In his paper entitled “The Different Ages and Dispensations of God’s Dealings With Men,” Dr. E.W. Bullinger draws a rough outline of the history of God’s administrations. Bullinger states that when the present dispensation of grace ends, the “epoch of judgment” will begin. This period will comprise the time covered by the Apocalyptic seals, trumpets, and vials. It will start when the church is “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air, and will end with the destruction of Antichrist at the revelation of Jesus Christ with all His saints.
While I don’t necessarily endorse all of Bullinger’s teachings, I do believe that there is a coming Dispensation of Judgment. Furthermore, I believe that we are rapidly approaching this epoch, and that, because of this imminency of this time of judgment, it is incumbent upon all Christians to maintain at all costs fidelity to the “faith delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). I think we will all agree that the world has reached a crisis, that we are at a turning point; and therefore we must pay attention to the “signs of the times.”
There are many signs in the world that tell us the end is near. We have only to open our eyes and ears in order to learn the truth. As I see it, one of these signs is the rapid defection of Christianity from the truths of God’s word. Paul predicted this, when He spoke of the “falling away” that would occur in the last days (2 Thess. 2: 3; 1 Tim. 4: 1; 2 Tim. 4: 3). Peter also warned that a time should come when men would scoff at the doctrines of the Second Coming, and hold to a humanistic message of human progress (2 Peter 3: 3-4). The time has come.
Another sign that corresponds to this falling away is the re-awakening of Jewish nationalism. Christ Himself said that Jerusalem would be trodden down until the fullness of the Gentiles had been brought in (Luke 21: 24). As defection from the Christian faith spreads, it becomes increasingly evident that the fullness of the Gentiles has almost arrived. It does not surprise me to see such a fervent worldwide interest centering around the nation of Israel. Dispensationally speaking, this can be seen as collateral to the predicted apostasy.
Pay careful attention to Paul’s words. He writes: “For as ye (The Gentiles) have in times past not believed God, yet have not obtained mercy through their (Israel’s) unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy” (Romans 11: 30-31). Notice how Paul left out what should have been the corollary of his main proposition. It almost seems that his argument should have run thus: “As ye the Gentiles have obtained mercy through Israel’s unbelief; so the time is coming when Israel shall obtain mercy through your unbelief.”
In pointing this out, I trust I am not putting words into God’s mouth. Only take time to ponder Romans 11: 20-21, and you’ll see what I mean. “Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear; For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” Wasn’t Paul implying that a day should come when the Gentiles would stand in danger of being cut off, just as Israel was cut off? And doesn’t this doctrine give us a clue concerning the meaning of that “mystery of iniquity” to which Paul alluded in 2 Thessalonians 2: 7? It seems indeed that the revival of Israel runs parallel with the defection of the Gentiles, both trends bringing the present dispensation to a close.
As the day of the Lord rapidly approaches, we find increasing signs of tumult and unrest among the nations. In many sectors of Christianity, a former optimism has been replaced by spiritual apathy, as the love of many daily grows cold. Is not this surely the time to return to repent and do the first works? As the clouds gather thicker and thicker, can any see that our eternal welfare may now be at stake? Who knows but that today those who, like Enoch, walk with God may hear the the heavenward call? To be safe with Jesus Christ, and sheltered from the coming judgments: is not this a prize worth striving for?
Of course, I realize that in recent years many have pointed out, all too clearly, the fallibility of man when it comes to setting the exact time of the Lord’s return. However, I fail to see how man’s fallibility can nullify the blessed reality that Christ will one day come back to gather His saints and to establish His Kingdom. Let us not be skeptical, but believe. For when the Dispensation of Grace closes, a new epoch will begin, and the Lord will not spare. Now is the time to fill our lamps with precious oil (Matt. 25: 4). Now is the time to get us safely into the ark; that when the Lamb begins to break the seven seals we may rest secure from His wrath.
No need to discuss how long the Dispensation of Judgment will last. Bullinger maintains that it may occupy a duration of as much as forty years. I myself hold to the view that it will last seven years exactly, filling up the whole of Daniel’s seventieth week. Yet regardless of the length of time in which the world will have to pass through its birth-pains, Christians must be always ready, as if this day were to be their last. Regardless of what men may say, and knowing that many will scoff, the true disciples of Christ will, like Lot, take heed to get out of the city before it is too late. It is my wish that before the epoch of judgment begins, those who are now wandering astray will return to the fold and follow their Heavenly Lord, Who alone can and will lead them unto the living fountains of waters. Amen.