2 Minute Seminary: Dispensational and Covenant Theologies

2 Minute Seminary: Dispensational and Covenant Theologies

Here are several differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology in a 2 minute or so read.

Dispensational Theology

Dispensational theology centers around the idea that God has dealt with mankind differently throughout history based on that time period’s “dispensation” of revelation (i.e. pre-Fall, conscience, promise, Law, grace, etc.). While there are different thoughts on how many dispensations there are, most adherents believe in seven. Dispensationalists also hold to a very literal interpretation of Scripture. This literal approach is the reason most dispensationalists believe in a clear distinction between Israel and the Church—God’s specific promises to Israel in the OT were for the Jews, and some have yet to be fulfilled.

Covenant Theology

Covenant theology believes that God has worked in covenants rather than dispensations. Most covenant theologians believe in two distinct covenants: a covenant of works (pre-Fall) and a covenant of grace (post-Fall). The idea is that in the Garden of Eden, Adam’s eternal life was dependent upon his perfect obedience to God. After the Fall, mankind’s eternal life was only obtainable by grace through faith. It is important to note that many covenant theologians believe that God did not abolish the covenant of works, rather Christ came and fulfilled it to make the covenant of grace possible.

Will We Serve God or Pharaoh?

Will We Serve God or Pharaoh?

During my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I was reading from Exodus chapter 1. After Joseph, along with his brothers and their generation died, a new pharaoh came into power in Egypt. Unlike His predecessor, He did not know about Joseph or the agreement that was made between the Egyptians and Hebrew people. Fearing that they would one day side with his enemies because of their growing numbers, this new pharaoh decided to oppress the Israelites.

The Egyptians treated them cruelly, forcing the Israelites to do hard labor. But, it seemed as if every time the taskmasters cracked their whips, another Hebrew child was born. God continued to bless His people in the midst of great persecution. Truly, He was keeping His promise to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob that He would make them into a great nation. Of course, this apparent blessing incensed Pharaoh at the time. So, he ordered the midwives to the Hebrews to kill every boy they help deliver. The ones who were the first to greet babies from the womb would now meet them with death.

Now, the story could have ended here. The midwives could have carried out Pharaoh’s orders like they were instructed, but they didn’t. Instead, they kept on delivering and sparing both the girls and boys. Why did they do this? Did they not fear the wrath of Pharaoh? I am sure they did to some extent. But, the Bible says they also feared God. And who is Pharaoh compared to God? These midwives knew that killing these newborn baby boys was wrong. God, then, confirmed that the midwives had done the right thing by blessing them with families of their own. It is said that if you were a midwife in Egypt at this time, it usually meant that you were not able to have children of your own. God showed them the good that comes from fearing Him.

The Bible makes it clear that we are to honor and obey the governing authorities because they have been established by God for His purposes (Romans 13:1). However, if the government passes a law or makes a decree that defies God and His Word, we must obey Him first. We see in the last verse of chapter one that Pharaoh did not give up on his plan. He ordered every Hebrew male son to be thrown into the crocodile infested waters of the Nile.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself: “Couldn’t this all have been avoided? Why didn’t the midwives just do what Pharaoh asked? Surely, God would understand.”

If we learned anything from Joseph’s life it’s that God can use what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for good (Genesis 50:20). And if you simply turn the page of your Bible to Exodus chapter 2, you see that He was doing that again. We can’t let the threats or even horrific actions of “pharaohs” dictate our personal obedience towards God. Like the midwives, we must do what’s right. We must serve God and Him alone. While God may have used Pharaoh’s evil actions for His purposes, He would not let Pharaoh’s sin go unpunished. This is the book of Exodus, after all…