Wright brothers invented the airplane after studying God's design of birds.  Oxidation was discovered by Antoine Levosier who was beheaded under the rabidly anti Christian French reign of terror on the grounds "that the republic had no need of scientists."  This is unambiguous example of the persecution of science by an atheistic, deistic regime. 


And of course, you had better scratch Newton, Pascal, Joule, Pasteur and the other creationists who were founders of modern science.  It is true that the creationist museum is going to be one of those national embarrassments.  It will be an embarrassment to secular education system and secular media that have not taught students to think critically and have indoctrinated them in a false understanding of science and origins.  Cantor is a product of such a system.  In fact, we fear for the future of technology when generations of people like Cantor become the leaders in this culture.  By his reasoning he would have suppressed Newton because he wrote more about the Bible than about science.  The creation museum will do what the education system should have been doing all along – teaching people how to think, explaining science correctly and presenting the truth about who we are and how the universe came into being. 


Creation isn't some secondary doctrine.  It is not essential to the gospel.  It is not essential to salvation.  But if you are going to understand the gospel or salvation, you have to understand that there is a creator God that created everything and to whom all mankind is answerable and accountable. 


That is why when Paul addressed pagan audiences in Acts 14 and Acts 17, he didn't start with the gospel. He didn't ask them if they wanted to have a meaningful life.  He didn't give them the four spiritual laws.  He started off with the fact that there was a God who made the heaven and earth and all that is in them. The interesting thing is that eventually he did get to the cross and the gospel.  When he was on Mars hill, he didn't get to the gospel because he was ridiculed by all of the know-it-all secular philosophers and scientists of Athens at the time.


The King is Coming is a doctrinally squared away show on TBN. 


Creation specifically relates to our subject in the next clause in Hebrews.


Corrected translation of Hebrews 1 


Vs. 1 After God spoke in a variety of fragments and in various forms in time past to the fathers by means of the prophets


Vs. 2 He has in these last days spoken to us by Son who He has appointed the heir of all things; through whom also He made the worlds


There is an embedded understanding in verse one that God operates in a different ways in history.  There was a time past from the writer's perspective that He revealed fragments in various forms.


Last time we looked at these last days.  I made the point that you have to distinguish whether the last days in context are talking about the last days of the church or the last days of Israel.  The last days of the church began with the ascension of Jesus Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Once the Church Age began we entered the latter days. In this verse these last days are contemporaneous with the Church Age.  Whether you lived in 100 or 1900, you are living in the last days of the church.  That is because Jesus Christ can return at any moment. It is imminent.  But we are not living in the last days of Israel. In the Old Testament you'll find various phrases that we went over last time for the last days.  All of those phrases relate to that final 7-year period in Israel's history known as the time of Jacob's trouble. It is specifically related to God's discipline on Israel.  It is known as the time of Jacob's trouble.  It is otherwise called Daniel's 70th week or the Tribulation. That is the latter days or the last days for Israel. So you have to make that distinction.  We dispensationalists always attacked because we want to systematize and categorize everything.  The reason you can categorize and systemize the Scripture is because they are the product of the rational mind of God.  He has thought all things through. Therefore you can analyze and classify and systemize what God has done. This is why science has a basis in fact.  It is because God who is rational in His thinking created all things according to fixed kinds. Man has a mind that is an analog to the mind of the Creator. Therefore we can go out and through empiricism and rationalism, discover those categories and classify things.  The same thing is true of Bible Doctrine. 


There are a lot of comparisons between the study of science and the study of nature and the Bible.  In the study of nature you have the beauty of nature whether it is the rocks, minerals, trees, birds, or animals. It is like raw data. It is part of our function as being in the image and likeness of God and as image bearers to go out a study and categorize and classify God's creation.  From that we develop knowledge. That is what science means.  God didn't give us a science textbook.  He gave us the creation.  We study it and from that we gain knowledge as we properly apply the principles reason and logic. 


The same thing is true of Scripture. God gave us Scripture. He specifically chose certain episodes and laid them out down through history. In the 1500 years in the writing of Scripture and the 4,000 years of the Biblical period from creation up to the death of the last apostle, you have only a few episodes of everything that could have been put in there.  Think about all the things that happened in human history over those 4,000 years of time.  We have a microcosm.  But it is a sovereignly chosen microcosm that is designed to give us a precise understanding of the plans and purposes of God and His outworking to reveal His character, and how He interacts with His creatures. Man learns about God by taking the historical revelation of God that is encapsulated for us in the canon of the Scripture. As we study it through the use of our own intellect and reason that God gave us under the authority of God, we can go in and learn about God and how we know all about His attributes and we then develop vocabulary just as Adam developed vocabulary to explain what God has revealed to him.  As we develop that technical vocabulary, you have the origin of words like sovereignty and omniscience. In a concordance, look up words like trinity, omnipotence, omniscience, etc.  You won't find them.  Those words communicate what is in the Scripture.  It is the result of man under the authority of God and through the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit studying all the data that is given here in terms of narrative and history and then classifying and systematizing it so we come to a more and more profound understanding of who God is and how He works in history. This is the basis for how we study the Scriptures. 


There is a latter time and a former time. From these two verses we know from this that there are at least two dispensations or two periods of history. There are the former times when He spoke to Israel through the prophets and the last days when He spoke to us by His Son whom He has appointed the heir of all things.  The very concept of being appointed heir but not being established an heir implies a future era or age where the inheritance comes to a reality. "The heir of all things" focuses on a future dispensation. 


The Dallas Seminary catalogue talks about only three dispensations – the Old Testament, the Church Age and the future kingdom.  These are the three specified in Scripture, but there are more 


I pointed out that Jesus Christ didn't reveal anything to us in terms of written Scripture. That was left to the apostles so that the apostles express what He thought and what He taught under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. They wrote down what was communicated from Him and then they go on as the Holy Spirit develops that doctrine for the Church Age. 


We went through a study on inheritance last time.  This whole word group has as its core meaning the idea of possession or ownership. This whole idea gets developed in the second chapter of Hebrews as we understand that Jesus Christ was made lower than the angels so that He can be elevated above the angels (which is what happens at the ascension and session) so that He can have authority over all things not simply as the Second Person of the Trinity in His deity but as the crown of creation as a human being in hypostatic union as the God man. 


Remember that the main clause in the first four verses at the beginning of Hebrews is that God has spoken to us by means of His Son.  The term Son is further defined as the one whom He appointed heir of all things. And secondly through whom He also made the worlds.  This is the phrase that we are looking at this evening. 


Every clause in these first four verses says something about a key theme in the epistle.  As we unpack all of this we lay the groundwork for understanding Hebrews.


This is the Greek phrase is based on dia plus the genitive indicating an intermediate agency. God is the one who is the ultimate source of creation.  He uses Jesus Christ the second person of the trinity as the intermediate agent for this action.  That is the significance of "through".  It is through the intermediate agency of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


He also made. 


The generic word for creation follows.  The aorist active indicative of poieo is theGreek verb. It is a culminative aorist indicating a completed process as finished in time past. The consummative aorist indicates a completed action.  So God the Father made the worlds through Jesus Christ. 


When we get to the phrase "worlds" we have to do a corrected translation.  In our era of science fiction when you think of making the worlds most people immediately think of all kinds of different planets and worlds and universes and the Starship Enterprise going from galaxy to galaxy and discovering all kinds of people who inhabit the universe.  That is not what this is talking about.  The word here is the Greek noun aionos meaning ages.  It refers to a period of time in human history.  It should be translated "through whom God made the ages." That implies creation.  We know from other passages that Jesus Christ was the intermediate agent through whom God created all things.  But that is not the word we have here.  This does not specifically talking about the creation ex nihilo, the creation out of nothing that occurred in Genesis 1:1.  But this is talking about all of human history.  It is through Jesus Christ that God the Father made the ages of history.


Now I want to step back and talk about something that is important to understand as a background for Hebrews.  That is the whole Doctrine of Dispensations. 


Doctrine of Dispensations


Four different words are used that are related to the time concept of the ages. The place to start is in Acts 1:6-7.


NKJ Acts 1:6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.

The disciples were gathered together around the Lord Jesus Christ immediately prior to the ascension and waited for their marching orders and Jesus final commands to them before He departs to heaven. They came together and asked Him if the kingdom was going to be established now.  This is a crucial question to understand.  Even 40 days after the resurrection they expected a literal physical kingdom where Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning on the throne of David to be initiated at any moment.  


When they use the phrase "to Israel" that indicates that they are not talking about some spiritual ethereal kingdom.  This is not a kingdom that is in your heart.  This is not an allegorical kingdom.  This is a literal, physical kingdom.  The reason we know that because we have all of the Old Testament to understand.  They understood the concept of the kingdom in Israel just as they did under Solomon and under David and under the kings of the Old Testament.  They are expecting a geo-political kingdom that is restored to Israel because that is exactly what was promised in the Old Testament from the covenants to the prophets all through the ages. But Jesus Christ doesn't correct them in terms of their understanding of a future literal kingdom.  He didn't say that they had the concept wrong.  He didn't tell them that they had missed the concept.  He didn't tell them that they shouldn't use a literal hermeneutic.  He doesn't tell them that they should spiritualize it and use allegory.  He doesn't say that.  Jesus said that it is not for them to know the times.  They wanted to know when.  He doesn't stay that it isn't going to happen.  He says that it is not for them to know the times or the seasons.  I think the King James translates it epochs. 


The two key words used here are the Greek words chronos and chairos.  Now these are important to understand.  The first word chronos emphasizes the events in succession.  You have one event after another in terms of history.  It implies that things are moving in a certain direction.  Thus history has purpose and meaning.  This isn't a lot of random stuff that fell out of space and landed in this order.  That is what evolution teaches.  It indicates that time is moving in a direction.


NKJ Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,


It was the fullness (pleroma, that which is brought to completion) of time (chronos). 


This indicates something. Before Jesus Christ could be born in approximately 4 BC, God had to set the stage.  It couldn't just happen.  In order for it to have the kind of efficacy that was necessary for mankind to be ready to accept and to receive the Messiah, the stage had to be set. This is the purpose of everything that occurred in the Old Testament.  The Age of the Gentiles from Adam to Abraham and the Age of the Jews from Abraham to Christ (and there were sub periods of time we will see) each had a divine purpose and it all moved in a direction to prepare the human race for the coming of the Messiah.  So chronos refers to events in succession.


The second word that is used there is the word chairos.  It is a word that indicates a broader expanse of time that has certain definable characteristics. We would perhaps use the word ages, the same as we do with aionos. There is an overlap between the two words that we see here - aionos and chairos.  This has to do with the concept of age. As we think about this, I want to pull together a couple of different things on dispensations so that we understand terminology.  Age has to do with a long periods of time that have certain definable characteristics.  They have certain things in common. We are going to say that there is one age that relates to the Gentiles and that is from Adam to the call of Abraham.  Then there is another lengthy period of time in the Old Testament, the Age of the Jews.  It begins with Abram's circumcision in Genesis 17 and goes up to the cross.  Then we have the Church Age and then we will have the Millennial Age or the Kingdom Age.  The tribulation is the last 7 years related to the Age of the Jews.  That is age looking at it in terms of broad expanses of time.  We haven't gotten to dispensations yet.  We are starting big and working our way down. 


The other word we are used to is dispensation.  The word dispensation is derived from the Greek word oikonomos. This is the word that is usually translated dispensation. This word has the idea of an administration. It is not a time factor. The way we use the word we think of it in terms of time.  But, the word itself doesn't have anything to do with time.  It has to do with the characteristics of how a period of time is managed or administered.  It doesn't focus on time factors.  Aionos focuses on time factors. Oikonomia indicates the characteristics of how a steward or manager governs or runs that period of time.  The time factor goes into the background. 


In Acts 1:6 the disciples in approximately 33 AD asked when the kingdom would come.  Jesus says it is not for them to know the times and the seasons.  He tells them that they aren't supposed to know this information.  But then in 51 AD, almost 20 years later, Paul writes at the end of his second missionary journey.  He sends a letter back to the believers at Thessalonica.


NKJ 1 Thessalonians 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.


These are the same word as used in Acts 1.  Times is chronos.  Seasons is chairos


They have no reason to know this.  Why?  Because I taught you all about the times and the seasons when I was with you face to face. In 31 AD He told them that it wasn't for them to know.  At that point in time that information had not yet been given to the apostles.  But by 51 AD that information had been given to the apostles, primarily through the apostle Paul.  It was being communicated by the Apostle Paul to Church Age believers in preparing them for an understanding of the Church Age.  When you juxtapose Acts 1:6 and I Thess 5:1 we realize that there is a divine revelation regarding the time and the seasons.  This is what we call a study of dispensations.


So we have the word "age" meaning a period of time in human history. Then we have the word dispensation that translates the word oikonomos that is translated stewardship or administration.  You have those parables in Luke where Jesus talks about the landowner who leaves and puts his steward in charge. He is an oikonomos.  He is a steward.  He is the one who oversees and administers the landowner's property and all of his possessions.  So the word oikonomos emphasizes the responsibility delegated by God to the human race during a period of time.  It emphasizes responsibility.  It emphasizes the fact that at different periods of time God manages or administers human history in different ways. 


There are certain things that are held in common throughout all the ages.  Salvation is always by grace through faith. The purpose of the Mosaic Law was never to provide a way for salvation. The law was never the means that a Jew gained salvation.  The law was designed for sanctification purposes – that is the ritual part.  If you look at it in terms of overall history of Israel in the Old Testament, their salvation or redemption took place first when they went through the Red Sea and then they had the giving of the law.  So the giving of the law was given to the nation as a redeemed nation. 


Dispensation then is understood as a distinct and identifiable administration in the development of God's plan and purposes for human history.  That is a nutshell definition of dispensation.


A few years ago we were being visited by a friend who grew up in a fairly conservative denomination.  It is known for teaching the gospel and the Bible.  This individual came from a family that produced a number of missionaries and preachers.  I used this word dispensation and it was like a blank stare.  I could have been talking about accounting principles.  He just went blank.  He had no idea what a dispensation was. Those of us who are older and grayer and started with the KJV, the King James translated this word group with the word oikonomos with the word dispensation. That dropped out in the more modern versions.  The NAS and NKJ prefer to use a word like administration rather than dispensation.  So the word dispensation refers to this management issue. There are administration differences between the Old Testament and New Testament.  We know that in one sense, anybody who isn't going to Jerusalem to sacrifice a lamb on Passover is a dispensationalist in one sense. If they don't believe in dispensations they are inconsistent dispensationalist and they haven't figured it out yet.  Jesus Christ was the end of the law. 


This is our basic working definition of a dispensation. It is a distinct and identifiable administration in the development of God's plan and purposes for human history.


Note that God has a plan and purpose to history. It is not a random. Things were done in a certain way between Adam and Noah in order to teach that man cold not function independently of the creator.  They didn't have a written canon of Scripture.  God was present on the planet.  Other characteristics I noted as we studied through that.  Man failed.  Then you have another change after the Noahic covenant is given.  Again man fails at the Tower of Babel. There are identifiable characteristics in each of these dispensations.


It is clear from all of this that God has a plan and God is working it out. The apostles understood that distinct things happen in distinct periods of time.  Paul develops that.  It affects not only history but also our understanding of the spiritual life. There are different characteristics related to the spiritual life. The principle of grace through faith still operates but you don't have the Holy Spirit given to each believer in the Old Testament.  You do have the Holy Spirit given to each believer in the New Testament. There is no baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. You do have the baptism of the Holy Spirit for every believer in the New Testament.  You don't have the filling of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.  You do have the filling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit is the means of living the Christian life in the New Testament and not in the Old Testament.  Doctrine related to God's plan was clearly revealed in this dispensation.  It had not been revealed in earlier dispensations.


So Paul writes.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,


Let's think about the English word a minute. The English word comes from the Latin dispensatio.  It translates a Greek word meaning to weigh out or dispense.  The main idea is to deal out or dispense or distribute something.  It comes to refer to the distribution of goods.  The Greek word oikonomia sounds like our word economy.  Hear the similarity?  It is where we get our word economy.  It is the distribution of goods and services.  That is economy.  It has the same root as dispensation.


According to Webster's dictionary the word dispensation means a divine ordering and administration of worldly affairs.  Notice that it is the first meaning listed in the dictionary.  Covenant theologians wake up!  Most covenant theologians believe in dispensations but they don't believe in dispensationalism. The core issue in dispensationalism is the distinction between God's plan for Israel and God's plan for the church. That is how we are using this word.  It is the divine ordering and administration of worldly affairs.  It is where we get our word ecumenical and economy.  It is the idea of management, regulation, administration and planning. 


C. I. Scofield, a decorated Confederate Civil War veteran, became an alcoholic after the war. He was a lawyer. Then he was saved and came under the ministry of a Presbyterian minister in St. Louis who taught him about dispensations.  Later on he became a well-known Bible teacher. He was personally responsible for mentoring Louis Sperry Chaffer who founded Dallas Seminary.  But CI Scofield put dispensationalism on the map when he published his study Bible.  He defined a dispensation.


A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.


I think that it is a very strong addition that he made.  There is in each of these dispensations revelation from God with a correlative test.  Man always fails the test.  He demonstrates again that man can't have any measure of success without being consistently dependent on God the creator.


Graham Scroggy defines it as follows:


The word oikonomia bears one significance and it means an administration whether of a house or property of a state or a nation or as in the present study, the administration of the human race or any part of it at any time.  Just as a parent would govern his household in different ways, according to a varying necessity, yet ever for one good end; so God has at different times dealt with man in different ways according to the necessity of the case, but throughout for one great, grand end. 


Oikonomos is a compound word of oikos (house) plus nomos (law).  When you were a kid growing up in the house, you had one set of laws in the house. When you were three years old, you had another set.  You had another set when you were eight. You had another set when you were thirteen and another set at 18 and another set at 25. As you went through different stages how your parents dealt with your responsibilities and responsibilities differed from one stage to another.


Charles Ryrie wrote a well-known book that I recommend called "Dispensationalism".  He revised it in the 90's to deal with the changes since it was originally published. He defined a dispensation as a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purposes.


So you see there is a certain pattern that runs throughout these definitions.


Here is my definition as written for Tim LaHaye's Prophecy Study Bible.  I merged things together and sought a little clarification.


A dispensation therefore is a distinct and identifiable administration (each has certain characteristics that distinguish it from others) in the development of God's plan and purposes for human history. Eph 3:2, Col 1:25-26 A closely connected but not interchangeable word is age which introduces the time element.  God manages the entirety of human history as a household, moving humanity through sequential stages of His administration determined by the level of revelation He has provided up to that time in history.  (There is progressive revelation. Abraham knew more than Noah.  Moses knew more than Abraham.  Elijah knew more than Moses.  Isaiah knew more than Elijah.  John the Baptist and the apostles knew more than Isaiah did.  John the Apostle knew more than John the Baptist.  So there is progressive revelation.)  Each administrative period is characterized by revelation that specifies responsibilities, a test in relation to those responsibilities, failure to pass the test (in other words man always fails), and God's gracious provision of a solution when failure occurs.


God's grace always solves the problem.


In the Old Testament you have the Age of the Gentiles and the Age of Israel. Those are subdivided. The first dispensation is the dispensation of perfect environment. CI Scofield called it innocence.  Innocence is a good word if we think of it in terms of a legal concept. That is what the Bible is all about – this legal structure. Then it means not guilty.  They are not guilty of sin.  They are legally innocent.  It is a good word but it is often misunderstood so I use the term "perfect environment".  What moves history through these sequential stages are the covenants.


God enters into a contract with man. So we have the initial creation covenant given in Genesis 1:26-28 and also mentioned in Hosea 6:7. It stipulates the conditions for that initial period. The responsibility is to fulfill the covenant and not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  But man failed and ate the fruit in Genesis 3.  The consequent divine judgment was instant spiritual death, separation from God, and all of the other consequences that reverberated through nature and through mankind.  So God had to revise the contract. 


So we have a new age, the age of conscience.  I am not real happy with that term but I haven't found a better one.  This is based on the Adamic covenant that is modification of the original creation covenant.  These stipulations are given in Genesis 3:14-19.  The responsibility is to worship God through animal sacrifice. God stipulates that it is not on the basis of human works but on the basis of what He provides. Cain tries to impress God with the fruit of his own work in the harvest. The result of disobedience during that dispensation is evil and wickedness outlined in Genesis 6:5-6.  So God is now going to judge the human race through a worldwide flood described in Genesis 6-9. 


Then there is another change. Another covenant is given. After the flood Noah and his family get off the ark and sacrifice to God. God enters into a new contract or covenant with them.  This is called the Noahic covenant.  Genesis 9:1-17.  The responsibility is to fill the earth.  Remember that in the beginning man was to fill the earth and subdue it. Now he is to fill the earth but there are other consequences. Now there is warfare. There is tension between the animals and between men.  There are also other aspects given such as capital punishment given to man.  This is all part of that contract.  But man failed.  Instead of filling the earth he gathered together to make a name for himself.  He built the Tower of Babel.  There is judgment of the confusion of languages described in Genesis 11:5-9. That ends the Age of the Gentiles.  So the Age of the Gentiles is clearly defined by three administrative periods that are defined by these legal contracts.


So we see that what is at the core of a dispensation is this legal contractual revelation given by God. 


There is a change now and He is going to work through one individual, Abram who we have been studying in Genesis.  So we have the dispensation of the patriarchs.  When God enters into that covenant it changes from the way He was working before.  You can't postpone the beginning of the Age of Israel to the time that they become a nation.  What is important first and foremost is the race that is based on the calling of Abraham and then Isaac (the promised seed) and then Jacob.  So the Age of Israel begins with the patriarchs and the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:1-3.  The formal ceremony is in Genesis 15. The sign of circumcision is in Genesis 17. 


As part of this the descendents of Abraham were to stay a distinct people. They weren't to intermarry. So when Abraham wants a wife for Isaac he sends Eliazer back to Horan to find through his relatives a bride for Isaac. Jacob does the same thing. But the sons of Jacob started to intermarry with the Canaanites.  That brought judgment. They assimilated into the Canaanite culture. The threat is there so God punishes them by sending them all down to Egypt so they would be in a hostile environment. The Egyptians hated the Semites and isolated them in Goshen.  This allowed them not to be intermingled with the pagans around them. 


God freed them at the Exodus event and God gives them another covenant – a temporary covenant called the Mosaic Law or the Old Covenant. This is laid out in Exodus 20-40.  The principle there is to obey the law and you will enjoy the blessings of the land. If you disobey the law you will be kicked out of the land.  But God would bring them back. They disobeyed according to II Chron 26:14 and they were removed from the land.  They could not enjoy the blessings; but it was still theirs positionally, but not experientially.  It is tantamount to the sin unto death in the spiritual life today. So they are in the Diaspora as outlined in Deut 28:63-66.


Then we have a new age that enters in – the Messianic Age.  Now not all dispensationalists isolate the Messianic Age or the period of Christ's ministry as a separate dispensation. However there have been several dispensationalists down through the years that have done that. It is not typical today, but there have been those who did.  It has been called the Age of the Messiah. It is a distinct dispensation. There is a test and a revelation. The revelation was the logos, the revelation of Christ. The test was to accept Him as the Messiah. There is the failure of the test on the part of Israel.  They rejected him as the Messiah.  And there is a judgment. There is the judgment of the cross and the fifth cycle of discipline in AD 70. You can look at the dispensation of the Messiah or the hypostatic union and you can see that it has distinguishing characteristics just as the other dispensations do. 


After the resurrection and ascension of Christ with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost you have the Church Age. The New Covenant is applied to the Church Age. The responsibility is to trust in Christ as Savior – faith alone in Christ alone. Most people will reject Christ as their Messiah in this era. Just think of the billions of people on the face of the planet who have never heard of Jesus Christ. Most human beings in this age will never hear the gospel and have never heard the gospel. Most people reject Christ and the judgment at the end on the earth is the tribulation. The church of course is removed at the rapture.  We don't go through the tribulation. 


The tribulation relates to the last 7 years of Israel's history.  That ends with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 


After the Battle of Armageddon we go into the Millennial Kingdom. The responsibility there is to obey Christ.  There is a failure even in perfect environment where God is showing that the environment is never the issue.  It is sin. It is volition.  At the end of the Millennial Kingdom there will be another revolt – the Second Gog and Magog revolt led by Satan when he is release from the Lake of Fire.  Then there is judgment and they are all burned up and destroyed.  Then the present heavens and earth are destroyed after the Great White Throne judgment.  We then enter the New Heavens and New Earth.


The main thing I want you to get from this chart is that there are ages such as the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of Israel, the Messianic Age, the Church Age, and then the Millennial Age.  Then there are subdivisions known as dispensations.  In some cases a dispensation and an age are identical such as the Messianic Age or the Church Age. But in the Old Testament the ages are subdivided into dispensations related to these covenants that were given in the Old Testament.


This is what the writer of Hebrews is referring to when he says that through Him God the Father made the ages through Christ. Jesus Christ controls history.  Jesus Christ also made everything.  He is the intermediate agent for all creation.


NKJ John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


NKJ John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.


Intermediate agency again. 


God the Father is the architect who plans everything.  Jesus Christ is the contractor on site through whom everything is made.


NKJ Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.


He is the one who continually sustains the universe.  That takes us through Hebrews 1:2.  This focuses on the centrality of Jesus Christ as the creator and the one who lays out the ages and the one who controls history. You can summarize that last clause in Hebrews 1:2 as Jesus Christ controls history and moves it to a destiny.