The “Seven Dispensations” of Scofield’s Bible (continued)
That the Scofield “notes” do not rightly divide that Word of truth we have begun to show thus far in former chapters. However, we must now proceed with this task with unabated dedication to the Scriptures. For the interpreting of the prophetic Scriptures is a weighty task, a sacred trust from God to His faithful servants in His church. And ever the pattern must be such that we see in Christ Jesus the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. We must be able to demonstrate that our interpretation is such that, whatsoever promises there are, there are Yea in Christ and in Him Amen, to the glory of God the Father.
It is the basic failure of the dispensational “exegesis” of the prophecies to cling to Christ the Head of the church. Their exegesis is such that it is weighed in the balances and is found wanting. We have attempted to show this in our criticism of Scofield’s dispensation of “Innocency” and of “Conscience.”
We now have arrived at what Scofield denominates the dispensation of “Human Government.” This is the time from the Flood till the giving of the promise to Abraham, the father of all believers, Jew and Greek. It is not at all clear that in the teaching of Scofield this dispensation of “Human Government” ceased at the time of the giving of the promise to Abraham. In a “footnote” under Genesis 8:20 we notice that he captions the entire section from Genesis 8:20 through Genesis 11:51, as follows: “The Third Dispensation—The Third or Noahic Covenant to Genesis 9:27.”
At the foot of the page 16, we find the following informative paragraph.
. . . under Conscience, as in Innocency, man utterly failed, and the judgment of the Flood marks the end of the second dispensation and the beginning of the third. The declaration of the Noahic Covenant subjects humanity to a new test. Its distinctive feature is the institution, for the first time, of human government- the government of man by man. The highest function is the judicial-taking of life. Man is responsible to govern the world for God (sic, G.L.). That responsibility rested upon the whole race, Jew and Gentile, until the failure of Israel under the Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 28-30:1-10) brought the judgment of the Captives, when the “times of the Gentiles” ( ; Rev. 16:14) began, and the government of the world passed exclusively into Gentile hands. ( ; ; Acts 15:14-17)
That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is sadly apparent. The judgment of the confusion of tongues ended the racial testing; that of the Captivity of the Jews, while the Gentile testing will end in the smiting of the image (Dan. 2) and the judgment of the nations. (Matthew 25:31-46)
The above quotation from the “notes” is meant to be a directive for the reader of the Scofield Bible. It is meant as chartering the course for the proper dividing of the word of truth. And all these Scofieldian distinctions are purported to be the unfolding of the implications of the “Noahic Covenant,” This Noahic Covenant, then, subjects “humanity” to the iron-clad test whether they will rule the world “for God” or “for self.” The test is: will it work to place “man over another man” for world-government?
It is important to present properly and honestly the view of Scofield, lest in our criticism we make ourselves guilty of violating the Ninth Commandment in the Decalogue, and we, in effect, are only criticizing our own misrepresentation of Scofield, a mere caricature, instead of the actual false teaching of dispensationalist-premillennenialism. Hence, we have quoted Scofield’s “note” in toto.
Perhaps the basic error of Scofield is that he fails to interpret properly the Covenant of God with Noah, that he completely separates this Covenant from the Covenant of grace, as taught in the Genesis record. In a word: he has no room for the Christ, the heir of all things, in his representation of the “Noahic Covenant” which allegedly subjects humanity to the test whether they will rule for God. There is not one iota of Gospel, of glad-tidings in the Dispensational view of the “Noahic Covenant.” This covenant is nothing but a “testing attempt” on the part of God, and it is not a manifestation of God’s Covenant faithfulness!
This should put us on our guard, on our qui vive!
Let us not overlook the grand truth that all that Noah is, he is in sovereignly free grace; that is the only reason why Noah did not perish with the evil men of his day. Do we not read “but Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”? This was the sovereign grace of election by which Noah and his family were saved “by the water in the ark” (I Peter 3:20, 21). Noah was saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). A careful study of such Scripture passages as Genesis 19:9; Exodus 33:12; Luke 1:30; Acts 7:46 will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the grace, which Noah found in the eyes of the Lord, was the saving grace of elective love! It was not of works at all! Ultimately it was not that Noah was a righteous man. He was a righteous man because he “found grace” in the eyes of Jehovah, the Covenant God! It was not of works, lest any man should boast. Least of all should Noah boast from the heart of the ark, as he is saved by the water. This Flood was a picture of baptism itself, which is a matter of having a good conscience, washed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ.
This is further exemplified in the grand truth in God’s gracious dealings with Noah and his generations, as they proceeded from the church of the “eight souls.” It was in that church, in the ark, that we find the “holy line” from which Christ sprang, as is so clear from the genealogical data in Luke 3:23-28. Christ was really in that ark in the loins of Noah, Shem, Abraham, David. That is what really kept that little bark of an ark afloat. The church is the only thing which keeps the world having meaning; she is the only meaning in world-history. The history of the world is the history of the church. Church history is world history. It was in that ark that God “remembered” Noah!
What is the biblical import of the verb to remember?
It is really the quintessence of God’s covenant faithfulness. He remembers His own words and keeps them faithfully, so that not one jot or tittle remains unfulfilled by Him. Therefore, let it not be forgotten, we read that God remembers Abraham’s prayer, and His promise when He liberates Lot from the destruction, and fire and brimstone which turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes (Gen. 19:29). And when Israel groans in the bondage of Egypt, Jehovah “remembers” His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:24, 25). Tremble with holy awe when you read these exalted words in Exodus 2:25, “And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.” He has Israel in His book of remembrance; they are engraved in the palms of His hands!
In this “Noahic Covenant” God does not test the nations and “humanity,” but He shows His lovingkindness unto the church as she shall be in the Old Testament Dispensation in the confines of Shem, and as in the birth of Christ God will enlarge Japheth and cause him to dwell in the tents of Shem! That will be Japheth’s perpetual dwelling-place! (Gen. 9:27). Here we see in prophetic language, with the bold strokes of the heavenly Artist, the distant perspectives of the Dispensation of the fullness of times. Into this framework, this “pattern” of prophecy, we see that the Holy Spirit fits the promise to Abraham, “and in thee and in thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” Paul says of this lofty promise to Abraham as it pertains to the “nations” the following in Galatians 3:8: “and the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”
Such is the grand perspective of the “Noahic Covenant!”
And this all, by Scofield’s Bible, is reduced to a mere “testing of humanity,” a certain governmental-dispensation, which must certainly be doomed to failure in a fallen and corrupt humanity, apart from the Cross of Christ! Words can not utter my sadness over so much folly which has been wrought by so much ignorance that prates as knowledge of the Prophetic Scriptures. Here we echo the words of Paul in I Timothy 1:7, “desiring to be teachers . . . . understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm!” For let it not be overlooked by us that God’s covenant faithfulness is betokened to Noah, and ever since his day to the whole world, as a testimony, by placing His bow upon the cloud! And this “rainbow” speaks of the all-embracing magnitude of God’s covenant mercies over His church, embracing heaven and earth. It is the rainbow which is symbolical of God’s throne of mercy in Revelation 4:3 over His church! From this throne, in the most holy place, God issues His commands, and maintains His covenant mercies. Grace breaks through wrath! Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Jeremiah points out this faithfulness of God in the starry heavens, when he says in exalted words from the LORD, “If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . (Jer. 33:25, 26).
Let him that reads understand!
Noahic Covenant of “testing of humanity?” Not at all. It is the great promise of God who smelled a “sweet savor” of the clean beasts which Noah offered upon being permitted to come forth from the ark. It was the thank offering (burnt offering) which sanctified the good creature; it was the firstfruits of God’s new creation (James 1:18). It was the reason for the existence of the world till Jesus comes: while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, and summer and winter shall not cease (Gen. 8:22).
And in this world God would have His people live a “quiet and peaceful life.” And the “swordpower” was given to kings, kings who had been in the world of men in the form of “government” from the days of Adam! But now there is the “vengeance of God” upon those who try to kill and do kill those “made in the image of God.” This pertains par excellence to God’s sons and daughters, conformed to the image of God’s Son, that He might be the Firstborn of all things, and the Firstborn among many brethren! (Col. 1:18; Rom. 8:29).
Dispensation of “Human Government?” Not at all!
It was the dispensation of grace upon Noah and in the church of the ages!