Bible Truth Examiner

Studies

STUDY 4: DISPENSATIONS AND AGES IN GOD’S PLAN

 

Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

 

JUST as some misjudge the skill and wisdom of a great architect or builder by his unfinished

work, so also some misjudge God by His unfinished work. In due time, however, when evil,

which has been permitted for man’s discipline, has accomplished its designed purpose, it will be

removed, and then God’s finished work will declare His infinite wisdom, power, and goodness.

 

God’s Word shows that He has fixed purposes, and that those purposes will be accomplished.

Note the following Scriptures:

 

Isaiah 14: 24: “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it

come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

 

Isaiah 14: 27: “The LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?”

 

Isaiah 46: 9-11: “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. . . . My

counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. . . . Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to

pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”

 

From the Scriptures, we learn that God’s plan concerning man consists of three great periods of

time, beginning with man’s creation and reaching into the illimitable future. These are referred to

in the Bible as “worlds.”

 

Great Epochs called “Worlds”

 

The first of these great epochs, from creation to the flood, was under the ministration of angels,

and was called “the world that then was” (2 Peter 3: 6).

The second great epoch, from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom of God, is under the

limited control of Satan, “the prince of this world,” and is therefore called “this present evil

world” (Galatians 1: 4).

 

The third is to be a “world without end” (Isaiah 45: 17) under Divine administration, the

kingdom of God, and is called “the world to come” – “wherein dwelleth

righteousness” (Hebrews 2: 5) (2 Peter 3: 13).

 

This present, or second “world” is called “this present evil world,” not because there is nothing

good in it, but because in it evil is permitted to predominate. The third “world” is mentioned as

“the world to come” – “wherein dwelleth righteousness,” not because there will be no evil in it,

but because evil will not be permitted to predominate. The blotting out of evil will be gradual,

requiring all of the first thousand years.

 

The next dispensation will be the reverse of the present one in almost every particular, because

our Lord Jesus will be the prince or ruler of the world to come, so that righteousness and truth

will prosper. It is because Satan is the prince (ruler) of the present evil world, that evil and the

wicked prosper.

 

The transfer from this present world to the next will be accomplished by a great time of trouble.

Jesus said that “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will

first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house” (Mark 3: 22-27). From this we learn

that Satan must first be bound, restrained and deposed before Christ’s reign of righteousness and

peace can be established – that is the first work of the new dispensation (Revelation 20: 2).

 

This earth is the basis of all these “worlds,” and though ages pass and dispensations change, the

earth still continues, for: “The earth abideth for ever” (Ecclesiastes 1: 4). Each of these periods

consists of a separate heavens and earth. The word heavens here symbolizes the higher or

spiritual controlling powers, and the earth symbolizes human government and social

arrangements. When the first heavens and earth had served their purpose, they were ended with

the flood, but the physical heavens (sky and atmosphere) and the physical earth remained.

Likewise, the present world (heavens and earth) will pass away with a (symbolic) loud noise,

fire and melting – confusion, trouble and dissolution, but the physical sky and earth will remain.

It will be replaced by the “new heavens” – Christ’s spiritual control, and by “a new earth” -

society reorganized on the basis of justice, whereby righteousness, peace and love will rule.

 

Epochs subdivided into Ages

 

These great epochs are subdivided into various ages, as God’s dealings with men varied. The

first epoch, however, was not subdivided, for from the fall of Adam until the flood His dealing

with man remained the same. God had given man His law and written it into his very nature, but

after man sinned, God left him measurably to pursue his own course, which was downward, evil

– so that man might realize his folly and God’s wisdom in commanding obedience. That

dispensation ended with a flood, which took away all but faithful Noah and his family. The first

dispensation revealed the disastrous effects of sin – that the tendency of sin is toward greater

degradation and misery, and proves the necessity of God’s intervention if man’s recovery back to

perfection is ever to be accomplished.

 

The second epoch consists of three ages, each one being a further and higher step in God’s plan

for the overthrow of evil.

 

The third epoch, beginning with the second advent of Christ, consists of the Millennial Age, the

“times of restitution,” followed by “ages to come,” the particulars of which are not revealed.

 

The first age in “the world that now is” is called the Patriarchal Age, because during that period

God’s dealings and favors were only with a few individuals: the patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac

and Jacob. At the death of Jacob, that age ended, and his descendants were called “the twelve

tribes of Israel.” The time beginning here and ending with the death of Christ is called the Jewish

Age. During that age God specially dealt with, and blessed that nation, permitting all other

nations to pursue their own course. Their special favor ended when they rejected and crucified

Jesus.

 

At Jesus’ death, the Christian, or Gospel Age began. During this age, God has been calling a

special class – individuals from all nations who by faith accept Christ Jesus as their Redeemer

and Lord, and follow in His footsteps. It has not converted nations, for that has not been its

design, but it has selected some – a “little flock” (Luke 12: 32).

 

The end of this age marks the end of this “present evil world,” and the dawn of the Millennial

age, in which Satan will be bound and his power overthrown, in preparation for the

establishment of Christ’s Kingdom and the beginning of “the world to come,” “wherein dwelleth

righteousness.”

 

Millennium signifies a thousand years – the thousand years of Christ’s reign will be the first age

in the “world to come.” During the Millennial Age, there will be a restitution of all things lost by

the fall of Adam (Acts 3: 19-21). In the ages of blessedness to follow, we are assured that there

will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither will there be any more pain, for the

former things will have passed away (Revelation 21: 4).

 

Return to Studies Main Page

Contact Us