There is a school of hermeneutics called Dispensationalism that teaches there are different times periods in which God works differently with different peoples. Most of these teachers have 7 dispensations, but I have seen as many as 21. However, not all people who teach dispensations are dispensationalist.
We Historicists count 3 dispensations so far.
Please note: We do not believe that God changes the way He is working. We do not believe that His laws have passed away. God does not change but rather His plan is progressively being revealed.
These three dispensations are marked by the fact that they begin with large amounts of information about God’s plans and purposes being revealed along with many miracles. Over time less and less information is given until only a few people are hearing. The period ends with approximately 400 years of silence.
The first one started with Creation to Moses. Pre-Mosaic time with Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and Joseph being the central characters of this dispensation; from Joseph to Moses there was 400 years of silence.
The second dispensation started with Moses and the Law given and ended with the Messiah and the final destruction of The Temple. From Malachi to John the Baptist there was approximately 400 years of silence. Interesting note; Moses was in the wilderness teaching the Law for 40 years and it took 40 years from the time of the Crucifixion to the final destruction of The Temple and with it the Sacrificial Code. Note also the disciples were teaching the Gospel and establishing “The Way” [Acts 24:14]. By the end of this period all of the disciples were gone,with the exception of John who was still alive.
The Third dispensation began with Messiah and continues till this time. This dispensation usually called the Church Age or Kingdom Age. At the beginning there was a lot of teaching and excitement during the first 400 years, then tapering off, as you can imagine, during the Dark Ages. Occasionally you will note some little guy or group popping up to keep it alive, such as Peter Waldo, John Huss, John Wycliffe, and the Reformers ending approximately with The Pilgrims. Since then we have experienced “the silence”.
We expect that a new dispensation is about to start. So following the format it should be heralded by copious amounts of information and performances of miracles.
It will probably take 40 years to assimilate the new information or teaching and we could really use those miracles as this world is a mess. Whether or not Messiah himself will return to give us this new revelation in God’s plan in the physical or spiritual way we do not know; only time will do the telling.
Speculation is fun but it is all vapor.
PS. We are pre-millennialist. However we are aware that there are some of the problems with this view.