Archive for Eschatology 101

The Anatomy of a Dream

By on October 5, 2010

Most of us experience dreams while sleeping. Those we best remember usually occur early in the morning during the final stage of REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

But dreams can occur at any hour of the night. Our brains go in and out of deep sleep as the night progresses. REM is a time of light sleep that happens three or four times a night, usually about every 90 minutes or so. The eyes move rapidly from side to side under the eyelids while our large muscles are relatively relaxed. The last round of REM or light sleep before waking can last a half-hour or more.

Not all dreams are significant. Most are construed from the previous day’s activities or from the occupation of the mind in the last few hours before sleep. Dreams occur during the time of brain activity following a deep sleep. They range from pleasant experiences to nightmares. Most terror-ridden dreams occur during the first two hours of sleep, whereas the more enjoyable dreams, including inspiration, occurs in the last hour of a night’s sleep.

The human brain is the home of the soul. All thoughts proceed from there. The self consciousness of a person resides in the frontal lobe, with the rest of the brain used for processing sight, hearing, function, etc.

Nightmares are more common among children, between the ages of three to eight years, though adults can also be afflicted as a result of stress, emotional problems, trauma, or illness. Those, whose nightmares seem unrelated to these types of external problems, tend to have a more emotionally sensitive personality. Five to ten percent of the population experience nightmares at least once a month. Combat veterans may be prone to nightmares brought on by the stress of war. Such nightmares tend to occur over and over.

Night Terrors

Nightmares and night terrors are somewhat different and arise from different physiological stages of sleep. Nightmares occur after several hours of sleep, whereas night terrors seem to occur within the first hour or two. Night terrors sometime include loud screaming and thrashing, though the person is hard to awaken. Children who have night terrors also have a tendency to sleepwalk. Fortunately, most children outgrow these dreadful dreams by the time they reach their teens.

Scientific Studies

Dreams are a common phenomenon in brain activity. These nocturnal experiences have prompted several scientific studies over the past century. According to the Association for the Study of Dreams, most dreams are forgotten by morning: “There is something about the phenomenon of sleep itself which makes it difficult to remember what has occurred and most dreams are forgotten …” This may have been the case with King Nebuchadnezzar. Though terrified by his dream, the king couldn’t remember it.

On occasion, a person can remember a dream several days later, which means that the memory is not lost, just hard to retrieve. According to scientific studies, drugs, medications and alcohol can affect dreams. Some medications and medical conditions can produce nightmares and even hallucinations. Most dreams, however, are the result of normal brain activity.

Scientific studies of the dream state are reportedly useful in learning about one’s feelings, thoughts and motives. It is said that the interpretation of dreams is sometimes found to be helpful in solving problems. Artists, writers, scientists and theologians reportedly get creative ideas from their dreams. Many of the modern developments in technology have been attributed to ideas that just seemed to pop into a scientist’s mind just before waking.

Some dream studies have attempted to determine the validity of predictive or prophetic dreams, including clairvoyant and telepathic dreams, but such dreams are difficult to study in a laboratory setting. The results of such studies have been notably inconclusive.

Most experts believe that a dream reflects one’s own underlying thoughts and feelings and that the elements of a dream are unique to that individual. In other words, the same image or symbol will have different meanings for different people. For example, a lion in a dream may have a different meaning for a zookeeper than for the average person.

However, in the Bible, dreams seem to take on a quality of similarity unlike those in modern scientific studies. A lion, bear, goat, etc., appear to have a continuity of meanings, regardless of who is dreaming, or at what time in history the dream is recorded. Biblical dreams are cohesive enough to consider a single divine source.

The Dreams of the Bible

There are seven stories about dreams, sandwiched between two instances of visions in the book of Genesis. Beyond that, the Bible is filled with dreams and visions. On the surface, theologians equate these with a type of communication between heaven and earth. They are spiritual experiences quite separate from the physical realm.

It is difficult to separate these experiences into categories. Dreams and visions appear to be somewhat synonymous. Both can be experienced during sleep, but the vision may be received in a trance-like state with eyes wide open. The trance is related to deep sleep, whereas dreams are usually experienced during light sleep. The first vision, recorded in the book of Genesis, was in some way, transferred to Abraham in at least two sessions, one involving a “deep sleep” (Gen. 15:12). In the story of Balaam, we are told that he fell into a trance as he prophesied: “He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open…” (Numbers 24:16).

During Bible days, it seems that dreams could be classified into three categories:

  1. Revelations of Deity;
  2. Dreams which reflect the state of mind;
  3. Prophetic dreams.

While dreams are experienced during light sleep, causing little or no exhaustion, visions are more akin to nightmares or night terrors, and the recipient is often severely weakened by it.

The term “vision” occurs 86 times in the Old Testament (in the singular form 64 times; and in the plural form 22 times). Almost a third of the uses of the term in the Old Testament are recorded in the book of Daniel. There, the term is used 22 times — the same number of times as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The term “vision” occurs 15 times in the New Testament, eleven of which are in the book of Acts.

On the other hand, the term “dream” is used only seven times in the New Testament. Six occur in Matthew and one in Acts. Five of those dreams center around the birth of Christ:

  1. An angel spoke to Joseph about Mary’s conception in a dream (Matt. 1:22-23);
  2. The wise men were warned about Herod (Matt. 2:12);
  3. Joseph was warned to flee with the child and Mary to Egypt (Matt. 2:13);
  4. An angel told Joseph to return to Israel (Matt. 2:19,20); and
  5. Joseph was warned that Archelaus reigned in Herod’s stead, causing Joseph to withdraw to Galilee (Matt. 2:22).
  6. The sixth dream was given to the troubled wife of Pilate concerning Jesus, “that righteous man” (Matt. 27:19). The seventh and final use of the term “dream” is a quote from Joel’s prophecy that in the last days, “old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).

Face to Face at First

In the early days of the human race, God interacted with man face to face. It seems that God would come down and fellowship with Adam in the cool of the day. On the evening of Adam’s fall, God personally visited the garden, looking for the guilty pair:

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8).

We are told that God made “coats of skins” (Gen. 3:21) for Adam and Eve. This was no mere dream. God had personal contact with man. However, from the very beginning, men knew that their thinking was monitored from the heavenly realm. The offerings of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:3-5) were known and observed in heaven. There was a communication between the human brain and the Creator.

When Cain was asked the whereabouts of his brother, he tried to conceal his crime. But God told him that the blood of Abel cried out from the ground. This reveals a form of communication with the heavenly realm:

“And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Gen. 4:10).

The life force in Abel’s blood was detected and monitored in heaven. This suggests that life is an emanation, rather than a result of some chemical compound. Scientists have tried to create life in a test tube, with no satisfactory results. Though the chemicals present in a plant or animal cell are fully available to science, they cannot be mixed together in such a way as to create life. In John’s Gospel, we are told that life comes from a divine light source:

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Here lies the connection between heaven and earth that monitors every thought. It provides us the opportunity to contact heaven with our petitions and prayers, and gives God the opportunity to communicate with us without having to send an angel, or personally come down every time we need an answer. From these very first chapters of Genesis, we learn that Adam taught his sons how to communicate with God. Today, we call this “prayer.” Seth was the first man to actively use this method of communication:

“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD (Gen. 4:26).

The Days of Noah

Interaction between heaven and earth is not confined to mere mental activity. Many early theologians were convinced that fallen angels cohabited with human wives in the years before the Great Flood, thus corrupting the human gene pool:

“The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2).

Only Noah and his family remained genetically pure, or as the KJV puts it: “perfect in his generations” (Gen. 6:9). From the context of Scripture, we assume that God personally came to Noah and explained how and why all life on earth would be destroyed, giving plans to build a ship for the survival of each genetically pure species.

These were no mere visionary experiences. Though we are not told just how God spoke with Noah, it seems apparent that no mere dream or vision could have prompted the man to spend 120 years building a ship on dry land, where there was no sea, and where it had never rained. The Bible, in simple terms, tells us that God spoke with Noah:

“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:13).

God’s visit must have been personal and physical. Not once do we have an indication that God spoke to Noah, or any previous human through dreams and visions. The first visionary contact from the heavenly realm was to be given to Abraham. Only then would God introduce His new method of communication — the vision. To Abraham, God used a “vision,” but the next time, when God spoke to an earthly king, he used a “dream.”

The Tower of Babel

From the days of Adam, all men spoke one language. Many believe it was an early form of Hebrew, a Semitic language common to early civilizations in the Middle East. After the Flood, Noah’s family began to populate the earth once again. Though God had told them to spread out over the face of the earth, Nimrod, grandson of Ham, convinced men to settle in the fertile plains around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and build cities.

One city in particular was to represent man’s spiritual rebellion against God — Babylon. Desiring to communicate with the heavenly realm once again, Nimrod suggested they build a tower. It was to be a “gate” to God — a religious shrine that offered the opportunity for direct communications with angelic creatures of the not-so-godly kind. Evidently Nimrod had heard about the angels that visited mankind before the Flood and desired to contact them again. This illegal communication became known as “idolatry.”

We are told that God came down to see the tower. This appears to be an actual personal visit:

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded” (Gen. 11:5).

At this point, God created confusion in the thought processes of the human brain, and caused men to develop new languages to accommodate the various races. According to the Ebla tablets, a cache of some 25,000 clay tablets uncovered in an archeological dig in the early 1970s, men once spoke a single language. Dictionaries were found that explained the three languages used in the tablets. One dictionary reported that not long before, all men spoke one language, but that “now there are three.” By the time Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites, some four centuries later, there were said to be seventy languages among men. Today, there are thousands.

This fabulous cache of tablets were found at the site of an ancient city called Ebla, in Western Syria, about forty miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, and a few miles north of Syria’s border with Lebanon. Two prominent cities mentioned in those tablets were Sodom and Gomorrah, both of which were destroyed during the life of Abraham, thus dating the tablets as contemporary with Abraham — some 4,000 years ago.

God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel hampered man’s communication with each other, let alone their communication with the angelic realm. Soon thereafter, God also began to change His method of communicating with men. He began to develop visions and dreams.

The Vision and Dreams of Abraham

It was during this time that God called upon Abram (i.e., Abraham) to leave his native country and travel west to a Promised Land. Over a period of time, God’s communications with Abram took on more than one form. The Bible records seven contacts between God and Abram. Of these, the first three are actual personal visits. The fourth encounter is recorded as the first “vision” in the Bible. The fifth and sixth encounters are personal visits, and the seventh appears to be in the form of an audible voice from heaven. Have you ever heard anyone tell about hearing a voice speak to them, only to turn and find no one there? This is what Abraham experienced. The voice was audible enough, but it came from another dimension (i.e., heaven). It was no dream or vision. It can only be explained as a voice from heaven.

God’s First Contact with Abraham

At first, we are told: “the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country” (Gen. 12:1). This communication appears to be direct. A few verses later (Gen 12:7), we are told: “the LORD appeared unto Abram….” We can only assume that God made another actual personal visit. After Abram’s brief sojourn in Egypt, God made a third personal visit to Abram:

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

“For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

“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.

“Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (Gen. 13:14-17).

In this third visit, God further confirmed His covenant with Abram by asking him to walk through the Promised Land, from north to south and east to west. Though Abraham, himself, never possessed the country, with the lone exception of the cave of Machpelah, all of the land was promised to his posterity through Isaac. The important thing to note is that God delivered this message in person, because the next time God spoke with Abraham, He used a vision:

“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1).

For the first time in the Bible, God used a vision to contact man. Previously, God had personally appeared to Abram. But in this fourth encounter, God used a vision to tell Abram to: “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars” (Gen. 15:5). This places the vision at night. A few verses later we are told that Abraham fell into a deep sleep:

“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Gen. 15:12).

This vision is associated with a deep sleep and horror, two things associated with what modern science calls “night terrors.” These usually occur within the first two hours of the sleep cycle, whereas dreams occur during REM (rapid eye movement) or light sleep, usually later in the sleep cycle.

Thereafter, God would begin to use dreams and visions more often. As we shall see, the king of Gerar would be the next person to hear from God, but this time through a dream.

Meanwhile, Hagar and Lot would have direct encounters with angels. After the pregnant Hagar first fled from Sarah, we are told that an angel went looking for her (Gen. 16:7) and found her near a fountain of water on the road to Shur. This was no dream. It was a physical encounter between the angel and Hagar. She was told to go back home to Sarah.

God’s fifth and sixth encounters with Abram were also personal visits. We are told that God appeared to Abram when he was 99 years old:

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Gen. 17:1).

During this visit, the Lord confirmed His covenant, changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah.

The sixth encounter with Abraham took on the form of another personal visit — this one included Jehovah and two companions:

“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

“And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

“And said, My LORD, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

“And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said” (Gen. 18:1-5).

During this visit, the Lord told Abraham that Sodom would be destroyed. However, because of his pleading, Abraham’s nephew was spared. The Lord sent His two companions to rescue Lot and his family.

These were no mere apparitions, but rather actual angelic beings sent to Sodom. They represented a meaningful relationship between man and Deity. It seems that God still preferred to speak to men directly. Contact with the human brain was available, but some things had to be done by sending emissaries to have direct contact with people. It was not long, however, until God chose to use the dream state once again. This time, He threatened to bring judgment upon King Abimelech for having taken Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

The Dream of Abimelech

“But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife” (Gen. 20:3).

Again, as in the first recorded vision, this dream is quite specific. There are no vague symbolisms of stars, animals, or grain, as in the dreams of Joseph, for example. Here, God, Himself, appeared to the king in a dream. Note, that God told the king that if Abraham prayed for him, God would spare his life:

“Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine” (Gen. 20:7).

Here, we have both the dream, God’s method of communicating with man; and the prayer, man’s method of communicating with God. These are the two essentials for man’s contact with heaven.

Hagar’s Second Encounter

After that experience, dreams became more common. Though we are not told specifically that God communicated to Hagar through a dream, we are told that in her second encounter with heaven, the angel of the Lord didn’t come down, but simply called to her from beyond this dimension:

“And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is” (Gen. 21:17).

What is important here is that the angel did not come down as in the previous encounter. Instead, the angel spoke from beyond the heavenly realm and opened her eyes to see a well of water. Also, we are told that God heard the voice of the lad. Not only does God hear our thoughts, He hears our audible prayers as well.

God’s Last Contact with Abraham

In His seventh and final contact with Abraham, it seems that God did not personally visit, but used the invisible voice again (Ahah! The Shadow knows!). Well, this time it wasn’t Lamont Cranston, it was God! The chapter opens with God saying, “Abraham!” After which, Abraham said, “Behold, here I am.” In this contact, God told him to slay his son. Had it been a personal visit, Abraham might have initiated another heated discussion with God (as he did over Sodom and Gomorrah). However, Abraham could only listen and obey. This time, he was not given the opportunity for rebuttal.

A few days later, as Abraham raised his knife to slay Isaac (Gen. 22:11), an angel called to him out of heaven. Again, God did not come down for a personal visit as in earlier times, but had an angel speak audibly from beyond this earthly dimension (another disembodied voice). The angel directed Abraham to use a nearby ram for a substitute for Isaac. Then, for the second time, the angel spoke to Abraham out of the heavenly realm, saying that God would keep the promises made in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 22:15). This is the last recorded occasion in which God communicated with Abraham before his death.

The Dreams of Isaac

Isaac was a man of prayer. On the evening of Rebekah’s arrival, he had gone out into the field to “meditate” (Gen. 24:63). We assume that he was praying. Later, he prayed that Rebekah (Gen. 25:20) might be able to give him a son, and God blessed him with twins — Jacob and Esau.

God’s first recorded contact with Isaac came during a severe famine. The LORD appeared unto Isaac and told him to dwell in Gerar, rather than Egypt:

“And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of” (Gen. 26:2).

We are not told whether this contact was a personal visit or a dream, but some months later, after an upsetting day of arguing with the herdsmen of Gerar over the ownership of several water wells, God appears once again to Isaac — this time, at night:

“And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake” (Gen. 26:24).

It is possible that this contact came by way of a dream, though we are not told specifically that it was. Therefore, we cannot count it as one of the dreams recorded in the book of Genesis.

As far as the biblical narrative is concerned, those were the only two recorded times that God contacted Isaac. Several years later, being old and blind, Isaac gave the family blessing to what appeared to be the wrong son. That brings us to the story of God’s choice — Jacob.

The Dreams and Vision of Jacob

Because of his deceitfulness, Jacob had to run from the wrath of Esau. But on his trip across country to Laban’s house, we are afforded the opportunity to observe one of the great dreams of the Bible (Gen. 28:12). Jacob dreamed of a ladder set up on the earth, the top of which, reached to heaven. He saw angels ascending and descending on it. God spoke to Jacob in that dream and extended the promises of the Abrahamic covenant to him. Jacob awoke the next morning and called the place “Bethel” meaning, “the house of God.”

For the first time, a new element was added to the dream state. Jacob saw a ladder in this dream. No previous dream reported anything other than God delivering a message. Furthermore, Jacob saw many angels ascending and descending on that ladder. Though we are not told the significance of the ladder or the heavenly traffic, we assume that it represented heaven’s continuing concern for and contact with mankind. The angels may have been involved in the lives of Earth’s growing population. Do we not all have guardian angels? It must have been so in Jacob’s day as well.

For God to take the time to personally talk to Jacob in the midst of such angelic activity shows how important Jacob was (above all other men) to God’s great plan for the redemption of the human race:

“And, behold, the LORD stood above it [the ladder], and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

“And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

“And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

“And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

“And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first” (Gen. 28:13-19).

This was the first recorded dream to include a variety of objects woven together to offer a theme. Throughout the Bible, dreams will become more elaborate. Pharaoh will see seven healthy cows eaten by seven lean cows and seven good ears of corn devoured by seven shriveled ears; Nebuchadnezzar will see a man made of various metals; and Daniel will see animals emerge from a raging sea. These examples offer us an excellent opportunity to observe God’s use of the dream state to communicate with man. But, for now, let’s get back to the story of Jacob. This dream, including the ladder and angels, represented a prophecy — God’s promise of a bright future. Note that Jacob did not try to analyze the symbols in this dream. However, when we come to Pharaoh’s dream, an interpretation will be called for.

Jacob went on to Padanaram and worked for Laban, Rebekah’s brother. While there, he took four wives — Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel, and their handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah. After working for fourteen years to pay for his two wives, Jacob stayed on in order to accumulate a fortune — inspired, believe it or not, by another dream:

“And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled” (Gen. 31:10).

We remember reading about the shenanigans Jacob conjured up with the rods of green poplar, hazel and chestnut woods, but later, he tells that his wives that he got the idea from a dream. This is the first occasion that a dream offers a plan for producing a herd of animals that were ringstraked, speckled and grisled!

This dream inspired Jacob to plot the takeover of Laban’s finest herds, leaving him with scrawny and mediocre animals. The dream was probably trying to tell Jacob that God would give him all the ringstraked, speckled and grisled animals, thus affording him a fortune. But since God didn’t speak directly to him, Jacob probably mistook the dream to be nothing more than a brilliant idea. Therefore, he took it upon himself to produce these herds though some sort of contrived hocus-pocus. He could have saved himself a lot of trouble. He would have had them anyway! The dream had declared it.

The Dream of Laban

When Jacob finally gained the courage to leave, Laban was furious. He mustered his horsemen and gave pursuit. As he drew close to his expected encounter with Jacob, God appeared to him in a dream:

“And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad” (Gen. 31:24).

Here is a dream given to an idol worshipper. Laban was in no spiritual condition to receive an interpretive dream with a lot of obscure symbols. Therefore, God appeared directly to him in that dream, similar to His communication with King Abimelech. Laban may not have deserved an encounter with God, but his plot against Jacob required it.

The Heavenly Wrestler

Jacob was to experience a personal encounter with God just a few nights later. Jacob wrestled all night with the heavenly combatant. This was no dream. A dream could not have crippled the man’s thigh. For the only time in Jacob’s long life, he met God face to face.

Before we observe the dreams of Joseph, let’s complete the story of Jacob’s encounters with God. This takes us to the forty-sixth chapter of Genesis, to the time when Jacob is about to move his family to Egypt. We are told that God speaks to Jacob in a night vision:

“And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

“And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

“I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes” (Gen. 46:2-4).

For only the second time in the book of Genesis, a heavenly encounter is called a “vision.” The first vision was experienced by Abraham (Gen. 15:1), and the final vision is here. The design is remarkable. Both the first and last nightime encounters are called visions, whereas, the encounters between them are called dreams.

The Dreams of Joseph

Jacob had twelve sons, of which, Joseph had an unusual special mental connection with the heavenly realm. However, his brothers did not appreciate his unique talent.

Throughout the Bible we read of men who experienced dreams that turned out to be heavenly communications. But when the dream was told, those who heard were generally skeptical. Most dreams in the Bible were prophecies not fully understood, nor believed to be authentic, until the prophecy came to pass. Such was the case with Joseph:

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

“And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

“For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

“And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

“And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying” (Gen. 37:5-11).

Though his brothers were appalled at Joseph perceived arrogance, Jacob “observed the saying.” In other words, Jacob wanted to believe in his son’s dream, but was as skeptical as the others. The dream was not conclusive enough at this point.

Joseph’s dream was a prophecy. Note that the prophecy was repeated, using first grain, then stars. Though two symbols were used, the dream concerned a single subject. The use of two symbols certifies the dream as being from God. Joseph understands this as he later explains another “double” dream to Pharaoh:

“And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass” (Gen. 41:31).

The “double” dream was first used in Joseph’s sheaves and stars, then used again in Pharaoh’s dream of the cattle and corn, thus establishing a method for confirming the prophetic dream. We shall observe Pharaoh’s dream in due course. But first, we should note that Joseph had the ability to interpret the dreams. We first learn of this when he interpreted the dreams of the butler and baker:

“And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison” (Gen. 40:5).

This extraordinary experience reveals the importance of dreams to the butler and baker, who were not particularly spiritual men. Yet, they were given dreams that would prove to predict their destinies. These dreams were significant in showing Joseph’s spiritual talent, something that would later provide his elevation as governor of Egypt.

The Dreams of Pharaoh

It was not until Pharaoh had a double dream that Joseph’s fortunes changed. As earlier noted, the two dreams established them as being from God. Pharaoh remembered the dreams. The first dream awakens him. Then, after dropping off to sleep again, the second dream is given. Modern analysis would suggest that they came during two separate REM states that normally occur about 90 minutes apart:

“And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

“And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

“And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

“And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

“And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

“And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream (Gen. 41:1-6).

This dream was recognized as a communication from beyond this realm. It seems that kings were more prone to such dreams than the average citizen. Perhaps by that time in the development of civilizations, kings had advisers schooled in the interpretations of dreams. Pharaoh called upon his magicians, but they were unable to decipher the dream. It was then, that the butler remembered Joseph’s unusual talent for interpreting dreams and recommended him.

When told the dream, Joseph advised the Pharaoh that the double dream referred to one event — a period of fourteen years. Seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine. Joseph’s advice to prepare by taxing the people one-fifth of their crops each year until the famine, proved to be a remarkable solution to the problem. Joseph’s wisdom impressed the Pharaoh. His honesty and integrity were apparent to Egypt’s king, and Joseph was appointed to oversee the project. He became the governor of Egypt. The human brain was to become a major vehicle for God’s communication with man.

What Does God Say About Visions and Dreams?

The Bible’s definition of the prophetic dream comes from Jehovah, Himself, on the occasion of an argument between Moses and his brother and sister. Aaron and Miriam were upset with Moses over his Ethiopian wife. I can imagine Aaron and Miriam arguing with Moses, “Does God only speak through Moses? What about us? God speaks through us, too!” Moses was publicly embarrassed. He didn’t speak up and defend himself. But, God heard the argument and audibly called for a meeting with Moses, Aaron and Miriam:

“And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.

“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

“My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.

“With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Num. 12:5-8).

Jehovah quickly put an end to their bickering by imposing leprosy upon Miriam. She must have been the main cause of the argument with Moses.

Though some may want to relegate this story to the dusty past, I can assure you that God still takes a dim view of His ministers being publicly insulted or humiliated. He still listens in today! So, we must watch what we say. Does God still use dreams and visions today? Joel said it would be happening in the “last days.” It is an awesome thought.

Go to Lesson 9: Moses and the Dispensations

Moses and the Dispensations

By on September 5, 2010

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

“… like unto me,” said Moses, “… like unto me!” Now, we know that Moses was looking forward to the promised Messiah, but for him to say that Christ would demonstrate certain traits or characteristics found in himself is most important. The statement gave me a desire to take a closer look at Moses’ life. I wanted to find out how and why Christ can be compared to Moses. Peter quoted the prophecy while preaching in the Temple during the days follow-ing Pentecost:

“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you” (Acts 3:22).

As I studied the life and ministry of Moses, I be-came convinced that Moses offers a fascinating prophetic profile of the Messiah. Peter was right when he said, “For Moses TRULY said…” It was no flight of fancy. Moses could humbly say that Christ would bear certain characteristics demon-strated in his own life.

Moses made seven trips up Mount Sinai — a perfect number. Each trip was a prophetic scenario of the dispensations of Innocence, Conscience, etc.

For instance, Moses was born in a time when Jewish male children were being slaughtered. Pharaoh was trying to abort the birth of a Jewish deliverer. Likewise, in the days of Jesus’ birth, Herod the Great had the male children of Bethle-hem slaughtered — an attempt to kill the coming King. Moses was born in Egypt and returned to Egypt to lead his people out. In like manner, Jesus was taken to Egypt as an infant in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt have I called my son” (Matthew 2:15).

Originally, this prophecy was given by Hosea. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Hosea was referring to the Exodus led by Moses. Yet, Matthew gave a prophetic meaning to the Hosea passage and specifically related it to Christ. The life of Moses is a prophetic profile of Jesus Christ. These are only a few of the many compar-isons that can be made between Moses and Christ.

Grant R. Jeffrey, in his book, Heaven — The Last Frontier, suggested several parallels between Moses and Jesus:

“At least fifty el-ements and events are parallel in both lives. Both filled the roles of prophet, priest, lawgiver, teacher, and leader of men. Both confirmed their teach-ing with miracles. Both spent their early years in Egypt, miraculously protected from those who sought their lives.

“Moses’ family initially did not accept his role, but later his brother, Aaron, and sister, Miriam, helped him. Jesus’ mother and brothers initially failed to follow Jesus, but later his brother James became the leader in the church in Jerusalem. Both confronted demonic pow-ers and successfully subdued them.

“As Moses appointed seventy rulers over Israel, Jesus anointed seventy disciples to teach the na-tion. Moses sent twelve spies to explore Canaan, Jesus sent twelve apos-tles to reach the world. Both fasted for forty days and faced spiritual crises on mountaintops.

“As Moses stretched his hand over the Red Sea to di-vide it, Jesus rebuked the Sea of Galilee and quieted the waves. Both of their faces shone with the glory — Moses on Mount Sinai and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses lifted up a brazen serpent in the wilderness and Jesus was lifted up on the cross. The people were ungrateful and rebelled against the leader-ship of both men. The generations that rebelled against them died in their lack of faith, one in the wilderness and one in the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”

Let’s consider sev-eral experiences from the Sinai drama and compare the ministry of Moses with that of Christ.

Seven Dispensations

To begin with, Moses made seven trips into the presence of God. Notice how they correspond to the seven dispensations. They are:

  1. 1. The Dispensation of Innocence, from the Cre-ation to the Fall of Adam.
  2. 2. The Dispensation of Conscience, from the ex-pulsion out of Eden to the Flood of Noah.
  3. 3. The Dispensation of Human Government, from the Flood to the Tower of Babel.
  4. 4. The Dispensation of Promise, from the call of Abraham to the bondage of Egypt.
  5. 5. The Dispensation of Law, from Sinai to the Crucifixion of Christ.
  6. 6. The Dispensation of Grace, from Calvary to the Tribulation Period.
  7. 7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom, wherein the Messiah will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Moses’ First Encounter and the Dispensation of Innocence

Let us examine Moses’ first ascent into the pres-ence of God and compare it with the dispensation of Innocence:

“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar trea-sure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

“And Moses came and called for the elders of the peo-ple, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him” (Exodus 19:3-7).

This is similar to the message given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:

“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 fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

A comparison can be made between God’s promises to Adam and His later message to Is-rael. To “have dominion” corresponds with the statements “a peculiar treasure … above all peo-ple” and “a kingdom of priests … an holy na-tion.”

For God to say that Israel will become a kingdom of priests implies a responsibility to guide the world in its worship of God. This requires a lead-ership position. When Israel finally becomes “a kingdom of priests” the paradise will be re-stored. Therefore, the mes-sage to Adam in the dispensation of Innocence appears to be repeated here, following Moses’ first ascent.

Moses’ Second Encounter and the Dispensation of Conscience

Moses’ second ascent is given in Exodus 19:8-14:

“…And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes,

“And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.

“And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

“There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

“And Moses went down from the mount unto the peo-ple …” (Exodus 19:8-14).

This corresponds to the dispensation of Con-science — from the expulsion to the Flood.

First, God told Moses to “sanctify them … let them wash their clothes.” Before the Fall of Adam there was no need for sanctifying. After the Fall, however, there was then a need for cleansing — sin had entered the human race. The era was called “conscience” because Adam became knowledge-able on the subject of sin. He learned the difference between good and evil. This corresponds with the command at Sinai to have the people to wash their clothes — a metaphor for spiritual cleansing.

Secondly, The LORD instructed Moses to “set bounds … go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it.” This compares with the story of the expulsion from Eden:

“Therefore, the LORD God sent him forth from the gar-den of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).

Adam was forbidden to enter the garden and Is-rael was forbidden to touch the mountain.

Thirdly, God descended to the summit of Mount Sinai for a meeting with His people on the third day.

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morn-ing, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount…” (Exodus 19:16).

According to Flavius Josephus, it rained:

“So they passed two days in this way of feasting, but on the third day before the sun was up, the cloud spread it-self over the whole camp of the Hebrews, such a one as none had seen before and encompassed the place where they had pitched their tents. And while all the rest of the air was clear, there came strong winds that raised up large showers of rain, which became a mighty tempest. There was also such lightning — terrible to those that saw it. And thunder, with its thunder bolts, declared God to be there” (Josephus, Antiquities, bk 3, ch. 5, para. 2).

Just as the second era ended with a great Flood, in like manner, this second encounter was con-cluded with a great rain — perhaps to remind them of the Flood which came in the days of Noah. Because of these comparisons, I feel that the sce-nario represented a picture of the dispensation of Conscience — from the Fall to the Flood.

Moses’ Third Encounter and the Dispensation of Human Government

Moses’ third trip to the summit of Mount Sinai is recorded in Exodus 19:17-20:

“And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

“And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, be-cause the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God an-swered him by a voice.

“And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:17-20).

It is here that the story corresponds with the dispensation of Human Govern-ment:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish.

“And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.

“And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, say-ing, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

“And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priest and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest he break forth upon them.

“So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:21-25).

First, the Scriptures inform us of a division be-tween the people and the priesthood. This division corresponds to events during the postdiluvian era. This dispensation of Human Government wit-nessed a separation of the languages and of the three basic divisions of the human race.

Second, at the Tower of Babel the various lin-eages of Shem, Ham, and Japheth were scattered, and the bounds were set. Likewise, God told Moses to set bounds about the Mount and sanctify it.

Third, God spoke audibly to the people of Is-rael and gave to them the most profound set of laws in human history — the Ten Command-ments. No na-tion or group of nations has ever been able to im-prove upon these laws. With the Ten Commandments, God es-tablished a governing covenant for Is-rael — corresponding to the dispensation of Hu-man Government.

The third dispensation is called “Human Gov-ernment,” because of events surrounding the building of the Tower of Babel. The people estab-lished a form of government and built the city with its monument to human inge-nuity.

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

“And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their lan-guage, that they may not understand one an-other’s speech.

“So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

“Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:1-9).

Babel was not a skyscraper that stretched into the stratosphere. It was a temple of worship. At its top was a “holy of holies” of sorts, where the people erected images of idolatry — the sun (Baal), the moon (Ashtoreth), and other signs of the zodiac, which the people regarded as gods. No wonder God said in the first and second commandments:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above…” (Exodus 20:3-4).

These commandments are a direct reference to the Tower of Babel and the dispensation of Human Government.

Fourthly, The languages were changed at Babel. This compares with an unusual event that oc-curred when God spoke from the summit of Sinai. Joseph Good, author of ROSH HASHANAH AND THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM TO COME writes,

“The Revela-tion at Sinai, it was taught, was given in desert territory, which belongs to no one nation exclu-sively; and it was heard not by Israel alone, but by the in-habitants of all the Earth. The Divine Voice divided itself into the seventy tongues then spoken on Earth, so that all the children of men might understand its world-embrac-ing and man-re-deeming message.”

The Jewish commentary, Exodus Rabba, says:

“When G-d gave the Torah on Sinai, He dis-played un-told marvels to Israel with His voice. What happened?  G-d spoke and the Voice rever-berated throughout the world…. It says, ‘And all the people witnessed the thun-derings’ (Exodus. 20:15). Note that it does not say ‘the thunder,’ but ‘the thunderings;’ wherefore, R. Johanan said that G-d’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into sev-enty voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand. When each nation heard the Voice in their own vernacular, their souls departed [i.e. they were in fear], save Israel, who heard but who were not hurt.”

Rabbi Moshe Weissman in, The Midrash Says, writes,

“On the occasion of matan Torah (the giv-ing of the Torah), the Bnai Yisrael (the children of Israel) not only heard Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) Voice but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) mouth. They visual-ized them as a fiery substance. Each command-ment that left Hashem’s (the L-rd’s) mouth trav-eled around the entire camp and then came back to every Jew individually, asking him, “Do you ac-cept upon yourself this Commandment with all halachot (Jewish law) pertaining to it?” Every Jew answered, “Yes,” after each Com-mandment. Fi-nally, the fiery sub-stance which they saw, engraved itself on the luchot (tablets).”

As a reference to Babel, when all languages were established, God is said to have spoken in ev-ery language at the same time. By giving the Torah (Law), God was establishing a divine gov-ernment to counter “human government.” Yes, Moses’ third ascent to the summit of Mt. Sinai corre-sponded to the dispensation of Human Government. A side note: the voice of God came from His mouth as if they were “tongues” (languages) of fire speaking every language. This Sinai experience occurred on the very same calendar day that later became known as Pentecost! Both the dispensa-tion of Law and the dispensation of Grace were inaugurated on the same day! Both occasions wit-nessed the voice of God as “tongues of fire,” in which all languages were heard simultaneously!

Moses’ Fourth Encounter and the Dispensation of Promise

Moses’ fourth ascent to the summit is recorded in Exodus 20:21 to 24:3. The account can be divided into three basic categories:

1. God told Moses to make an altar of earth.

2. God elaborated upon the Ten Commandments.

3. God promised to bring them into the Land.

“An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offer-ings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee” (Exodus 20:24).

First, the “altar of earth” appears to be a tempo-rary place of worship until the Tabernacle could be constructed. It was not to be the final form of worship. It represented the “promise” of a better thing. It is typical of the dispensation of Promise wherein God called Abraham to leave his home and move to a land of “promise” — a land which “flowed with milk and honey” — to look for a city “whose Builder and Maker is God.”

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an in-heritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

The word “promise” is used twice in the above passage, indicating the theme of the dispensation. God dealt with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by a promise — the Abrahamic covenant. The account is given in Genesis 15.

“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it” (Genesis 15:5-7).

The Abrahamic covenant promised a coming “seed” and a Promised Land. Furthermore, it was accepted by faith. Now at Sinai, Moses is given the same kind of promise. Just as Abraham wan-dered and sojourned in the desert areas of the Promised Land, even so Moses and the Chosen People will wander in the wilderness for forty years. The altar of earth will be temporary. Even the Tabernacle to be built was temporary. God ea-gerly awaited a fu-ture Temple to be built on Mount Moriah. But, life must continue during this in-terim period, so God gives further instructions about His moral law:

“Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set be-fore them” (Ex. 21:1).

Secondly, During Moses’ second forty days on the summit, God will greatly expand the Law to include 613 commandments. God brings the dispensation of Promise to a close and opens a new era — the dis-pensation of Law.

Thirdly, God proposes to make good on His promise to Abraham. He is about to give Israel their Promised Land.

“I will send hornets before thee which shall drive out the Hivites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, from before thee.

“And He said, I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against thee.

“By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land” (Exodus 23:28-30).

What God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Ja-cob, He is about to bring to pass through Moses. This will complete the dispensation of Promise and institute the dispensation of Law.

Moses’ Fifth Encounter and the Dispensation of Law

Moses’ fifth trip to the top of Sinai is recorded in Exodus 24:9-32:14. Moses spends forty days and forty nights in the presence of God — a perfect parallel to the fifth dis-pensation of Law.

It begins on a mountain called Sinai and con-cludes on a mountain called Calvary. It begins with the giving of the Law and concludes with the death of the Lawgiver.

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

“And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clear-ness.

“And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; and thou mayest teach them” (Ex. 24:9-12).

According to the Scripture, Moses and Joshua, left the elders in the care of Aaron and Hur and went up into the mount. The Shek-inah Glory de-scended upon the mount and hovered there for six days. On the seventh day God called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud of glory:

“And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights” (v. 18).

During this time God delivered the Ten Com-mandments on tables of stone, plans for the Taber-nacle and the pattern for the priesthood. Also, He in-structed Moses in the service of sacrifices.

Forty days! Why forty days? Could these days be a prophetic picture of the time involved in the dis-pensation of Law? If so, then how could forty days fit into the picture? As I pondered this question, I remembered the Jubilee — the fiftieth year. There are forty Jubilees in 1,960 years.

According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97B), Rab-binical theologians wrote that there should be 2,000 years of desolation, 2,000 years wherein the Torah would flourish; and 2,000 years for the Mes-sianic era — followed by a seventh millennium wherein the Messiah would be exalted.

Therefore, let me suggest that we include the dispensation of Promise in the overall picture of this period — the dispensation of Law. The total time given by rabbinical scholars for the “flourishing of the Torah” is 2,000 years, thus combining the Abrahamic covenant of Promise (500 years) with the Mosaic covenant of Law (1,500 years).

Likewise, though the tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments were given during this fifth trip of Moses, the Law was spoken orally on the occasion of Moses’ fourth trip, which symbol-ized the dispensation of the Promise. Therefore, the possibility exists that the forty days spent by Moses in the presence of God were comparable to forty periods of Jubilee, during which time the “Torah flourished.”

God commanded that a Jubilee be observed every forty-nine years. Therefore, over a period of 1,960 years the people should observe forty Jubilees. Some theologians feel the forty days and nights Moses spent in the presence of God may well be symbolic of forty Jubilees. Those forty days ended with a rejection of Moses’ efforts, the building of a golden calf, and the breaking of God’s law. As a prophetic overview of the dispensation of Law, the rebellion of Israel fits quite well with the rejection of Christ, some 2,000 years later.

Transition Between Law and Grace

While Moses was atop Mt. Sinai, Joshua also was nearby. When Moses began his descent, Joshua joined him:

“And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

“And the tables were the work of God, and the writ-ing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

“And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp” (Exodus 32:15-17).

How prophetic that Joshua accompanied Moses during his fifth trip! It is a perfect profile of that prophet whom God would raise up “like unto Moses!” The name Joshua in the Old Testament is basically the same as the name Jesus in the New Testament. Fur-thermore, it was Joshua who succeeded Moses. It was Joshua who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Surely, the name of the Messiah could have been nothing other than Joshua — the Hebrew counter-part for the Greek word translated Jesus.

As they descend, Moses and Joshua hear a clamor in the camp. They arrive to find a golden calf. At this point, Moses breaks the tablets of stone, grinds the golden calf to powder, spreads it upon the water, and makes the people drink. This tragic affair culminates in the deaths of 3,000 men:

“And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.

“And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Exodus 32:27,28).

The number reminds me of 3,000 converts who submitted to baptism fol-lowing Peter’s sermon. Baptism is a symbol of death, cor-responding with the deaths of those who helped build the golden calf. Therefore, the number of con-verts at Pentecost corre-sponds to the loss of those who died at Sinai.

Moses’ Sixth Encounter and the Dispensation of Grace

Now, for the sixth time, Moses approaches the Lord on behalf of Israel. This time he offers him-self as a substitute — a profile of Christ, the Great Substitute. Moses becomes a mediator:

“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

“Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus 32:31-32).

It is here that we can see the ministry of Christ. Moses became the “mediator” before the Lord. He said, “…forgive …  and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book…” Moses offered himself as a substitute for the people. In like manner, Christ became our “Great Substitute.” On Calvary He prayed, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do….” (Luke 23:34). Then from the cross He prayed, “… My God, my God, why hast thou for-saken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The Great Substitute is pictured here as Moses prays, “Forgive … or blot me … out of thy book.”

This encounter prophetically compares with those transition years, which concluded with the dispensation of Law and instituted the dispensation of Grace:

“… Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:

“And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:

“Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee: for thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way” (Ex. 33:1-3).

At this point God turns from the Jewish people in the same way He turned from Israel after the crucifixion, setting aside the Jews and taking His message of salvation to the Gentiles. God said that He would not “go up in the midst” of Israel. In a symbolic gesture, Moses returned to his home, took his tent:

“… and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of the congre-gation” (Ex. 33:7).

This was not the proposed Tabernacle contain-ing a Holy Place and Holy of Holies. This was Moses’ own tent. Moses went to his home, disman-tled his tent, took it outside the camp, and raised it up. It is a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ who left the camp of Israel and pitched His Tabernacle, or New Testament Church, outside the camp — among the Gentile nations.

With the children of Israel looking on, Moses and Joshua entered the tent:

“And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the taber-nacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

“And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and wor-shiped, every man in his tent door.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the Son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the taberna-cle” (Ex. 33:9-11).

When Moses left the tent, Joshua stayed! This is a prophetic picture of the future Messiah who should follow Moses. It is a fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy of the Prophet who would be raised up in his likeness.

Just as Joshua stayed in the tent, Je-sus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, left His people to establish New Testament Gentile Christianity. And Jesus is still in the New Testament Church today. How perfect then, is the parallel — Joshua stayed in the tent!

Moses Finds Grace

In the following encounter, Moses finds grace in God’s sight:

“And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.

“Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this na-tion is thy people.

“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name” (Ex. 33:12-14,17).

The word “grace” is the key. Just as Moses and the children of Israel found grace (unmerited favor) in the sight of God, even so, after Christ’s death on Calvary, a new dispen-sation was instituted — the dispensation of Grace:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

This sixth encounter with God, along with its at-tending events, seems to be a prophetic pic-ture of the First Advent of Christ to establish the dispensation of Grace. When Christ came that first time, He found Israel filled with unbelief. In-stead of setting up the Kingdom, He went to the cross and died in order to obtain grace for the whole world.

Moses’ Seventh Encounter and the Dispensation of the Kingdom

After Moses’ sixth encounter, he asked the Lord to show him His glory. It is here that God promised Moses that, though he could not see His face, he would be allowed to see His back side. The preparation began for Moses’ seventh and final trip to the top of Sinai:

“And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had com-manded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and pro-claimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gra-cious, longsuf-fering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:4-6).

It is here that Moses appears to follow a prophetic scenario, which parallels Pentecost when tongues like as of fire descended upon the believ-ers. Moses ascends the mountain where he will spend a second period of forty days. This seems to be a prophetic type of Christ, who as-cended in clouds of glory. Thus began the Savior’s long stay in the presence of God. So far, He has not yet returned to Earth.

These forty days seem to be a prophetic picture of another set of forty Jubilee periods. If this is the case, then Jesus should return soon. We may now be in the countdown for the coming of Messiah!

At this point, Moses illustrated the present work of Christ before the throne of God:

“And Moses made haste, and bowed his head to-ward the earth, and worshiped.

“And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance” (Exodus 34:8,9).

Here, Moses acts as a mediator. In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven to become our Advocate before the Father. He is our High Priest who has gone to plead our case.

In response to the prayer of Moses, God agrees to go. However, He also warned of severe punishment, which would befall the Jewish people:

“And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee” (Exodus 34:10).

This appears to be a promise that God will bring great judgment and tribulation upon the Jewish people. In direct fulfillment of that prophecy, over the past 2,000 years the Jews have suffered. They suffered in A.D. 70 when Titus and his Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple. They suffered in A.D. 135 under the great Diaspora, when the Ro-mans scattered the Jews and sold them on the slave markets of the world.

The Jews have suffered the persecutions of Im-perial Rome; the Crusades and Inquisitions of Re-ligious Rome; the pogroms or massacres of the Russian Czars; and the Holocaust of Hitler. One day, they will experience the worst period of suf-fering they have ever known. God predicted a com-ing Tribulation Pe-riod—referred to in the prophe-cies of Jeremiah as “Jacob’s trouble.”

God said to Moses, “… I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any na-tion … for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.” I believe this prophecy includes the future Tribulation Period. Jesus said in Matthew 24:21:

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved…” (Matthew 24:21).

Exodus 34:28 tells us that Moses “… was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Moses fasted forty days.

There were three people in the Bible who fasted for forty days — Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Moses fasted on top of Sinai. Elijah spent forty days fast-ing on Mount Sinai. And Jesus went into the “wilderness” to fast for forty days. Perhaps he fasted at the same place:

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilder-ness to be tempted of the devil.

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards a hungered” (Matt. 4:1,2).

Jesus went into the wilderness. The Scripture does not say which wilderness. It is possible that He went all the way to Sinai and fasted there. It would seem fitting that Jesus followed the footsteps of Moses and Elijah in his forty day fast.

The Second Coming of Moses

Finally, after forty days, Moses came down the mountain. His return to the camp of Israel is a tremendous prophetic picture of the Second Com-ing of Christ.

“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

“And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him” (Exodus 34:29,30).

When Moses made his final descent from Sinai, he returned to the people in power and great glory. Likewise, in perfect prophetic fulfillment, Jesus will return one day in clouds of glory. Moses re-ceived that glory at the beginning of the forty-day period and revealed it unto his people when he re-turned. In like manner, Jesus received His glory at the moment of His resurrection and shall re-veal it to the world when He returns.

When Moses returned to the people after his sev-enth trip to the top of Sinai, he began the construc-tion of the Tabernacle. This is exactly what the Messiah will do when He comes to establish His Kingdom. He will build the Millennial Temple. Zechariah predicted it:

“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

“Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12,13).

According to this prophecy, the Messiah will build the Temple when He comes, just as Moses built the Tabernacle in the wilderness after the conclusion of his final forty days. Christ will re-turn to Earth someday (perhaps at the end of forty Jubilees), in power and great glory to build the Temple and establish His Kingdom on the Earth.

Notice that the entire sequence of events began in the third month of the year. According to the book of Jasher (an ancient apocryphal book), the Law was given on the sixth day of the third month. This corresponds with Pentecost. How fascinating to contemplate the possibility that Pen-tecost marked the introductions of both dispensa-tions — the dispensation of Law and the dispensa-tion of Grace!

Moses made his descent in power and great glory on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. That day represents a prophetic pic-ture of another great sacrifice to be made by God in the midst of the Battle of Armageddon. Blood will run as deep as the horses’ bridles. The Day of Atonement is also a prophetic picture of the coming of Jesus Christ in power and great glory at the conclusion of Armageddon.

Indeed, the story of the ages is played out prophetically in the life and ministry of Moses. No wonder Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:15: “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, or thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall harken.”

In this study we have noted how these seven di-vine encounters of Moses correspond to the great dispensations of human history. It is marvelous to note how history compares with these scriptures. Obviously the Bible was not of human origin. Only God could have foreseen the future and could have guided Moses to become a prophetic pattern of those events, which should one day bring forth the redemption of man.

Go to Lesson 8: You Are A Prophecy

Go to Lesson 10: The Anatomy of a Dream

You Are A Prophecy

By on August 5, 2010

One of the greatest comparisons of God’s plan of the ages can be seen in the life of every human being. Believe it or not, you are a prophecy. Your life can actually be compared to the history of the human race. There is an uncanny relationship between the 70-year lifespan of a human being and the 7,000 years of world history which, according to the Bible, has been predetermined for the great human adventure — a sacred journey. It is stranger than fiction.

Let me put it this way — the lifespan of an individual literally represents a prophecy of the collective human adventure from creation to the consummation. A seventy-year life span is comparable to 7,000 years in the human adventure.

Every child is born to experience seven dispensations. J. R.’s granddaughter, Brittany, is 19 years old this month. She is about to move from the dispensation of Human Government to the dispensation of Promise. She is going to college.

Briefly, it could be described like this: A child is born — a picture of creation. He or she grows up, gets a job, goes into business, reaches the pinnacle of their career, and retires at the age of 60 to spend the next 10 years or so taking it easy — enjoying the fruits of labor, and letting the children take over the family business. Then this person dies around the age of 70, moving on to a greater adventure.

Comparing retirement at the age of 60 to world history, the Bible teaches that the Son of God will come back to the Earth at the end of 6,000 years to take over His Father’s business, while the human race enjoys a thousand years of rest — comparable to retirement.

Now let’s go back to the beginning and get the details. We will see an uncanny relationship between the individual human adventure and the greater adventure for humanity as a whole.

The Dispensation of Innocence

First, let us begin with the birth of a child. That can be compared to the dispensation of Innocence when Adam and Eve were created and placed in a beautiful garden under the watchful care of the Heavenly Father. There is nothing quite so beautiful as a little baby. “Who does she look like?” “Well, she looks like Daddy,” or, “She looks like Mommy.” At least you have to admit she’s been made in the image of her parents. In like manner, we were made in the image of God.

Ah, the newborn baby! — so innocent — placed in her own little Garden of Eden. So helpless, yet so perfect. But it doesn’t take long for the little rascal to get into trouble. It’s kind of hard to say just when that moment comes. But it doesn’t take them long to learn that they can wrap you around their little finger just by crying in the middle of the night.

The real test comes when the little darling pulls up to the coffee table and reaches for something she is not supposed to have. “No,” you say, as you swat her cute little hand. That’s when the little rascal is determined to have it in spite of all that you can do.

The Dispensation of Conscience

She is now removed from the dispensation of Innocence to the dispensation of Conscience. She has fallen and oh, the guilt she feels! She cries. Over the years, the child has to learn responsibility. “Adam, Eve, you must learn to till the soil. You must learn to eat by the sweat of your brow.” “All right, Junior, make up your bed.” “Wash your hands, Roger.”

The years come and go until the child is approaching ten, and you can see that your little baby is growing up. She’s losing her childishness. The Adam-image is fading away.

Adam died at the age of 930, slightly less than 1,000 years — just as a child around the age of nine or ten begins to grow like a weed, lose her identity as the “baby of the family,” and suddenly you realize you have a young lady on your hands.

The “Abel characteristic” can also be seen during those early years when a child loves freely and enjoys the delightfulness of her new adventure. She loves everybody. Adam named the animals and, in like manner, the child enjoys a similar adventure. Animals seem to take on an almost human characteristic — Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Teddy the Bear, and so on.

She hates no one and believes that everybody is good. Such was Abel, the son of Adam. But it doesn’t take long in a young child’s life for the likes of Cain to raise his ugly head. Thus develops the conflict between good and evil in the life of a child.

By the age of 13 the young teenager begins to face the problem of allegiance in her life. Up until then she has owed her allegiance only to father and mother, but she begins to look around her — to develop what we might call “idolatry.” It might be Superman or Ringo Starr, for we have reached the age of the teen idol.

Thus it was — during the age of adolescent humanity when the world was 1,300 years old, 1,400, 1,500, and so on. That was the age for the development of idolatry. When the world was 1,600 years old, the heavenly Father had to bring on a flood to wash away the ungodliness of the human race that He might preserve the righteous.

“The imagination of the heart is only evil continually!” Well, for boys, maybe, but, hopefully, not for girls.

The Dispensation of Human Government

It is during those teenage years, somewhere around the age of 16, that a parent has to really come to grips with the evil direction of their adolescent — so that they might be able to preserve and develop the good. Those are the flood years when evil is contemplated — perhaps even practiced — but, hopefully, purged. Suddenly, the boy finds himself submerged in the discipline of the dispensation of Human Government — he falls under the despotic rule of father and mother. But it’s for his own good.

During those years, every problem is overwhelming for the teenager. “My nose is too big! My ears stick out! My arms are too long! Nobody likes me.” Every problem seems like a flood. But if the teenager will only try, he will find grace in the eyes of his father.

When he comes out of those years of turmoil, he’ll end up on the mountaintop just like Noah — provided, of course, he stays in the safety of the family unit and doesn’t jump out of the boat.

It is during those flood years that the Garden of Eden environment of the home is washed away, and the teenager sees a new and unfriendly world awaiting him.

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So it is with the teenager. But just because he has found grace in the eyes of his father doesn’t mean the teenager is now perfect, for those are the experimental years. For instance, one of the first things Noah did in his new world was to experiment with wine — and, oh, what a catastrophe it brought in his life! So it is with many young people today.

Many begin to experiment with drugs, liquid or otherwise, which could have a disastrous influence on their future. Man is a trinity — made up of body, soul, and spirit. During the teenage years, it is so easy for a young person to become enslaved to sin by yielding to its temptation. Just as the curse was put upon Ham and his offspring causing them to become a servant in the tents of his brethren; in like manner, the spirit can become enslaved to the body and its appetites.

Ham made light of his father’s drunkenness and fell under a curse. In like manner, there are many young people who take sin far too lightly — and are in great danger of becoming enslaved. It could put a mark upon one’s character — comparable to that of Ham.

The Dispensation of Promise

Around the age of 20, a young person feels the need to leave home. “Go west, young man, go west. It’s time to find your own promised land.” That brings us near the age of 2,000 years in the great human adventure. God reached down to a man named Abraham and said, “It’s time to leave home. Leave your family and go west, young man, go west — into a land that I shall show thee of; which afterward I shall give you for an inheritance.” It’s almost uncanny, isn’t it?

When a young man leaves home, he does not become an overnight success in business. In like manner, Abraham did not immediately possess his Promised Land. He went to it and even lived in it, but he really didn’t possess it. It wasn’t his. It was there as a goal before him to be reached, but it remained only a promised land; it was not yet possessed.

So it is in the life of a young person. A young man may know what he wants to do, but the goal remains just beyond his grasp. He is going to have to attend the “university of hard knocks” before he can obtain his goal. Thus we enter upon the dispensation of Promise, which lasted in human history from Abraham to Moses.

During the years from 20 to 25, a young person is tempted to live a pretty worldly life. He may rebel against those around him as the sons of Jacob rebelled against Joseph — and eventually may end up in the proverbial “Egyptian bondage!”

The Dispensation of Law

At the age of 2,500 years, mankind entered into a new dispensation, which was to last for the next 1,500 years. It is called in the Bible the dispensation of Law. In like manner, around the age of 25, a young man begins to settle down in life.

He establishes some basic moral values — comparable to the Ten Commandments. This is when he realizes that if he is going to get anywhere in life, he is going to have to go to work. The college student can no longer play around. He has to get down to business. The hippie finally puts on a suit and tie and joins the real world.

It is also around the age of 25 when a young man finds the girl of his choice and marries her. Thus, the dispensation of Law begins. God the Father in heaven reached down and pulled the girl of His dreams out of Egyptian bondage and married her, for, you see, the Chosen People were called “the wife” of Jehovah.

There was a covenant of Law established between Jehovah and Israel when the human race was 2,500 years old and in like manner, a groom and his bride establish a marriage covenant. Yes, many a young man between the ages of 20 and 25 finds himself in a proverbial Egyptian bondage, but he makes his exodus and wanders for a while through the wilderness of this life while he establishes his covenant with a “chosen” person — the girl of his dreams and establishes some moral concepts which will govern him for the rest of his life.

For the next 15 years (between the ages of 25 and 40) those moral concepts are really law. They are written on tables of stone. They are not yet made a part of the personality. But a man usually follows them — his wife will see to that! Those are the years when a man produces his firstborn son. We can see that in the great human adventure when God said to Moses, “Go, tell Pharaoh, Israel is My son, even My firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22).

And so a man around the age of 25 produces his firstborn son, and the cycle seems to start all over again — except from a different perspective. He who once viewed life through the eyes of a son, now sees life from the viewpoint of a father.

For the next five years (from 25 to 30) a man may conquer his Promised Land. But it is a struggle. During those years, it is hard to get a business loan from the bank. Few bankers are willing to make big loans until his client reaches the age of 30. Oh, he may be able to finance an automobile or even a house, but there aren’t very many people in their twenties who can borrow $50,000 or $100,000 for a business venture.

Around the age of 30 a man becomes mature — and wise, like Solomon who appeared on the stage of human history at the 3,000-year point. This is the time when the Solomon characteristic is developed — a time of wisdom and maturity. And it was a time when Solomon built the house of God. So it is in the life of a man around the age of 30 when he gets his children in Sunday School and church, for he wants that little four, five, or six-year-old to learn the Bible. He doesn’t want his child making the same mistakes he made.

For the next few years (between the ages of 30 and 35) a man will reach a measure of success, but will see some failures, as well. Sometimes, during those years a man’s kingdom may be divided — as it was in Israel after the death of Solomon.

It may be that a man will experience an “Assyrian” captivity and never recover — or a “Babylonian” captivity that will only last a little while. Around the 3,300-year point the Chosen People went into Assyrian captivity, and 100 years later the rest of them went into Babylonian captivity.

So it is in the life of a man in his mid-30s. If his kingdom is divided, he is going to be under a lot of pressure. During these years, a family might suffer divorce, something from which they may never recover. The Assyrian captivity was a sort of divorce between God and the northern tribes.

Not all of his business decisions will be good ones. He may suffer a financial “captivity,” but, at least there can be a measure of recovery. The Babylonian captivity only lasted 70 years and God’s people came back to rebuild their land.

The Dispensation of Grace

Around the age of 40, a man reaches a turning point in his life. It either becomes a “mid-life crisis” — or we could say, “life begins at 40.” It all depends on how a man copes with those special problems unique to that time in his life. That brings us to the 4,000-year point in world history.

The choice was theirs — Israel could either reject the Messiah and compound the problems of life or receive Him and enjoy the glories of the kingdom. Which shall it be?

At 40, a man has been married somewhere between 15 to 20 years (give or take a few). His firstborn son has reached the age of adolescence. The father expects a lot out of his son — just like Israel was expecting their Messiah. But when Jesus came, He didn’t seem to measure up to Israel’s concept of a Savior. They wanted a Messiah who could overthrow the Roman government and set up the kingdom.

But Jesus had come for quite another reason. He came looking for a bride of his own — New Testament Christianity. And, you know, in like manner, a young man at that stage in life begins looking for the girl of his dreams — his own chosen person.

Furthermore, when a son becomes a teenager, his dad wants him to be about the father’s business. Perhaps he enters as an apprentice — preparing for that day when he will become a full partner, but the young messiah doesn’t quite measure up to expectations, and there are some things in his life the father would like to crucify. For the son it may seem like a flood experience, but for the father, it is a crucifixion. Besides, the father doesn’t want that young whippersnapper running things around his household. He’ll not have the son rule over him!

Business-wise, those are the greatest years of opportunity in a man’s life. He reaches the top of his career between the ages of 40 and 60. The potential is unlimited. If a man has not found himself to be successful by the age of 40, he usually changes his direction.

At least he opens his vision — and his business begins to spread out. Some men turn their local business into a nationwide chain and, for some, the scope may be worldwide.

Well, that’s what the Father did 2,000 years ago. He expanded His work of redemption and made the Gospel available on a worldwide scale. He took the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. It became like an international franchise.

The years between 40 and 60 represent the dispensation of Grace. That’s when the dispensation of Law, which began around the age of 25, turns into grace (around the age of 40). A man’s heart of stone finally becomes a heart of flesh. It is when one no longer has to make himself do what is right. It finally becomes an automatic part of a man’s character.

The Dispensation of the Kingdom Rest

When a man reaches the age of 60, it’s time to think of retirement. It’s time to turn the family business over to the children and let them have it on their own — while the father sits back and relaxes to enjoy the next 10 years of his life, for he has worked enough.

He should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. So it is in the great worldwide human adventure. This is the time when the dispensation of Grace will turn into the dispensation of the Kingdom Rest.

The kingdom has come. Remember, when you were a baby, you lived under the dispensation of Innocence. But then you learned “right from wrong” and fell under the dispensation of Conscience.

During your teen years you found yourself under the dispensation of Human Government — the rule of father and mother. But around the age of 20 you entered upon the dispensation of Promise, looking forward to a bright future.

However, somewhere between 20 and 25 you ended up in bondage. But you didn’t stay. You made your exodus out of that volatile life-style to settle down and enter upon your own dispensation of Law. You got married and established some guidelines for life.

But, by the age of 40, you entered your dispensation of Grace. The things you did, you wanted to do. And at the age of 60 you entered upon the seventh dispensation of your life, the Kingdom Rest, when you turned the family business over to your children.

And it all represents a prophecy of 7,000 years for the great human adventure. Today, this old world has reached the age of 60 — or perhaps we should say 6,000. It’s time to turn the family business over to the heavenly Father’s Son and retire.

That is why I sincerely believe Jesus Christ will soon make His appearance to take over the Father’s business. He will establish the golden age of world history. Say, I wonder if that’s why we call those years after 60 the “golden” years? Well, I believe they are going to be wonderful years. The Son will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. My, how successful He is going to be! He’s going to conquer the problems of a wayward world.

And the last enemy to be conquered is death. For you see, around 70 a man leaves this old house of clay and enters upon a new and eternal adventure. Likewise, at the age of 7,000 this old world is going to be renovated. God will make a new heaven and a new Earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

The parallels are uncanny. They could not possibly be coincidental. It is obvious to see the grand design — 70 years for the individual human adventure and 7,000 years for the great worldwide human adventure. In this sacred journey, you are a prophecy!

Go to Lesson 7: Dispensationalism and the Menorah

Next up is Lesson 9: Moses and the Dispensations

Dispensationalism and the Menorah

By on July 5, 2010

Dispensationalism is a foundational concept in Eschatology. One cannot properly understand God’s Plan of the Ages without knowing this biblical view of history. Scholars have written extensively about these seven dispensations that reveal God’s dealings with man throughout the various stages of history. They are taught as the dispensations of:

  1. Innocence
  2. Conscience
  3. Human Government
  4. Promise
  5. Law
  6. Grace
  7. The Kingdom

In each dispensation, God established a covenant with mankind. At the conclusion of each age, however, man is seen as a failure:

The dispensation of Innocence ended with the sin of Adam and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

The dispensation of Conscience ended with the Flood of Noah.

The dispensation of Human Government ended with the confusion of languages and mankind’s dispersion throughout the Earth.

The dispensation of Promise ended with bondage in Egypt.

The dispensation of Law ended with the death of Christ, the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of Jews throughout the world.

The dispensation of Grace is predicted to end with the Tribulation Period.

The dispensation of the Kingdom will end with the final battle of Gog and Magog and the White Throne Judgment.

In every case, man is shown to be a total failure, in need of God’s grace.

A Menorah Design

The golden menorah built by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. It awaits the day when the religious Jews restore Temple worship.

In this study, I would like to point out the menorah design in the plan. There were seven lamps in Israel’s ancient lampstand — a center lamp was elevated above the others, and faced out toward the center of the Holy Place. It was perpendicular to the lampstand. The three lamps on the left pointed toward the center lamp; and the three lamps on the right pointed toward the center lamp like a mirror image of the opposite three. The center lamp of the menorah was called the shamash or servant lamp. In our book, The Mystery of the Menorah, we noted that all of the sevens in the Bible appear to have a menorah design. So it is with the seven dispensations. In the menorah, the first lamp rested on the top of a branch that continued in a circular pattern down and across the trunk, then extended upward again to the seventh lamp. This design shows the relationship of the first lamp to the seventh lamp.

Likewise, the second lamp rested on the same branch that supported the sixth lamp. The third lamp sat atop the same branch that held the fifth lamp. Therefore, lamp #1 corresponded to lamp #7; lamp #2 was related to lamp #6 and lamp #3 was associated with lamp #5.

The first three lamps looked forward to the shamash and the last three lamps look backward to the shamash. This relationship continues in all sevens found throughout the Bible.

Innocence/Kingdom

Note that the first dispensation (Innocence) is related to the seventh dispensation (the Kingdom). In Innocence, we had paradise. In the Kingdom, we shall have paradise regained.

Conscience/Grace

The second dispensation (Conscience) is related to the sixth dispensation (Grace).

With the fall of Adam, guilt was introduced to the human race in the form of Conscience. However, with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, mankind is introduced to Grace — forgiveness and a clean conscience.

Human Government/Law

The third dispensation (Human Government) witnessed the development of man’s attempt at civilized society. However, it was a government without God, which led to a confusion of languages. On the other hand, its counterpart, the fifth dispensation (Law) provided God’s plan for civilized society.

Promise

The fourth dispensation (Promise) corresponds to the servant lamp that provides the light of God’s plan for the redemption of man. This tells us that the Abrahamic Covenant is the central theme of the entire Bible. Our new life in Christ is based upon Abraham rather than Moses. Eternal Life is the essence of God’s promise that the ‘seed of Abraham’ would bless all the families of the Earth. The Mosaic covenant, on the other hand, was only made with Israel — not the rest of mankind. The only hope for all nations lay in the fulfillment of the dispensation of Promise — the promise given in the Abrahamic Covenant.

The first three lamps look forward to the servant lamp, and teach us that the first three dispensations looked forward to the future “Promise” of redemption. The last three lamps look back to the dispensation of Promise. Therefore, the most important of all seven dispensations is the fourth, in which Abraham “… believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). That’s what makes the Abrahamic Covenant to become our shamash or servant lamp.

When Christ said, “I am the light of the world,” He was fulfilling the prophecy of the lamp that passed through the sacrifice made by Abraham in Genesis:

“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.

“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram” (Genesis 15:17,18).

In the opening verses of John’s Gospel, Christ was introduced as that light:

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

‘And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4,5).

When Christ died on Calvary’s cross, He fulfilled the promise Abraham made to Isaac:

“And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

“And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together” (Genesis 22:7,8).

Jesus is Abraham’s lamb. John also pointed out this fulfillment as he records John the Baptist’s proclamation:

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

When the holy city New Jerusalem descends from heaven, it will be Abraham’s city:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

“By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Again, John was faithful to point out this city and its builder:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3).

All seven dispensations revolve around God’s covenant made with Abraham, just as the lamps of the menorah. Every dispensation ended with failure, including the dispensation of Law. Mankind simply cannot be saved by Law.

Law Versus Grace

The single-most difficult problem facing Christian theologians down through the centuries has been the subject of “salvation by grace” versus “salvation by the works of the law.” The subject has divided theologians in every generation.

The Apostle Paul wrote extensively about the subject. He was constantly plagued with Judaizers who contended that his Gentile converts should be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law. Paul maintained that Gentiles were saved by faith and faith alone. On the other hand, James wrote, “… show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

This argument has kept heads spinning down through the centuries! Peter was a devout Jew, who reluctantly carried the Gospel to a Gentile — the Roman centurion, Cornelius. In his second epistle, Peter said of Paul’s writings:

“And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood…” (II Peter 3:15,16).

Peter had a difficult time understanding so complex a matter. Furthermore, in his first epistle, Peter said that even the angels had a bit of difficulty with this part of God’s plan:

“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (I Pet. 1:12).

Even the angels could not comprehend the grace that God has bestowed upon us! If Peter confessed to having a hard time understanding, and reported that even the angels desired to look into the matter, no wonder Christianity has been in a quandary down through the centuries! This difficulty has produced over a thousand differing denominations — most of them built around a particular view of what constitutes salvation.

The difficulty resulted from Israel’s view of the Mosaic Law. Early Christianity was born out of a culture that circumcised every male child. Each family strictly observed the Jewish festivals — Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. In fact, the Jewish society rigidly kept 613 laws of Moses, which covered every area of their lives. They even worshipped on Saturday!

We normally think of salvation by grace as saving us from these difficult laws. We think that Jesus nailed the Mosaic Law to the cross — that He fulfilled the Law and therefore did away with it. On the other hand, some Gentile Christians in our day want us to return to a keeping of the Jewish holy days. Messianic congregations are filled with Gentiles who meet on Friday nights.

They eat kosher foods and observe as many of the 613 Mosaic laws as they possibly can. Another Christian denomination worships on Saturday and urges their people to observe their stylized version of the Mosaic Law.

Some Jewish believers in “Yeshua Ha Meshiach” (Jesus the Messiah) preach that the Jesus worshipped by most Christian denominations today is not the same Jesus of the New Testament. They claim that the Jesus we serve is a Gentile concoction that doesn’t even resemble the original Jesus of Nazareth. I’ve read one Jewish writer who claimed we are all idolaters and that Yeshua (Jesus) will throw us all into hell when He comes!

The argument rages on!

It is true that Law versus Grace is a deep and difficult doctrine to comprehend, much less explain. However, perhaps we can help put the problem into a proper perspective. Let me start by saying that the Law of Moses never offered eternal life in the first place. Surprised? Allow me to explain.

In Numbers 25:12, God makes a covenant with the Levitical Priesthood: “Behold I give unto him my covenant of peace.” The Hebrew term for “peace” is shalom ouka. But it is spelled with a broken vav u.

The Abrahamic Covenant

Before there was a Moses, there was a man named Abraham. Before there was a Mosaic covenant, there was an Abrahamic Covenant that offered eternal life:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting (okug) covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7).

The fact that this is an everlasting covenant automatically offers the promise of eternal life. The Hebrew term, translated “ever (as in forever),” “of old,” “always,” “perpetual,” or “everlasting,” is olam okug, used 384 times in the Old Testament with the vav u and 33 times as olam okg, without the vav u. In every case, it seems to refer to eternity, or an eternal existence, not bound by time. It is used thirteen times in the book of Genesis. Eleven of those references use a vav u in the spelling. The vav u appears to refer to a divine connection (vav u means “hook”). It seems to have a spiritual reference to the Messiah, for without Him; we would have no chance of being connected with heaven.

Don’t miss the importance of this. The entire New Testament is based upon the Abrahamic Covenant. The New Testament is not related to the Old Testament Mosaic Law. Our New Testament is not a made-over Old Testament. It is entirely different.

I must admit, for most of my life, I thought it was. I thought the New Testament replaced the Mosaic Law. I was wrong. The New Testament doctrine of salvation by grace is not related to the Law of Moses. That is what the Apostle Paul was driving at in his epistles to the Romans, Galatians and Hebrews.

These controversial passages were actually Paul’s explanation to a Jewish culture that their salvation was not dependent upon the Mosaic Covenant, but rather upon the Abrahamic Covenant!

When the New Testament was written, Matthew introduced the entire subject of eternal life through Jesus Christ by announcing that He was the “son of David” and the “son of Abraham.” There was no mention about Moses or his Law.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, which was extended to David. Matthew’s genealogy of Christ begins with Abraham. Matthew does not carry the genealogy back to Adam, as does Luke, because the subject of eternal life goes back to Abraham.

The first five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy) are generally considered to be the Mosaic Law. But if you consider them carefully, you will note that the Mosaic Law was introduced in Exodus — not Genesis.

Genesis introduces the covenant with Abraham. That is the covenant upon which even the Jews base their concept of eternal life. When a Jew prays, he closes his prayer in the name of Abraham — not in the name of Moses (we close our prayers in the name of Jesus). When a Jew died, he went to Abraham’s bosom — not Moses’ bosom. Paradise was placed in the charge of Abraham — not Moses.

The very name of heaven appears to be a derivative of Hebron, site of the tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham bought a cave at Hebron, which means, “seat of association.”

Genesis 23:19 says, “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.”

Again, Genesis 25:10 says, “The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.”

Hebron became the capital of Israel under David for the first seven years of his reign. David then moved the capital to Jerusalem. Hebron was a “seat of association” until the kingdom was moved to Jerusalem. In like manner, the “Bosom of Abraham” is associated with the future eternal city, New Jerusalem. With His death and resurrection, Jesus moved the Old Testament saints from Abraham’s Bosom directly to the Father’s house. The names of the twelve tribes have been written on the pearly gates.

In Matthew 8:5-13, the story is given of a Gentile who came to Jesus seeking healing for his servant. The Gentile was a Roman centurion. When Jesus told him that He would come and heal his servant, the Gentile said, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed” (v. 8).

When Jesus heard the Roman centurion make such a statement, He said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (v. 10).

The next statement is based upon the Abrahamic Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. Keep in mind; this Gentile exhibited “great faith” having never kept the Law of Moses. Jesus made this startling statement:

“I say unto you, That many [Gentiles] shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (v. 11).

There is no mention here of Moses. The kingdom of heaven is based upon the covenant made with Abraham, and passed on through his posterity — Isaac, Jacob, etc. Yes, Moses will be in the kingdom of heaven, but not because of his Law. Moses will be there because he believed in the Abrahamic Covenant! And so will Samuel, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Daniel, and Jonah, and Ezekiel, and all the rest!

Jesus included Gentiles “from the east and west” who will join Abraham in the kingdom of heaven. Those Gentiles will not get there because they adopted or kept the Mosaic ordinances. They will get there by trusting in that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promised, “God will provide himself a Lamb!” (Genesis 22:8).

When we arrive at the very conclusion of the New Testament, we will find that “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” reveals the Savior as that Lamb! John writes:

“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…” (Rev. 5:6).

Look around the throne room. Do you see a reference to the Mosaic Covenant? No. Throughout the entire book of Revelation there is only one mention of Moses. And the reference is to the Song of Moses, not his Law (Rev. 15:3).

In the final chapters of Revelation, Christ is portrayed over and over again as the Lamb.

The Holy City New Jerusalem belongs to the Lamb! John is taken to see the “Lamb’s wife!” (Revelation 21:9). On the foundation of the city are written the names of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14). The city needs no sun or moon to shine in it for “the Lamb is the light thereof” (v. 23). Those who live there have their names written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (v. 27). The “throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it” (Rev. 22:3).

This is the Lamb of the Abrahamic Covenant. It was Abraham who “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

This amazing statement about the faith of Abraham is the key to understanding the concept of eternal life. The faith of Abraham is the foundation upon which the doctrine of eternal life in the New Testament is written.

When Jesus died on Calvary, He made the faith of Abraham available to all — including Gentiles. Besides, the Jews were never saved by Law in the first place! They based their hope of eternal life by faith in the promises made to Abraham!

Of course, by the first century, many Jews were so steeped in the Mosaic Law that they could not understand the message of salvation by faith in the promises of Abraham.

John 9:28 points up the problem: “Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.” They based their hope of eternal life on the Mosaic Law instead of on the faith of Abraham.

Earlier, Jesus had explained their problem. In John 7:19, Jesus said, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” The Law could not save. It is impossible to keep. Only Jesus kept it perfectly. And He didn’t need to be saved. He was Deity. He was the Creator. He was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He was the Testator — the one who originally made the covenant with Abraham.

In Acts 3, Peter addressed the Jews after healing the lame man at the gate of the temple. He began his sermon by saying: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus…” (Acts 3:13). He did not refer to the God of Moses, he turned the attention of the people to the very basis of their hope for eternal life. He talked about the God of Abraham!

When Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin, he opened his sermon with Abraham’s encounter with God: “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken: The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham…” (Acts 7:2). Stephen began with the very foundation of their faith — the covenant with Abraham.

When Paul preached his first recorded sermon at Antioch of Pisidia, he addressed the people as, “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham…” (Acts 13:26). Paul’s message took the people back to the very foundation of their faith — Abraham.

The epistle to the Romans was written to explain to the Jews at Rome that their loyalty to the Law of Moses was not then, nor ever had been, the basis for their hope of eternal life. He showed that the Law existed for the sole purpose of exposing their sins. The Law offered only a curse.

When Paul illustrated the basis of eternal life, he used the faith of Abraham to do it. In Romans 4, Paul showed how Abraham was saved by faith long before there was a law. In fact, Abraham was saved by faith long before he was circumcised! The covenant of circumcision was not the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant — faith was!

“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:1-3).

To show that the promises God made to Abraham were not based upon the Mosaic Law, uncircumcised Gentiles were included in it:

“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness” (Rom. 4:9).

Not only was Abraham the father of Judaism, but of Gentile Christianity as well:

“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:12).

The basis for the entire doctrine of eternal life was not based upon Moses, but Abraham. Paul put it this way in Rom. 4:13:

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”

The covenant with Abraham was extended to Gentiles because that was one of the main goals of the covenant to begin with. In Gen. 22:18, the Gentiles were included in the covenant of Abraham. “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

Again, in Gen. 26:4, the same promise is given: “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

The covenant of Abraham is the prevailing covenant — not the covenant of Moses. In Galatians 3:13-14, Paul was quite clear concerning our basis for eternal life:

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…

“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Note that Paul refers to the Law of Moses as a condemning factor, not a saving factor. He called it, “the curse of the law.” That was the purpose of the Law from the beginning. It revealed the curse of sin, yet had no method for relief. The Law and its sacrifices all pointed to Christ — the only redeeming factor — and Christ offers eternal life through the Abrahamic Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. Furthermore, Paul says that no one can ever — ever — ever annul the Abrahamic Covenant. It is still active to this very day!

“Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Galatians 3:15,16).

The Order of Melchizedek

We are told in Hebrews that Christ is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, unto whom Abraham paid tithes. Melchizedek was a priest who lived in the days of Abraham, not Moses. Furthermore, even Levi (father of the Levitical priesthood under the Mosaic Law) paid tithes to Melchizedek:

“And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.

“For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him” (Hebrews 7:9,10).

According to the treatise to the Hebrews, Christ is not related to the Levitical priesthood under the Mosaic Law, but to the Melchizedek priesthood and the covenant with Abraham.

The Schoolmaster

Now let’s consider the unique purpose of the Mosaic Law. In Gal. 3:24, the Law of Moses is introduced as a schoolmaster:

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

The work of “schoolmaster” allows us to detect a Torah design throughout the pages of the New Testament. For example, Matthew divides the life of Christ into five parts, corresponding to the themes found in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This framework for the Gospel shows the “schoolmaster” or teaching aspect of the Mosaic Law seen in the Divine design. Also, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts appear to have a similar Torah design.

The seven lamps of the Mosaic menorah can be seen throughout the New Testament — especially in the book of Revelation. Why? Because the Law is a teacher or “schoolmaster.”

The intricate design work of Almighty God can be seen through the Mosaic Law. Proof that the Bible could only have been written by God can be seen in its Torah designs. That is the purpose of the Mosaic Law. It is a teaching mechanism to prove Divine handiwork of God.

The Tabernacle, Jewish prayer shawl, and other Old Testament types, offer magnificent views of the glory of our faith, but those things are just teachers (schoolmasters) to point us to faith in Christ. They are not the basis of salvation. Only faith in the Lamb promised to Abraham can bring eternal life.

If you are not sure of your eternal destiny, then take a moment to pray. Repent of your sins. Tell the Lord that you know your are a sinner. Ask Him to forgive you and save your soul.

Then go to church this Sunday. Walk the aisle during the invitation and tell the pastor that you have accepted Christ as your Savior. Submit to believer’s baptism and become a member of that congregation.

Go to Lesson 6: The Doctrine of the Great Sabbath

Go to Lesson 8: You Are a Prophecy

The Doctrine of the Great Sabbath

By on June 6, 2010

Down through the centuries, Christian theologians have searched the Scriptures for clues, which might shed light on the nearness of the Second Advent of Christ. Among the prophets, Hosea stands out as one of the most important. His treatment of the two advents of the Messiah should be examined.

Hosea’s Third Day

The first passage to which I draw your attention is given in Hosea 5:14-6:3:

“For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 5:14-6:3).

This is one of the most remarkable prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ to be found in the Bible. I have highlighted certain words and phrases to emphasize them. We shall look at each of them carefully.

First, the Messiah says that He will be “unto Ephraim as a lion.” I think this is a reference to the Lord as He represents the Mosaic Covenant. But when He says that He will be “as a young lion to the house of Judah,” He was referring to His birth in Bethlehem. There will come a day when the Messiah will be born of the house of Judah.

Messiah’s First Coming

He will become as a baby lion. But His First Coming will become a judgment for Judah. Messiah will “tear and go away.” We can relate this to Christ as He chides the Pharisees. Matthew 23 gives the account of Christ condemning the religious leaders for their unbelief. Finally, in the last few verses, He says that He is going away rather than setting up the kingdom they had long hoped for:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:37-39).

Christ predicts the desolation of Jerusalem, rather than the establishment of His throne in the holy city. Instead of staying and being crowned King of kings, Christ announces that He is returning to heaven from whence He came. This corresponds with Hosea 5:15:

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence” (Hosea 5:15).

All of this is historic fact. We know that Christ ascended back into heaven with the promise that He will return when the Jews acknowledge their offense.

Messiah’s Second Coming

In the following sentence, there is an all-important clue as to when that will occur:

…“ in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15b).

The Hebrew word for “early” is shacher [rja], meaning “at the time of dawn — the darkness which becomes light!” Some day, at the crack of dawn, Israel will be thrown into the midst of affliction — which I believe is a reference to the Tribulation Period. They will acknowledge their offense and seek the Messiah. This will occur “early” as one would watch for the rising of the sun.

After Two Days

So when is this crack of dawn? Which future day will observe this phenomenon? The following verses tell us specifically that it will be “after two days” and “in the third day.” In fact, Hosea mentions being raised up — a term used to describe rising in the early morning — shall we say at the crack of dawn?

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:1-2).

Hosea is not speaking of ordinary days in this passage. Christ could not come as a young lion to the house of Judah, tear (as the metaphor implies) and return to His place, only to come back on the third day of an ordinary week. He must be referring to the concept introduced by Moses in Psalm 90:4:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

Thousand-Year Days

Moses, the first of the biblical prophets introduced the days of Creation as metaphors of seven millennia. The six days of Creation represent six thousand years since the creation of Adam. And the seventh day, the day of Sabbath rest, represents the seventh millennium as a time of kingdom rest.

Many view this Hosea passage as referring to the passing of two thousand years. The “third day” following the First Coming of the “young lion” of Judah would be the same as the “seventh day” wherein God rested after His work of Creation.

Since we have lived to see the conclusion of this sixth millennium of human history and the introduction of the seventh with the year 2001, we would do well to observe what the prophets were trying to tell us.

Sabbath Days in the New Testament

Let us consider the possibility that certain events in the Gospel narratives take on prophetic implications when viewed with respect to the “millennial day” concept. There appears to be a correlation between certain events recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the number of days listed in each story.

Several events occurred on a Sabbath day lending support to the implication that these events will be ultimately fulfilled during a future millennial Sabbath.

Christ Announced His Ministry On a Sabbath

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus enters the synagogue at Nazareth to announce the beginning of His ministry. It was on a Sabbath that He took the scroll of Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

Then He closed the book. Had He continued to read, He would have read the words “and the day of vengeance of our God.” Perhaps the fact that He read the words on a Sabbath day offers a prophetic implication that the day of vengeance will be fulfilled during the future millennial Sabbath — the seventh 1,000 year period of human history.

Christ Plucked Corn on the Sabbath

On another Sabbath, our Savior plucked ears of corn — a seeming violation of rabbinical law:

“And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

“And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? …

“And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath” (Luke 6:1-2,5).

It seems the Savior was saying that the future millennial reign of Christ would be a time of planting and harvest. It would be a time of activity and progress. Though it is considered to be a Sabbath rest, that rest will be spiritual rather than physical. It will be a rest from evil — a rest from the temptations of Satan.

Notice the Savior’s reply to the Pharisees in Luke 6:5: “And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

He implies that He will bear the title of King of kings and Lord of lords during that future 1,000-year reign.

Christ Healed a Withered Hand On the Sabbath

Then there was the time Christ healed a man with a withered right hand on the Sabbath day:

“And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; and they might find an accusation against him.

“But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

“And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Luke 6:6-10).

By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus implied that the millennial kingdom would be a time of healing. During the seventh millennium, mankind will see the eradication of all diseases.

Christ Healed a Woman on the Sabbath

In Luke 13 Jesus performed another healing on the Sabbath day. This time it was a woman who had suffered a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. The Savior loosed her from her infirmity, and in verse 16, implied that Satan had been the cause of her problem:

“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16).

The implication is at once apparent: During the future “Day of the Lord” all will be healed.

Christ Healed a Man with Dropsy on the Sabbath

Luke records yet another healing on the Sabbath. That time it was a man diseased with dropsy.

“And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

“And behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

“And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and the Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day:

“And they held their peace. And he took him and healed him, and let him go;

“And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

“And they could not answer him again to these things” (Luke 14:1-6).

Jesus healed the man of his infirmity in the presence of the lawyers and the Pharisees. In doing so, it seems that Jesus implied, prophetically, that such would be the case during the great Sabbath rest — the seventh millennium of human history.

In the verses following, He told the parable of a wedding. By doing so, He seemed to imply, prophetically, that during the seventh millennium, there would be a wedding:

“And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

“When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him…” (Luke 14:7-8).

Following that, Jesus gave the parable of a great supper, implying that in the future kingdom, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb would be celebrated and that there would be no hunger in the Lord’s kingdom:

“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many…

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:16,23).

It is amazing that all of these incidents appear to have a prophetic implication when viewed in the context of the great Sabbath — that seventh 1,000-year period of human history.

At the Pool of Bethesda

Another Sabbath healing took place in Jerusalem at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. The religious authorities became angry and confronted Jesus with an accusation that He should not heal on the Sabbath. Jesus replied:

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:22-24).

Christ spoke of those attributes, which He possessed, and which would be manifested during His millennial reign. Since these events occurred on a Sabbath, Jesus seemed to imply that His reign would be a time of Sabbatical rest — the seventh millennium.

A Blind Man Healed Near Siloam

Another healing took place on a Sabbath, recorded in the ninth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus made clay, put it upon the eyes of a blind man and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, he was healed.

“And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay” (John 9:14).

This healing took place on the Sabbath, and is another reminder of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ. Blind eyes will be made to see, withered limbs will be made whole, leprous diseases will be made clean, and evil spirits will be cast out. Yes, those events recorded in the Gospel narratives that occurred on Sabbaths seem to be prophetic of that which shall occur during the millennial reign of Christ.

Also, there are certain events in the Bible that occurred over a period of two or three days.

The Story of Jonah

Jonah spent three days and three nights in the stomach of a giant fish, and, in like manner, Jesus spent a similar time in the heart of the earth. These two events could be a prophetic picture of three thousand years wherein God has dealt with His Chosen People. Like Jonah, the nation of Israel had refused to take the message of God’s judgment and mercy to the Gentiles. As Jonah spent three days in the whale’s belly, so have the Jewish people been judged of God for the past three millennia.

The Story of Saul

There is another story given in the book of Acts that also may offer a prophetic scenario. It is the story of Saul on his way to Damascus and seeing the Lord in the midst of a brilliant light. When the light was gone, Saul was blind. He had to be led by the hand into the city of Damascus. Please note, he was blind for three days. This may be a prophetic picture of the history of Israel over a period of about three millennia. In I Corinthians Paul referred to this experience:

“… last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (I Cor. 15:8).

According to Dr. C. I. Scofield, Paul represented the nation as a whole. His experience of conversion was a prophetic picture of the future national conversion of Israel. His healing after three days of darkness, could represent that future time when Israel’s national conversion would take place.

Joseph and Mary Searched For Three Days

Now let’s go back to the Gospel narrative and pick up a few more events which seem to have prophetic implication when viewed from a millennial day perspective. In Luke chapter 2, Joseph and Mary searched for the twelve year old Jesus. On the third day, they found Him in the temple:

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

If the Dispensation of Grace covers a period of 2,000 years, and if the millennial reign of Christ covers the third 1,000 year period, then the finding of Jesus in the temple on the third day may well represent His being about the Father’s business during the coming millennium.

Feeding the 4,000

The story of the feeding of the 4,000 is recorded in Matthew 15 and Mark 8. Please note that the multitude had followed Him for three days. It was on that third day that Jesus fed the multitude. Prophetically, it may refer to the millennium when hunger is eradicated.

In Luke 13, some Pharisees came to Jesus saying,

“Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee” (Luke 13:31).

Jesus replied, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (verse 32).

Three days later, Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. These verses seem to have a powerful prophetic implication. They may refer to the third millennium, when Jesus will make yet another triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem.

The Wedding at Cana

In the Gospel of John, Jesus attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee” (John 2:1).

Please note, that the wedding took place on the third day. Again, this may be a prophetic implication of the future marriage of the Lamb to His bride, New Testament Christianity. The Scripture implies that it will take place after two millennia, on the third day!

The Money Changers

In the latter part of that chapter, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Upon entering the temple, He found moneychangers selling oxen, sheep, and doves. He drove them out and said:

“Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16).

When the Jews asked Him why He had done these things and what sign He could show them that He had the authority to cleanse the sanctuary, Jesus answered:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (verse 19).

Now, to be sure, He was speaking of the temple of His body, which they did destroy and which He did raise up the third day. Prophetically, however, it may be a picture of the future temple, which the Messiah will build when He returns. It may be that the three days listed in verse 19 represent three millennial days. The statement made by Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem may be far more profound than we might think.

One of these days, the Savior will come again and drive the moneychangers out. Those moneychangers may well represent a prophecy of the future one-world monetary system through which men will be required to receive a mark in the flesh in order to buy or sell. They may represent the abomination of desolation, which is predicted to take place on the temple site in the midst of the Tribulation Period.

Perhaps the Antichrist will set up an image to the beast in the temple itself, thus committing the abomination of desolation. At the end of the Tribulation Period, however, Christ will return to this earth to destroy the Antichrist and the image that will have desecrated the sanctuary during the last half of the Tribulation Period.

When He returns, He will cleanse the sanctuary, drive out those future moneychangers, and will build a magnificent millennial temple. Remember, He said that day, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Trial of Christ

That statement, by the way, is also referred to in Mark 14:58. When Jesus was arrested and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin court, certain false witnesses came to testify:

“We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands” (Mark 14:58).

Those people never forgot the statement made by the Savior. In Luke 15:29, we find the Savior hanging upon the cross. Those who passed by:

“… railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross” (Luke 15:29).

Even in the last hours of His life the people mocked Him about the promise He made that He could rebuild the temple after three days. Those three days, however, may refer to three millennia, three 1,000-year periods. The prediction will yet be fulfilled, just as Jesus said it would!

The Story of the Samaritans

There is another story given in John 4, which may also lend support to the prophetic implication that a day could equal a thousand years:

“So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

“And many more believed because of his own word;

“And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

“Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee” (John 4:40-43).

Jesus spent two days among the Samaritans. This may represent the two millennia we call the dispensation of Grace. It has been a time of Gentile conversions. The New Testament church may be prophetically typified by the Samaritans, among whom Jesus stayed for two days.

The story begins with Jesus and His disciples passing through the country of Samaria. As they came near to a city called Sychar, Jesus stopped at a well and sent His disciples into town to buy bread. While He was there, a Samaritan woman came out to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink and then told her how she could receive living water to quench her spiritual thirst. This is a prophetic picture of the Dispensation of Grace. When the woman replied that Jews worship at Jerusalem and the Samaritans worship at Mt. Gerizim, Jesus said:

“Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21,23).

Jesus introduces the dispensation of Grace. It began with the First Advent of Christ and shall be concluded when He comes back. Meanwhile, just as He spent two days with the Samaritans, He has spent two millennia among the Gentiles.

The Story of Lazarus

There is another story recorded in the Gospels which seems to bear a prophetic implication to the teaching that one day equals a thousand years. It is the story of Lazarus. When he came down with the illness, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that he was sick:

“When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

“Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again” (John 11:6-7).

Please note, that Jesus delayed His trip to Bethany for two days. When He finally came, Lazarus was already in the grave. Obviously, however, He planned it that way. Prophetically, it may imply two millennial days before He comes again. Just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, one of these days He is coming to raise all believers from the dead. His two-day delay in coming to Lazarus may well represent the prophetic time schedule when the great resurrection will take place.

The Transfiguration

Finally, the story is given in Matthew 17, of the Transfiguration. On a high mountain, somewhere out of the land, Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. The event was a prophetic picture of the Tribulation Period, and of the Second Coming of Christ in glory:

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart” (Matthew 17:1).

This event took place on the sixth day. It may well be a prophetic scenario of that which shall occur at the end of the sixth millennium of human history! Time after time after time, throughout the Gospel narratives, we find prophetic implications which lend support to the teaching that a day equals a thousand years, and that after six thousand years of human history, the Savior will return to this earth, raise the dead, eradicate hunger and disease, establish a millennial kingdom, and rule over the earth during the seventh 1,000 year period of human history. That is the doctrine of the great Sabbath Rest!

Go to Lesson 5: The Secrets of Psalm 90

Go to Lesson 7: Dispensationalism and the Menorah