Innocence ... Between
the Creation and the Fall of Man in the Garden.
God interacted freely and personally with Adam
and Eve during this period. Then they broke the only
rule He had given them (Genesis 3:11-13) and were
expelled from the Garden. Sin entered the world.
... Between the Fall and the Flood, God allowed man's conscience to govern
his behavior without Divine interference. Because of the sin nature passed
down from mankind's first parents, the result was that "the wickedness of
man was great in the earth, and
every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"
(Genesis 6:5). God
pronounced judgment upon the world and destroyed all but 8 members of the
human race in the Great Flood.
3) Human Government
... from the Flood to Abraham.
After the flood God told Noah to go forth and replenish the Earth (Genesis
9:7). Noah's descendants
disobeyed God's commandment, setting about instead to build a great city and
tower from which to study the stars (Genesis 11:4). God confused
man's language, causing them to stop building the tower, and
scattered them through out the world (Genesis 11:8-9).
... from Abraham to Moses. God
promised Abraham a homeland for his descendants (Genesis 17:8) and a
son for him and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-16).
But they grew tired of waiting and produced a son on their own, who
they named Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-2.15).
When God's promised son Isaac was born, Ishmael was sent away (Genesis
21:8-13) causing enmity between the Jews (descendants of Isaac) and
Arabs (descendants of Ishmael) that continues to this day.
After Mohammed, a descendant of Ishmael's, founded Islam this enmity
took on religious significance and became even more intense.
... from Moses to Jesus. God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and promised the
Jews a life of peace and plenty
in a Kingdom of their own if they obeyed (Exodus 19:5, Exodus 20:1-17).
After repeated periods of disobedience which included rejecting their
Messiah King, God withdrew His offer of the Kingdom and expelled them from
their land (Matt. 21:43, Luke 19:41-44).
... from Pentecost to the Rapture, the Church Age. No longer requiring
righteousness through works, God granted a righteousness by grace through
faith in the completed work of Christ to all who accept, whether Jew or
Gentile (Romans 3:21-24). Most will not accept and will be punished
Note: It's important to realize that Grace didn't
replace Law, it just interrupted it. Law has another 7 years to run,
called Daniel's 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27), which fills the time
between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming.
During this time all the nations to which Israel has been scattered
will be completely destroyed and Israel will be disciplined in preparation
for receiving the Kingdom (Jeremiah
... the 1000 Year Reign of Christ that begins with
the 2nd Coming. This
time Israel will accept the Kingdom offer (Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah
14:8-9). Satan will be bound(Rev. 20:2), all unbelievers will be
expelled from the planet (Matt. 25:41-46), and God will once again
dwell in the midst of His people (Ezek 43:6-7).
You'd think man could finally live in a manner pleasing to God. But
he can't. With the exception of
Israel, the world will rebel against God and His people.
God will send fire to consume them all (Rev. 20:7-10).
What Is God's Purpose In This?
I think the overarching purpose of these seven
dispensations is to demonstrate that there are no conditions under which
natural man can behave in a manner acceptable to God.
Only the Church is able to do so and then only after being perfected
in the rapture. This why Paul
wrote that after the end of the Millennium when it comes time for Jesus to
present the kingdom to the Father, He will first destroy all dominion,
authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24).
This means as we enter eternity neither mankind nor the angels will
ever have the desire or ability to disobey God again.
That's why there isn't an eighth dispensation called Eternity.
Two of the major changes that dispensationalism as we
know it today brought upon the post reformation world were the return to a
literal interpretation of Scripture, especially where it deals with
prophecy, and the realization that there's a distinct difference between
Israel and the Church in the End Times.
It's the best tool I know of for determining the context of a passage
and understanding who its intended recipients are.
(Reform theology does not adhere to a literal interpretation of
Scripture, treats end times prophecy as allegorical, and blurs the
distinction between Israel and the Church to the point where some claim the
Church has replaced Israel in God's plan making Israel an unnecessary part
of our times.)
Most dispensationalists believe in a pre-tribulation
rapture followed by Daniel's 70th week
with its accompanying judgments and a literal Kingdom of God that
will begin with the 2nd Coming and last for 1,000 years.
During this time Israel will be God's Kingdom on Earth while the
Church will be God's Kingdom in Heaven.
So this is what dispensationalists believe.
It's what I believe and is the theological foundation for all the
articles and answers to be found on this site. This is why I said the Great
Flood was the second in a series of seven times where mankind would violate
the terms of an agreement with God and bring judgment upon themselves. Selah