HOW CAN WE KNOW WHEN THIS PRESENT DISPENSATION ENDS AND THE NEXT BEGINS?
I believe that the dispensation of the mystery began after Acts 28 when Israel was put aside as God’s chosen people. (For the Scriptural reasons for that belief please see the paper on this web-site, When Did The Church Begin?)
I believe that the dispensation of the mystery will end and the new dispensation will begin when God takes Israel back as His people. That is to say, the dispensation of the mystery could not begin while Israel was God’s chosen nation and the dispensation of the mystery must end when Israel is taken back, (please see the paper The Church In The End Times for the Scriptural reasons for that statement). So in order to know when this dispensation ends we must know the sign of Israel being taken back.
THE SIGN OF ISRAEL BECOMING GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE AGAIN
As mentioned above, Israel has temporarily been put aside as God’s chosen people, and the new dispensation will begin when they are taken back. How can we know when God takes Israel back as His chosen people? I believe that the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem will be the first sign that God is preparing to take back His people to Himself. Let me offer the Scriptural reasons for that belief.
In Exodus 25:21-22 we read, “Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony which I will give you. There above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all My commands for the Israelites”. And in Deut. 12:11 we read, “Then to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for His Name …there you are to bring everything I command you”. It is clear that God told Israel that He would dwell and meet with them from wherever the ark of the Testimony was.
God promised in II Chron. 7:14-16 “….if My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place, My eyes and My heart will always be there“. Of course, there was the other side of this promise, which was the promise of verses 19 and 20. “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commandments I have given you, then I will uproot Israel from the land I have given them and I will reject this temple which I have consecrated for My Name“.
Indeed, Israel did forsake their God and worship idols and God did give them up. In II Chron. 36:19 we read of how the Babylonians, “set fire to God’s temple and set fire to Jerusalem”.
For 70 years Israel was lo-ammi (not My people) but when the 70 years were over, God, in His grace took them back again. Is it any wonder that Israel was so anxious to rebuild the temple when they were released from captivity? They understood that it was because they had sinned that God had given them over to captivity, and that God did not dwell with them as long as His dwelling place with them, i.e. the temple, lay in destruction.
Now we need to ask ourselves if we have the Scriptural proof for the conclusion that the temple will be rebuilt for the end times. The answer is, yes, we do. The KJV of Dan. 9:27 reads, “”….and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate….”. The note in the Companion Bible on the phrase, “for the overspreading of” reads, “on the wing or battlement of”. The NIV translates 9:27, “And one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”. The fact that the temple will have been rebuilt by the time of the tribulation is further proven in II Thess. 2:4, “Who (the antichrist -see verse 3) opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”. We know from this that the temple will have been rebuilt by, at least, the time of the tribulation.
To answer the question posed in this section directly, I believe that as the building of the temple in Jerusalem is completed, God will take Israel back His chosen people.
With the end of the dispensation of the mystery comes, of course, the end of the church that is being called out in that dispensation. Please see the paper on this web-site, The Church In The End Times for a discussion of that topic.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org