The US envoy sounded a victorious tone with a narrative of how the US has helped put ISIS on the run in both Iraq and Syria, focused on ISIS clean-up operations.
The US will not let Iranian proxies threaten Israel from the Golan after ISIS-rule in Syria falls, US envoy for combating ISIS Brett McGurk said on Thursday.
Speaking at the IDC Herzliya Conference, McGurk said that he was “recently on the Golan looking at… ISIS across the border” and that neither ISIS nor “Iranian proxies” can be allowed to remain to trouble Israel.
The US envoy sounded a victorious tone with a narrative of how the US has helped put ISIS on the run in both Iraq and Syria, focused on ISIS clean-up operations.
He said that the US has undertaken “30,000 airstrikes on ISIS to date in the most precise air campaign in history.”
Next, McGurk said that the US and allies would need to work hard top share intelligence data about fleeing ISIS fighters to ensure they are caught wherever they go, remarking that “few do better” in this arena than Israel.
Responding to recent allegations that the US was violating the laws of war by using white phosphorous as a weapon, he shot down the reports.
“In the last month, ISIS started killing any civilians trying to leave” Mosul as Iraqi forces started to retake the city, even “using a hospital” as a “killing tower” for firing on fleeing civilians, he said.
He explained that “the US is only using white phosphorous to protect civilians trying to flee ISIS,” and not as a method of attack.
The use of white phosphorous on the battlefield, even as a diversionary measure, is controversial because it can easily and indirectly create large fires which spring out of control.
McGurk also contextualized the US’s recent shooting down of a Syrian Assad regime aircraft as responding to its crossing battle lines in attacking US-supported Syrian rebels.
ISIS gained prominence in 2014 at one point controlling large swaths of both Iraq and Syria, but has lost most of its territory against a range of Iraqi, Syrian, Turkish, Kurdish, US and Russian power over the last two years.
Germany and Austria have lashed out against US Senate for approving a legislation tightening sanctions on Russia. The bill has a provision that enables the United States to impose sanctions on European firms involved in financing Russian energy export pipelines to Europe. European companies could be fined for breaching US law. In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern accused the US of threatening European economic interests, describing it as an illegal attempt to boost US gas exports. The United States recently started shipping liquefied natural gas to Poland and has ambitions to cultivate other European customers.
The bill says the US government «should prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy». But the European foreign chiefs believe that «Europe’s energy supply is Europe’s business, not that of the United States of America». Gabriel and Kern said they «can’t accept» proposed US sanctions targeting European energy companies as part of measures against Russia.
German firms BASF and Wintershall, Austria’s OMV and Voestalpine, and Royal Dutch Shell are involved in Nord Stream 2, a pipeline project to pump Russian natural gas via the Baltic Sea to landfall in Germany. Russia’s Gazprom and its European partners are pushing ahead with the plans to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream undersea gas pipeline to Europe. Gazprom has already received more than €1 billion from its partners for Nord Stream 2 financing. In April Uniper, Wintershall, Shell, OMV and Engie agreed to each loan 10% of the cost of the venture, or up to €950 million each. The Russian company will shoulder 50% of the cost of the 55 billion cubic metre pipeline, which is due to start operating in 2019.
The foreign ministers emphasized that the very fact that the US bill threatens European firms taking part in pipeline construction is «a completely new and very negative dimension into European-American relations». The officials wrote that, «In noticeable frankness, the draft US legislation describes what it’s really about: the sale of American liquefied petroleum gas and the squeezing out of Russian natural gas from the European market». German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries joined in the criticism on June 16 and warned of possible retaliation if Washington ended up fining German companies. The Senate’s move is a way for the US «to try to favor its own gas» in Europe, Isabelle Kocher, the chief executive officer of Engie, France’s former gas monopoly, told reporters in Paris on June 15. «I don’t think at all that the United States can stop this project». she said.
It’s worth to note that the US space agency (NASA) is exempt from the Senate bill but fines against foreign companies are specifically mentioned! Can there be a better example of double standards practiced by America’s political elite?
It’s very important to emphasize that the joint statement of the foreign ministers goes beyond the Nord Stream project. It puts into doubt the very idea of US-European joint policy on Russia. The paper says, if the bill becomes a law it would «diminish the effectiveness of our stance on the conflict in Ukraine if we were to no longer take joint action» against Russia in future.
Actually, the attempts to undermine Russia’s gas exports to Europe are doomed if the game is fair and politics is not mixed up with economy. Russia has a clear advantage. Natural gas transportation by pipeline is significantly cheaper than building and employing expensive LNG port infrastructure. Besides, the Russia’s export infrastructure is already built while the US export terminals are still under construction. At present, only Sabine Pass LNG export facility in the Gulf of Mexico is operational but still has a long way to go to reach full operational capacity. And with more terminals built, the US will be seeking to export LNG to Asia, which is more profitable than the supplies to Europe.
Russian Gazprom can produce and export gas to Europe at a much lower cost than LNG from across the Atlantic. It can flood Europe with cheap gas to kill off US sea exports. It has 100 billion cubic meters of annual gas production capacity sitting on the sidelines in West Siberia, which can effectively be used as spare capacity. The company’s latent capacity is equivalent to 3 percent of global production. This large volume of capacity is the result of investments in a major project on the Yamal Peninsula.
And the bottomline? Evidently, the United States clout in the Middle East is on the wane, while Russia is emerging as an important broker. Qatar, a leading world gas exporter, has recently started to shift to the Moscow-spearheaded Russia-Turkey-Iran axis as a result of the US-supported recent rift in the Arab world. What does it mean for global energy market? A new gas cartel is emerging to include Russia, Iran and Qatar – a dangerous competitor and for the US nascent shale industry. What to do about it? Here they are – the US lawmakers are going to any length to turn the tide. No scruples, anything will do when it comes to the implementation of the «America First» principle.
Another aspect to take into account. The Russia sanctions are part of the Iran bill. European companies are chomping at the bit for sealing lucrative contracts with Iran. Europe does not have to join the restrictive measures unilaterally imposed on Tehran by US Congress. The interests diverge and the gap between the US and Europe is getting wider. The process is gaining momentum.
The statement made by the German and Austrian officials is not just a separate event – another scoop to hit headlines. This present rift between the US and its European allies is another reflection of the trend that has been gaining momentum recently. America and Europe appear to go separate ways on many issues and no turgid words and high-fallutin’ speeches can hide this fact.
Terror group in Egypt says it launched two grad projectiles at crossing two days ago, hitting Egyptian territory; claimed IDF had bombed its positions in response
BY JUDAH ARI GROSS AND AVI ISSACHAROFF December 15, 2016, 1:35 am
The Islamic State terror group claimed Wednesday that it was responsible for firing two missiles on Monday from the Sinai Peninsula, aimed at an Israeli border crossing with Egypt but which missed the mark and landed in Egyptian territory.
The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt, known as Sinai Province, published photos on one of its news agencies from the attack on Monday documenting “the bombardment of the Nitzana border crossing on the border with Palestine with two grad rockets.”
On Monday, incoming rocket alert sirens sounded in southern Israel, as a result of the missiles launched in Sinai.
The Islamic State group claimed Israel responded with a series of airstrikes against it in the northern Sinai peninsula. The IS news agency said that Israel carried out three strikes over the course of three days in the area of Sheikh Zuweid in the northern peninsula. The Israel Defense Forces would not respond to the allegation.
View image on Twitter
#ISIS affiliate claims responsibility for rockets fired from #Sinai into #Nitzana Border Crossing this week.
According to the IS news agency, Abdullah Kishta, a former member of Hamas who joined the ranks of the Islamic State was killed in Sinai but the circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.
For the past two years, Kishta had reportedly worked as a bridge between the Islamic State and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, assisting in smuggling fighters in and out of the coastal enclave.
Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai called Kishta out by name as a link between the two terrorist groups last year, saying the IDF had “proof” of the direct connection.
In July, a former Israeli senior official told Bloomberg news that Israel had carried out drone strikes against terrorists operating in the Sinai Peninsula in recent years.
The airstrikes were conducted with Egypt’s knowledge and blessing, according to the ex-official, who spoke to the US-based news site on condition of anonymity.
While it has become a well-known secret that Jerusalem and Cairo cooperate closely on security measures in the Sinai and Gaza, many of the details of that relationship have been kept a closely guarded secret.
Islamists in the restive Sinai who have since pledged allegiance to the Islamic State have waged an insurgency against Egyptian forces since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Fighting has intensified in recent years following a coup by current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remove Muslim Brotherhood-linked leader Mohammed Morsi from power.
In this Sunday, April 12, 2015 photo, Egyptians gather at the scene following a bombing that struck a main police station in the capital of the northern Sinai province in el-Arish, Egypt. (Muhamed Sabry/AP)
In this Sunday, April 12, 2015 photo, Egyptians gather at the scene following a bombing that struck a main police station in the capital of the northern Sinai province in el-Arish, Egypt. (Muhamed Sabry/AP)
Israeli military officials believe that despite ideological differences, Hamas in Gaza is cooperating with extremists affiliated with Islamic State or other armed groups in Egypt’s neighboring Sinai region.
They praise Egypt’s crackdown on Hamas’s cross-border smuggling tunnels, which had been a main conduit for weapons into Gaza, and say the Egyptian military is doing an admirable job in a fierce battle against IS militants in Sinai.
Israel has allowed Egypt to move heavy weapons like tanks, artillery and attack helicopters into the Sinai to fight extremists, overlooking provisions in the landmark 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.
The two sides also are considered to have close intelligence ties.
The two countries have entered something of a golden age in their relationship since Sissi assumed the country’s leadership in 2013.
“This is one of the best times we’ve ever had” in terms of cooperation between governments, Israeli ambassador to Cairo Haim Koren said earlier this year. “There’s good cooperation between the armies, we have understandings about the Sinai Peninsula, and basically, we see (eye-to-eye) on development of the region.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Times Of Israel
DUBAI – Donald Trump’s election has led to unease over threats to peace in the region, Iran’s defense minister said on Sunday, warning that a war would destroy Israel and the small Gulf Arab states.
Trump’s election victory has raised the prospect the United States will pull out of a nuclear pact it signed last year with Iran, which Barack Obama’s administration has touted as a way to suspend Tehran’s suspected drive to develop atomic weapons.
This has led to unease among US allies in the Gulf, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
“Even though a businessman, the assistants that … (Trump) has chosen may map a different path for him, and this has led to unease, particularly among Persian Gulf countries,” Dehghan told a security conference in Tehran, according to Mehr.
“Considering Trump’s character and that he measures the cost of everything in dollars, it does not seem likely that he would take strong action against our country,” he said.
“Enemies may want to impose a war on us based on false calculations and only taking into consideration their material capabilities…
“Such a war would mean the destruction of the Zionist regime (Israel) … and will engulf the whole region and could lead to a world war,” Mehr quoted Dehghan as saying.
“Among other consequences of the war, would be the destruction of the city-states on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, because they lack popular support,” Dehghan said, referring to small Western-allied Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.
Iran is an arch-enemy of Israel. Tehran and most Gulf states are on opposite sides in Middle East conflicts, with the Islamic republic an ally of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war and of the armed Houthi movement fighting a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen.
THE European Union has been dealt a huge blow as a pro-Russia politician looks to set to become the next Bulgarian president.
Instead former air commander Rumen Radev will take the top title after winning an estimated 58 per cent of the vote.
Rumen Radev will take the top title after winning an estimated 58 per cent of the vote
Despite being a political outsider, he was the clear winner after Tsetska Tsacheva – the 58-year-old candidate of the ruling GERB party – only secured 35 per cent of the vote.
Voters took to the polls in Bulgaria today
He argued Bulgaria needs to be pragmatic in balancing the requirements of its EU and NATO memberships while also ensuring the Baltic nation does not alienate Russian allies.
The Socialist Party candidate also vowed not to let Bulgaria become a “migrant ghetto”, and advocates a separate Bulgarian army operation at the Turkish border to prevent an influx of new arrivals.
Radev, 53, came into politics following discontent with the ruling centre-right
Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Sunday he will resign as promised
We listened to the voters’ concerns. We said that we will work for Bulgarian national interests, that’s what gave us broad support
He later added: “The results clearly show that the ruling coalition no longer holds the majority.
The result is now likely to result in months of political instability, and Bulgaria’s tilt towards Russia is likely to come as a blow to the country’s western European allies.
Although President-elect Radev said he will keep Bulgaria in Nato, he also affirmed that “being pro-European does not mean being anti-Russian”.
Rival Tsetska Tsacheva only secured 35 per cent of the vote
Radev called for an end to EU sanctions against Russia
Radev said: ”We listened to the voters’ concerns. We said that we will work for Bulgarian national interests, that’s what gave us broad support.”
In Moldova, another ex-communist state near the Black Sea, voters were expected to install another pro-Russian candidate as president – which would slam the breaks on seven years of closer EU integration.
Many new leaders in the Baltic are supporters of Vladimir Putin
The EU member state’s falling government is now expected to be replaced by the traditionally pro-Russia Centre Party following the collapse.
With a 62-to-28 vote against Roivas, his Reform Party has been pushed out of power, leading to a new government between the Centre Party, the Social Democrats and the IRL.
President & Professor of Theology & Languages
Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX
The Relationship Between the Dispensations and Covenants — Part 1
Few writers have addressed the relationship between the dispensations and the biblical covenants. Rarely do you find dispensationalists discussing this issue. Because of this, often there are statements that seem to miss the mark and confuse the specifics that make dispensations and covenants different.
For example, often dispensationalists may be heard to say “the dispensation of Promise continues on into the Old Testament period of the Law because the nation of Israel is built on the promises of the Abrahamic covenant.” This is a perfect illustration of confusing and mixing the purposes and functions of the covenants with the dispensations.
For example, in his book Dispensationalism, chapter Three, under the paragraph heading The Matter of “Carryovers”, Ryrie seems to confuse the Noahic Covenant with the Dispensation of Human Government, when he writes, “The rainbow as a sign that God will never again bring a worldwide flood on the earth has assured, and continues to assure, mankind.”1 Ryrie is trying to say that certain elements of a dispensation may carry over into other dispensations coming later in the Bible. But the rainbow is not a sign of the Human Government dispensation, it is a sign of the Noahic Covenant!
Introductions and Limitations
Right off, I want to say that this article is calling for a challenge and dialogue on the subject. I am open for adjustments on the thoughts here presented because what will be stated may be somewhat different than our normal approach as to how the dispensations and covenants work. But I trust
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that the article is true to the Scriptures and that it helps clarify areas of some confusion.
Most dispensationalists would argue that the dispensations are not measured by, defined by, nor limited to periods of time. But I believe that a period of time can be an important part of the theological definition of a dispensation. And I believe that this article may demonstrate that time is indeed a crucial factor in how a dispensation may work. Granted, the idea of a time period is not embedded in the word oikonomiaitself.
Being a Calvinist, I believe that all things happen through the agencies of God’s providence and sovereignty. That includes, of course, the establishment of the dispensations and covenants. I see the covenants as prophetic and redemptive in nature, but I understand the dispensations to be passive in nature. By this I mean that God is applying a test to history, during a given dispensation, and He is waiting and observing how man will respond in light of new circumstances. In actuality, no merit God is not really waiting on the actions of human beings.
Coming back to the issue of time, Ryrie reacts to the idea of a time consideration in a dispensation. But many fail to read his final thought on the subject:
…there is a certain justification to the criticism [of a dispensation being a period of time], for a dispensation is primarily a stewardship arrangement and not a period of time (though obviously the arrangement will exist during a period of time). Age and dispensation are not synonymous in meaning, even though they may exactly coincide in the historical outworking. A dispensation is basically the arrangement involved, not the time involved; and a proper definition will take this into account. However, there is no reason for great alarm if a definition does ascribe time to a dispensation. (Italics mine.)2
By what I see in Scripture, I think it is important to re-introduce the concept of time back into the theological definition. I believe this will help in defining the relationship between the dispensations and covenants.
Theological Definition of Dispensationalism
The word oikonomia technically means “house law,” implying how a house is managed and its affairs are placed in order. From this we get the idea of an “economy, stewardship, arrangement,” or a “dispensation.”
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 407
Ryrie points out that, from these ideas we arrive at “the outworking of God’s purpose.”3 The dispensation is also seen as the work of God and not man. The dispensations are “economies instituted and brought to their purposeful conclusion by God.”4
To summarize: Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In His household-world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the passage of time. These various stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these different economies constitute the dispensations. The understanding of God’s differing economies is essential to a proper interpretation of His revelation within those various economies.5
To this, I would add:
A dispensation is a recognizable historic division in Scripture in which God observes the activities of man, in a given historic framework, and passes judgment on that activity. In a certain practical way, man fails in every dispensation. He also fails morally and spiritually. A dispensation is not a way of salvation. Through the Ages of history, man is saved by faith and by believing and trusting what God has said. By the time of New Testament revelation however, faith must be placed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins. Christ and His work of salvation becomes the object of our belief.
Most dispensationalists see seven dispensations clearly marked out in Scripture. Few have questioned the fact that the apostle Paul speaks about at least three of the seven.
First, Paul clearly contrasts between the dispensations of Law and the Church. He writes of the stewardship (dispensation) that was given to him by God, the “mystery” that “has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints…the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25–27).
Paul was saying that Jesus would come and dwell within the Gentile who had accepted Him as Savior. This truth had been hidden from ages past. It is now manifested to the present saints in contrast to the fact that saints of the
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 408
past had not known this great spiritual miracle of redemption, the Messiah dwelling within!
Did not God work differently in the Ages past than He is in the present age? Was it not a different time? Is He not doing something unique in this Church Age generation? And, in the context of the passage, is there another dispensation in view? What would be the apostle’s nearest point of reference in the past? Answer: The Dispensation of Law!
In Colossians 1, but also in Ephesians 3, Paul’s “mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4) is clearly the Dispensation of the Church Age. He says “in other generations it was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed…” (v. 5). That is, that the Gentiles would become fellow partakers [with the Jews] of the same spiritual body, and fellow heirs of the promise in Christ Jesus (v. 6).
Thus, it was given to Paul “to bring to light what is the administration (dispensation) of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God,…” (v. 9). Without question, the great apostle is speaking of the dispensation of the Church.
Finally, Paul seems to be alluding to the dispensation of the future Kingdom when he writes in Ephesians 1:10: “[God] made known to us the mystery of His will,…with a view to an administration (dispensation) suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.”
Characteristics of a Dispensation
Below is a list of characteristics that most dispensationalists have come to accept. Included also are some additional factors that may help in our understanding of the dispensational interpretative approach, in unfolding a proper biblical time-line.
1. God is the author of history and all history will ultimately bring glory and honor to Him. God’s sovereignty and providence is continually at work in the world of mankind. God is not passive nor is He simply a spectator. And yet, under the Lord’s mysterious providence, human beings are moving forward in the development and shaping of a civilization in their own time. That is, each Age seems to be moving forward and growing intellectually. The horizon broadens. But of course, knowledge in itself never leads mankind to God.
Technologically, and in a certain framework of maturation, the world is growing up. But because of the depravity of human beings since the Fall, this
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certainly in no way includes spiritual and moral development. In these areas, humanity gropes in darkness and will continue to fail.
2. The stages in which God analyzes the direction human beings are going may be called dispensations. At a given time, people are living in a certain social and spiritual framework. What kind of decisions will they make? How will they relate to each other and to God?
As human cultures progress and move forward, they continually fail and are judged. Out of what is happening in each dispensation among people, there develops an opportunity to turn to God, a test becomes obvious, a natural failure arises, and a judgment follows. Then, another dispensation begins.
There are exceptions to this pattern seen in the dispensations of Innocence, Promise, and Law. Innocence was obviously confined to our first two parents, Adam and Eve. There were no other people on earth! Because of the failure of human beings in the early dispensations, in the dispensation of Promise, for example, the Lord focused His attention on Abraham and his immediate children. In the dispensation of Law, God is testing the entire nation of Israel. In a perfect legal environment, can this people be true to God and obedient to His laws? This test was not given to the nations. It was confined to the Jewish people. Only a limited number of Gentiles who came into contact with Israel became believers in the God of the Bible.
3. Dispensations are progressive but their distinctions keep them from being co-mingled or confused because they have a chronological succession. As quoted by Ryrie, Eric Sauer seems to have a correct understanding and proper biblical perspective on how the dispensations actually function:
But a fresh Divine beginning is never merely a return to the old. In each reformation born out of collapse lay at the same time the seed of a life-program for the future. Revelation and development are in no case opposites but belong together. In the sphere of the Bible, as elsewhere, there is an ascent from lower to higher, from twilight to clearness.6
Ryrie adding to this, writes:
4. Dispensationalism reveals the outworking of God’s plan in the historical process in a progressive revelation of His glory. It magnifies the grace of God, for it recognizes that true progress can come only from God’s gracious
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 410
intervention in human society. If there were not “cyclical” interventions, then the course of history would be only downward and entirely pessimistic.7
Difference of Viewpoint
Though agreeing in essence with Ryrie in his excellent book on the subject,Dispensationalism, here are two statements that I believe need to be refined. Ryrie argues for the importance of Progressive Revelation in the development of dispensationalism and for teaching more clearly the concept of biblical unity, within the dispensational framework.8
But it is with these two crucial points that I believe we, all dispensationalists, have made several slight errors.
First, there is no question as to the importance of Progressive Revelation (PR) in hermeneutics and interpretation. PR does indeed show development, growing stages, and God working in different ways at different times in Scripture. But in reference to dispensations, Ryrie makes the point that, in the Bible, in a new series of generations either a new promise is given or some great purpose of God is brought to light.
Without question, I believe the dispensations indeed bring forth more information about the depravity of mankind. But I believe it is within prophecy as declared in most of the covenants, coupled with Progressive Revelation, that we learn about the Savior Jesus Christ and of His plan of redemption. We do not learn these things primarily in the dispensations. (But more on this later.)
Second, some non-dispensationalists say that our dispensational views destroy the unity of Scripture. Ryrie agrees that we have not been as clear as we should on this point. He writes,
Dispensationalism alone has a broad enough unifying principle to do justice to the unity of the progress of revelation on the one hand and the distinctiveness of the various stages in that progress on the other…only dispensationalism can adequately account for the variety of distinguishable economies or dispensations in (not apart from) the outworking of God’s purpose.9
On this point also I have a different opinion. I believe that unity of Scripture is not necessarily shown in the dispensations but in the covenants. It is in the biblical covenants that a plan and purpose is set forth by the Lord.
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 411
Not only is redemption revealed in the covenants, but a plan of history is revealed, that flows mainly from Abraham all the way to the final chapters of the book of Revelation. Ryrie adds: “Only dispensationalism can maintain unity and diversity at the same time and offer a consistent system of interpretation.”10 I believe, however, it is closer to the truth to say that the dispensations give us biblical diversity while the covenants reveal a plan of redemptive unity!
How Many Dispensations Are There?
For the purpose of this study, we will simply note that most dispensationalists hold to seven. I recall while studying under Ryrie at Dallas Seminary that he would say: “If you can see the difference between the dispensations of Law and the Church Age, you are a dispensationalist!”
Ryrie was obviously emphasizing the point of how important it is to recognize the difference between these two most obvious dispensations. And with this difference, one can observe the significant doctrinal distinctions between Israel under Law and the uniqueness of the Spirit-indwelled life under the dispensation of the Church Age!
But could it be that there are actually eight dispensations? Even Ryrie seems comfortable in discussing the possibility that the seven-year period of the Tribulation is actually a dispensation! (Maybe since this period is so short, this is the reason it is generally excluded as being a dispensation!)
Is the Tribulation a Dispensation?
Ryrie points out that Chafer suggested that the dispensation of the Law would come back in operation during the Tribulation. For instance, the Sabbath day will apparently be observed in this period (Matt. 24:20). And God will be dealing specifically with Israel in the seventieth week of Daniel. (The first sixty-nine weeks were part of the economy of Law.) Thus, according to Chafer, the Tribulation is that last week (seven years) with the Law dispensation fully restored.11
But I answer that the Sabbath is being observed in the Tribulation simply because a majority of Jews are back in their homeland during this period. And, if the Tribulation is a dispensation, it is greater than God simply dealing with Israel—though this is important. He is also pouring wrath out upon the whole world! Ryrie notes, “…even though God turns His attention to Israel again during the Tribulation, He does not do this to the exclusion of others.”12
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 412
Though wrath is being poured out, this will be a time of much salvation in the world. Many Jews and multitudes of Gentiles will come to know Christ (Rev. 7:9–17). It will be a time during which grace will not be absent, but rather manifestly present.13
In what way is there both a test and a judgment during the Tribulation? The following list points out factors that may represent a test, and judgment for failure of that test. In addition, other reasons are given below for considering the Tribulation a dispensation:
- As a test, the world will have the witness of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev. 7:1–8).
- As a test, with great pain inflicted by the demon hordes, men will still refuse to repent of their immoralities (9:20–21).
- Though seeing the miracles of the two witnesses, the world still rejoices over their deaths (11:9–10).
- The eternal gospel is carried throughout the entire world by an angel so that people will be without excuse (14:6–7).
- Though great wrath is poured out on the throne of the beast, people will still blaspheme the God of heaven and will not repent of their deeds (16:10–11).
- Though the Jews living during this period are spiritually responsible for the message about the Messiah, it appears as if the majority fail to carry out that mission to the world (Matt. 25).
- The Tribulation has a distinct beginning and a definite ending with the second coming of Christ (Rev. 19:11–21). This would seem to be an important demonstration of a dispensation.
- The entire period could be called a failure. A vast majority of human beings resist the coming of the Lord. A great company assembles with the beast and the kings of the earth “to make war against Him who [returns and] sat upon the horse, and against His army” (19:19).
The Nature of the Covenants
It is this writer’s contention that the covenants are all redemptive in nature. For example, redemption may be simply in the form of protection or of “prevention” as is the case with the Noahic Covenant.
Thus, the giving of this covenant, which God made with all flesh, means that the Lord has promised to protect man and animals from ever being
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destroyed again by water. (More on the nature of some of these other covenants later.)
A Major Difference Between the Mosaic and the New Covenants
Though conditional in nature, the Mosaic Covenant of Law provided for the Jews a redemption for living, which in theory, revealed perfect guidelines for walking in peace with their God. This was a temporal or “fleshly” redemption, whereas in contrast, the New Covenant, based on Christ’s death, would give eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12) and an eternal inheritance (v. 15). The Mosaic Covenant in itself was good but it was “weak” in the flesh and Israel was doomed NOT to be able to fulfill it.
In Romans, Paul attests to the “flesh” weakness of the covenant of the Law, and refers indirectly to the New Covenant that will be ratified by the death of Christ. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). The sending of His Son, who would ratify the New Covenant by His death, is what Paul is referring to, not the dispensation of the Church.
The conditional Mosaic Covenant ceased at the death of Christ and the New Covenant was ratified and launched, by that same sacrifice. It was a prophesied (Jer. 31) extension of the Abrahamic Covenant that is first and foremost for Israel, but with the Church benefiting from the blessings of that covenant!
The covenant with Moses is entitled “the Law of Moses” (Heb. 10:28), and is indeed called a covenant that was inaugurated with blood (9:18). The sacrifice of blood is central to this covenant. “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you” (9:20; Ex. 24:8). Hebrews 9:19 helps us understand this:
For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law [He just gave them], he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book [of the Law] itself and all the people.
The Mosaic Covenant appointed weak and imperfect priests, whereas the Son of God by ratifying the New Covenant with His death, made believers “perfect,” mature, complete, or whole (teleoo; Heb. 7:28). Thus, He was a mediator of a better covenant (the New Covenant), based on better promises (8:6) because the Mosaic Covenant had human limitations and a better covenant was needed (v. 7).
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 414
As already pointed out, in a real sense the sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant were simply covering the outward sins of the flesh. The writer of Hebrews again notes that the blood of bulls and goats was sprinkled for “those who have been defiled, sanctifying for the cleansing of the flesh” (9:13) but Christ “once for all” had obtained “eternal redemption” (v. 12), giving us an “eternal inheritance” (v. 15) by entering the heavenly holy place “through His own blood” (v. 12).
Another very important verse is Hebrews 9:15 that reads:
[Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant [the Mosaic], those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
This verse tells us the Mosaic Covenant was not efficacious in that in that it could not actually offer ultimate spiritual redemption. But those Old Testament saints who were called under that covenant, received their eternal inheritance by the death of Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant.
How the Dispensations and Covenants Work Together
The Dispensation of Innocence—Genesis 1:28–3:6
Can the first humans, Adam and Eve, walk with God in sinlessness and moral integrity? Will they obey His command and not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? (Gen. 2:17) After they both had disobeyed (3:6), the Lord inquires “What is this you have done?” (v. 13).
After the “Fall,” the curse of death was placed upon man (v. 19), and he was expelled from the protection of the garden (v. 24). It is the Lord Himself who apparently established the concept of sacrifice when He slew the innocent animal, in order to make skins of clothing for Adam and Eve. Sacrifice, which is found in almost all religions, seems to have originated from this historic event. Dispensationalists and non-Dispensationalists would say that Adam and Eve were saved by their faith in a certain redemption that God would provide. Most would argue an issue of obedience, for continuing to sacrifice, after the pattern that the Lord gave them in the garden.
Notice that there is no covenant acting as an underpinning (base or ground floor), and on which the dispensation of Innocence is built.
The Dispensation of Conscience—Genesis 3:7–8:14
Can sinful man, leaving the perfect environment of Eden, live in peace with his conscience dictating right and wrong? With a ring of selfishness, the
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 415
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 416
Scriptures tell us “men took wives for themselves, whomever they chose” (6:2). The narration continues: The Lord was sorry He made man; He was grieved in His heart (v.6), “I will blot out man whom I have created, including animals” (v. 7), the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence (v. 11), “The end of all flesh has come before Me” (v. 13). The Dispensation of Conscience was with all mankind and it ended in failure. In Genesis 7:11, the world-wide Flood begins. Only Noah and his immediate family are saved by means of the ark.
Notice that there is no covenant acting as an underpinning beneath the dispensation of Conscience.
Noahic Covenant. As the Dispensation of Human Government began to fail, it may have been thought that the Lord would bring about another judgment. The earth could have again been destroyed by that which He used previously, water. Instead, a covenant of promise, the Noahic Covenant, was made between God and the people that were left on earth, i.e., Noah and his sons (9:8).
But the covenant goes further than his immediate family. It was established also between the Lord and “all flesh [which] shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the [whole] earth” (v. 11). This covenant is prophetic in that it tells us what God “will not do.” I consider it redemptive in a physical sense because it will spare all flesh a death by drowning in a universal flood. Though the Dispensation of Human Government would end aroundGenesis 11:32, the Noahic Covenant will continue throughout history because it is everlasting (v. 16).
The Dispensation of Government—Genesis 8:15–11:32
The Noahic Covenant – Genesis 9:7-on
Dispensation of Government. Following the Flood, is it possible for man to live in communities, clans, nations, and tribes, do what is right, and find peace? The answer will be, No! First of all, having found the appropriate opportunity, all men came together in the land of Shinar (11:2), “settled,” and built a city and a tower “whose top will reach into heaven” (v. 4a) for the purpose of making a name for humanity! (v. 4b). They feared that they would be scattered across the earth. Their ultimate purpose was unknown, though some say they intended to reach into heaven in order to control or influence God!
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 417
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 418
Whatever their ultimate purpose was, the Lord apparently saw sin as one of their motives because He said “now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them” (11:6). The Dispensation of Human Government ended in failure. With a judgment against them, God confused the one language men were using, then scattered them across the face of the whole earth (v. 9).
Abrahamic Covenant – Genesis 15:18 through the Kingdom
Dispensation of Promise – Genesis 12:1–Exodus 18:27
[It is important for theological understanding, from this point on to look first at the covenants before analyzing the dispensations that rest upon them. In a sense, the covenant is the base or ground floor with the dispensation built upon it.]
Abrahamic Covenant. From about Genesis 12 and on, the Lord begins laying down the tenets of His covenant with Abraham. The covenant has to do with (1) a land (v. 2), (2) a nation (v. 2), a blessing to Abraham, his children, and to all families of the earth (v. 3). As God develops this covenant with Abraham other factors are added. The covenant and its promises are eternal in scope (13:15), it is also literal in that Abraham was told to “look” at the land promised him and walk through it because it belonged to him. He was also to expect actual children or seed (descendants) to be born to him (v.15). And it is agreed upon by most scholars that the covenant is “unconditional” because when the Lord made (cut), or finalized the covenant with Abraham, he had been put to sleep (15:7–21).
By “unconditional” it is meant that its prophetic fulfillment is not based on the loyalty or obedience of any man but on the fact that the Lord will bring the promises to pass. God will sovereignly fulfill the covenant at some future time.
Some important points to recognize about the Abrahamic Covenant are:
(1) At some future date, the Gentiles will be blessed by this agreement with Abraham (12:3). How this will come about is not explained here.
(2) As the covenant promises are finally summarized by the Lord, the size of the land promised extends from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates (15:18), a far greater area than simply the land of Canaan!
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 419
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 420
(3) From this covenant with Abraham forward, God will be focusing His attention on His promises to Abraham’s children, the Jewish people. This covenant becomes the driving engine of Scripture!
(4) This covenant is salvific and redemptive in that a spiritual blessing is attached. But also in the future the land will be redeemed from foreign hands and restored to the Jews to whom it was promised through Abraham. The apostle Paul focuses on this in Galatians and writes:
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer (3:8–9).
An important side note: As Abraham finally begins to understand how God is working with him, he gets the picture and “believes in the Lord.” And the Lord reckons or imputes his faith back to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). Paul makes this verse the hallmark passage illustrating the process of personal salvation by faith alone. And all dispensationalists certainly agree that by faith is the only way that salvation is received in any dispensation.
Dispensation of Promise. God had been testing all humanity in the Dispensations of Conscience and Human Government. But the Lord now applies the dispensational magnifying glass to one man and his immediate family. Can this one man, Abraham, and his immediate descendants, be faithful to the sworn promise of God made in the Abrahamic Covenant? Will Isaac and his grandson Jacob trust the Lord and treat with respect the covenant made with their father Abraham?
The fact is that even Abraham in his latter years seems to have forgotten the important spiritual legacy given to him by the Lord. After Sarah’s death he married again, but he also collected numerous concubines by which he had many sons. Realizing the family tension that would develop at his death, he sent those sons with gifts out of the camp and away from Isaac, his son of the covenant (25:5–6)!
Isaac did not fare spiritually much better. He sojourned for some time in the land of Gerar and passed his wife Rebekah off as his sister (26:7). His trust of God had slipped. Isaac’s son Jacob had his problems too. Many times he departed from the Lord. Although, no doubt, Jacob realized that he was the keeper of the covenant (Gen. 27:29; 28:13–17; 35:9–12), his life many times did not reflect the level of spiritual responsibility he should have felt and shown. Except for Joseph, Jacob’s sons who constituted the tribal heads,
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 421
seemed to live almost as pagans. Little that is spiritual seems to come out of their hearts. One could say that the Dispensation of Promise ends in failure with the whole family living in Egypt. In time, their children would become slaves to Pharaoh.
Mosaic Covenant – Exodus 19:1-Mt. 27:51
Dispensation of Law – Exodus 19:1–Mt. 27:51
Dispensation of Law. This begins at the same time as the Mosaic (Law) Covenant (which is conditional). The Dispensation of Law will be the “observable test” as to Israel’s ability to live by the Mosaic Law. As the Lord observed, and we today as spectators observe, under the Dispensation of Law the children of Israel were responsible to keep the entire law (James 2:10), yet they failed (Rom. 10:1–3). Failing this dispensational test, judgments followed that finally carried the northern kingdom into Assyria and the southern kingdom into Babylon, and ultimately the remaining peoples into a final world-wide dispersion (Mt. 23:37–39).
Mosaic Covenant. The Dispensation of Law rested upon this covenant, which almost all of Deuteronomy 1–28 shows is conditional. If the people did not keep the commandments of the covenant, “which are written in this book,…then the Lord will bring extraordinary plagues,…” upon you (28:58–59a). The New Testament tells us that this covenant was not a way of justification (Rom. 3:28), but of condemnation. And though the Law was perfect, it was weak because of the inability of the flesh to do what is right (Rom. 8:3).
The unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant is compared with the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant when the Lord reminds Israel that He did not bring them into the land of promise because He foresaw them keeping the Mosaic commandments, but because of His eternal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Lev. 26:42). He will remember the land promise because of the Abrahamic Covenant!
Abrahamic Covenant. This covenant continues on into the future where it will finally be fulfilled and completed. By the principle of Progressive Revelation, the details of this covenant are expanded and explained in more detail through three sub-covenants or extension-covenants.
(1) The Land Covenant gives more details as to what the Lord intends concerning His “Eratz Israel,” or Land of Israel prophecies. This Land promise is an extension of Genesis 12:2.
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 422
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 423
(2) The Davidic Covenant elaborates on what God has in view concerning the ultimate Seed of Abraham and David, the Messiah. His two comings are focused prophecies concerning His substitutionary death as a sacrifice for sin and His future kingly reign as the Son of David. Jesus is, of course, this Seed who secures the blessings promised to the seeds (plural).
(3) The New Covenant has to do with the blessings promised in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3). This covenant is prophesied in Jeremiah 31 and will contrast with the Mosaic Covenant (v. 32). In chapter 31 there is a strong hint that the Mosaic Covenant will cease and the New Covenant will take it’s place. The writer of Hebrews points out that this is exactly what happened.
Jesus makes it clear that by the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood for sins, He is ratifying this New Covenant. “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20).
The New Covenant – Begins in Acts 2:1
Dispensation of the Church – Acts 2:1–I Thessalonians 4:18
Dispensation of the Church. This dispensation rests upon the Abrahamic Covenant, but more specifically, it rests upon an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant, the promised New Covenant. The New Covenant was prophesied inJeremiah 31 and through many other Old Testament verses. As already shown, it was ratified by the death of Christ (Lu. 22:20). As well, the New Covenant was launched by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2).
Paul recalls Christ’s words as written in Luke 22:20 to show the importance of this New Covenant to the Church. He says believers today “proclaim the Lord’s” covenant death when they partake of the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:25–26). Because of this reference, it only makes sense to say that there is but one New Covenant given in Scripture. This author believes Benware makes one of the best statements in regard to the relationship between the Dispensation of the Church and the New Covenant:
The church, then, is a partaker of the spiritual blessings of the new covenant, enjoying regeneration, the forgiveness of sin, and the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The church is primarily Gentile in its makeup—those who have been graciously grafted in by God until their number is completed. Multitudes of Gentiles experience the wonderful blessings of the new covenant. But the church is not national Israel, the people with whom God made this covenant. The church does not and cannot fulfill the new
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 424
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 425
covenant. Its fulfillment awaits the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. When He returns at the Second Coming, all the spiritual and material blessings promised Israel will be received.14
The Church is made up of Jews and Gentiles who accept Christ as Savior. The Church is not “inserted” into Israel. Instead, “both groups” (Jew and Gentile) are “made…into one” (Eph. 2:14). By His death, Jesus has made “the two (Jew and Gentile) into one new man, thus establishing peace [between the two groups]” (v. 15).
The Dispensation of the Church will end when the body of believers is raptured (I Thess. 4:13–18), just before the terror and the wrath of the seven-year Tribulation begins. Though we look for the rapture to take place at any time, we also believe that the Church Age ends in failure and an apostasy, in which a great number of those professing Christ will turn away from the truth.
The New Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant, and the three sub-covenants already referred to, are going forward to ultimately be fulfilled in the Kingdom. But as shown several times in this article, the Gentiles are now being blessed by the New Covenant. Remember that this blessing was prophesied to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. As mentioned, this seems to be Paul’s point in I Corinthians 11:23–34 when he quotedLuke 22:20 and the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice would ratify the New Covenant, remembered by the Church in the Lord’s supper.
It also seems to be what the apostle is saying in 2 Corinthians 3:6–18. Here he contrasts the New Covenant with the Mosaic Covenant of the Law which became “the ministry of death in letters engraved on stone” (v. 7). He compares the New Covenant, that gives us the Spirit, in opposition to the old covenant (Mosaic Law) (v. 14), i.e., “the letter that kills” (v. 6).
Dispensation of the Tribulation
[Begins sometime after the Church is raptured and ends with the Second Coming of Christ, Rev. 19:11]
We’ve already pointed out that it is possible that the Tribulation period is a dispensation. Some may resist this because this seven year period is the final week or phase of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks which conclude God’s work of judgment upon Israel. Thus, they would argue, it is not a separate entity but simply the final stage of the seventy week prophecy.
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 426
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 427
But on the positive side, the Tribulation seems to be a test for mankind. With all the terror, men do “not repent of the works of their hands” (10:20). They rejoice over the death of the two witnesses (11:10), seem willingly to worship the Beast (13:12), blaspheme God “because of their pains and their sores” (16:11), drink willingly the wine of the passion of the Harlot’s immorality (18:3), and seem to be well due the final great stroke of wrath that falls upon them from Jesus Himself (14:14–20).
Thus, it may be that the Tribulation could be considered a separate dispensation by itself, though not all will agree with this conclusion.
New Covenant. Like water flowing in a tunnel underground, the Abrahamic Covenant and its specific sub-covenants continue to go forward for final fulfillment in the promised Kingdom. This would include the New Covenant, of course. Men would then be saved on the basis of the finished work of Christ just as they are today. That would mean they receive all the personal blessings that come from that covenant.
However, they would not be placed into the spiritual body of Christ, the Church. This body of believers will have been taken home to be with the Lord in the rapture. Thus, church saints are gone! Those who become saved in the Tribulation, called tribulation saints (Rev. 14:12), are redeemed by the New Covenant that Jesus ratified through His death. In the technical sense, they are not “in” Christ, yet they benefit by His work on the cross.
It must be remembered that during the tribulation the “eternal gospel” is preached by the influence of an angel flying in mid-heaven “to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Rev. 14:6). This gospel has to do with the message of the death of Christ whereby He ratified the New Covenant.
Dispensation of the Kingdom
The Abrahamic Covenant
Dispensation of the Kingdom. This 1000-year period is definitely a dispensation. All who survive the tribulation, and trust the Messiah as Savior enter this near-perfect period in their human bodies. They will have children who will have children, etc., etc. It is these later generations who will be tested. Will they trust, honor, and obey the Messiah Jesus who reigns in Jerusalem? Can mankind live faithfully before the Lord God with His own Son ruling over His earthly domain? The answer will be, No!
Though there are only three verses, Revelation 20:7–9, that describe a rebellion by Satan at the end of the Kingdom, people from all the nations “like the sand of the seashore” come against Christ and the “camp of the saints and
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 428
CTJ 2:7 (December 1998) p. 429
the beloved city” with the result that “fire [comes] down from heaven and” they are devoured (v. 9).
Abrahamic Covenant. This covenant and its sub-covenants, are fulfilled in the 1000-year Kingdom period. The Jews will be in the land. The Son of David will be reigning and ruling as promised. And the Jews and Gentiles, who enter the Kingdom in their natural bodies, are redeemed and blessed by the earlier work of Christ on the cross.
As mankind matures in a certain technological and self-awareness sense, he is tested through the Ages of history by what we call dispensations. These are chapters of history, if you will, that reveal what is truly inside the human species. The dispensations consistently show a rebellious and a evil heart in man. They reveal diabolical schemes, individual and corporate selfishness.
If a single philosophy is born, nourished, and matured progressively down through the dispensations, it would be labeled humanism, or mankind’s great religion of self-glorification!
Though the dispensations end in human failure, God’s redemptive plan outlined in the Abrahamic Covenant, and the sub-covenants that follow, will make salvation possible for some of the elect and chosen rebels. Pentecost helps us conclude when he writes on the Abrahamic Covenant:
…this covenant has a most important bearing on the doctrines of Eschatology. The eternal aspects of this covenant, which guarantee Israel a permanent national existence, perpetual title to the land of promise, and the certainty of material and spiritual blessing through Christ, and guarantee Gentile nations a share in these blessings, determine the whole eschatological program of the Word of God. This covenant becomes the seed from which are brought forth the later covenants made with Israel. The essential areas of the Abrahamic covenant, the land, the seed, and the blessing, are enlarged in the subsequent covenants made with Israel.15
1 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 57.
2 Ryrie, Ibid, p. 28.
3 Ryrie, Ibid, p. 29.
6 Eric Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), p. 54.
7 Ryrie, Ibid, p. 37.
8 Ibid, pp. 31-33.
9 Ibid, pp. 32-33.
10 Ryrie, Ibid, p. 33.
11 Ibid, pp. 49-50.
12 Ibid, p. 51.
13 Ryrie, Ibid, p. 50.
14 Paul N. Benware, Understaning End Times Prophecy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 73.
15 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), p. 71.
Obama’s burst of enthusiasm for Shimon Peres, on the death of the Israeli left-wing political figure, had nothing to do with any personal affection. It was a cynically calculated political move. From the flags flown at half-staff to the delegation (an honor he failed to extent to Thatcher) to the overdone speech that clearly a whole bunch of Jewish staffers and associates had labored over, this was about politics.
It wasn’t about Peres. It was about an opportunity to stick his thumb in Netanyahu’s eye.
Obama’s speech was not only a vigorous defense of the failed negotiations and concessions to the PLO. A disastrous program often associated with Peres. It was a series of cynical attacks on Peres’ “critics to the right”. It doesn’t take much knowledge to attach one name to that nameless bunch.
Peres lost his last election to Netanyahu. He had gambled on using the elections to gain a mandate for his unpopular peace process with the PLO. Instead the Israeli people picked Netanyahu.
This enraged the Clintons who managed to use every dirty trick to force Netanyahu out of office by interfering in Israeli politics. Obama has tried and failed to do the same thing. This spectacle is not about honoring Peres. It’s about exploiting his death to attack Netanyahu while pushing the same old policies of terrorist appeasement that the Israeli people have rejected again and again.
RAMALLAH, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) — Russia has officially informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that its efforts to arrange a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue, a senior official said on Wednesday.
The Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs Reyad al-Malki said during an interview with the Ramallah-based “Voice ofPalestine” Radio station that Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s peace envoy had a telephone conversation with President Abbas.
On Tuesday, Abbas’s office criticized Netanyahu’s request from Russia to postpone a three-way meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was scheduled in Moscow next week.
Abbas’s office said in an official statement that Netanyahu’s request to postpone the meeting “assures that he (Netanyahu) is evading from any international initiative to rescue the stalled peace process.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed a three-way meeting with both Abbas and Netanyahu in Moscow next week. Abbas had stated earlier in Poland that he does not object meeting Netanyahu anywhere.
According to WAFA, the state-run news agency of the Palestinian National Authority, Abbas received a phone call form Bogdanov on Tuesday, saying that Netanyahu asked to postpone the scheduled meeting.
WAFA’s report said that Bogdanov briefed Abbas on his earlier meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, adding that Bogdanov informed President Abbas that Netanyahu asked to postpone the meeting in Moscow.
“Bogdanov conveyed to President Putin, the positive role of President Abbas in pushing forward towards making peace,” said the report.
It added that both Abbas and Bogdanov agreed to keep in touch between the two sides to arrange a bilateral meeting between President Abbas and President Putin in New York next month.”
“Bogdanov informed President Abbas on Tuesday that the Palestinian position is fully clear and that the problem comes from Israel’s side,” Al-Malki said, adding “the Russian efforts focus on setting up a new date and a place for the meeting.”
Meanwhile, Nabil Abu Rdineh, aide to President Abbas, said that the Israeli rejection of the meeting shows once more that the Israeli government is not serious in looking for a just peace based upon the two-state solution along the 1967 borders.
Abu Rdineh informed WAFA that the Israeli government wants to maintain settlement activities, assaults against Palestinians and their lands and evade any commitment towards implementing the agreements.
“Israel always escapes from any international initiative to rescue the stalled peace process in the Middle East,” said Abu Rdineh.
The last direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, sponsored by the United States, stopped in April 2014, after nine months without progress, due to critical differences regarding settlements and security.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tayeb Abdul Rahim, another aide to President Abbas, held talks with Bogdanov in Ramallah, after the latter met with Netanyahu.
Abdul Rahim reiterated to Bogdanov that Palestinians support president Putin’s initiative.
“Pushing peace forward needs full Israeli commitment to halting settlements, release prisoners arrested before signing Oslo peace accords in 1994 and ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a Palestinian state,” said Abdul Rahim.
THE EIGHT COVENANTS OF THE BIBLE
Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be you a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
– Genesis 12:1-3 –
Since much of God’s relationship to man is based upon covenantal relationships, a study of the eight covenants is a very important aspect of correctly understanding Scripture. The most common way to divide the Bible is by Dispensations. The dispensations, however, are based upon specific covenants, and knowledge of these covenants will help Bible readers to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Although the dispensations may come to an end, the covenants themselves often continue.
A. The Types of Covenants
There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional and unconditional. It is important to distinguish between these two types of covenants in order to have a clear picture of what the Bible teaches.
1. Conditional Covenants
A conditional covenant is a bilateral covenant in which a proposal of God to man is characterized by the formula: if you will, then I will, whereby God promises to grant special blessings to man providing man fulfills certain conditions contained in the covenant. Man’s failure to do so often results in punishment. Thus one’s response to the covenant agreement brings either blessings or cursings. The blessings are secured by obedience and man must meet his conditions before God will meet His.
Two of the eight covenants of the Bible are conditional: the Edenic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.
2. Unconditional Covenants
An unconditional covenant is a unilateral covenant and is a sovereign act of God whereby He unconditionally obligates Himself to bring to pass definite blessings and conditions for the covenanted people. This covenant is characterized by the formula: I will, which declares God’s determination to do as He promises. Blessings are secured by the grace of God. There may be conditions in the covenant by which God requests the covenanted one to fulfill out of gratitude, but they are not themselves the basis of God’s fulfilling His promises.
Six of the eight covenants are unconditional: the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Palestinian or Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.
B. The Covenants with Israel
Five of these eight covenants were made exclusively with Israel while the others were made with mankind in general. Only one of the five covenants made with Israel is conditional: the Mosaic Covenant. The other four covenants with Israel are all unconditional: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.
Four things should be noted concerning the nature of the unconditional covenants made with Israel.
First: they are literal covenants and their contents must be interpreted literally as well.
Second: the covenants that God has made with Israel are eternal and are not in any way restricted or altered by time.
Third: it is necessary to re-emphasize that these are unconditional covenants that were not abrogated because of Israel’s disobedience; because the covenants are unconditional and totally dependent upon God for fulfillment, their ultimate fulfillment can be expected.
Fourth: these covenants were made with a specific people: Israel. This point is brought out by Paul in Romans 9:4: who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.
This passage clearly points out that these covenants were made with the covenanted people and are Israel’s possession.
This is brought out again in Ephesians 2:11-12: Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Five of the eight Bible covenants belong to the people of Israel and, as this passage notes, Gentiles were considered strangers from the covenants.
C. The Principle of the Timing of the Provisions
A covenant can be signed, sealed, and made a specific point of history, but this does not mean that all the provisions go immediately into effect. In fact, three different things happen once a covenant is sealed: first, some go into effect right away; second, some provisions go into effect in the near future, which may be twenty five years away or five hundred years away; and third, some provisions go into effect only in the distant prophetic future, not having been fulfilled to this day.
PART 1:THE EDENIC, ADAMIC, NOAHIC
AND ABRAHAMIC COVENANTS
I. THE EDENIC COVENANT
And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so.
And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.
B. The Participants in the Covenant
The Edenic Covenant was made between God and Adam in which Adam stood as the representative head of the human race. Thus the actions of Adam are attributed to the whole of humanity.
C. The Provisions of the Covenant
All together, there were a total of seven provisions in the Edenic Covenant.
First: man was told: Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth (Gen. 1:28a). The earth was created for the purpose of being the habitation of man, and then man was created on the sixth day. Man was told to populate the earth; so the increase in population is part of his commission. The earth was to be filled with humanity.
Second: man was told to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28b). Previously, authority over the earth had been given to Satan (Ezek. 28:11-19). But when Satan fell, he lost his authority over this earth. That is the reason Genesis 1:2 describes the earth as being covered by water and darkness being over the face of the deep. Hence, God began to form and fashion the earth anew to make it habitable for man, and this time He would give man the authority over the earth. Man was to subdue it; he was to use the natural resources and energies of the earth that God had provided for him. However, this did not mean he was allowed to pollute it!
Third: man was given dominion over all living things (Gen.1:28c). The earlier provision gave man authority over the earth as far as non-living things were concerned. This provision extended man’s authority over all living creatures. The entire animal kingdom on the earth, in the air, and in the sea was put under the authority of man. The first exercise of this authority was man’s naming of the animals (Gen. 2:19-20).
The fourth provision concerned man’s diet (Gen. 1:29-30; 2:16). At this point man was to be a vegetarian. There is nothing in this covenant that allowed him to eat of the animal kingdom although he was to exercise authority over it. No blood of any kind was to be shed.
A fifth provision directed man to dress and to keep the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Even in his unfallen state, man was not to lead a life of pure leisure; work was part of the human ethic even before the Fall. However, labor was easy and the land would produce easily; it was not
The sixth provision was that man was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17a). This was the only negative commandment in the entire Edenic Covenant and was the one point that would test man’s obedience. He was free to eat of all the other trees of the garden but was to refrain from eating of that one. This was the one test to see how man would respond to the will of God; it was a test of the recognition of and the submission to the will of God. Man was not to assume that, because he was given authority over the earth and the animal kingdom, he himself was independent of God and exempt from God’s law. The question that raises is, “Will man, like Satan before him, reject God’s right to rule and declare himself independent of God?”
The seventh provision contained a penalty for disobedience: spiritual death (Gen. 2:17b). This cannot refer to physical death because man did not die on the very day that he disobeyed the commandment. So the death spoken of here must be spiritual death. In the day that he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he will be separated from God and will die spiritually.
D. The Status of the Covenant
The Edenic Covenant was the basis for the Dispensation of Innocence. The record of the Edenic Covenant’s being broken is found in Genesis 3:1-8.
Satan appeared in the Garden of Eden as a fallen creature. This shows that man was not created in a perfect universe, for sin was already in existence. Although it was not yet existent in man, it was already present in Satan. The devil did his work of tempting man in the same three areas as set forth in I John 2:16.
The first phrase of Genesis 3:6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, corresponds to the first phrase of I John 2:16: the lust of the flesh. The second phrase of Genesis 3:6: and that it was a delight to the eyes, corresponds to the second phrase of I John 2:16: the lust of the eyes. And the third phrase of Genesis 3:6: and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, corresponds to the second phrase of I John 2:16: and the vainglory[pride] of life.
Eve gave in to the temptation and disobeyed the one negative commandment. Adam recognized what had happened, but he still chose to join his wife in disobedience. Their first reaction was an attempt to hide from the presence of God, which only illustrated the truth of Genesis 2:17. Man at that very moment died spiritually and could no longer share the same communion with God he had experienced before his disobedience. With that act, the Edenic Covenant, being conditional, came to an end.
II. THE ADAMIC COVENANT
And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.
B. The Participants in the Covenant
God and Adam are involved in this covenant in which Adam again represented the whole human race. Thus the judgment on Adam is the judgment on all humanity.
C. The Provisions of the Covenant
God individually addressed the serpent, Satan, Eve, and Adam.
1. The Serpent: Genesis 3:14
There are three provisions concerning the serpent.
First: he is cursed above all other creatures of the animal kingdom. All creatures now fall under a curse, but there is a special curse upon this one member of the animal kingdom. Normally, an animal is not held morally responsible for its actions. However, if it causes any harm to man, then it is held responsible (Gen. 9:5). Animals were created for the benefit of man, and when this principle is violated, it then incurs the judgment of God.
Second: the serpent is to crawl on its belly. This shows that originally the serpent moved in an erect position. This led to the debate whether or not the serpent originally had legs, but that question is irrelevant to the issue. The only point is that in place of moving erectly, the serpent now crawls on its belly.
Third: dust shall be the serpent’s food. Bible critics have had a field day with this pointing it out as an error of the Bible since reptiles do not eat dust. However, this was simply a Hebrew idiom meaning to be especially cursed (Mic. 7:17). The curse will continue to be there even in the Messianic Kingdom (Is. 65:25).
2. Satan: Genesis 3:15
Four provisions are given in relationship to Satan.
First: there would be perpetual hatred between Satan and the woman.
Second: this hatred was to culminate between Satan’s seed, the Antichrist, and the woman’s Seed, the Messiah.
Third: the serpent would bruise the heel of the woman’s Seed; this happened at the Crucifixion.
Fourth: this first prophecy of the Lord’s victory over Satan goes on to say that the woman’s Seed will crush Satan’s head; this occurred initially with the Resurrection (Heb. 2:14-15). But the final crushing of Satan was still future when Paul wrote Romans 16:20; it will come when Satan is cast into the Lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
The main point of this prophecy is that the Messiah would be of the Seed of woman. This goes against the biblical norm that teaches that genealogy is traced through the male line, not through the female line. The reason for this exception will not be known for centuries until Isaiah 7:14 revealed that the Messiah will be conceived and born of a virgin. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 led to the events of Genesis 6:1-4 when Satan tried to corrupt the seed of the woman and will lead to the future supernatural conception of the Antichrist.
3. The Woman: Genesis 3:16
Eve and all women were made subject to three provisions.
First: there would be multiplication of menstrual pain and conception. Apparently, the nature of conception before the Fall was quite different than what it was after the Fall. Since the Fall, a woman generally is able to conceive at least once a month. Furthermore, a woman’s menstrual periods are accompanied with discomfort and pain.
Second: the woman was to give birth in pain. Before the Fall, she would have been able to conceive and give birth without pain, but this was no longer true. However, once birth takes place, there is joy (Jn. 16:21). In this way, the woman is saved (I Tim. 2:15). She is not spiritually saved through childbirth, but she is saved from being in a demeaning position through her ability to produce children, for in this way she guarantees the continuity of the human race not subject to physical death.
Third: the wife was to be in subjection to the husband. This was already true before the Fall, but the new element was that she would now have a desire to rebel against that subjection and choose to try to rule him.
4. The Man: Genesis 3:17-19
Adam and all men and the entire human race were subjected to five provisions in Genesis 3:17-19.
First: since Adam stands as the representative head of the human race, the judgment on Adam is the judgment on the whole human race. It is Adam, not Eve, who is held responsible for the human condition.
Second: the earth was cursed. Working was not something new with the Adamic Covenant, it had already been provided for in the Edenic Covenant. The difference was in the earth’s response. Under the Edenic Covenant, the earth was to respond readily to man’s working and tilling. But now the earth would not respond so easily; there would be thorns, thistles, and weeds.
Third: human diet continues to be vegetarian as it was under the Edenic Covenant; it is not clear if the same was true for the animal kingdom. Animals were used for dairy products, wool for clothing, and sacrifices, but not for eating.
Fourth: man’s work was to be characterized by hard labor. Working conditions under the Edenic Covenant were easy, simple, and enjoyable. Now, sweatwas to characterize the work of man and labor was to be hard and toilsome.
Fifth: physical death was introduced. Whereas under the Edenic Covenant man died spiritually, under the Adamic Covenant man would ultimately die physically (Rom. 5:12-21). Thus far there have only been two exceptions to this rule: Enoch and Elijah. There will be others in the future at the time of the Rapture.
D. The Status of the Covenant
The Adamic Covenant became the basis for the Dispensation of Conscience. As an unconditional covenant, it is very much in effect today.
III. THE NOAHIC COVENANT
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the heavens; with all wherewith the ground teems, and all the fishes of the sea, into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as the green herb have I given you all. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it: and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And God spoke unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
B. The Participants in the Covenant
This covenant was made between God and Noah. Like Adam, Noah stood as the representative for the entire human race. As a result of the flood, not only is all humanity descended from Adam, but also from Noah.
C. The Provisions of the Covenant
First: man was to repopulate the earth (vv. 1, 7). With the exception of eight people, the entire human race was destroyed by the Flood. Man had vastly increased in numbers, but the wickedness of man was great in the earth (Gen. 6:5). Thus God brought universal judgment upon the earth. After the Flood, the earth was essentially empty again. Only eight people remained to repopulate the entire earth. Just as with the Edenic Covenant, man was again commissioned to repopulate the earth, but the command to subdue the earth is not repeated. With man’s fall, he lost his authority and Satan usurped it. Thus Satan is the prince of this world (Jn. 12:31) and the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4). Satan has authority over all the kingdoms of this world and can offer them to whomsoever he will (Lk. 4:6). He made that offer to the Seed of the woman, Yeshua (Jesus), who turned it down. He will offer it some day to the seed of Satan, the Antichrist, who will accept it (Rev. 13:1-3).
Second: the fear of man was put into animals and man was to dominate them (v. 2). While man had lost authority over the earth, he was still to dominate and have authority over the animal kingdom. For this reason, the fear of man was placed in animals. This fear was a means of self preservation due to the next provision.
Third: man’s diet was to consist of both every moving thing and the green herb (v. 3). Previously, his diet had been vegetarian, but now all animals were included. No limitations whatsoever are given in the passage, thus all animals were fit for food.
Fourth: man was forbidden to eat blood (v. 4). All creature life, both man and animal, is blood sustained. Blood is the symbol of life, and the shedding of blood is the symbol of death. Because blood is the symbol of life, God commanded that it not be eaten or drunk.
Fifth: capital punishment became a part of the human economy for the first time in (vv. 5-6). When Cain killed Abel, Cain was not executed because capital punishment had not yet been instituted. The provision for capital punishment came with the Noahic Covenant and all murderers were to be executed.
Sixth: the promise of the covenant is that humanity would never again be destroyed by a world wide flood (vv. 8-11). While there would be local floods that would destroy portions of humanity, never again would there be a world wide flood. In the future, there will be a passing away and destruction of earth’s present system, but it will not be by means of a universal flood. This shows that the Noahic Flood was universal, not local.
Seventh: the token of the covenant was the rainbow (vv. 12-17). Not every covenant came with a sign or token, but this one did. This was the first time in human history that the rainbow ever appeared. Rain did not exist before the world wide flood and the earth was watered by a mist that came daily upon the vegetation. Rainbows come in conjunction with rain. So for the first time in human experience the rainbow appeared, and God’s promise that humanity will not be destroyed by a flood again should come to remembrance every time a rainbow is seen.
D. The Status of the Covenant
The Noahic Covenant became the basis for the Dispensation of Human Government. Although this dispensation has been superseded, the unconditional Noahic Covenant is still very much in effect. The judgments of the Tribulation against the Gentiles will come because of violations of the Noahic Covenant. According to Isaiah 24:5-6, the judgment comes because humanity has violated the everlasting covenant, a name given to the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9:16. For that reason, the prophet used the Noahic Flood motif, the windows on high and foundations of the earth in Isaiah 24:18. But next time, God will destroy the masses of humanity by fire.
IV. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
First: Genesis 12:1-3: Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show you: and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be you a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Second: Genesis 12:7: And Jehovah appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto your seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Jehovah, who appeared unto him.
Third: Genesis 13:14-17: And Jehovah said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed for ever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then may your seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto you will I give it.
The fourth and fifth passages dealing with the Abrahamic Covenant are Genesis 15:1-21 and Genesis 17:1-21. While not quoted in this study, these more lengthy segments of Scripture contain many provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant. The emphasis of Genesis 15 is threefold: first, Abraham would father one nation in particular; second, he would father many nations in general; third, God signs and seals the Abrahamic Covenant and spells out the exact borders of the Abrahamic Covenant as extending from the river of Egypt in the south to the great river, Euphrates in the north. The signing was done in such a way that it rendered the covenant unconditional. The emphasis of Genesis 17 is on the token of the covenant: physical circumcision on the eighth day of a boy’s life. Just as the rainbow was the token of the Noahic Covenant, so circumcision is the token of the Abrahamic Covenant.
A sixth passage is Genesis 22:15-18: And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, says Jehovah, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.
B. The Participants in the Covenant
God and Abraham are involved in this covenant, in which Abraham stood as the representative head of the whole Jewish nation, not for all humanity.
C. The Provisions of the Covenant
A list gleaned from these passages shows a total of fourteen provisions in this covenant.
First: a great nation was to come out of Abraham, namely, the nation of Israel (Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:1-2, 7; 22:17b).
Second: he was promised a Land; specifically, the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:1, 7; 13:14-15, 17; 15:17-21; 17:8).
Third: Abraham himself was to be greatly blessed (Gen. 12:2b).
Fourth: Abraham’s name would be great (Gen. 12:2c).
Fifth: Abraham will be a blessing to others (Gen. 12:2d).
Sixth: those who bless Israel will be blessed (Gen. 12:3a).
Seventh: those who curse Israel will be cursed (Gen.12:3b).
Eighth: in Abraham all will ultimately be blessed (Gen. 12:3c; 22:18).
Ninth: Abraham would receive a son through his wife Sarah (Gen. 15:1-4; 17:16-21).
Tenth: his descendants would undergo the Egyptian bondage (Gen. 15:13-14).
Eleventh: other nations as well as Israel would come forth from Abraham (Gen. 17:3-4, 6); the Arab states are some of these nations.
Twelfth: his name was to be changed from Abram, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude” (Gen. 17:5).
Thirteenth: Sarai’s name, meaning “my princess,” was to be changed to Sarah, meaning “the princess” (Gen. 17:15).
Fourteenth: circumcision was to be a token of the covenant (Gen. 17:9-14); thus, according to the Abrahamic Covenant, circumcision was to be a sign of one’s Jewishness. The practice of circumcision did not begin with Abraham since others in the ancient Near East practiced the ritual either at birth or puberty. The uniqueness of Jewish circumcision is not the act, but the timing of the act: on the eighth day. Circumcision would show this to be a blood covenant and hence emphasized its solemnity. It would also show that this sign of Jewishness is passed on through natural generation.
These provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant can be categorized in three areas: to Abraham; to the Seed, Israel; and to the Gentiles.
1. To Abraham
Abraham was to be the father of a great nation, Israel. He was to possess all of the Promised Land. Other nations, including the Arab states, were ultimately to descend from Abraham. Many of his descendants would become kings, both Jewish and non-Jewish kings. Abraham was to receive personal blessings. Abraham was to be a blessing to others. His name was to become great, and so it is among Jews, Moslems, and in all Christendom.
2. To the Seed: Israel
The nation of Israel was to become great. It was ultimately to become innumerable. It was to possess all of the Promised Land. It was to receive victory over its enemies. The fact that the promises were made to both Abraham and his seed shows that these blessings have not yet received complete fulfillment but await the Messianic Kingdom.
3. To the Gentiles
The Gentiles would be blessed for blessing Israel and cursed for cursing Israel. Also, they were to receive spiritual blessings, but ultimately these were to come through one specific Seed of Abraham, the Messiah. The Abrahamic Covenant contains both physical and spiritual promises. While the physical blessings were limited to the Jews only, the spiritual blessings were to extend to the Gentiles, but only through the Messiah.
D. The Basis for Development of Other Covenants
Reducing the Abrahamic Covenant to its very basics, it can be seen that it contained three aspects: the Land aspect, the Seed aspect, and the Blessing aspect. The Land aspect is developed in the Land Covenant. The Seed aspect is covered in the Davidic Covenant. The
Blessing aspect is presented in the New Covenant.
E. The Confirmation of the Covenant
1. Confirmation Through Isaac
Abraham had eight sons by three different women, and the question arose: through which son would the Abrahamic Covenant be confirmed? God revealed that it was to be only through Sarah’s son, Isaac. God’s appearance to Isaac is recorded in Genesis 26:2-5: And Jehovah appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of: sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for unto you, and unto your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore unto Abraham your father: and I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto your seed all these lands; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
The covenant was later reconfirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:24: And Jehovah appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham your father: fear not, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.
2. Confirmation Through Jacob
Isaac had two sons, and God chose to confirm the covenant with Jacob, as seen in Genesis 28:13-15: And, behold, Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you whithersoever you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of.
3. Confirmation Through the Sons of Jacob
Next, it was confirmed through all of Jacob’s twelve sons (Gen. 49), who fathered the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
F. The Status of the Covenant
The Abrahamic Covenant became the basis for the Dispensation of Promise. Because the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, it is still very much in effect even though it has remained largely unfulfilled. The ultimate fulfillment will come during the Kingdom Age. Some examples of this include: Exodus 2:23-25; 4:24-26; 6:2-8; 32:11-14; Leviticus 26:46; Deuteronomy 34:4; II Kings 13:22-23; I Chronicles 16:15-19; II Chronicles 20:7-8; Nehemiah 9:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12; Luke 1:54-55, 68-73; Galatians 3:15-18; and Hebrews 6:13-20. These verses note that the Abrahamic Covenant was the basis for the Exodus, for giving them the Land, for Jewish survival in spite of disobedience, for the coming of the Messiah, for the resurrection of the dead, and for Israel’s final redemption and restoration.
The Abrahamic Covenant is a good example of what was stated earlier: that a covenant could be signed and sealed at a specific point of time, but not every provision goes immediately into effect, but rather, three different things happen. Some went into effect right away such as the change of names and circumcision. Some went into effect in the near future, for there was a twenty-five year wait for the birth of Isaac and a four hundred year wait before the conquest of the Land. Some provisions go into effect in the prophetic distant future such as the settlement of all of the Promised Land, which has not been fulfilled to this day.
The doctrine of Dispensationalism has many supporters and many objectors. While some objections are raised on reasonable theological grounds, some are raised on a misunderstanding of what Dispensationalism actually teaches. Some of these objections are really objections to ultra-dispensationalism, and some are objections based upon a misunderstanding of the facts.
Recently, some have raised objections concerning Dispensationalism’s treatment of the Gospel. Some would imply or state that Dispensationalism is a corruption of the Gospel, and that a person cannot possibly be a Dispensationalist and be a Christian at the same time. Of course, this is absolute nonsense, and it weakens the arguments against Dispensationalism to make such ridiculous assertions! In this article, we will address the notion that Dispensationalism teaches different methods of salvation in different dispensations. We will look at some of the real causes of the objections that have been raised. We will see how Dispensationalism is in fact helpful in the presentation of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. And finally, we will have a personal note.
Dispensationalism and Salvation
First, we must deal with the suggestion that Dispensationalism teaches different methods of salvation in different dispensations. We cannot speak for every person who has ever claimed to be a Dispensationalist. Perhaps some have stated of implied such a thing. But this does not represent the mainstream of Dispensational thought, and has not for many years. The words of H.A. Ironside, a well known and much loved Bible teacher, should be sufficient to state the mainline Dispensational viewpoint. Here is what Ironside said prior to 1938 (i.e. over 60 years ago!):
Let one point be absolutely clear: No one was ever saved in any dispensation on any other ground than the finished work of Christ. In all the ages before the cross, God justified men by faith; in all the years since, men have been justified in exactly the same way. Adam believed God and was clothed with coats of skin, a picture of one becoming the righteousness of God in Christ. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Nevertheless, afterwards he was circumcised; but that circumcision, the apostle tells us, was simply a seal of the righteousness he had by faith. And throughout all the Old Testament dispensation, however legalistic Jews may have observed the ordinance of circumcision and thought of it as having in itself some saving virtue, it still remained in God’s sight, as in the beginning, only a seal, where there was genuine faith, of that righteousness which He imputed. (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, p57,58)
Needless to say, the person who claims that Dispensationalism teaches different methods of salvation in different dispensations completely misunderstands the point of Dispensational doctrine! Dispensationalism is not about the method of God’s salvation, but the methods of God’s testing of man. In each Dispensation, God gives a different set of instructions. The instructions are for pleasing and obeying God, not for obtaining salvation. In each dispensation, man proves that whatever the circumstances, he is unable to please or obey God.
Furthermore, those who claim that Dispensationalists teach different methods of salvation in different dispensations confuse holy living (i.e. simple obedience) with imputed righteousness. Perhaps this is easy to do since in this dispensation, what is required by God of man in the dispensational test is also that which is required by God to provide salvation (i.e. to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour). In most of the dispensations, what is required of man will simply be some form of holy living, but it doesn’t impute righteousness! The only thing that dispensational obedience will do is prevent extra unrighteousness from occuring. In every dispensation, man still carries Original Sin. Dispensationalists understand that obedience in a dispensation does not wipe away Original Sin. We understand that obedience in a dispensation does not impart forgiveness. And we understand that in every dispensation, perfect obedience was impossible. Yes, Dispensationalists believe that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, in this dispensation and in all dispensations.
Dispensationalism and Calvinism
So we have seen that mainstream Dispensationalism does not teach that salvation is obtained on any other basis than the finished work of Christ, in this dispensation and in every dispensation. So why do some people get so upset about the Dispensationalism and the Gospel? Evidently, some who hold to Calvinistic doctrine have decided that Dispensationalism is somehow linked to Arminian doctrine, thus making our grasp on the Gospel somehow suspect. This is another ridiculous assertion, raised because many churches that hold to a Covenant theological view also hold to Calvinism. In their minds, because they tend to hold both of these doctrines, anyone who opposes one also opposes the other. In other words, this objection is based upon guilt by association! The simple fact is that people who hold to Dispensational doctrine are free to adopt a Calvinistic, Arminian or middle-of-the-road position as they choose. Believing Dispensational doctrine does not force a person into any of these theological camps. I have personally encountered believers who have been very Calvinistic, very Arminian and very middle-of-the-road all in the same church and all holding firmly to Dispensational doctrine.
Dispensationalism and the True Gospel Message
To this point, we have defended Dispensationalism by showing that it teaches a single method of salvation, and is not linked to either the Calvinistic or Arminian theological camps. But what positive effects does it have in the preaching of the Gospel? If we consider the three foundational principles upon which Dispensationalism is built, we will see that far from corrupting the Gospel, Dispensationalism defends the Gospel! These foundational principles are literal interpretation of the Bible, a distinction between the Church and Israel, and an emphasis on the Glory of God.
The first foundation of Dispensationalism is literal interpretation of the Bible. Literal interpretation is absolutely essential for the clear and correct understanding of the Gospel. Consider for moment a few verses of Scripture, and the potential effect if a person does not take them literally:
- Romans 3:23 –
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
- Isaiah 64:6 –
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;”
- Romans 6:23 –
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Ephesians 2:8,9 –
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
- John 3:18 –
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Obviously the Gospel cannot be preached clearly and correctly, and cannot be understood and received effectually unless literal interpretation of the Bible is used. We should be on our guard against any systems of theology that reject literal interpretation!
The second foundation for Dispensationalism is a distinction between the Church and Israel. First Corinthians 10:32 says, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:”. There is a great distinction in Scripture between the Church and Israel. This has a powerful effect in the content of our Gospel. There are some who are presenting the “prosperity gospel” which in effect says, if you obey God, material blessings will result. Obviously this comes from confusing Israel with the Church. While Israel had spiritual blessings, their blessings were primarily physical. On the other hand, while the Church has physical blessings, our blessings are primarily spiritual. This “prosperity gospel” is taken to ridiculous heights, reducing the Almighty God to no much more than Santa Claus.
Making a clear distinction between the Church and Israel also helps when some would muddy the waters through judaizing (i.e. trying to make Old Testament Law apply to Christians in the current dispensation). Making a distinction between the Church and Israel will help preserve our Gospel message from those who would make Sabbath keeping, animal sacrifice or dietary laws part of the message of salvation.
The third foundation for Dispensationalism is an emphasis on God’s Glory rather than man’s salvation as being God’s ultimate purpose. You may ask, how does this contribute to the Gospel message? First, it helps remind sinful man that he will someday glorify God, either in His Divine Mercy as Saviour, or in His Divine Justice as Judge. This is a fearful and powerful message! This emphasis on God’s Glory also helps lift the burden in evangelism off of us. Oh yes, we are still required to preach the word, to witness, to show forth the way of salvation! But God Himself in the One who obtains the results. A Dispensationalist knows that God is Glorified every time the Gospel is preached, and we do not allow ourselves to become discouraged if we are being faithful in preaching the Good News but go through a “dry spell” when we see few souls saved.