Dispensational Theology-Part 4

By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2001
The Third Dispensation is called the dispensation of Human Government, and extends from the Noahic Flood to the call of Abraham. Dr. Showers explains the features that characterize this period of time.



The Dispensation Of Human Government

The Time.

The third dispensation extended from the Noahic Flood to the call of Abraham.

The Scripture.

The Scripture portion which covers this dispensation is Genesis 8:20-11:32.

The Ruling Factors.

The second dispensation of God’s rule demonstrated that man­kind would not obey God on the basis of the human conscience and the restraint of law­lessness by the Holy Spirit. Thus, once the Noahic Flood ended God started a new dispen­sation by instituting a new ruling factor.

Since the fountainhead of all human corruption prior to the flood was the continued existence of the first murderer, Cain, God determined that never again would He allow murderers to infect the rest of mankind with their rebellious attitudes. Shortly after Noah and his family left the ark, God ordained capital punishment for murderers (Genesis 9:5-6).

Capital punishment requires a human government agency to investigate the murder, and then apprehend and try the murderer, and administer the sentence of execution. God commanded that the murderer’s blood be shed by mankind. Thus, when God ordained capital punishment, He thereby instituted human government as a further restraint against the lawless rebellion of mankind. In Romans 13:1-7 the Apostle Paul indicated that human governmental authority derives its existence from God, that it was ordained for the purpose of restraining evil, and that it functions as the minister of God when it administers capital punishment.

Human government, then, with its authority to administer capital punishment, was the new ruling factor that God instituted for the third dispensation. The human conscience and the restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit continued on as ruling factors in this new dispensation. In fact, Romans 2:14-15 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7, together with other pas­sages, indicate that they continue as ruling factors even into today’s dispensation. Thus, the third dispensation had three ruling factors which God used to administer His rule over mankind: human conscience, restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit, plus human government. Dis­pensational theologians have named the third dispensation after the new ruling factor, since that is the factor which made the third dispensation distinct from the second.

The Special Revelation.

The special revelation that God gave to mankind for the third dispensation is recorded in Genesis 9:1-17. God commanded mankind to multiply and populate the earth. God indicated that animals would now have a fear of mankind. He also ordained that animals could be a source of food for mankind. God promised that there would be no more universal floods. He gave the rainbow as a continuing reminder of that commitment. He required the execution of murderers.

Mankind’s Responsibility.

Mankind’s responsibility during the third dispensation was as follows: to obey God on the threefold basis of the human conscience, restraint of law­lessness by the Holy Spirit, and human government.

Mankind’s Test.

Mankind’s responsibility subjected it to the following test: would mankind obey God on the threefold basis of the human conscience, the restraint of law­lessness by the Holy Spirit, and human government?

Mankind’s Failure.

Mankind failed this test of the third dispensation. Noah became drunk after the flood. While he was drunk, one of his three sons, Ham, committed an indiscretion against his father. This indiscretion prompted Noah to pronounce a curse upon Canaan, one of Ham’s sons. This curse condemned Canaan and his descendants (the Canaanites) to a life of servitude to Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth, and their de­scendants. (It should be noted that this curse was pronounced upon Canaan and his descendants, who eventually settled in the land of Canaan. It was not pronounced upon Ham and his other sons and their descendants, some of whom eventually became the black race in Africa. Thus, it was the Canaanites, not the black race, who were condemned to a life of servitude. At least a major part of this curse was fulfilled when God commanded the people of Israel to conquer the land of Canaan—see, for example, Joshua 9).

Through time Noah’s descendants rebelled against God’s command to populate the whole earth (Genesis 11:4). In order to prevent their scattering over the entire earth, they began to build the city and tower of Babel.

Mankind’s Judgment.

This failure of mankind to obey God on the basis of the human conscience, restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit, and human government brought God’s judgment. Up to this time mankind spoke only one language (Genesis 11:1). This universal language enabled them to work together on their building project. God judged these rebels by confusing their language. For the first time mankind began to speak differ­ent languages. This brought the building project to a halt because the builders could no longer understand each other’s speech. It also caused Noah’s descendants to separate from each other and relocate to different areas of the earth. Thus, they did begin to popu­late the entire earth.

Through time this beginning of different languages caused the development of nations. Thus, different languages and nations began as the result of mankind’s rebellion against God’s rule and God’s judgment of that rebellion.

For a comparison of Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology obtain the follow­ing book: Renald E. Showers, There Really Is A Difference! (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Telephone: 800-257-7843. Mailing address: P.O. Box 908, Bellmawr, NJ 08099).

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