Previously dispensations were defined as a particular way that God administers His rule over the world. Dispensational theology has defined seven dispensations from Genesis to Revelation. In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden and commanded “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) Because of their failure to keep the command, God brought judgment against them by banishing them from the garden. As a result of their sin they died spiritually and eventually physically. Furthermore, because of their sin man lost his favorable disposition toward God. Everyone born from the seed of Adam would now have an unfavorable disposition toward God, or as it is often referred to as a sin nature. (Romans 5:12) The dispensation of innocence was short lived.
The second dispensation is referred to as Conscious. When Adam and Eve sinned they became aware that they were naked and sewed fig leaves to cover themselves and hid from God. (Genesis 3:7) God would now use conscious as a ruling factor in an attempt to lead man in the proper direction. Paul wrote to the Romans that our conscious bears witness with us to do the right thing. (Romans 2:14-15) Furthermore, God instituted the restraint of the Holy Spirit in this dispensation. (Genesis 6:3) The result was that man was an utter failure. The first son murdered his brother. Man became so wicked “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:5,11) God could only find one righteous man upon the whole earth, that being Noah. So God brought judgment upon that wicked generation of people through a catastrophic flood and started anew with Noah and his family.
The third dispensation is referred to as Human Government. God would use government to restrain evil in addition to conscious and the restraint of the Holy Spirit. During this dispensation, God commands the death penalty for murders. (Genesis 9:6) The Apostle Paul indicated in the book of Romans that all government is ordained by God, that its chief goal is to restrain the rebelliousness of man, and that it functions as God’s administrator of capital punishment. (Romans 13:1-7) Man’s failure in this dispensation came when Noah’s descendants refused to fill the earth as God had commanded. (Genesis 9:7) Man’s defiance to the command of God was obvious, “And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face if the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4) Their pride in their greatness and their failure to fill the earth brought judgment from God. He confused their language and “scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth…” (Genesis 11:8)
This resulted in a fourth dispensation which we’ll look at next time.