Dispensational Theology-Part 7
|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2001|
|Dispensational theology is “a system of theology which attempts to develop
the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God.” Dr. Renald Showers begins to explain what that means for the Bible student.
THE SEVENTH DISPENSATION
Traditionally Dispensational theologians have called the seventh dispensation the Dispensation of the Millennium. Since Dispensational theologians normally name each new dispensation after its new ruling factor or factors, it might be better to call the last dispensation the Dispensation of the Righteous Reign of Jesus Christ. The reason for this suggested name will become obvious.
The Dispensation Of The Millennium
The seventh dispensation will begin after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and will end immediately before the release of Satan from the abyss and his final revolt.
The Scripture portion which covers the seventh dispensation is Revelation 20:1-6.
The Ruling Factors.
The sixth dispensation of God’s rule demonstrates that mankind does not obey God on the fivefold basis of the human conscience, the restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit, human government, promise, and grace. As a result, God will begin a seventh dispensation by instituting the righteous reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth. This will involve the establishment of God’s theocratic kingdom rule over the entire world through His Son, the Messiah.
It appears that the seventh dispensation will have three ruling factors which God will use to govern the world: the human conscience, human government, plus the righteous, theocratic rule of Christ. Since the seventh dispensation will be the final one for this present earth, it will be characterized by the final fulfillment of the promises which God made to Abraham and his descendants. Once promises are fulfilled, they cease to be promises. Thus, promise will no longer be a ruling factor in the last dispensation. In addition, although salvation from the penalty of sin will continue to be by grace throughout the seventh dispensation, grace will not function as a ruling factor. The evidence for this is the fact that, during the theocratic rule of Christ, those individuals who rebel against that righteous rule will be executed (Isaiah 11:3-4; 29:20-21), and those nations which refuse to go up to Jerusalem to worship the King and celebrate the Feast of Booths will be punished (Zechariah 14:16-19).
The most significant ruling factor during the seventh dispensation will be the righteous rule of Christ over the entire earth (Isaiah 11:1-5; Zechariah 14:9-10). The world will have a theocratic government in which the rule of God will be administered worldwide through His representative, Jesus Christ.
The Special Revelation.
The special revelation which God has already given concerning the seventh dispensation is contained in numerous Old Testament passages (passages dealing with some of the major biblical covenants and prophecies concerning characteristics of the future theocratic kingdom), Gospel passages (such as Matthew 5-7; 19:28: 25:31-46), Acts 3:19-21, passages in the Epistles (such as 1 Corinthians 15:24-25; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 6:5), and Revelation 20:1-6.
According to this special revelation, the Messiah, Jesus, will restore the theocratic Kingdom of God which was on earth before mankind’s fall, but was lost through that fall. The absolute, righteous, just rule of God will be enforced worldwide. Nature will be restored to its pre-fall condition (Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 8:18-23). The climate and natural elements will be controlled perfectly for the good of mankind (Isaiah 30:23-26; Ezekiel 47:1-2; Joel 2:21-26; Zechariah 14:8). There will be unprecedented growth and fruitage of trees (Isaiah 41:19-20; Ezekiel 36:8-11, 29-30; 47:6-7, 12; Joel 2:21-26). Animals will experience great productivity (Ezekiel 36:11; 47:8-10). Food will be abundant (Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 30:23-24; Jeremiah 31:10-14; Ezekiel 34:25-30; 36:29-30; Joel 2:21- 26; Zechariah 8:11-12). All animals will be tame and vegetarian in diet (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25). Diseases and deformities will be abolished (Isaiah 29:18; 33:24; 35:5-6). Human life will experience great longevity (Isaiah 65:20-22). War will be abolished (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). Satan will not be able to instigate any activity on the earth (Revelation 20:1-3). Mankind will be required to submit to the righteous rule of the Messiah.
Mankind’s responsibility during the seventh dispensation will be to obey God on the threefold basis of the human conscience, human government, and the theocratic rule of Christ.
This responsibility will subject mankind to the following test: will mankind obey God on the threefold basis of the human conscience, human government, and the theocratic rule of Christ?
Mankind will fail the test of the last dispensation. Some unsaved individuals will rebel outwardly against Christ’s rule during His reign (Isaiah 11:3- 4; 29:20-21; Jeremiah 31:29-30). Others will not rebel outwardly, but they will chafe inwardly. They will despise the absolute, righteous rule of Christ but will know better than to rebel outwardly. When the seventh dispensation will end, and Satan will be released from the abyss, these people will follow Satan in his last revolt against God’s rule (Revelation 20:7-10).
This failure of great multitudes of people in spite of the perfect government and exceptional conditions of the seventh dispensation will demonstrate that the ultimate cause of mankind’s failure and rebellion throughout history is not his external environment and circumstances. Instead, the cause is mankind’s own inward, sinful nature which rejects the rule of God and asserts self-rule.
Mankind’s failure in conjunction with the seventh dispensation will bring God’s judgment. Those people who will rebel outwardly during Christ’s reign will be executed (Isaiah 11:3-4; 29:20-21; Jeremiah 31:29-30). In addition, God will crush the huge revolt which will take place immediately after the seventh dispensation by sending fire to destroy the human rebels and casting Satan into the lake of fire for everlasting torment (Revelation 20:9-10).
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).