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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Various dispensations have been traced in the development of God's dealings with mankind.

(1) The dispensation of innocence in Eden.

(2) The Adamic dispensation of promise (Genesis 3:15) after the fall, down to the flood; the remembrance of the promise being kept alive by sacrifice.

(3) The dispensation of Noah, like that of Adam, requiring, besides the duties of the light of nature, repentance for sin, faith in God's mercy, hope of the promised Savior, kept up by sacrifices; to which were added the prohibition to shed blood of man on penalty of death, and to eat animals' blood, and the permission to eat flesh (Genesis 9); extending from the flood to Abraham.

(4) The Abrahamic covenant of more explicit promise (Genesis 12; Genesis 15; Genesis 17; Genesis 22; Galatians 3), extending to the dispensation of

(5) The law, which was parenthetically introduced to be the schoolmaster until Christ, the end of the promise and the law, should come. It is made an objection to the Jewish dispensation that it was restricted to one nation; but its influence extended beyond Israel to the adjoining nations, Egypt famed for wisdom, the Canaanites for war, Phoenicia for commerce, and ultimately to Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Compare Exodus 9:16; Numbers 14:20-21; Jeremiah 39:12; Jeremiah 40:2. (See DANIEL) (Daniel 4:37; Daniel 6:25-27; Ezra 1:1, etc.) Zoroaster was probably contemporary with Daniel, and drew from the Hebrew Scriptures the principles on which he reformed the Persian religion which had become corrupted by the worship of fire, and of an evil principle as well as a good.

Judea's position at the head of the Mediterranean, near Phoenicia, Egypt, Assyria, and Greece, adapted it for a worldwide influence. The Divine Lawgiver from the very time of instituting the Law (Deuteronomy 18) looked forward to (Deuteronomy 18:6) the Christian dispensation, which was to embody its spirit while superseding its letter (2 Corinthians 3:6-18). The gospel dispensation is the last, and is called "the world to come" (Hebrews 2:5), "the ends of the world" (1 Corinthians 10:11), "these last days" (Hebrews 1:2), "the kingdom of God" or "of the heavens" (Matthew 4:17). It has successive stages:

(i.) the present, "the ministration of the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:8), "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24), the period during which "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20);

(ii.) the epiphany of the glory of the great God and Savior (Titus 2:13), the manifested kingdom when He "will restore it to Israel" (Acts 1:6-7; Ezekiel 21:27), and Himself shall "take His great power and reign" with His transfigured saints for a thousand years over the nations in the flesh, and Israel at their head (Zechariah 14; Isaiah 2; 65; 66; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 5:20);

(iii.) the final ages of ages, when there shall be the new heavens and earth and the holy new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21; 22).

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Dispensations'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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