How to divide Time into proper Ages
Sep 09, 2011
About 160 years ago, the Church saw the rise of a new teaching called Dispensationalism. Their definition of "dispensation" was a period of time in which God dealt with mankind in some specific manner that characterized that "dispensation."
For example, from Moses to Christ was said to be the dispensation of Law, and then after the Cross came the dispensation of Grace.
It gave the impression that Law and Grace were incompatible in the Christian's life. Law came to be despised as if it were obsolete. But grace and faith are everywhere from Moses to Christ, while Law and obedience are taught after the Cross as well.
The only thing that really changed was the FORM of the law. This so-called "Dispensation of Grace" is better described as the Age of Pentecost. But even this does not imply that the Holy Spirit was absent during the previous Age of Passover. The Holy Spirit was present at creation (Gen. 1:2) and continued through Moses, the Judges, David, and the Prophets. The only real difference was the LEVEL of the Holy Spirit, which increased from a "Passover" level to a "Pentecost" level.
Look at all the miracles that took place in the Old Testament time period. The New Testament hardly matches them. The 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the sun standing still for a day in Joshua's day, the sun going back 10 degrees in the days of Hezekiah, Elijah and Elisha raising the dead--the only New Testament miracle that was greater was to be seen by faith, for it was the work accomplished on the Cross. But not everyone was able to see or understand this, for it was not as visible.
Even the tongues of fire on the disciples at Pentecost was more hidden than the fire on Mount Sinai which no doubt could be seen for miles. It seems that the Spirit of God was becoming less visible and more internalized from age to age. The logical conclusion is that in the Tabernacles Age the Spirit of God will be totally absorbed by the overcomers and will BE the manifestation of His glory.
Likewise, the Law also was external on visible tablets of stone under Moses. With the New Covenant has come an internalization of the Law as it is written on our hearts. Instead of having to be told what is right and wrong, we are now led by the Spirit, who knows the Law much better than our carnal understanding of it.
Yet even then, the Israelites under Moses were offered the terms of the New Covenant, and if they had been able to accept it at that time, the tablets of stone would have been unnecessary. God first came on Sinai and SPOKE the Law to them. He writes His Law on our hearts by speaking, and if we have ears to hear, it becomes internalized and becomes part of our character, even as it is an expression of His character.
This was offered to Israel in Exodus 20, as God spoke to them. But the people were unable to hear, and so they ran away in fear (Ex. 20:18-21). Hence, God gave Moses the written Law so that they could have more time to pray about it and to deal with the Fear Factor. Those who succeeded in this received the Law in their hearts and did not fall into disobedience with the majority.
I believe Caleb and Joshua were among those overcomers, for the evidence is in the fact that they had faith to enter the Promised Land, when the other 10 spies could not.
So that first Pentecost at Sinai remained unfulfilled until Acts 2 when a body of believers were able to draw near to God on the mount ("upper room"). They were unafraid of the "fire" and thus received the anointing of His presence and character.
The Dispensationalist view, then, misrepresents what was actually going on. The difference was that the New Covenant was DELAYED from Moses to Christ. Certainly, this was in the divine plan, but the will of God was that Israel hear His voice, receive the baptism of the Spirit, and receive the Law upon their hearts. They had the potential of receiving what the disciples received on the 1480th Pentecost (Acts 2). But the divine plan prevented them from receiving this, for God would not allow this until the feast of Passover was fulfilled in Christ's death on the cross.
Time is not to be divided into these so-called "dispensations," but rather according to the feast days--at least since Moses. The Age of Passover began with Israel's exodus from Egypt and with their entry into the Promised Land at the feast of Passover. The Age of Pentecost began in Acts 2. The Age of Tabernacles will begin with the overcomers receiving the fullness of the Spirit. We will then enter collectively into that third Kingdom, or the Third Church (called-out ones).
Dr. Stephen Jones