In the course of doing research in eschatology, I found this quote by the now deceased dispensationalist scholar, and Dallas Theological Seminary founder Lewis Sperry Chafer:

It may be concluded that the term "kingdom of heaven" as used in the early ministry of Jesus referred to the Messianic, Davidic, earthly kingdom seen in the Old Testament. As has been noted, the Jewish preachers needed no instruction in the details of that message. It was the hope of their nation, and it was addressed to that nation alone. So, also, an appeal was made with this message for the anticipated national repentance, which must precede the setting up of the kingdom in the earth, and the requirements set forth were legal rather than gracious. Israel's kingdom was faithfully offered to them by their King at His first appearing. (The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, p. 51)

Here's what I gathered from this quote.

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ "faithfully" offered the Jews of His day a Messianic kingdom.

  2. This Messianic kingdom would be similar to but grander than the Davidic kingdom.

  3. This kingdom age would be totally legal. In other words, no salvation by grace.

According to Chafer's other writings on the subject, the Kingdom was rejected by the Jews, which prompted God to offer salvation through grace. The writings of Darby, Scofield, and Walford generally concur with Chafer's.

How does the dispensationalist view the Jewish rejection: As a matter of Israel exercising free will prompting God to change His original plan? Or as Christ's "faithful" offer to Israel and subsequent rejection part of God's original plan.

If needed, please correct my shortsightedness on any of the above conclusions.

  • 1
    Great question. I don't know that I have enough info to build a full answer, but verses such as Zechariah 12:10, as well as all of Jesus's own foretelling of his death would indicate that Christ's sacrifice was not plan B. Feb 17, 2016 at 0:37
  • I know Chafer wrote a systematic theology, but I don't have access at the moment. Wonder if this question covered in it? Chafer proposed a weird feel to the NT. Feb 17, 2016 at 1:20
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    It seems like you are limiting this question to the classical and traditional schools (Chafer/Scofield and Ryrie/Walvoord), to the exclusion of the progressives (Bock, Saucy). Is that your intention? There are differences between these camps, so a good answer should at least briefly cover the views of both or all three groups, depending on your preference. Feb 17, 2016 at 18:03
  • I'm interested in both views. I would certainly like to know the scriptural grounds of why the traditional views were rejected. Feb 17, 2016 at 18:16
  • Actually, classical and traditional are two different schools, and progressives are a third. I don't know for sure that there are differences between the camps on this particular issue, but it seems distinctly possible to me. Feb 18, 2016 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


In dispensationalism: Was gracious salvation through Christ an alternative plan

Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

The concept of “alternative” does arise periodically in the Bible and it is illustrative of the intersection of free will and God’s plans. For example;

Exodus 32:9-10 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

When God offered the nation of Israel the first covenant they all accepted.

Exodus 24:7-8 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

Jesus offered the second covenant by his sacrifice on the cross. At the time only a few were interested or even cared to understand.

The approximately 70 years between the birth of Jesus and the destruction of the temple, Israel had a legitimate offer of the Kingdom for her to accept. Jesus never once winked and said, “I know you guys are going to blow it, so here is the real plan”.

If Israel had accepted the Kingdom, the last two thousand years would have been war free, people would have longer lives, and nature itself would have been made less hostile.

We get a picture of this possible world from the description Jesus gives his disciples after the resurrection;

Mark 16:15-18 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Regardless if Israel received the kingdom 2,000 years ago or if a future faithful remnant receives the Kingdom at the end of the tribulation, God’s word still stands.

What we have with the example of the offer of the kingdom is the exercise of free will by the nation of Israel. It is not a brutal hand of God forcing the next step of his plan to become a reality. We can see a little of this with Elijah;

1 Kings 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. .....1 Kings 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

It is almost like God is telling Elijah, “Don’t worry about my plans, I still have 7,000 people I can use. I am concerned about you.”

God’s plans will be accomplish regardless of the faithfulness or faithlessness of man.

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    Does this reflect your own view or that of some published dispensationalist? Feb 17, 2016 at 17:29
  • I am not a dispensationalist, just interested in the subject. I will have broader questions concerning the necessity of the cross, and free will's role in the 1000 yr millennium. Thank you for your great response. Feb 17, 2016 at 17:38

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