Grace Bible Church of Rolling Meadows

A Dispensational Overview of the Bible

Apr 07, 2024

Presented by John Klasen

The order in which the books of the Bible are arranged present a progressive timeline of what God has done in the past with mankind and the nation of Israel, what God is currently doing through the church, the body of Christ today, and what God will be doing again in the future, with and through the nation Israel, when Israel's prophetic kingdom program resumes again.

Genesis is the book of beginnings. There are five critically important beginnings in Genesis chapters 1-12, the last of which is the beginning of a new nation which will be established through the seed of Abraham. That nation will be the means through which God will accomplish his purpose for the earth in accordance with God's two-fold purpose for the universe. In the book of Genesis, we also see the four divine institutions which have been established by God for the successful functioning and orderly maintenance of human society.

In Leviticus 23, Israel's seven feasts provide a remarkable prophetic picture of Israel's calendar of redemption, and in Leviticus 26, Israel's entire history is prophetically outlined in the five courses of punishment which Israel will experience before their kingdom program is ultimately established.

In the book of Numbers, we see how that a lack of faith in Jehovah (by most of the Israelites) to successfully enable Israel to go in and take their promised land results in 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until every one of those faithless Israelites have died off the scene.

Then in Deuteronomy, a new generation is being prepared to go in and possess the land.

Part 1 - Genesis - Deuteronomy

Well, this morning I'm going to be teaching a dispensational overview of the Bible. Not all today, but over the course of the year, we'll see if we can get that completed. Now, those of you who have been with us for a while may recall that I taught such an overview about nine years ago, and that overview was a ten part series and it can be found on our website
But I was asked to teach that series again for the purpose of making it available to those folks who may be following us now on the YouTube channel. So here is the plan.

Whenever Peter or Steve are unavailable to teach, for whatever reason, I'll teach probably two parts of the series. Then by the end of the year, by the end of 2024, the overview should be complete. So then, let's begin. I just want to say that as I've continued to study the Bible over the years, one of the things that has truly fascinated me and which I've come to appreciate more and more over time, is the order in which all of the books of the Bible have been arranged. As you study your Bible and come to gain a better understanding of God's overall plan and purpose for mankind and for the purpose of all God's creation, you begin to see why all the books in the Bible have been arranged in the order in which they are arranged.

And the order in which they are arranged clearly reinforces our understanding of God's plan and purpose for for mankind and for his creation. Now, this is especially true when it comes to reinforcing our understanding of everything that is going to occur in the future when God begins dealing with and through the nation of Israel once again in the books of Hebrews, through the book of the Revelation. So what I'd like to do is present a very broad overview of the Bible and to point out to you some things which our listeners may not have appreciated about what God's plan and purpose actually is for all of his creation. Throughout the series, I know I'll be teaching some things that may be new and helpful information for believers who have been saved for a while. But certainly this overview should be most beneficial to anyone who is not all that familiar with the Bible, and it will undoubtedly enable any new students of the Bible to avoid years of confusion and misunderstanding. And in the process of doing this, anyone who is seriously interested in investigating what the Bible has to say will come to understand why we can have so much confidence in this book.

Now, there is so much information in the Bible that one of the most common problems for someone who is not familiar with the Bible is that these people are given bits and pieces of information or instructions from parts of the Bible which may have absolutely nothing to do with the lives of people today or with the situations in which we are in today. And the only way to make any sense of it at all is to understand the big picture regarding what God has done, what God is currently doing today, and what God will be doing in the future. So let's look in the beginning in Genesis, chapter one and verse one, if you will. Turn with me there in your bibles.

Genesis, verse one. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. In the beginning. One of the great misconceptions about the book of Genesis and the creation account, which is recorded in chapters one and two, is that God gave us this information in order to refute the theory of evolution. But God's attitude toward evolution is that only a fool could observe the magnificent beauty of his creation and observe the incredible intricacies of human biology and physiology and all of the physical world, and even consider time and chance as a tenable explanation.

So, in the beginning, God is simply presumed to be an obvious given. And although God's primary purpose in giving us the Bible was not that it should be a science book, God has inserted multitudes of offhanded statements throughout the Bible, sometimes when and where you might least expect to find them, statements that are so scientifically accurate and ahead of their time that it just leaves you shaking your head in amazement, saying, how could anyone have written this book back then? And all these statements? And the answer, of course, is that it's God who wrote the book. And if you should happen to be interested in science, issues of science and creation, know that you're going to find more profound information about science and creation in the books of Job, throughout the Psalms, in the prophets, and some of the most profound information even in the New Testament writings, more information in those books than you're going to find in the creation account in the book of Genesis. Most readers who have a difficult enough time understanding the Bible already just tend to blow right over these verses without even appreciating the implications of what the verses are actually saying. And it's also interesting to note that you will never come across any scientific statement in the Bible which is proven to be contrary to science as we understand it today.

So, in the beginning, God, this introduction takes us back into eternity past before time as we know it began, before mankind came upon the scene of human history. God, in the form of the eternal triune Godhead, had been eternally existent. The verse says, in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth with the creation of the heaven and the earth.

We now come to that point in human history where time as we know it begins. And it's interesting to note the way in which God introduces this information to us. God could have said that in the beginning he created all of the universe and everything that is in it. But instead, God gets very specific here. He says he created the heaven and the earth.

Mankind is not even mentioned in the verse. Why would that be? Why would the first piece of information God gives us refers specifically to the heaven and the earth? Well, the answer to that question is that the very first thing that God chose to do is to outline for us his twofold master plan, that he has a plan for both the heaven and the earth. And it's not until we get to the book of Ephesians some 4000 years later, that God begins to teach us through the apostle Paul, what those plans for the heaven are all about.

Keep a marker here in Genesis. We'll be coming back here. But let's turn over to Ephesians chapter one, where we're going to look at a couple of verses here in chapter one, and that will be verses nine and ten.

Ephesians, chapter one, verse nine. Having made known to us this is God, which has now made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him. Note that verse nine introduces this concept of the mystery of his will, the mystery of God's will, that there was something in the will of God which had been kept a secret, kept a mystery, at least until we get to this book of Ephesians. Then in verse ten, we learn that there will be a day in the future when the Lord Jesus Christ will be magnified as he should be magnified, as he rules over both the earthly realm, which will be in the form of a never ending kingdom, brought in through the instrumentality of the nation Israel, which the Bible refers to as Israel's prophetic kingdom program, and when the Lord Jesus Christ will also be the head over the Body of Christ, that corporate body of believers consisting of every Christian who has ever lived, when the Lord Jesus Christ will be the head over that body of believers in the heavenly places throughout all eternity, which the Bible refers to as the mystery or the mystery program two separate and totally different programs, then if you wanted to reduce the entirety of the Bible down to one single issue, that issue would be who's running the universe? Who's in charge of everything?

That seems to be a key issue in society at every level, doesn't it? Husbands versus wives, parents versus children, all the way up to nations versus nations, even religion versus religion. Who's running the show? Who has all the answers? Who's sitting on the throne of the universe?

Is it going to be the rightful God and creator of this universe? Or is it going to be his enemies who hate him? In particular his enemy, Satan, his primary adversary. So God has outlined two programs, the prophetic program pertaining to the nation Israel, which will manifest itself in the form of a never ending kingdom here on the earth, and a program which God and scripture refer to as the mystery, God's heavenly program, which is going to be the destiny of all saved people since that mystery program was revealed by Christ to the apostle Paul following Israel's rejection of their messiah at his first coming, with Israel's prophetic program temporarily set aside until God has completed the calling out of this body of believers in this mystery program to fulfill their roles in the heavenly places, not here on the earth, but in the heavenly places. Now, why did God choose to refer to this program as a mystery?

Simply because that's exactly what it was. It was something that God had kept a secret until he revealed it to mankind through the progressive revelation which he gave to the apostle Paul. After Israel's prophetic program had to be temporarily put on hold. Put on hold because of the rejection of their messiah at his first coming. With the rejection of their messiah at his first coming, it was impossible for that program to come to fruition at that time.

So here in Genesis, chapter one, verse one, we have the beginning of time. Now, Genesis means beginnings, and in the Book of Genesis, there are five very important beginnings. There are actually much more than five beginnings in Genesis, but there are five beginnings that we really need to understand. The first one is here in chapter one, verses one through twenty-five, where we see the beginning of the world, the beginning of time as we know it. That's where we are in Genesis, chapter one, verse one.

The second beginning starts in chapter one, verse twenty-six, and runs through chapter two, where we see the beginning of mankind with the creation of Adam and Eve. Adam's role was that he should be the one through whom God's earthly kingdom program would be established. We see the third great beginning in chapter three, where we see the beginning of man's rebellion, his sinfulness and corruption, which was instigated by Satan and his satanic policy of evil in the Garden of Eden, commonly referred to as the fall of mankind. Now the beginning of sinfulness and rebellion by Adam is a profoundly significant event for a number of reasons. But the main reason is that Adam was created to carry out God's purpose here on the earth, to replenish it, to subdue it and have dominion over it.

Look in Genesis chapter one at verse twenty-eight. Actually, we should look at verse twenty-seven as well, which says, so God created man in his own image and the image of God created him. Male and female created he them and God blessed them and God sent 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. So Adam was to replenish the earth, subdue it and have dominion over it. But through Adam's sinful rebellion, Adam disqualified himself as someone who God could use to fulfill that role.

Rather than Adam having dominion over the earth, Satan took dominion over the earth. And that is a problem which remains up until the present day. But even though Adam failed, God promises that through the seed of the woman, through Eve. And this promise in Genesis chapter three fifteen, that through Eve and her offspring, someone will ultimately come along somewhere down the line who will successfully succeed where Adam has failed. And although no one but God could possibly have known this at that time, that seed is going to be able to be traced on down through Adam's immediate descendants, then on through Noah and then through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then through king David all the way down to the Lord Jesus Christ some 4000 years later.

And it will take none other than the Lord Jesus Christ to successfully accomplish what Adam could not accomplish. Then we see the fourth great beginning starting in chapter four and actually running through chapter eleven where we see the beginning and the complete degeneration of human society under the reign of sin which began with Adam. As Satan continues to execute his dominion and his influence over the earth socially, there is an independent and collective spirit of rebellion against God's plan and purpose for the earth, all instigated and perpetuated by Satan. These first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis cover a 2000 year period.

There's a great summary verse. It's always good to look at some of these summary verses and passages in scripture. And we have one of those in Genesis chapter six, verse five. And we'll look at that. Genesis chapter six, verse five, says, and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So this verse capsulizes the state of affairs within human society as we see it degenerating in chapters four through eleven. So God sends the flood in Genesis chapter seven, wiping out all of the creation except for righteous Noah and Noah's family. And human society is given the opportunity to begin again. But human society does no better the second time around than the first, and God gives up on mankind. God introduces languages among different groups of people, and God scatters rebellious mankind all over the earth, which is what God wanted mankind to do in the first place. But they wouldn't do it.

And then we come to our fifth important beginning in Genesis, chapter twelve, which actually runs through the rest of the book of Genesis and way beyond the book of Genesis, where we see the beginning of a new nation, the nation of Israel, through whom God will now be working as he attempts to accomplish his purposes for the earth, to regain dominion over the earth. Now, the calling out of Abraham and the nation Israel is supposed to demonstrate to all the other nations of the world what it is like to have Jehovah God as their God and to have God's wisdom as their wisdom. So then the question becomes, will the nation of Israel and the descendants of Abraham, will they be able to successfully accomplish what Adam could not accomplish? And the answer to that is, no, they won't. And we'll be seeing that as we proceed on through this series.

So there you have the five critically important beginnings in the Book of Genesis. The book of beginnings. Now, it's also important to note that in the first nine chapters of the Book of Genesis, God establishes four divine institutions for the successful functioning and the orderly maintenance of human society. The first of these institutions is individual human volition, or the ability to make free will choices in life.

I'll give you the references here. This is in chapter two, verses 16 and 17, where Adam is given this opportunity to make free will choices. I'll give you the verses where these are located, and you can look at those on your own. They're really quite straightforward and easy to understand. Human volition is the responsibility of the individual to make sound choices in life based on truth and instructions from God, truth and instructions that are found in the word of God. Individual human volition also establishes personal accountability to God. In Adam's case, these were instructions, including the prohibitions which God had given to Adam, personally. Unfortunately, Adam fails.

The second divine institution is that of marriage, which you can see in chapter two, verse 24. And marriage is the basis of all social activity. The man and the woman are designed to become one in purpose and heart serving God. Obviously, marriage also becomes the means by which society is perpetuated, and the institution of marriage is ordained and esteemed and honored by God. The third institution is that of the family unit, which begins in Genesis, chapter four, verse one. This is where children enter the picture.

The family unit becomes the building block of society. The family is designed to provide instruction in those first two institutions and to provide protection and discipline, material needs, security, acceptance, love, all of those things which are needed for an individual to thrive. And the family unit is designed to pass culture and truth on to the next generation. So the family is a basic unit within any society. Now, when you understand that anything which undermines any of these first three institutions can only have a negative influence on society, then you can understand why our country and many other countries like us, who are thinking the way many people in this country think today, why we are in the condition that we are in today, destined only to get worse.

And finally, the fourth divine institution is that of nationalism or human government. This began with Noah after the flood in Genesis, chapter nine, verses one through seven, and then was actually forced upon the nations by God by the time you get to Genesis, chapter eleven, verse nine. Now, the establishing of individual nations and borders is for the protection and preservation of the first three divine institutions. And with human government, the principle of capital punishment, administered justly and swiftly, are ordained by God as a deterrent to evil and to protect those first three divine institutions. Now, these institutions were established by God for the successful functioning and orderly maintenance of human society throughout time.

They are just as important today as when they were originally established back in Genesis. Now, the nation, Israel, was supposed to become the example to all the other nations of the world how these four institutions were designed to work. But of course, Israel failed miserably. But that does not actually take place until well beyond the book of Genesis, and we'll be looking at those things as we go along. So then, by the time we get to Genesis, chapter twelve, God has given up with mankind in general for the second time.

And we see the beginning of that new nation, that fifth important beginning in the book of Genesis. And God begins dealing with mankind through Abraham in Genesis, chapter twelve. And God gives to Abraham the Abrahamic covenant, whereby Abraham will become the father of a great nation, and Abraham's descendants will one day become a great blessing to all of those nations which God had previously given up on. Let's turn to Genesis chapter twelve and look at that covenant.

Genesis, chapter twelve, beginning in verse one. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father's house unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing, and I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee. And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. The Abrahamic covenant we also see the great territorial land covenant, later to be referred to as the Palestinian covenant, which promises Abraham and his descendants a very specific area of land which will be their possession forever. And we see that in Genesis chapter 13.

Genesis chapter 13 and verse 14 which says, 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 forever. Now these two promises which God gave to Abraham are then going to be reconfirmed in Abraham's son Isaac, and then in Isaac's son Jacob. And these men come to be known as the patriarchs or the fathers of the nation Israel. And it's important to understand that these promises are both unconditional in nature. That is, God is going to make absolutely certain that they will eventually come to pass.

Now in Genesis chapter 28, in verses 10 through 17, God reveals to Jacob, Jacob, who is the son of Isaac, who is the son of Abraham. He reveals some very important information as to why this particular area of land which God had promised to Abraham and the Palestinian covenant, why this particular area of land is so important. So let's look at that in Genesis 28. Genesis chapter 28. And we'll pick out a few verses here beginning in verse twelve.

And he, that's Jacob, and he dreamed and beheld a ladder set up on the earth. And the top of it reached to heaven. And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it 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. drop down to verse 16. 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 (or how awesome), is this place? This is none other but the house of God. And this is the gate of heaven.

So what God reveals to Jacob at this time is that this particular area of land is destined to become God's command center for everything that will be going on in the business of both the heaven and the earth for all of eternity. And this is the place where God himself will be dwelling on the earth with men. So those are a few of the more important highlights in this very important book of beginnings, the book of Genesis. But it would be remiss to leave the book of Genesis without at least making some comments on events which took place in Genesis chapter 22. Now Genesis chapter 22 would certainly be one of my own personal top ten passages in the Bible.

Because in Genesis chapter 22 we see with Abraham and his son Isaac the most profound prophetic picture of what will occur some 2000 years down the road concerning the sacrificing of God's own son, the Lord Jesus Christ, at the cross of Calvary. And it's these types of prophetic pictures which are found everywhere throughout the Bible. This is one way of God showing to us that when we read the Bible, we are reading what God wrote and not the words of mortal men in these prophetic pictures. And this can be found in Genesis chapter 22, verses 1 through 14. And you can study that out on your own and see how that prophetic picture is predictive of what will happen with Christ some 2000 years later.

Now, by the time we get to the book of Exodus, the nation Israel has grown to be that great nation, at least in number, in population, probably close to 2 million at that point in time. And they are delivered by the power of God with Moses as their leader, delivered out of 400 years of bondage in the nation Egypt. And they are delivered through the Exodus. And all those supernatural events which were associated with the Exodus, out of Egyptian bondage. Now, those supernatural events associated with the Exodus, they become a testimony to all the other nations of the world at that time of the unique power and greatness of Israel's God Jehovah.

And those events also become a constant reminder to the nation Israel of God's love and his faithfulness throughout all of Israel's history. But in chapter 19 of the Book of Exodus, the nation of Israel is given another important covenant. And let's take a look at that in Exodus chapter 19, verses five and six.

Exodus 19 five and six. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure 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 shall speak unto the children of Israel. So this is Moses giving these words to the nation Israel at that time.

And what is so important about this unique covenant is that this is a conditional covenant as opposed to the unconditional covenants that we've already looked at. It says in verse five, iif ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nationr. A holy nation. This is a very important issue in order for God's people, Israel, to be a suitable, representative nation in fulfilling the blessings which had been promised to all the other nations of the world.

In the Abrahamic covenant, there is a certain degree of spiritual fitness and holiness which must be demonstrated by the nation. The nation must not fail like Adam had failed. Now, the manner in which God desired the nation of Israel to appear to all the other nations is best described in the book of Deuteronomy, another one of these great summary passages. Deuteronomy, chapter four.

Beginning in verse five. Deuteronomy, chapter four, verse five. Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me that ye should do so in the land whether ye go to possess it. Keep therefore, and do them. For this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations which shall hear all these statutes and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day? So God gives the nation this conditional covenant. If they can do this, then they will be that nation which God will be able to use. Now this conditional covenant is initially codified in Exodus chapter 20, when God gives Moses the ten commandments for the people and for the nation.

This conditional covenant is what God and the Bible refer to as the law covenant. And the only reason that God gave Israel the choice of accepting this law covenant or not, and understand that it was a choice on their part, they thought they could do it. The only reason God gave them this covenant was to teach Israel that they were not capable of actually accomplishing these things on their own and to teach Israel that the nation needed to rely on him, to have faith in him, faith in Jehovah, God, to provide everything that they were going to need as they went in to possess the land that God had promised to Abraham. It's going to take the nation of Israel a long, long time to learn this lesson, but eventually they will. Now, the latter chapters of the Book of Exodus describe the construction of the tabernacle and the establishing of the levitical priesthood.

Everything about the tabernacle and the symbolism in the priesthood and what the priest did. These are all again pointing in some way to the redemption that Israel will receive in Christ. And the Book of Exodus is going to cover a span of slightly more than one year. So then, with Moses as Israel's great leader, we come to the Book of Leviticus. And the Book of Leviticus describes the worship, the offerings, and the sacrifices which the Lord established in the nation and in the individual believers within that nation, that they might maintain proper fellowship with God and satisfy God's requirements under the law covenant.

The only religion that God ever established for anyone was right here with the nation Israel. Now, besides the initial ten Commandments, which most people are at least somewhat familiar with, God also gives Israel 613 additional laws and regulations which were designed to control the details of every aspect of their lives. What they ate, how they dressed, how they were supposed to deal with medical issues, all sorts of rules pertaining to sexual and interpersonal relationships, laws pertaining to every possible aspect of their lives. And all these things were designed to demonstrate to all the other nations of the world that these people, God's people, that God's chosen nation, were different from all the other people of the earth. Now, the establishing of all these laws and the building of the tabernacle, which was designed to be portable as the nation traveled from place to place, took a little over one year from the time they left Egypt after the Exodus.

And I want to make mention of two particular chapters in the Book of Leviticus, both of which are quite interesting in that they provide two more of those great prophetic pictures of exactly how the prophetic program of the nation Israel will play out. Now, the first of these chapters would be Leviticus, chapter 23, where the Lord establishes these seven levitical feasts. Now, these seven feasts begin with the feast of Passover. In Leviticus 23 and verse four, the Passover looks back at the great Passover event in Exodus chapter twelve, just before Israel actually left Egypt during the Exodus. And it speaks of Israel's literal physical deliverance and Israel's official birth as a nation.

But the feast of Passover also looks forward to Israel's spiritual deliverance through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ some 2000 years down the road, when Christ becomes Israel's literal Passover lamb, who will deliver them spiritually and provide the means through which they finally become the nation which God had intended for them to be. In like manner, the six feasts which follow Passover all speak of some aspect of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done or what he is still going to do in bringing about Israel's salvation and their earthly prophetic kingdom. That second feast is the feast of unleavened bread. And this feast is to be recognized by getting all of the leaven out of the food and out of the house, completely out of the house of every jew in the nation for seven days every year. Why would that be? Because leaven is one of God's great symbols for sin. And on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus Christ was there on that cross paying the price that needed to be paid in order to get rid of that sin.

The third feast is the feast of first fruits, the waving of the firstfruits of the harvest before the Lord so that the Lord could accept that fruit as an acceptable sacrifice. And that is exactly what the risen Lord Jesus Christ was after his resurrection. An acceptable sacrifice, presenting himself before God the Father as Israel's redeemer and as the first fruit of those who will rise from the dead into Israel's never ending kingdom in the future.

Then you come to the fourth feast, and that's the feast of Pentecost, 50 days following the feast of firstfruits. Now, this was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, where we read that about 3000 souls were added to Christ's messianic church at that time as subsequent first fruits. Subsequent fruits unto the Lord. So these first four feasts have already been fulfilled in association with the first coming of Christ as Israel's messiah, with three feasts still yet remaining to be fulfilled. And when will they be fulfilled?

Well, they're going to be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ when the feast of trumpets, the fifth feast, will be calling all those jewish believers who are scattered among the nations, calling them back to Israel. And then you're going to come to the 6th feast, which is the feast of the day of atonement, which finally resolves the sin problem of the nation Israel, the corporate sin problem of the nation. And they become capable of functioning as that holy nation which God had designed for them to be. And then finally, the 7th feast is that of the feast of tabernacles. When that becomes a reality, God will be literally dwelling with, literally tabernacling with the nation of Israel here on the earth, in the kingdom which has been prophesied since the world began way back in Genesis, chapter one.

So these seven levitical feasts are a beautiful chronological calendar, so to speak, or picture of Israel's redemption from start to finish. Then the other chapter in the Book of Leviticus, which is of critical importance in understanding everything that has gone on with the nation Israel from the beginning of the nation, right on up to this present day, and then even on into the future again when Israel's program resumes, that is, Leviticus chapter 26. In Leviticus chapter 26 are found what are commonly referred to as the five courses of chastisement, sometimes referred to as the five courses of punishment. What the nation of Israel can expect to experience if they fail to live up to the conditional law covenant, if they fail to walk in the statutes and commandments which the Lord had given to the nation in the law covenant. And we'll take a look at those in Leviticus 26.

We'll look at a few verses here which will help us understand what this is all about. In Leviticus 26, beginning in verse one, God says, ye shall make you no idols, nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land to bow down unto it. For I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

So you can see here in verse one that right at the top of the list of prohibitions for the nation is the worshipping of other gods, the first of the initial Ten Commandments. And those gods referred to here would be all of the false gods which are being worshipped by the people in the land in which they're going to go in and possess, the land which was promised to Abraham and his descendants. Continuing on here in verse three, if ye walk in my statutes and keep my commandments, and do them, then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. So here again is the if then principle of the conditional law covenant. If you do this, then I will give you rain.

And the verses go on through verse 13 to give a generalized summary of the physical and material blessings which Israel could expect to receive if they lived up to the law covenant. But then we come to verse 14 which says, but if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant, I will also do this unto you. I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague that shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart, and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it, and I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies. They that hate you shall reign over you, and ye shall flee when none pursueth. So this is the first course of chastisement or punishment.

Now, it's important to understand that these courses of chastisement are not there just for the sake of punishing the nation because they messed up. But they're designed to get Israel back on course. They're designed for reformation and a change in behavior of the nation. Look at verse 18. And if you will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

So if the nation refuses to respond appropriately to these courses of chastisement, then the Lord will bring on the second course, and then the third course of chastisement, and then the fourth, and ultimately the fifth. And that fifth and final course of chastisement will result in the nation being removed from the land which God had promised them, removed through the land by way of the Assyrian and the Babylonian captivities. Now, as you read on down through the rest of the chapter, every time you come across this phrase seven times or seven times more, it denotes the next course of punishment, followed by a brief description of what the nature of that punishment is going to be. Now, understanding this very important passage here pertaining to the nation, Israel, is absolutely necessary in order to understand everything that will be going on with the nation from this point on in Israel's history, all the way up to the end of God's prophetic program for the nation on the earth. This passage outlines everything you will see in Israel's history, right up to the present time and on into the future as well.

Because after the Lord lays out these five courses of chastisement which Israel will experience, the Lord then gives Israel the prescription they will need to get the nation out from all these curses, information which Israel will most certainly need when their prophetic program resumes again in the future. And we'll take a look at that prescription here in Leviticus 26. Beginning in verse 40, where the Lord tells them that if they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers with their trespass, which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me, and that I also have walked contrary unto them and have brought them into the land of their enemies, if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled and they then accept the punishment of their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Jacob, Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember. And I will remember the land.

Okay, that's the prescription. That's what has to happen before Israel's program can come to fruition. And that then brings us to the book of Numbers. More than one year has passed since the nation's exodus out of Egypt. The laws have been given, and the priesthood and the sacrificial system has been established.

The tabernacle has been constructed. And now it's time for Israel to go in and take the land which they have been promised through the Abrahamic and the Palestinian covenants. As Israel approaches the threshold of the promised land, Moses sends out spies to scope out the land and then to bring back a report of what they find. And there is one spy from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who are sent out, and it takes them 40 days to spy out the land.

So the spies return, and ten of the twelve spies come back with a very dismal report. And they claim that it's going to be impossible for Israel to overcome the people who were in that promised land. Why? Because they contend that these people are huge, huge in stature. They're referring to the giants that were still in the land after the flood. And they're living in fortified cities far too mighty for us to overcome. It's only Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb from the tribe of Judah who contend that taking over the land is no problem at all. No problem. Why?

Why do they feel this way and the others are not feeling the same way? Because they know that God will be with them in the endeavor and that God will provide. He will provide whatever they will need to get the job done. Joshua and Caleb have the faith in the Lord that the Lord is looking for. But those other ten spies, they go on to convince the rest of the nation that the nation is doomed if they attempt to overcome the people in the land.

And then the nation overwhelmingly refuses to go in and take the land. Now, this corporate lack of faith on the part of the nation angers the Lord, so that the nation is now destined to wander around in the wilderness until every single Jew within the nation who refused to enter the land dies off the scene. Now, these wilderness wanderings are all part of that educational process that the nation is going to be going through over and over again throughout their history. And that educational process is to learn that it is faith in the Lord and in the Lord alone through which Israel is ever going to be able to accomplish anything. They need to rely on Jehovah to do everything that needs to be done, and he will do it.

And I'll repeat again, it's going to take the nation of Israel a long, long time to learn this lesson, but eventually they will. So the book of Numbers then describes this 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness. And by the time you get to Numbers, chapter 20, that former generation of faithless people have all died off the scene, and a new generation is finally ready to go in and take the land. All of those males in Israel who are of an appropriate age and suitable for battle are numbered for warfare in preparation for the taking of the land. Hence the name, the Book of Numbers.

It turns out there are over 601,000 men ready for the warfare. And that brings us to the book of Deuteronomy. Now, Deuteronomy means the second law, or the second giving of the law. Israel is now on the east bank of the Jordan river, ready to cross over into the promised land. And Moses addresses the nation.

Why does he do this? Well, this is a new generation. This new generation needs to be reminded of what they had contracted with God to do as part of the law covenant. And in chapter 28, Moses presents a much more comprehensive and detailed description of all those blessings which Israel could expect to receive if they obeyed the Lord, as well as a much more detailed description of all the curses which they could expect to receive if they failed to obey the Lord. Sort of a review of Leviticus 26 that we looked at earlier, but a much more detailed description.

This new generation is then encouraged by Moses not to fail, as the previous generation had failed. So Moses reviews all of Israel's history and exhorts the new generation to go in and take the land. Go in, possess the land. This is God's objective for the nation. This is the land where God has chosen to live and to conduct the business of heaven on the earth.

But there is one very important and very controversial issue that needs to be addressed pertaining to the Lord's instructions for the taking of the land. And those instructions are seen as Moses continues addressing the nation in Deuteronomy, chapter seven. And this would be a good part to end this study today. And we'll look into that controversial and important issue next week in part two.