Just as important as knowing what happens in the Bible is knowing when.
Dispensationalists should not be date-setters, but we do acknowledge words, phrases, and verb tenses in the Bible that indicate time.
A good example is the book of Ephesians which is filled with such time indications. It talks about the foundation of the church, when it was laid, its future destiny, and how it differs from what God was doing in the past.
Paul uses words like “before” and “after”, “until”, “time past”, “ages to come”, “were”, “are”, and “but now”.
For example, in Ephesians 3:5 Paul says there are “other ages” in the past that did not know things “now” revealed.
Paul was living in the “now”. Old testament prophets were living in “other ages”.
If you were to go back in time to the prophets of other ages (by turning a few pages), they would not know as the apostles and prophets contemporary to Paul knew.
The Bible describes change over time. This necessitates paying attention to when things were known. Times must be distinguished and separated.
You can read about the past or the future in the Bible, but it is dangerous to time travel and put yourself in another time. Too many things can go wrong, especially if you take something from another time and bring it back into the present.
Making every verse of the Bible speak to the present time does a great disservice to God’s manifold wisdom, breaks the laws of Bible interpretation, and creates a Bible time paradox that can make your spiritual life disappear.
Notice the passage of time. When you plot these time elements out you will not have dates, but you will have what goes before and what comes after in the form of a Bible timeline.
We call these dispensational charts. They are important for knowing when you are reading about and will help you avoid the dangers of Bible time travel.
For God’s grace,
Justin “time traveling safety” Johnson