It might be easier for us to understand the Scripture when we recognize that God has dealt with mankind in blocks of time called dispensations. This is not to say that there is an abrupt end to one dispensation so that the next one can begin. More than likely the dispensations have some type of an overlap. This is the time travel that mankind has made through the years until the ultimate coming of Christ.
Pre-Adamic Dispensation – this was the time in which God originally created the earth. This was also the time in which humanlike creatures existed. To support this thinking, God told Adam to replenish the earth. The Hebrew word used here does mean replenish. It does not mean propagate. Whoever these people were they apparently were involved when Lucifer was thrown from heaven to the earth. (Isaiah 14: 12-17) Since the earth was destroyed and became void, it is likely that the bodies of these creatures were consumed in some type of fiery catastrophe. It is the opinion of this writer and other scholars that these disembodied things became demons. This helps us understand why demons have always wanted to invade the bodies of humans.
Eden dispensation – this is what Christians commonly think of as the creation period. All that we know today in terms of plants, fish, birds, mammals, and human beings came from this dispensation. It is important to realize that there is a space of many times between verse one and verse two of Genesis 1. Our present earth can be divided into the Era of Matter that involves God’s creation of cosmic light, the readjustment of the atmosphere, The reappearance of dry land, and the reappearance of vegetation. Then there is the Era of Life when solar light was restored, there was the creation of fish and fowl, land animals, and Adam made from the dust of the earth. This was followed by the seventh day in which God rested. In Eden Adam and Eve sinned causing God to reject them from the ideally life in the garden for their own safety.
Antediluvian dispensation – this is the time that extended from the fall to the great flood. It likely lasted for 1656 years. This could also be called the dispensation of conscience because there was no Law and mankind did what was according to their own convictions. During this time people adamantly produced children who lived for many years beyond today’s lifespan. God created mankind as a whole. There were no nations. Man’s carnal nature prevailed. God brought judgment through the flood but saved Noah and his family. God made a covenant with Noah that never again would he destroy mankind by a flood, and he gave the rainbow as a witness. Noah established worship through the use of sacrifices on an altar. God told them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Notice that the word replenishes is the same one God told Adam. In fulfillment of that instruction, mankind decided to build a tower to heaven, but God confounded their language so that they were confused and unable to work together. They dispersed so the sons of Noah scattered in diverse areas of the world generating first races.
Patriarchal dispensation – this was a period of 430 years from the call of Abraham to the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. The descendants of Noah became idolaters. God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their seeds would be multiplied as much as the stars of the heaven.
Legal dispensation – this. Lasted approximately 1491 years from the Exodus to the birth of Christ. Through Moses God established the Law. Therefore, their government was theocratic which meant God was the king; however, they insisted to be like other nations and have their own human king to God’s objection. This was a time in which the Jews sinned and rebelled against God. He punished them. They repented. He blessed them. They returned idolatry again. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament the cycle repeated itself multiple times. Also, God provided prophets to warn them, but in most cases, they did not listen which meant they suffered the consequences by which they were captured and taken to other countries as foreigners. Eventually they returned to rebuild Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastical dispensation – while on earth and before his crucifixion Jesus established the church. There were disciples, apostles, and believers all of which was without number. The church became formalized in government and practice. Gentiles were incorporated into the church. At first Christianity was seen as cult. Later it became an international religion separate from the Jews. Emperor Constantine declared himself a Christian. At one time Christians were martyred. After his conversion, Christianity became in the vogue and spread throughout the Roman Empire. The church was Christ’s tool to reach the rest of the world through salvation. However, as time has progressed the church has backslidden and failed in their assignment.
Future dispensation – this begins with the rapture of the believers were both Jews and Gentiles. This included those who are dead and alive were ruptured into the clouds to meet Christ. In heaven there will be celebration. On earth there will be terrible plagues and various punishments for the wickedness of those who would not accept Christ as their Savior and Messiah. On earth there will be the seven year tribulation during words the Antichrist reigns. Christ will return to earth to bring judgment followed by a millennial period of peace and tranquility. Afterwards, there will be the Great White Throne Judgment in which Satan and those in league with him are sent to an eternal hell. All believers will have an eternal life ruled by Christ in a joyous state for eternity.