IS THE PRESENT DISPENSATION UNIQUE?
We read in Hosea 1:9, “Then said God, ‘Call his name Lo-ammi; for ye are not My People, and I will not be your God'”. This prophecy was fulfilled during the seventy year captivity of Israel. That is to say, for seventy years Israel was not God’s people.
But Israel is also lo-ammi in the dispensation of the mystery. Does that mean that the present dispensation is not unique? No, it does not. The characteristics of the dispensation of the mystery are not the same characteristics of the Old Testament lo-ammi period. That is to say, the relationship of the nations is what characterizes the dispensation of the mystery, and that relationship was entirely different in the Old Testament. Let us first determine from Scripture what the characteristics are of the dispensation of the mystery. Those characteristics are found as we study the mystery that had been hid in God.
What is the mystery that had been hid in God? That question is answered in full in the paper on this web-site What Exactly Is The Mystery That Had Been In God?. But for the purposes of this study I would like to concentrate on one particular characteristic of that mystery as revealed by the word translated “same body” in Eph. 3:6.
The term “same body” is a translation of the Greek word “sussoma”. It is made up of the prefix “sun” and the root “soma”. “Sun” is almost always translated “together” and “soma” means “body”. As is true of many other languages, the adjective (in this case “sussoma”) must agree in number with the noun it modifies. We read in New Testament Greek by D. F. Hudson published by NTC Publishing Group on page 14, paragraph five, “It is also most important to notice that adjectives must have the same function as the noun to which they refer, and must therefore, be in the same Case: they must also have the same number and the same Gender. A singular noun must have a singular adjective, a plural noun must have a plural adjective.…..”. In short, the KJV translation of “susomma” cannot be correct because “same body” is not plural.or in this case, because it is used to modify a plural noun (i.e. “ethnos”) it must be plural, i.e. “bodies”.
“Ethnos” translated “Gentiles” in Eph. 3:6 must mean “nations” (it is often translated that way) because it makes no sense to say that Gentiles are together bodies. In other words, one of the characteristics of the dispensation of the mystery is that the nations are “together bodies”. What does it mean to be “together bodies”?
As we consider two Old Testament scriptures it will become apparent what is meant by “together bodies”. I King 8:53, “For Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be Thine inheritance….”. Lev. 20:24, “……I am the Lord your God Which hath separated you from the people”. In other words, part of the mystery hid in God was that as a result of Israel’s becoming lo-ammi at Acts 28, all nations are “together bodies”.
But since Israel was also lo-ammi in the Old Testament does that mean that the nations were also “together bodies” in the Old Testament lo-ammi period? That is the question that will be addressed in the body of this study. But in order to address that question we must first address a few other issues.
The paper on this web-site called Who Was Reconciled To God By The Cross? will prove from Scripture two facts about reconciliation: 1) It is not the same as salvation. One verse should suffice to prove that reconciliation is not the same as salvation. We read in Rom. 5:10, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Note the phrase “much more”. If salvation was the same as reconciliation Paul could not have said that salvation was “much more” than being reconciled.
2) The second fact about reconciliation is that it is a unilateral act, i.e. it does not need to be accepted or believed in order for it to be put into effect. A study of all the New Testament occurrences of the word “reconciliation” will show that there is not even a hint that reconciliation must be accepted or believed in order to be put into effect (please see the above mentioned paper for all the occurrences of the Greek words translated “reconcile” for the proof of that statement.)
We are now ready to consider the question as to who was reconciled to God by the cross? We read in II Cor. 5:18-20, “And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their sins unto them, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation”. In Romans 5:10 we read, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son…..”. Putting these two passages together we may conclude that the world, while still enemies of God, was reconciled to Him by the death of Christ on the cross. Romans, chapter one tells us why that reconciliation was necessary.
We read in Romans 1:22-24, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness……”. Because of the great sin described in Romans 1, God gave up the world to those sins. We are not told when in human history God gave them up, but I believe that after God gave them up He called Abram, so that He would have a people through whom He would reveal Himself to the world. That would put God giving up the world just before the call of Abram.
Reconciliation then, is the world being reconnected to God by Christ’s death on the cross. The world, which had once been given up, was, at the cross, reconciled to God.
ISRAEL’S RELATIONSHIP TO GOD DURING HER PAST AND PRESENT LO-AMMI PERIODS
We know that several books of the Bible were written during Israel’s Old Testament lo-ammi period. Those books are Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel and Esther. Was the Word of God added to during the New Testament lo-ammi period? Absolutely. Paul wrote the seven prison epistles after Israel became lo-ammi at Acts 28. Nothing has been added since then only because, as we read in Col. 1:25, the revelation of the dispensation of the mystery fulfills the Word of God. The Greek word translated “fulfills” means “completes”. In other words, there are no further revelations in the Bible because God has told us that the Bible is complete.
Even prophecy was fulfilled during the Old Testament lo-ammi period. Dan. 9:25 tells us that the 70 weeks described in that chapter will begin when the commandment to build Jerusalem will be issued. That commandment was not recorded, but it is obvious, (to me, at least) that the commandment was issued to Nehemiah when he had asked Ahasuerus if he could go to Jerusalem to rebuild it, and he did go there and rebuild the city (see Neh. 2:2-8). In other words, the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem is not recorded in Scripture, but given that Nehemiah sought permission to rebuild the city and did rebuild the city, I believe that we may conclude that the permission/commandment was indeed given.
Is prophecy concerning Israel being fulfilled in the present lo-ammi period? No, it is not. But that is because the only Israel centered prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled are end time prophecies. End time prophecies cannot be fulfilled until Israel will be taken back.
Did God still care for Israel even after they became lo-ammi in the Old Testament? I believe He did. Consider Appendix Number 60 in the Companion Bible which speaks of the book of Esther, written during the 70 year period in which Israel was not God’s people. That Appendix.reads in part, “Jehovah had declared (Deut. 31:16-18), that if His People forsook Him, He would hide His face from them. Here this threatening was fulfilled. But though He was hidden from them, He was working for them. Though the book reveals Him as overruling all, His Name is hidden. It is there for His People to see, not for His enemies to see or hear”. The Appendix then goes on to show how God’s Name, i.e. “Jehovah” was hidden in the book but appeared in four different acrostics.
In short, God had indeed hid His face from Israel, but He was still taking care of them so that Haman would not destroy them.
And we read in Ezek. 11:16, “…..Thus saith the Lord God, ‘Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come'”.
Is God caring for Israel in the present lo-ammi period? We cannot be sure because Scripture does not tell us. But because there is no difference in the relationship of God to Israel in the Old and New Testament lo-ammi periods, I see no reason to believe that God is not protecting Israel from extinction as He did when Haman threatened to kill all Jews. For example I do no not think it is accidental that despite the fact that Jews were without a country for almost 2,000 years they still have their own language, and their own Bible, i.e. the Old Testament, and their own religion. When one considers all the persecutions from Spain, Russia, Nazi Germany and most recently from the surrounding Arab countries, it is really quite remarkable that Israel did not become extinct. And when you add to that the large extent to which individual Jews have integrated themselves into the cultures of the countries to which they have been scattered, it is remarkable that Jews are still a race of people apart from all others. I believe that just as in the Old Testament when God still cared for Israel even though they were lo-ammi, so too He cares for Israel in the present lo-ammi period.
In short, the difference between the Old and New Testament lo-ammi periods is not a difference in Israel’s relationship to God. That relationship is the same in the present lo-ammi period as it was in the Old Testament period.
THE UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP OF ISRAEL TO THE NATIONS IN THE PRESENT DISPENSATION
We are now ready to answer the question posed in the title of this study, i.e. is the present dispensation unique? As we continue in this study, I believe the reader will see that it is not Israel’s relationship to God that is different in the present lo-ammi period, it is Her relationship to the nations of the world that is different. Let us continue.
The nations had been cast away, probably before the call of Abram. How do we know that the nations being cast away did not result in the same relationship to God as Israel’s relationship when She became lo-ammi? We know by the steps that were taken to reverse each. In order to reverse the nations being given up on as recorded in Romans 1, Christ had to die on the cross (see II Cor. 5:18-20 quoted above). But at the end of the 70 year captivity God simply took Israel back as He promised He would.
I am suggesting that because what was required to reverse the position of the nations being given up was quite different than what was required to reverse Israel’s being lo-ammi, the relationship of the nations to God was not, at the time of the 70 year captivity, the same as was the relationship of Israel to God at that time.
The next question we must consider is: how is the relationship between the world and Israel different in the present dispensation than it was in the Old Testament lo-ammi period of Israel? Let us, for the sake of clarity, assign levels of the relationship of Israel to the world at various points in history as recorded in the Bible. (I am not suggesting that the Bible actually speaks of levels, I use them only to clarify my views.) After God “gave up” the world we may think of the world being at level one. Then God chose Abram to be the father of Israel and Israel, being God’s chosen People, were at level three. When Israel became lo-ammi in the Old Testament She was at level two. That is to say, even though God had hidden His face from Israel, He was still watching out for Her, so She was not at level one with the rest of the world. Then when Israel was taken back by God after Her 70 year captivity, She was at level three again.
But after the cross, when God reconciled the world unto Himself the world was at level two, i.e. no longer given up (level one), but not chosen nations (level three). Then when Israel once again became “not My people” after Acts 28, Israel was at level two with all the world. So for the first time in history, Israel was on the same level as all other nations, i.e. all nations were together nations. And that is what makes the dispensation of the mystery unique.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org