(Read Part 6)
The Dispensation of Promise (Gen. 12:1–Ex. 18:27) tied in closely with the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-8; 22:15-18). A large part of the covenant focused on the promise of land. God promised the productivity of crops and livestock on that land (Gen. 24:35; 27:28; 30:43; Lev. 26:4-5). He promised peace for the land’s inhabitants (Gen. 22:17; Lev. 26:6). He promised to give power to the inhabitants as a nation among nations (Gen. 22:17; Lev. 26:7-8). Those promises included an increased population within that land (Gen. 12:2; 15:5; 17:6; Lev. 26:9). Above all, however, God promised to make the descendants of Abraham a blessing to all people on earth (Gen. 12:3).
The Dispensation of the Law (Ex. 19:1–Acts 1:26) was founded directly upon the Mosaic (Ex. 19–24), the Priestly (Num. 25:10-13; Jer. 33:17-18; Ezek. 48:11), the Deuteronomic (Deut. 27–30; 29:1-9) and the Davidic (2 Sam. 7:8-16) Covenants. In the Mosaic Covenant, God appointed a law code as well as a priesthood that would perform the offerings, protect the sanctified space (the Tabernacle and Temple) and provide instruction explaining and implementing Divine law. In the Priestly Covenant, God revealed that the Aaronic priesthood would not last forever. During the preceding dispensations the priesthood was patriarchal—the fathers led their own households in worship and instruction. In the dispensation of law, God established a priesthood that ministered under the direction of a high priest. The Deuteronomic Covenant focused on the blessings and curses God would give His people for obedience or disobedience while they lived in the land of promise. He instructed Israel to live under the same law by which He required them to serve Him during their wilderness wanderings. Lastly, because Israel continued in their obstinate unbelief and desire to be like all of the other nations, God appointed David’s line as the source of the ultimate king. The Messianic line had narrowed:
- Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15)
- Seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:3)
- Seed of Isaac (Gen. 26:4)
- Seed of Jacob/Israel (Gen. 28:14)
- Seed of Judah (Gen. 49:10)
- Seed of David (2 Sam. 7:13)
The Dispensation of the Church (Acts 2:1–Rev. 19:21; 22:6-21) replaced that of Mosaic Law and began the era in which the church would experience the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:27-34). Those blessings anticipate the application of the covenant to Israel in the future. Christ directs every one of those blessings through Israel, because Jesus Christ is the chief representative of Israel and His own sacrifice acquired those blessings for those who believe the gospel concerning Him. When Israel ultimately turns to Christ by faith, they too will experience those spiritual blessings. (See the discussion of the New Covenant in Part 3: “Covenant Timing: Crisis and Change for God’s People.”) The difference will be that future Israel will receive the physical blessings associated with the New Covenant (Jer. 31:35-40) that finally complete the land blessings of the Abrahamic and Deuteronomic Covenants, the kingdom rule of the Davidic Covenant and the priesthood of the Priestly Covenant (Jer. 33:14-22).
That brings us to the Dispensation of the Kingdom (Rev. 20:1-15), which Christ will establish at His second advent (Matt. 6:10; Luke 19:11-27, esp. vv. 12 and 15; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 11:15). The Messianic Kingdom comprises the ultimate and complete fulfillment of the promises of all of the Israelite covenants from the Abrahamic to the New.
The Dispensation of the Eternal Kingdom (Rev. 21:1-27; 22:1-5) will then complete the program of God. Christ “delivers” up the Messianic Kingdom to the Father (1 Cor. 15:23-28) and all the people of God (both the church and Israel) will unite for eternity. The New Jerusalem’s gates will commemorate the 12 tribes of Israel and the city’s foundations will commemorate the apostles of the church, with all of both folds living together within its walls (Rev. 21:12-14, 22-27).
The following chart completes that which began in Part 5 (“The Intricate Interrelationship: Pre-Israelite Dispensations”):
(To be continued)
Dr. William D. Barrick served as professor of Old Testament and director of Th.D. studies at The Master’s Seminary from 1997 to 2015. He remains active in ministry as a theologian and a linguistics expert whose service, writings and translations have spanned numerous nations and languages. He is also the Old Testament editor of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary from Logos Bible Software. We are most grateful to include him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.
Copyright © 2016 by Dr. William D. Barrick. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 The Scriptures do not provide any detailed explanation of the eternal state outside the very brief description of the New Heavens and New Earth and references to abiding forever with Christ in heaven.