PART SEVEN: A Different Dispensational System
In this book we have detailed from Scripture a theological system which is simple and easy for all believers to understand. By first identifying God’s corporate calling and then clearly defining what a Bible dispensation looks like, we easily find in the word of God a system with three periods/dispensations of time – a Jewish, a Christian, and a future millennial dispensation. The Scriptural support for this system is overwhelming, as we have seen from the numerous chapters already written.
What is presented in this book is a dispensational system based on the biblical principle of God’s calling. The history of man found in Scripture centers around two groups of people which God has specifically dealt with by making them His own – the nation of Israel and the church. The Jews are God’s chosen people in the flesh; the believer and church are God’s chosen people in the Spirit (please read Rom. 8:5–9). There are only two corporate callings in Scripture. Israel has an earthly calling. They will inherit the land and receive physical blessings (Gen. 12:1–3, Ex. 6:6–8). The believer/church has a heavenly calling. They will be removed from the earth to heaven and receive spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Heb. 3:1, Eph. 1:3). With the understanding that God can only deal with one distinct calling at a time, the three dispensations in this system are determined by the various times in which God recognizes one or the other of the two corporate callings found in Scripture.
As long as God still acknowledged Israel’s calling as His earthly people, it was still the Jewish dispensation.301 Time and events gave way to the Christian dispensation, where the nation of Israel was set aside and God’s calling was now with the believer/church. This is what we have today. God recognizes the calling of the Christian and we are in the Christian dispensation. This time is characterized by a heavenly body being gathered on the earth by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. The rapture of the true church – all those in Christ, dead in the graves or still living on the earth – will fulfill this calling. When Jesus returns to the earth and the millennium begins, the calling of Israel will have been taken up again by God – He will be their God, and the saved Jews will be His people (please compare Hosea 1:9 to Ez. 36:24–28). The gathering of the Jewish remnant by God and their permanent restoration in the Promised land during the future millennium will fulfill Israel’s calling.
301 [This viewpoint comes from the writings of John Nelson Darby, and reflects well his thoughts and understandings of dispensationalism. He taught that God had purposely raised up a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. God did this by giving Israel the law as a covenant, which became the practice of Judaism, their religion. God maintained this wall during the length of the Jewish dispensation. Darby taught that as long as God still recognized the corporate calling of the Jews, He was obligated to maintain this wall of separation (Judaism), as well as the ongoing Jewish dispensation. He taught that as long as the wall existed, God was not free to do anything else. God used the death of Jesus Christ to bring down and destroy the wall He had previously built up and maintained (Eph. 2:14–16). The Jews were set aside by God. He no longer recognized their calling. After the death of Christ, God soon brought about events to end the real practice of Judaism.
I feel confident in saying that Darby was the first to teach the significance of the associations that exist between God’s calling of a chosen group of people, God’s sanctioning at different times two distinctly different religions, and the three dispensations in Scripture that result from such considerations. Not only was Darby the first to teach dispensationalism this way, but if not for his editor, William Kelly, to my knowledge he was the only one who ever did so]
This theological system is simple to see and understand from Scripture. It would help any believer in rightly dividing the word of truth. But I would be negligent if I didn’t add this final chapter. There can be a slightly different dispensational understanding from the one presented in this book, one equally obvious from Scripture. It is based on a biblical principle we’ve already discussed – God’s government of the earth.
Chapter Forty-One – Dispensations based on God’s Government of the Earth
Mankind’s involvement in the principle of government began with Noah and his family after the flood. God placed the sword in man’s hand in order to curb the expression of his fallen nature (Gen. 9:5–6). The evil and wicked world destroyed by the deluge was the pitiful result of mankind’s depravity, without the restrictions of any form of law and government. In the time after the flood, man’s sin and wickedness would be restrained by those individuals God providentially set up in civil power – kings, pharaohs, governors, etc. Whether they knew it or not, these individuals were responsible for their given position, and for their decisions and actions before God, their Creator (Rom. 13:1).
This wasn’t the first expression of God’s government. He had previously judged Adam, Eve, and Satan before man was evicted from paradise. Also, the flood was a massive display of God’s government of the earth. But placing the sword in man’s hand meant that God could give authority to whoever He chose in order to restrict the outward expression of man’s fallen nature. In this indirect way (by giving authority) God began to govern the earth after the flood. In Genesis nine (9:5–6), the principle begins and a description of it enters God’s revelation (His word).302
302 [After the flood there were still instances when God displayed direct judgment – Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plagues on Egypt are good examples. But the general principle of God giving certain men authority to rule and govern on the earth begins with Noah. It will continue through the future millennium, which will be the final time of God governing the earth through man. The millennium will be the rule and reign of the glorified Son of Man – Jesus will be the perfect mediator between the Most High God in heaven and men on the earth]
It is my opinion that some of the more contemporary dispensational systems run loose by devising to many dispensations. Their tendency is to water-down the proper definition of what a dispensation is, in order to create more divisions of time.303 In my opinion, this is a surrender to the imaginations and reasonings of the human intellect.
303 [Examples of this creativity are the popular divisions of the book of Genesis. Four dispensations are usually imagined: Innocence, Conscience, Civil Government, and Promise. By our definition, none of these truly qualify to be called a Bible dispensation, although it is easy to see why so many dispensationalists would reason them to be. I question the validity of calling a period of time a dispensation if it never has a definitive end, allowing the following dispensation to replace it. How does man’s evil conscience end with the flood? How does civil government come to an end with the calling of Abram and promises made to him by God? And I do not believe I am mistaken in saying that somebody or some group is still waiting for the promises God made to Abraham to actually be fulfilled as God spoke them to him long ago. This is just one of the reasons to disqualify these four divisions from the dispensational system.
Another strong proof of only three dispensations is that we only find two clear transition periods in Scripture. There is one between the Jewish and Christian dispensation and one between the Christian and the millennium. There are quite a few other arguments for three, but I will not spend time and space for them here]
A dispensational system based on the biblical principle of God’s government of the world still needs corporate groups given the particular responsibility to govern the world according to the will of God. This system looks very similar to one based on God’s calling. It will have just three dispensations (appendix E). However, the dispensations themselves will have some minor differences.
- The Jewish dispensation: This period runs from the time Israel was delivered out of slavery in Egypt to the Babylonian captivity. When Jehovah redeemed the Jews, He brought them to Mt. Sinai. There He gave them the law as a covenant, which they agreed to observe and obey (Ex. 19:8). This constituted the practice of Judaism. Because God now had a corporate group He had chosen and redeemed, He would live among them on the earth. From that time there was a manifested presence of Jehovah in Israel (the Shekinah glory). God ruled the world from the midst of Israel. The Gentile nations came to know that there was a formidable God living there. God’s law, given to Israel, was the means by which He would govern His people. From Israel, God would monitor the ripening of Gentile evil, and chasten and judge accordingly.
As long as the manifested presence and glory of God resided in Israel on the earth, it meant the continuance of the Jewish dispensation in this particular dispensational scheme. God ruled and governed both Israel and the world during this time. Civil government soon developed in Israel by the authority God gave to judges. Eventually the Jews cried out for God to give them a king so they could be like the Gentiles. For good or bad, royalty was now part of God’s government of His people.
The institutions God established in Israel had a responsibility/duty to God’s law. Those of the priesthood were spiritual mediators for the people before Jehovah. They dealt with the sins of the individual/nation, either daily or yearly. Their sins were their failures concerning the law. The prophet’s mission was always to call the nation back to the law (Neh. 9:26, 29–30, Jer. 7:25–26). Their prophecies served to furnish hope to the faithful remnant God kept among them, helping them to persevere in the midst of a nation in sin and rebellion. The royalty was an institution that had the responsibility under God to rule and govern the people according to His law.
The golden calf was the nation’s failure at the beginning of the dispensation – Israel broke God’s first command. The law and covenant were broken and the seeds of apostasy crept in. The priesthood failed in its first service – the sons of Aaron are struck down after offering strange fire at the altar. The first of the prophets was Samuel. He was rejected by Israel as a judge because the people wanted a king. Israel’s first king was Saul. He was a miserable failure. In both the practice of the law and the institutions associated with the law there was immediate failure in every case by Israel. Although the long-suffering of God maintained the continuance of the dispensation, by the time of the Babylonian captivity, everything was in ruin (Jer. 16:11–12). The manifested presence and glory of Jehovah leaves Jerusalem and the earth (Ez. 10:18–19). The Babylonians destroy the city and temple. The ark or throne of God was lost. The Jewish dispensation ends here.304
304 [The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians was God’s just judgment of the Jews for their failure to keep His law. Israel’s main transgression was their idolatry, which was the egregious breaking of God’s first commandment to have no other gods before Him. Law is directly related to government, as were both the manifested Presence and the throne (ark). Another observation which confirms these associations (in a reverse way) is the disappearance of idolatry among the Jews after the end of the Babylonian captivity. Israel was delivered from their demon of idolatry, and their house was empty, swept, and put in order (Matt. 12:43–45). God had one final test for the Jews, would they receive their Messiah when sent to them. But God’s testing of Israel with the law ended with the Babylonian captivity. In a dispensational system based on God’s government of the earth, the Jewish dispensation ends here. In a system based on God’s corporate calling, the Jewish dispensation would instead essentially end when Israel crucified their Messiah]
- The Gentile Dispensation: Because of the above events, God decided on a change in civil government and gave world dominion to the Gentiles. Starting with the Babylonians, there would come forth in the earth four successive world empires – Babylon, Mede-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Dan. 7). The principle of God’s government of the earth would now flow through the Gentiles. Jesus labeled this dispensation as the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24).305 This period will continue until the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. In the future tribulation there will be two earthly powers which will bring in the end of this dispensation (Rev. 13) – a revived Roman empire with a Caesar, and a kingdom in Palestine with the antichrist (who will be subservient to Rome and deceive the Jews into widespread idolatry)
During the “times of the Gentiles,” the Gentile powers are to govern according to the will of God. However, the Spirit of God through Daniel pictures the four empires as wild animals who only do their own will. They fail to obey the will of God, their Creator. The Gentile dispensation includes the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ as well as the entire time of the church on earth. The general state of the Jewish people during these times has been either living in the land under the oppression of Gentile rulers (Neh. 9:36–37) or scattered into the nations outside their land (Luke 21:24).
305 [By understanding the entire scope of implications defined by this simple phrase, we gain insight into the counsels of God. Jesus labeling this middle period of time validates this as a proper dispensational system from Scripture. And this system is quite simple. Outwardly, it is formed by the different periods when God’s manifested Presence, the Shekinah glory, was on the earth in Israel, or not. The glory present on the earth is what represents the normal way of His government of the world (as immediate and direct). It was so during the Jewish dispensation above. It will again be so during the future millennium as we see the Shekinah glory return to fill the millennial temple in Jerusalem (Ez. 43:1–5). But the middle dispensation, “the times of the Gentiles,” is when the manifested presence of God isn’t on the earth and world government is given by God to the Gentiles.
William Kelly taught that this Gentile dispensation, because of the absence of the Shekinah glory, served as a parenthesis between the other two dispensations. “The times of the Gentiles” is a distinctly different period from the two dispensations it falls between. This “parenthesis” is characterized by Israel always under the oppression of the Gentiles in their land or scattered into the Gentile nations. Although today Israel is again a nation and many Jews have returned to the land, it must be considered a return in unbelief. It only is preparatory for the final abominations, desolations, and trampling down by Gentile powers leading up to and during the future tribulation period (Dan. 9:27, 12:11, Matt. 24:15, Luke 21:24)]
- The Millennium: During this time, civil rule on the earth will be exercised by Jesus Christ, the glorified Son of Man sitting on His throne of power (Matt. 25:31). When He returns, He will destroy the final two beasts (civil world powers) that we see in Revelation thirteen, along with their armies (Rev. 19:11–21). The “times of the Gentiles” will end. He will cause Satan to be bound in a bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1–3). Jesus will rule over the Gentiles with a rod of iron (Ps. 2:8–9, Rev. 12:5). The Jews will have a new covenant where God’s law will be written on their hearts and minds (Jer. 31:31–34, Heb. 8:6–12, Ez. 36:22–28). They will obey the law and be blessed of God (Deut. 28:1–13); they will once again be recognized by God as His chosen people and physically prosper (Ez. 34:27–31). Jesus will be Israel’s Messiah, son of David and King of the Jews. The capital city of the government of the world will be earthly Jerusalem. The Lord will turn iniquity away from Jacob (Rom. 11:26–27). He will rule in righteousness and justice; the increase of His government and peace will have no end (Isa. 9:6–7).
This dispensation shows its similarity to the Jewish dispensation by the return of the manifested presence of God to the earth, dwelling in the new millennial temple in Jerusalem (Ez. 43:1–5). Also, similar will be the Son of David sitting on the throne of David as the King of Israel (this is Solomon as the type, Jesus as the antitype or fulfillment – Isa. 9:6–7). These truths show how similar the two dispensations are, except for the failure of everything in the Jewish dispensation compared to the success of everything during the millennium.
The millennium will last one thousand years. I do not doubt the time range is literal. It is the reign of Jesus Christ with His glorified saints. There will be striking changes to the conditions and circumstances of the world from that of the previous dispensation, but still substantially the same heavens and earth that now exist. Creation will be delivered from its curse (the judgment applied to creation because of Adam’s disobedience). Satan will be bound for this time frame. Mankind on the earth will be blessed by the Most High God, through Jesus Christ – He is the one Mediator between God and man, which will be displayed on behalf of the world during the millennium (1 Tim. 2:5). At the same time He will fill the role of Israel’s kingly priest mediator, bringing abundant blessing to Israel (Gen. 14:18–20). The Jews will be in the inner circle of blessing on the earth, while the Gentiles in the outer circle. The glorified saints will be in their proper place in the heavens. In this blessed scene we see the heavens put in connection with the earth, whereby all millennial blessing flows down from the Most High God above. It will be shown that the divinely ordered scheme of blessing takes the form of all things in heaven and on the earth under the headship of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God (Eph. 1:10).306
306 [This divine order of the chief constituent groups during the millennium is prefigured by Matthew’s and Mark’s version of the vision of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8). We know the vision itself primarily points to the future kingdom of God manifested outwardly in power and glory (Matt. 16:28, Mark 9:1, 2 Pet. 1:16–18). In the vision, Jesus is depicted as the Son of Man transfigured and glorified, but also holding the center place of attention and honor throughout. The glory cloud represents heaven, the place where the Father resides and from where His voice came acknowledging Jesus as His Son. Peter, James, and John represent saints in their unchanged bodies on the millennial earth. But we also discern the presence of Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the dead saints raised and glorified, while Elijah represents those living, caught up, changed and glorified. Together, these two depict the results of the rapture, where both the dead and living in Christ are glorified (1 Thess. 4:13–18). These two are the ones in immediate proximity to Christ; they intelligently converse with Him, as well as enter the cloud (heaven) with Him. The same cannot be said of the other three, who feared the sight of the cloud (the presence of God). Jesus will certainly have close links of association with those saved on the earth for His kingdom, particularly the Jews. But the glorified saints are given by God a higher and more wonderous position. Truly, and in every sense, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. The glorified saints alone, enjoy the special and immediate entrance into the presence of God in heaven]
At the close of the thousand years, Satan will be loosed from his prison and incite a rebellion by certain Gentile nations against the Jews in the holy land.307 They will all be destroyed by fire coming down from heaven. Satan will be thrown into his final place of judgment – the lake of fire (Rev. 20:7–10). Jesus will preside over the judgment of the dead at the white throne. All the dead will be judged by their works and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11–15).
307 [The millennium will see the Lord governing righteously, and His power controlling all that is needed to be kept in check on the earth so there will be world peace. But this time is not characterized by the absolute extinction of evil, but by the glorious power of the Lord in government. Satan will be bound and kept from tempting mankind. Even though this benevolent reign of the Lord fills the earth with the glory of God, still many Gentiles will remain unconverted. At the end of the thousand years we have the proof that, even after the blessed and perfect government of Jesus Christ, man is as liable as ever to forsake God and His blessing for the devil and his lies. No proof of the Lord’s goodness suffices, even over the span of a thousand years. This ending millennial experience is further testimony of the depravity of man caused by the original disobedience of Adam. Mankind in Adam, man in the flesh, is unconverted, and cannot please God or appreciate Him (Rom. 8:8). Satan being loosed is a final test by God of man’s natural condition. At once the pent-up nations of the earth, especially from the more distant parts, turn from the Lord, preferring Satan]
1 Corinthians 15:24–27 (DARBY)
24 “Then the end, when he gives up the kingdom to him [who is] God and Father; when he shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he put all enemies under his feet.
26 [The] last enemy [that] is annulled [is] death.
27 For he has put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he says that all things are put in subjection, [it is] evident that [it is] except him who put all things in subjection to him.”
This passage shows us the conclusion of the last dispensation and the extinction of “death,” the last enemy of man. It was the disobedience of Adam, the first man, which allowed sin to enter the world (Rom. 5:12). Death was the certain physical consequence associated with mankind’s newly acquired fallen nature (Rom. 6:23). The obedience of Jesus Christ, the second Adam, undoes all the misery and ruin brought to both man and creation (here we refer to His obedience to the cross and accomplishing the will of God in the redemption of man, Phil. 2:6–11, Heb. 10:5–10, Col. 1:14–20). This we see as a reality either during or at the very end of the millennium. But even beyond this, we should have no doubt that His work of redemption is also the basis of God’s new creation, the new heaven and earth of the eternal state. God’s eternal counsels are that His glory will be magnified in and through Jesus Christ.
A secondary reason for quoting the above passage is to show the reader how intimately the principle of God’s government is associated with the last dispensation. At the end of the millennium Jesus gives up His earthly kingdom to God His Father. The impression one can’t help but get from the passage is that it has the viewpoint of Jesus as a Man, the Son of Man raised from the dead and glorified, reigning on the earth during the millennium in a kingdom which eventually encompasses the entire world – He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The distinct impression given by the entire chapter is the results associated with the death and resurrection of the second Adam, the heavenly Man (1 Cor. 15). The principle of God’s government associated with certain men given authority by God to rule and reign on the earth in times past will have its perfection and conclusion with the millennial reign of the glorified Son of Man.
Another important scriptural distinction is how intimately the principle of God’s earthly government is associated with the nation of Israel. Although the principle entered God’s revelation after the flood with Noah, it wasn’t developed until Israel was redeemed as a people/nation out of Egypt. With this we see the giving of His law to the Jews as a covenant to be obeyed and kept, and the manifested Presence (Shekinah glory) dwelling in their midst. This represented, more or less, God’s immediate government over Israel and the world. In the latter half of the Jewish dispensation a further development of this principle was the introduction of the institution of royalty in Israel. Now the Jews had a human king ruling over them directly under Jehovah. This pairing together of God’s manifested presence in Israel with Jewish royalty becomes the standard (God’s purpose and will in His counsels) for this principle of government of the earth.
- A Jewish king – a man who would be the king of Israel, but still answering to and responsible under Jehovah.
- The manifested presence of God dwelling in the temple in Jerusalem, ruling over both Israel and the world. With the manifested glory, Jerusalem is the capital city of the government of the earth.
Royalty in Israel failed at its inception. Saul, Israel’s first king, was disobedient. He is seen in Scripture as Israel’s choice after fleshly appearance – quite suitable to Israel’s “walk by sight” character. David, their second king, was fully the choice of God in sovereign grace, a man after the heart of God, who would do the will of God. But David had his sins and failures as well. David’s son, Solomon, would be the last king of Israel in the Jewish dispensation. His involvement with many wives and mistresses brought in the growth of idolatry in the nation. As a consequence, after Solomon’s time Israel was never again a single nation, but divided into two kingdoms (Israel in the north with ten tribes and Judah in the south with two tribes) with their own set of kings. These developing circumstances could hardly be considered as meeting and satisfying the will and counsels of God for His government of the earth. Rather, the failure of royalty in Israel was further proof of mankind’s depravity. The Jewish dispensation would only continue by the mercy and long-suffering of God, until He had His fill of Israel’s rebellion and apostasy.
Still, we need to grasp some important understandings of God’s counsels associated with this principle from the failed dispensation. One was that Judah was God’s designated tribe of royalty in Israel (Gen. 49:10). Saul’s reign never fit this requirement; he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Understandably, he was destined to fail with the nation under him. However, both David and Solomon were from Judah, and, by the grace of God, had a reasonable amount of success as being king over the nation. Additionally, God made a covenant with David so that his throne and his kingdom over Israel would be established forever (1 Sam. 7:16, 2 Chron. 7:18, Ps. 89:3–4). These two human kings serve as types prefiguring the future millennial reign of Jesus Christ, Messiah, Son of David and King of Israel. Further, David’s throne and God’s manifested presence establish Jerusalem as “the city of the great king” and as the capital of the world.
But David and Solomon never ruled over the Gentiles. Their kingdoms and prefiguring types were confined to the nation of Israel. The scope of their rule never extended to the rest of the world. During the Jewish dispensation (in this particular system based on government), it was God’s presence in Israel and on the earth that governed over the Gentiles. But Israel’s idolatry and sin forced an end to Jewish involvement with government and an end of the Jewish dispensation. God’s presence leaves the temple, leaves Israel, and leaves the earth. Scripture definitively teaches that at this time God gave world dominion over to the Gentiles. The new Gentile dispensation would feature four successive empires that would not only rule and oppress Israel, but also have dominion over the known prophetic world (Dan. 2, appendix E).
Although the Gentile dispensation is in many ways the breaking away from the counsels of God concerning the government of the earth being centered in Israel, in one respect there was a further advance in the development of the principle with the Gentiles. By the choice of God there now existed worldwide authority and power in the hands of man. The first example of this was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He was given by God dominion over the entire world (Dan. 2:36–38). We shouldn’t doubt that this form/arrangement is also part of the purpose of God concerning this principle. The Gentile kings and their several empires that exercised world dominion, to a great degree, serve as types prefiguring the future millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the glorified Son of Man.308 In Daniel seven (7:13–14), it is the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven who is brought before the Ancient of Days.
…to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.309
This passage featuring the Son of Man answers to the stone cut out without hands, which struck the great Gentile image in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:31–45). After it destroyed the existing Gentile powers, the stone became a great mountain (kingdom) and filled the whole earth.
308 [Note that my reference is not to His title of Messiah, which is of Jewish character and interests, and has a relationship limited to the son of David, King of Israel. The general scope of both David and Solomon’s kingdom never reached beyond the borders of the nation of Israel. Rather, the proper reference to the Lord’s future reign over the world is His Son of Man title, which has a much broader scope and reach. It is the title that refers to Adam, the first man and federal head of the entire human race. Adam was given dominion over all the works of God’s lower creation (Ps. 8:3–6). The Son of Man’s millennial kingdom will rule over the whole earth. He will be King of Kings, Lord of lords, ruling the nations with a rod of iron. By His judgments the nations of the world will learn righteousness, bringing in world peace (Isa. 26:9–10, 32:15–17, Heb. 7:2)]
309 [The Son of Man title is used in Daniel seven because the entire vision and interpretation deals with the development of world government in the hands of men. The history of world power and authority, although at first committed to the Gentiles, will find its perfect conclusion with the millennial kingdom of the Son of Man. In contrast to this, Daniel’s vision of the angel and the information provided to him in chapter nine involved the Messiah title (Dan. 9:24–27). This was the proper title for use here because the vision was only in reference to Daniel’s people, Jerusalem, and Jewish history (Dan. 9:24)]
Of course, we can easily see the general failure of the Gentile kings in their world empires throughout history. God’s testimony is that they are all beasts of various kinds, who act from a mind of their own and do not obey the will of God (Dan. 7). When given the responsibility of world power and dominion by God, without exception their governing became corrupt (usually through the sins of idolatry or self-exaltation). This Gentile dispensation continues today and will not end until the final two beasts of the Revelation (Rev. 13) are destroyed at the return of the Son of Man (Rev. 19:11–21). The “times of the Gentiles” will end by the judgment of God breaking in pieces and consuming all the Gentile influences involved in world dominion (Dan. 2:44). This judgment will be so conclusive it is said,
“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found.” (Dan. 2:35)
Although some passages imply that the millennium will be the time of the last rule of man on the earth, other passages characterize the earthly kingdom during the dispensation as the kingdom of God come on earth in power and glory (Rev. 11:15). In support, other passages declare that it is the God of heaven who will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44) or that, speaking of the same dispensation and government, the Ancient of Days will give to the Son of Man dominion and glory and an everlasting kingdom (Dan. 7:13–14). Although we may be correct in speaking of the millennium as the time of the last rule of man on the earth (Jesus, the Son of Man), still without doubt, it will be the physical and outward demonstration of the kingdom of God present on the earth.
What will be the end of the counsels of God concerning the principle of His government of the earth? During the millennial dispensation, it will have the complete and perfect fulfillment of God’s purposes in the scope/range of the following four unique spheres.
- Jesus Christ as the Messiah/King over the nation of Israel. The Jews will be restored in the full extent of the Promised land, and will prosper by every physical blessing from God. Israel will become the greatest nation on the millennial earth.
- Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and second Adam, as King of kings, Lord of lords over the Gentile nations in the world. He will rule them with a rod of iron and they will be made to serve Israel or perish (Isa. 60:10–22). Israel will be the greatest nation and earthly Jerusalem the capital city of the government of the world.
- The Shekinah Glory, the manifested presence of Jehovah, will return to the earth and reside in the millennial temple in Jerusalem. The earthly worship of God from both Israel and the Gentile nations will be focused in Jerusalem and around this temple. The Jews will have a new covenant – God’s law written in their minds and hearts. He will be their God, and the Jews will be His people (Jer. 31:31–34, Heb. 8:8–12).
- The glorified church will reign with Christ from the heavens above, over the millennial earth. She is the body and bride of Christ as well as the heavenly tabernacle of God. Glorified believers are suited/enabled by God to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). The church is symbolized at the end of the Revelation as the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, raining down upon the millennial earth grace and blessings from God’s throne above (Rev. 21:9–22:5). The bride, the Lamb’s wife, is seen as the center of heavenly and universal glory. Being in union with Christ, the church sits down with Him on His throne (Rev. 3:21) and is given power by Him to exercise with Him over Israel and the Gentile nations on the millennial earth (Rev. 2:26–27, Matt. 19:27–28).
But this is not the full extent of God’s counsels concerning the church and His government. The mystery of God’s will was revealed by the Spirit through the apostle Paul. It was unveiled that the final dispensation would see the full glory of God displayed in and through the supreme exaltation of Jesus Christ as head over the entire universe of God (Eph. 1:9–10). This necessarily includes the subjection of all created things, both visible and invisible, and as the Spirit reveals here as well as in Colossians, things in heaven and on the earth. We may understand that the things invisible and of the heavens include thrones, dominions, principalities or powers (Col. 1:16). These rulers are not flesh and blood, nor do they directly reference the physical kingdoms of this world (Eph. 6:12). When God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand, He was being exalted
…far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
And immediately upon the exaltation of this raised and glorified Man, the Spirit reveals the union of His body with Him as its head.
“…and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:22–23)
The passage tells us that God has put all things under His feet. If the church is His body, the fullness of Him, then all things visible and heavenly will surely be placed under the endowed authority and power of the church. Although during the present dispensation the church wrestles/struggles against such invisible and heavenly powers, it will be markedly different in the dispensation of the fullness of times. The church, as His helpmeet, will govern with Him over all created things, including things that are now invisible and heavenly.
The Christian believer’s involvement in the government of God during the millennium is certainly a wonderful privilege and great blessing bestowed on him in and through Jesus Christ. But it is not the believer’s highest privilege or most meaningful blessing. The Christian’s highest blessing is being privileged to be with the Father and Son in their very presence, and the intimate communion and fellowship engendered by such a position. It is being with and near both Jesus and His Father in our Father’s house in heaven. The glorified saints are privileged to enter the glory of God and see His face, and to be those always nearest Him. It will be the full experience and enjoyment of the personal affections of Christ and the Father, based on our eternal relationship with God as our Father, and we, as His sons through faith in Jesus Christ. Once these affections are known and developed by the grace of God given to us, all other privilege will seem to be lower and fall short of this.