DISPENSATIONAL PROPHECY FOR THE LAYMAN
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD and Danny Guider, D. Mon.
July 6, 2010 b
This book is a simple historical flow of Bible prophecy from Abraham to Revelation. Although it is not an apologetic which discusses many ways to look at most texts, it is an honest attempt to incorporate all questions within the discussion. This book is not “fiction based on the Bible” nor is it a story to entertain. It is a straightforward discussion of what most dispensationalists believe God’s Word teaches about Bible prophecy. With a prayer for Divine wisdom, let us begin.
GENESIS 12: THE ABRAHAMAIC COVENANT GIVEN
Gen 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Gen 12:4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation and cornerstone of Dispensational theology. It has the following characteristics:
1. UNCONDIIONAL: Although it briefly began as an conditional covenant, it very quickly became an unconditional covenant. According to Genesis 12:1 the only condition was for Abram leave Haran and move to the land of Canaan. God said “Get the out” (the only condition) and Genesis 12:4 says “And Abram departed.” There is no hidden meaning. The Word is very simple and clear. The Abrahamic covenant is unconditional. That means that God absolutely will remember and enforce His covenant made with Abraham even before he had been circumcised.
2. GREAT NATION: “And I will make of thee a great nation.” God has unconditionally promised to Abram that a “great nation” will come from his seed. At this point of time it is not clear what is meant by “great nation.” Since the physical borders of Israel never comes close to the physical boundaries of many “great nations,” this could refer to its gift to the world, its accomplishments or its final destiny as the center of God’s kingdom on Earth.
3. BLESSINGS FROM ABRAHAM: “And I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” Without a doubt this part of the unconditional covenant has already been accomplished and will continue to do so.
4. BLESSINGS TO THOSE WHO BLESS ABRAHAM: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” This is a blessing to those individuals and nations which treat Abraham’s physical seed and literal nation of Israel well. This is a key point of Dispensational theology because this unconditional blessing did not cease at Calvary. If God has forever cast off the Hebrew people and replaced it with the Church, this prophecy has failed.
5. MESSIAH: “And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, interpreted this to be a reference to Jesus Christ in Galatians 3:16.
The Abrahamic Covenant has thus far been proven to be both inspired and unconditional. Although one of the smallest nations on Earth, thus far Israel has given the world most of its major religions. The names of Abraham, King David and King Solomon are known everywhere. And Jesus Christ has been the redeemer of many millions of Christians over the centuries.
Dispensationalists remind others that God has (and is still) enforcing the portions of the covenant which concern the name, nation and blessings through Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, expected for us to also believe that God still enforces the unconditional portion of the covenant which pertains to blessings for those who bless Abraham, Hebrews and Israel.
GENESIS 13: ABRAHAMIC COVENANT: THE LAND PROMISED
Gen 13:14 Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
Gen 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
Gen 13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Gen 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
This is an addendum to the basic covenant of Genesis 12 which did not specifically mention the land as an inheritance. While it is true that the word “forever” can often mean “as long as you live” (Ex 21:6), it will be seen throughout this book that the promise of the land is repeated scores of times in almost every Old Testament book. The promises of the eternal land becomes the promise of God’s literal kingdom on earth with Jerusalem in Israel as its capital city. The use of the word “forever” definitely places this into the category of unconditional prophecy and it will often be pointed out that the prophets never ceased to remind God of this unconditional prophecy.
GENESIS 15: MAKING THE LAND PART OF THE UNCONDITIIONAL ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
Gen 15:8 Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it (this land)?
Gen 15:10 And he took unto him all these [sacrificial animals], and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
Gen 15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
Gen 15:17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
Gen 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
Genesis 15 is a very important chapter for Dispensationalists. God again added to the basic covenant of chapter 12. Normally a covenants involved the two parties walking between the cut portions of the sacrificial animals confirming mutual compliance to each other. This covenant was very different. God put Abram to sleep and passed between the cut pieces alone.
This strange ritual is recorded for all of us in God’s Word for a very important reason. God wants everybody to know beyond doubt that His covenant with Abraham concerning the land is unconditional. Concerning the land –only God’s obedience can guarantee that Abraham’s seed will possess the land. Concerning the land – disobedience on the part of Abraham or his seed might delay the fulfillment but the ultimate fulfillment of the land promise is assured by God. It is inconceivable to Dispensationalists to interpret Genesis 15 in any other manner than its clear literal reading.
“If it is a literal covenant to be fulfilled literally, then Israel must be preserved, converted and restored.” Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, Zondervan, 1958, p73.
GENESIS 17: CONDITIONS WITHIN UNCONDITIONAL ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
“An unconditional covenant which renders a covenanted program certain may have conditional blessings attached. The [unconditional] program will be carried to fulfillment, but the individual receives the blessings of that program only by conforming to conditions on which the blessings depend.” Pentecost, ibid, 79.
Gen 17:1 … walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Gen 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
Gen 17:4 … my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
In the context of verse 4, verses 1 and 2 must mean that God will continue His covenant. God is not here refuting His previous promises.
Gen 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
Gen 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Gen 17:7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
Gen 17:8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
This is a repetition of the unconditional covenant promises from chapters 12, 13 and 15. Up to this point God has said that His covenant with Abraham, including the land, was “for ever” (13:15), “an everlasting covenant” (17:7) and “an everlasting possession” (17:8). At some point it become ridiculous to say that all of these terms means something other than what they literally say.
Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Gen 17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Gen 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
Gen 17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
Gen 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
Circumcision is now added as a token of the covenant. Although it is a condition, it is not a condition which can annul the ultimate fulfillment of the unconditional covenant. Circumcision is merely a limiting factor which defines those within the covenant.
Gen 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
Gen 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
Gen 17:21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
Gen 17:22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
Gen 17:23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
Gen 17:26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
Gen 17:27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.
Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
The covenant is being narrowed to the children of Promise. Concerning the Promises of the Messiah. Isaac will be accepted and Ishmael rejected; Jacob will be accepted and Esau rejected. Judah will be accepted and Reuben rejected. Those within literal Israel who accept the Messiah will be considered the true Israel of God.
GENESIS 22: THE COVENANT IS REPEATED CONCERNING ISAAC
Gen 22:15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
Gen 22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
Gen 22:17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
Gen 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
GENESIS 35: ABRAHAMIC COVENANT GUARANTEED TO JACOB
Gen 35:11 And God said unto him [JACOB], I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
Gen 35:12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
God’s promises go far beyond the so-called “fulfillment” in Joshua. They include “kings” which were many centuries away. And they include the “land.”
GENESIS 48-49: THE ABRAHAMAIC COVENANT IS REPEATED TO JACOB’S SONS
Gen 48:4 [JACOB TO JOSEPH] And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
Although one might argue about whatever Jacob meant by “in the last days,” the appearance of “the last days” has all tribes of Israel in their own land.
Gen 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise
Gen 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
At the very minimum, it must be admitted that the tribe of Judah would survive long enough to bring forth a king and lawgiver.
Gen 49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
Gen 49:26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
This is an interesting prophecy because Jacob’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, disappeared into Assyrian captivity in 722 BC. Yet God knows where they are because the messages of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel are directed to both the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah.” Even Hebrews 8:6-13 quotes Jeremiah 31 in its New Covenant which goes first to the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah.” In order for Ephraim and Manasseh to still exist when “the last days” arrive, they must be restored.
JOSHUA 23:14: THE COVENANT FULFILLED
Josh 23:14 [Joshua said] … ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Josh 23:15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
Since the Abrahamic Covenant and its promise of the land continue to be repeated scores of times after Joshua’s declaration, it must be concluded that God is still obligated to continue fulfilling his unconditional covenant. It is absurd for some to quote this text as the final fulfillment of the covenant and conclude that God is no longer obligated. Disobedience has delayed the timing of the final fulfillment but cannot annul the unconditional covenant itself.