This Series contributed by Jim Mates (an Ordained Minister from Rochester New York)
“The Israel of God”-Introduction
Our title is taken from the pen of Paul in Gal 6:15&16. These verses read: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” (NKJV) Therefore, “the Israel of God”, in conjunction with the covenants that God has made with her, will be the foundation upon which this study is built. This is because an understanding of God’s dealings with Israel is paramount in gaining a proper perspective of His plan for the ages.
Many books have been written on the subject of eschatology (the study of future things).
So, why this study?
Well, it’s because of one very simple verse of scripture, that being Isaiah 1:18 which says “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (NKJV). So how in the world is this verse a stimulant for writing more about prophecy? It isn’t, except for one word, the use of which is of the utmost importance in reaching a proper understanding about anything we undertake to study from the Word of God. It’s the word “reason”. The meaning of the Hebrew word from which it is translated in this verse is: “to reach a correct understanding by the application of logic”, a discipline, which when absent can cause men to make utter nonsense out of the things God plainly teaches. Therefore, the use of “reason” will be liberally applied throughout this study, so much so, that it will be given a high ranking among the rules of interpretation that are employed, even though I have never seen it included in any list of basic hermeneutical principles…and this despite the liberal use of it by every man God has used to pen the words contained in His Holy book. The Lord Himself used it exhaustively in the Gospels. Paul applied it in all of his teachings.
For example, the first two verses of Acts 17 read as follows: “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” (NKJV) Later in the same chapter, Paul reasoned profusely with the people of Athens concerning their shrine to the “unknown God”.
As a teaching aid for our study, I will be making comparisons with a prophetic view known as premillennial dispensationalism.
The reasons for doing this are:
1. Dispensationalism is universally known. Therefore, it will serve well as a “home base” from which to break away as we unearth the Biblical perspective on this subject.
2. The view that I will be presenting from the pages of scripture is so totally contrary to dispensationalism that comparisons will serve to vividly highlight the differences.
So without further delay, let’s get started.
The Israel of God – Part 1
1. DISPENSATIONALISM – A BRIEF BACKGROUND
While some elements of dispensationalism existed prior to its formal introduction, it was not known in any organized way until the literary work of a British Plymouth Brethren affiliate named John Nelson Darby blossomed onto the scene around 1830. Information on this position prior to the publication of Darby’s work is sketchy and speculative at best, but we know that no one preceding him published anything substantial about it, else their name would have become indelibly linked to it rather than his. One thing is historically certain… Darbyism introduced a new element to the theological arena, that being the separation of Israel and the Church. This was considered to be quite radical at the time, and was accomplished by segmenting the Bible into theological units of time known as “dispensations”.
This new theology was rejected by many prominent theologians of the 19th century, including Spurgeon and Warfield, but nonetheless gained a following, albeit not an overwhelming one. However, when the Scofield Bible was published in 1909, its use among Christians in general, as well as within the hallowed walls of many Bible Colleges caused its popularity to rise considerably, and even more so as the pastoral students who graduated from these schools began teaching the doctrine to their congregations. Then, around the time of World War 1, a man named Clarence Larkin published a work entitled “Dispensational Truth” which catapulted the doctrine to an even more heightened level of acceptance. Even though still popular today, Dispensationalism’s acceptance has waned in the last two decades as some denominations and many individual Christians have reverted to the pre-Darby system of theology.
The number of dispensations range from 3 or 4 upwards to 8 depending on the scheme that is adopted by various groups. Here is a list of the 8:
1. Edenic – dispensation if innocence
– (Genesis chapters 1 – 3)
– extends from the creation of Adam to the fall
2. Antidiluvian (pre flood) – dispensation of conscience
– (Genesis chapters 3 – 8)
– extends from the fall to the flood
3. Post diluvian – dispensation of civil government
– Genesis chapters 9 – 11
– extends from the flood to the call of Abraham
4. Patriarchal – dispensation of the family (or dispensation of promise)
– Genesis chapter 12 – Exodus chapter 19
– extends from the call of Abraham to the exodus
5. Mosaic – dispensation of law
– Exodus chapter 19 – Acts chapter 2
– extends from the exodus to Pentecost
6. Ecclesiastical – dispensation of Grace (or dispensation Of the Church)
– Acts chapter 2 – Revelation chapter 20
– extends from Pentecost to the “rapture”
(a parenthetical dispensation thrown in between the dispersion of Israel
and their restoration)
7. Millennial – dispensation of the Kingdom
– Revelation chapter 20
8. Eternal state
– latter verses of Revelation chapter 20 – Revelation chapter 22
For greater in-depth information, type “dispensationalism” into any search engine, then click on the wikipedia offering that appears.