The Dispensation of Promise

Genesis 12:1 to Exodus 18:27

The fourth dispensation is given two names: the Dispensation of Promise or the Dispensation of Patriarchal Rule. The first name emphasizes that God was revealing Himself by making a specific series of promises. This dispensation gets its name from four Renewed Covenant passages: Romans 4:1-26, Galatians 3:15-19. Hebrews 6:13-15 and 11:9. All four passages emphasize a promise to Abraham. The second name emphasizes the fact that the LORD is ruling by means of His patriarchs, primarily Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

There are seven dispensations described in the Bible: (1) the Dispensation of Innocence or Freedom (Genesis 1:28 to 3:5); (2) the Dispensation of Conscience (Genesis 3:6 to 8:14), (3) the Dispensation of Civil Government (Genesis 8:15 to 11:32), (4) the Dispensation of Promise or Patriarchal Rule (Genesis 12:1 to Exodus 18:27), (5) the Dispensation of Torah (Exodus 19:1 to Acts 1:26), (6) the Dispensation of Grace (Acts 2:1 to Revelation 19:21), and (7) the Dispensation of the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom (Isaiah 4:2-6, 11:1 to 12:6, 54:11-17, 60:1-22).

The chief person in this dispensation is Abraham. He stands as the head of this new age and he was given new divine revelation that became the basis of a new dispensation.

Mankind’s responsibility was to believe in the promises of God. Although they may not be seen now, they were to believe in, trust in, and have faith in His promises. Abraham, of course, is our example. We are told in 15:6 that Abram believed the LORD, he had faith in the promises of ADONAI, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

The test during that dispensation was to stay in the Land that God had brought them.

The failure is seen in the tendency to leave the Land. For example, Abraham left the land in Genesis 12 and got himself into trouble. Later Jacob also left the Land and got his descendants into trouble. Isaac was contemplating leaving the Land in Genesis 26 when God warned him against doing so. Failure was also seen on the part of the Israelites because of their consistent tendency to leave the land. The brothers of Joseph sold him to someone who would make him a slave in Egypt.

Ultimately the judgment for their failure to stay in the land was slavery in Egypt.

Grace was seen in the fact that the nation of Isra'el was preserved whether they were in the land or outside of the land. God continued to guard the Seed of the Woman (3:15), who would come through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.225


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