THE PRESENT DISPENSATION.
From what has been said in Ap. 63. ix and Ap. 71, it will be seen that there are different Dispensations, or different characters of Divine administration, suited to the different times in which such administrations are exercised. The object of this appendix is to show that, in the Old Testament, while this present Dispensation was kept secret (cp. Matt. 13:34, 35. Rom. 11:25. Eph. 3:5, 9, &c.), there are remarkable breaks which can be explained only after we have the key put into our hands.
There are certain scriptures which we cannot understand unless we use this key. Like the angels and prophets (1Pet. 1:11, 12) we may search in vain, while others may refuse to search and "look into" these things, and profanely speak of it as the "gap theory". Whether it be a "theory", let Scripture decide, and the Savior Himself teach. In the synagogue at Nazareth "He found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
And HE CLOSED THE BOOK, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down" (Luke 4:18-20). Why this mysterious action? Why not continue the reading? Because He could not; for the words which immediately follow refer to the end of the present Dispensation of Grace, and speak of the coming Dispensation of Judgment. Had he continued to read Isa. 61:1, 2, the next line would have been
"And the day of vengeance of our God".
But this part of the prophecy was not then to be fulfilled. As far as He had read, He could truly say, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." But He could not have said "This day is this Scripture fulfilled", had He not "closed the book", but gone on to read the next line. And yet, in the A.V. and all other versions, there is only a comma between the two lines, while there is a period of nearly 2,000 years between the two statements. (In the MSS. there is no mark of punctuation at all.) This will show the importance of "searching" and "looking into" the "manner of time" of which the prophets wrote.
Other examples may be found in
Gen. 1, between verses 1 and 2.