(Read Part 4)

The Implementation of the Unifying Principle: The Dispensations (Continued)

5A. The Dispensation of Law: From Sinai to Pentecost

1b. The New Revelation From God: The Mosaic Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was an indivisible law with three general aspects: civil, ceremonial and moral. There was other revelation given during this dispensation but not of the quality that introduced a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.

2b. The Goal of the Dispensation

1c. Fellowship With God

There was no continuous dwelling of God on Earth from Eden onward, only sporadic appearings to various people. However, during this administration (law), God did come down in the symbolized form of the glory cloud and lived with Israel (Jer. 14:9). This cloud, sometimes called the shekinah (the “dwelling”), was the visible symbol of God’s theocratic presence and rule among the tribes. It began with the “pillar of cloud” and “pillar of fire” that led Israel out of Egypt and guided them during the wilderness sojourn. Apparently, a portion of this cloud dwelled in the Holy of Holies over the ark of the covenant in the central sanctuary (Ex. 40:34; Lev. 16:2). The central shrine had various designations that depicted this living of God among the covenant people, some of which are:

  1. The tabernacle and temple—see Exodus 29:45-46; Numbers 35:34; 1 Kings 6:13 (cf. 8:13; 2 Chron. 6:1-2); Ps. 26:8; 74:2; 135:21. The mishkan (“dwelling”) is the common Hebrew word for the tabernacle.
  2. The dwelling of God’s name—Deut. 12:5, 11 (cf. vv. 14-21; 14:23; 16:2, 6, 11; 26:2); Neh. 1:9; Ps. 74:7.
  3. “The house of” Yahweh”—Ex. 34:26
  4. “The tent of meeting”—Ex. 29:42-43

Fellowship with God who dwelled in their midst was through the Levitical forms at the central altar. God could be approached and met at His “house” where He lived and manifested His localized presence. Faith at this juncture incorporated the distinct provisions and injunctions of the Mosaic Law regarding the sacrificial-festal system. (The glory cloud departed in 592 B.C. [Ezek. 11], signifying the withdrawal of God’s dwelling with Israel due to her apostasy.)

2c. The Rule of God

1d. Israel’s Internal Politics

The theocratic kingdom established at Sinai had a unique civil-spiritual or civil-ecclesiastical relationship. The kingdom had an internal political system headed by a Divinely chosen mediator (Moses) along with elders, judges and officers. Immediate access to God was available should the written code not be sufficiently understood (Num. 5:11-31; 15:32-35). Moses, as head of the civil government, appointed the ecclesiastical personnel, such as priests and the high priest (Num. 3:10). The established religion had the support of the state through the tithing system. Worship of any other god than Yahweh was strictly forbidden under the sanction of death (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 6:4-25; 13:1-18). With the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16), the monarchy became the permanent form of the theocratic kingdom, and the dynastic rights to the kingdom were given to David and his seed in perpetuity.

2d. Israel’s External Politics

The foreign policy of the theocracy carried a Divinely guaranteed supremacy over the other nations economically and politically (Deut. 15:6). Israel was not, therefore, to make foreign alliances; in fact, the foreign policy mandated the extermination of the Canaanite city-state system and the enslavement of nations distant from Palestine (Deut. 10:11-15, 16-18).

When the law was adhered to, i.e., when the civil, ceremonial and moral aspects of God’s revelation were kept, Israel enjoyed the blessing of God, Who ruled in their midst and Who was glorified in their obedience. God’s rule through Israel also touched other (pagan) nations which, in isolation from their apostate presuppositions, paid tribute to Israel’s God (Ex. 15:15-16; Josh. 2:9-11; 4:24; 1 Kings 8:43, 60; Ps. 59:13; cf. Deut. 2:25).

God’s rule has thus dispensationally progressed from the family unit (innocence and conscience) to man in governmental capacity (civil government), to the mediatorial headship of the patriarchs in their clans (promise), and from there to the tribes of Israel who were forged into a mediatorial kingdom of God on earth at Sinai (law).

(Part 6)

Dr. Rolland D. McCune served at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary from 1981 to 2009 as professor of systematic theology, dean of the faculty and president. He previously taught at Central Baptist Seminary for 14 years. He is the author of A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, 3 vols. (Allen Park, MI: DBTS, 2008-2010) as well as other books and many journal articles. It is a truly a blessing to include him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.

Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Rolland D. McCune. Used by permission of the author.

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)