Dispensation of the Law
The Dispensation of the Law
The Dispensation of the Law extends from the time of the Exodus to the birth of Jesus Christ which is approximately 1500 years. During the age of “Human Government” the nation of Israel flourished in Egypt under the administrative guidance of Joseph. As time continued the favor which Israel had in the land of Egypt diminished with the reign of a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. The once prosperous Israelites became prisoners of tyrannical leadership which brought the people into the bondage of slavery. Israel bared the burden of abuse for 400 years crying out to a God that they did not know, but only heard of through the stories of their fathers. The Lord heard the cries of His people in bondage remembering His covenant with Abraham and sent a “Deliverer” in Moses. After ten plagues rained down from heaven upon Pharaoh he yielded to the will of God and let the nation of Israel go.
Moses led Israel by the hand of God out of captivity and this started the fifth dispensation, The Law, where man would be governed by a highly comprehensive, detailed, and holy set of Laws. This type of government was to be theocratic. It was God’s intention through the Law to rule His people through a representative of His appointment which will fulfill His will. Contrary to a democratic government where the people cast ballots on a representative of their own choosing to fulfill the will of the populace.
Moses was the first appointed representative of God who would administer God’s will to the people. God brought Moses to Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter 20 where the Law of God was given to Moses to proclaim to the people. The Law of God is broken into three parts: The Moral Law, Civil Law, and Ceremonial Law.
The Moral Law consisted of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were set apart from the rest of the Levitical Law found later in Exodus for the foundation of humanity. The first four focus on our relationship with God and the last six focuses on our relationship amongst each other.
The Judicial Law included the precepts of the judicial system which was made of both criminal and civil laws. The judicial system of Israel is much like our judicial system of today. Not only were the laws recorded for the order of society and the protection of the citizens, but the punishments of violating such laws were stipulated for all to know as a deterrent. Unlike the modern United States criminal justice system which continues to waver between the ideologies of rehabilitation or retribution for incarcerated prisoners, God’s criminal justice system under the Old Covenant was strictly retributive; “an eye for an eye”. The rule of proportionality also followed into the civil law of Israel where the offender must pay back the value of property damaged or taken from the victim.
The Ceremonial Law established and governed the religions system of Israel. It included all the details of sacrifice and worship for the priest and people. Under the law there were many types of offerings and sacrifices such as the peace, sin, trespass, guilt, and wave offerings just to name a few. We also see the earthly tabernacle and earthly priesthood established under the law.
All areas of the Law provided a standard of living amongst the chosen people of God. It was through the Law of God that the nation of Israel could identify and be set apart from the rest of the nations on earth as a holy nation. As like the previous dispensations man failed yet again to fulfill his part and obey the commands of God. However, man’s failure did not deter God’s greatest work. All dispensations and covenants of the Old Testament led up to the dispensation of Grace where God would restore the relationship and purpose of mankind through Himself.