Restoring the Tabernacle of David

Restoring the Tabernacle of David

In chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles we find the dramatic account of what is arguably the most important “Christian” conference ever held; namely, the Council of Jerusalem.

It was here that the term expressed as the “tabernacle of David (also translated as “tent” or “booth”), so frequently celebrated and interpreted of late, first came into prominence. I say interpreted because it’s not exactly clear what the “tabernacle of David” is. The term is found in a prophecy in the Book of Amos that was quoted by James, leading to his decision not to impose the Law upon the non-Jewish converts. So, obviously, understanding what both Amos and James meant by the “tabernacle of David” is important.

Therefore, I would like to share with you my investigation, not only into the meaning of the term, but into what provoked James to quote Amos in the first place. And why it caused him to rule the way he did.

What I believe the Lord showed me will greatly bless you.

                                            David’s “tabernacle”
To begin, here is the passage James quoted in my New American Standard translation. First, as it appears in the Book of Amos. And second, as James quoted it in the NT. The James version is slightly different because he no doubt had a different manuscript.

“In that day, I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the Lord who does this.’” (Amos 9:11,12)

“With this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the nations who are called by My name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’” (Acts 15:15-18).

So, what is the “tabernacle/tent/booth of David?” In searching Israel’s long history, there are really only two legitimate possibilities Amos could be referring to.

First, it could be the tent David pitched in Jerusalem to temporarily house the Ark of the Covenant that had been previously captured by the Philistines, and then returned (see 1 Chron. 16:1). David had moved the Ark to Jerusalem and placed it inside a special tent pavilion, appointing Levite priests to offer continuous praise and worship there before the Lord. The Ark then remained in David’s “tent” until Solomon built his grand edifice.

Some teachers believe this is the tabernacle/tent Amos was referring to, seeing in this unique enclosure a foreshadowing of a soon-coming restoration of Davidic praise and worship. I have no doubt David’s highly unorthodox tabernacle is freighted with many Messianic types and shadows like that. However, I don’t believe this is the “tabernacle/tent” Amos was speaking about; neither do I believe James thought this.

A major reason for dismissing David’s ‘pup tent’ from consideration is that the tabernacle Amos spoke about had “fallen,” sustained “breaches,” was in “ruins” and needed to be rebuilt. How could that apply to David’s temporary shelter for the Ark? As far as we know that tent was simply folded up and retired after Solomon built his magnificent temple, and the Ark restored to its proper place in the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, I’m convinced the second possibility is the correct one. Namely, that it was a figurative reference to the kingdom of David that had been reduced to the status of a small hut – or tent – following the secession of the northern ten tribes after the death of Solomon. A breakup that left the kingdom divided into two separate nations, the House of Israel and the House of Judah.

If so, then Amos’ “tent” was not a tabernacle or temple at all. But a restored throne. Amos was simply prophesying that God would one day reunite and restore the Davidic kingdom. The implication, of course, was that God would raise up a future king from the line of David to sit on that throne and rule over his restored kingdom. That son of David, of course, we know is Jesus – Messiah Yeshua. And that with His resurrection the Davidic kingdom was reborn with the promise it will be completed and fully manifested in the last days.

The New Living Translation Bible, I believe, correctly captures the Amos prophecy, saying: “In that day I will restore the fallen kingdom of David. It is now like a house in ruins, but I will rebuild its walls and restore its former glory” (Amos 9:11).

A prophecy by Isaiah also adds support to this understanding: “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, and a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David. Moreover, he will seek justice and be prompt in righteousness” (Isa. 16:5).

So, let us proceed with that understanding and investigate the curious ruling James made at the apostolic council, which raises two questions: first, what caused James to determine from the Amos quote that the non-Jewish converts should not be subjected to the Law of Moses?” And two, why did he quote the Amos prophecy at all?

                                         Amos and the Law
At this point I’d like you to go back and reread both versions of the Amos prophecy. Then I have a question for you.
I’ll wait.  (Amos 9:11,12) (Acts 15:15-18)

Done? Good. My question is, do you see any mention of the Law in either quote? Because I don’t. The only link to what Amos said and the purpose of the meeting I see is that, when you see goyim begin to seek the Lord, it will signal that the healing and restoration of the Davidic kingdom has begun.

So, if there is no mention of the Law in Amos, then what did James see in the prophecy that convinced him the Law should not be imposed on those coming to Messiah from the nations?

I believe the answer can be found in the fact that James was no doubt very familiar with the history of Israel. Especially, as to what caused the breakup of the united kingdom 900 years earlier. And from that knowledge he gained a huge insight that he saw being played out in the council’s proceedings. So, let’s revisit that dark and gloomy day as told in 1 Kings 12 and see what James understood by the Spirit that led him to rule the way he did.

                                                  A king’s folly
The year was around 930 BC. King Solomon has died and judgement is about to fall upon Israel. Despite all his renowned wisdom, the king had wandered from the paths of righteousness in his later years. He’d gathered many chariots of war with horses, taken many wives and built many temples to their gods. Everything God told him not to do – he did. Though warned many times by the prophets, he’d persisted in his rebellion.

Consequently, God allowed discontent to grow in his kingdom like a cancer. It stemmed mostly from the forced labor he’d imposed upon the tribes of the north, along with high taxes. To trouble him further, God raised up a firebrand from the tribe of Ephraim, a man named Jeroboam, to whom God promised the ten tribes following Solomon’s death.

Well, Solomon has finally died. And his son Rehoboam has assumed the throne. Seemingly unaware of the impending judgment about to fall, Rehoboam visits the northern tribes to try and consolidate his kingdom.

Here then is my portrayal of the “town meeting” in Shechem, which
resulted in the awful breakup of the Davidic kingdom.

It was well before dawn when the people began to gather inside the city. Old men and warriors, women with children, Levites and laborers, nobles and farmers, all crowded together to get close enough to hear what their new young king Rehoboam would say to them.

Three days had passed since they’d first met with their new regent to present their simple request – a plea for mercy. “Your father made our yoke hard; therefore, lighten the harsh service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put upon us and we will serve you,” Those were the words their leader, Jeroboam, had used to plead on their behalf.

The king had listened attentively, but did not respond “yea” or “nay.” Instead he’d ordered all to depart and return in three days when he’d give them his answer. The king then spent the next three days conferring with his advisors. His older advisors, seeing the rebellious mood of the people, and understanding the need to win the allegiance of these northern tribes, advised the king to comply with the people’s request. But his younger, hot-headed counselors told him to use all the power of his Davidic monarchy to bring the people into submission.

It was now the third day. Stepping out from among his royal coterie, the king surveyed the vast crowd, along with their representative Jeroboam, who stood before him with arms folded. Lifting his voice so all could hear, the king gave them his answer: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”

His words hung in the air like a death sentence. Then suddenly the people erupted. “What portion do we have in David?” one man shouted. “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse,” cried another. Turning to the crowd, Jeroboam bellowed, “To your tents, O Israel!” And then spinning again to face the seething king, he spat out his contempt: “Now you can look after your own house, David!”

Returning to Jerusalem, King Rehoboam immediately began raising an army to smash the rebellion and reunite the country. But God sent a prophet and told him not to fight against his relatives, revealing the whole separation was of Him. Rehoboam, showing he was not totally void of spiritual discernment, heeded the prophet and did not go to war.

The ten northern tribes quickly crowned Jeroboam king and established their own nation with their capital in Shechem (later Samaria). It would be called the Kingdom of Israel, or “Ephraim” after the most powerful of their ten tribes. In the south, only the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to House of David. They became known as the Kingdom of Judah with their capital remaining in Jerusalem.

The family of Abraham had now split into two rival nations which continued for another two hundred years. When the northern kingdom became utterly and hopelessly idolatrous, God sent in the nation of Assyria to deliver the divorce papers by utterly destroying the kingdom of Samaria/Israel. As Hosea had prophesied, they became, “Not My people” (Hos. 1:9).

The ten tribes were carried off and eventually scattered among the nations, never to be seen or heard from again (Hos. 8:7-9). Nevertheless, God placed a light at the end of their dark tunnel. He sent prophets like Hosea and Amos to declare that one day He’d bring back a remnant and reunite them with Judah under a future Davidic king.

                                        The Jerusalem Council
Now, fast forward nine centuries and take a front row seat at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).

Men kept filing into the room in twos and threes until there was no place left to sit or stand. All the Jewish believers in Jerusalem knew of the importance of the meeting and all who could fit were squeezing in to hear the determinations first-hand.

In the midst of the crowd, Paul and Barnabas, and the disciples who had come with them from Antioch, were describing to the apostles and elders the things God was doing among the uncircumcised through their ministry. Seated to the left of the apostles sat a number of men with grim faces in fine robes who were paying very close attention to all their words. These believers in Yeshua belonged to the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees.

Paul, speaking with much animation, was describing in great detail the numbers of non-Jewish believers coming to Christ. As the sound of murmured approval grew louder, suddenly one of the Pharisees harrumphed, and standing to his feet, declared, “It will be necessary to circumcise these new converts and direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” A nervous silence descended upon the room.

The apostles and elders immediately asked for the Torah scrolls to be brought forth so they could look into the matter. An intense debate then followed, until Peter, frustrated by the lack of progress, stood up and reminded everyone how God had recently used him to share the gospel with the family of Cornelius. And how they had all gotten saved and been filled with the Holy Spirit. Didn’t this clearly show that God was making no distinction between Jews and non-Jews? That He was cleansing the hearts of all who came to Him?

Realizing he had caught the wind of the Spirit, he then looked at the Pharisees and drove home his argument: “Now therefore, why would you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of these new disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

The silence that followed Peter’s heartfelt defense gave instant feedback that the tide was turning. Paul and Barnabas immediately arose and confirmed Peter’s witness that God was truly in this, relating more of the signs and wonders He was doing among the uncircumcised.

When they had finished, James, the brother of the Lord, and the acknowledged leader of the ecclesia in Jerusalem, rose slowly to his feet. “Brethren, listen to me.” Immediately, every head swiveled in his direction.

“Peter has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the nations a people for His name, and with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all those from the nations who are called by My name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’”

Continuing as if everyone clearly understood that this quote from Amos was the final word on the subject, James declared:

“Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the nations.”

The debate was over. Peter and Paul’s defense of the new converts had been vindicated. The Mosaic Law would not be imposed upon the disciples. They would only be asked to abstain from a few Mosaic red lines, most likely so as not to offend the Jews who lived among them in the Diaspora. It would be a decision that would cause great rejoicing among the new converts, then, and for centuries to come.

                                 Would history repeat itself?
Now let me ask. Did you see the parallel between these two meetings? I believe James did. And it was the reason he decided to rule as he did. Let’s see.

Both meetings revolved around a plea from one party asking to be released from a harsh yoke of slavery. The first from the yoke of conscription to hard physical labor and high taxation. The second from the yoke of the Law.

Both took place at the start of a new Davidic rule in Israel: Rehoboam’s and Yeshua’s.

Both had their defense lawyers advocating for mercy and grace. And both had prosecuting attorney’s advocating to maintain the harsh yoke of servitude. The only difference was the outcome. The Jerusalem tribunal resulted in a decision that favored the complainants.

I’m convinced the only reason James ruled as he did was because the Holy Spirit reminded him of King Rehoboam’s awful ruling. In a nanosecond, he must have realized that if he allowed the Law to be imposed upon the necks of those now being saved from the nations they’d be repeating the same tragic mistake their forefathers had made. A mistake that would have the same painful consequences – another tragic division. For surely the new believers would be no more willing to have the yoke of the Law imposed upon them (especially starting off with circumcision) then the northern tribes wanted to continue under heavy taxation and forced labor.

I believe James grasped in that moment the historical importance of his decision. And he knew this time God didn’t want a division to happen. This was the time of restoration. So, he ruled against placing the Law on the disciple’s necks, overturning 1400 years of tradition. And preserving the spiritual unity of this newly formed “holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9).

With that ruling, it was agreed the burdensome legalism of the Old Covenant that had once placed a wall of partition between circumcised and uncircumcised believers, namely “the Law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15) had been torn down in Messiah.

In Messiah, we could all live, Jew and non-Jew alike, as one new man on ground – “apart from the Law” (Rom. 3:21). The only yoke we had to carry now was the personal one Yeshua gives to each of us. But as He promised, “My yoke is easy, and my load is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

                                                  The final mystery
But, even if I’m correct in that understanding, there remains one more question to be answered. Namely, if the Amos prophecy had nothing to do with the Law, why did James quote it? What did the evidence of goyim seeking the Lord have to do with the restoration of David’s throne?

                                       There can only be one answer
I believe James realized that these goyim being saved were a remnant of Ephraim. The very ones God had divorced for their idolatry and called “not My people.” Redeemed through the blood of Messiah, they were now being reunited with a saved remnant of Judah.

And what better proof text to quote than Amos 9:11,12? It was the passage that tied the sign of goyim seeking God with the restoration of David’s kingdom! If you recall, the whole book of Amos is primarily a judgment against the northern Kingdom of Israel. But it is in the ninth chapter where we find the promise given that the very breach God had imposed on the nation would one day be healed.

The prophecy also implied that the incoming remnant of Ephraim at that time would be resubmitted to the reigning king of the House of David. And in Yeshua, those who were coming out of the nations had indeed repented of their rebellion and bowed in submission to the son of David’s rule. All that was needed now, according to Paul’s prophecy, was for the fullness of these now being saved from the nations to come in. Then the eyes of Judah would be opened – and “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26).

For me, it is the only explanation that makes sense. How else could the inclusion of saved goyim factor into the restoration of David’s kingdom? It only makes sense if they are the missing rebellious family members being brought home under a new covenant. One “not like the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (Jer. 31:31).” One that was promised ONLY to the descendants of the House of Israel and the House of Judah!

It also helps explain why James, and even the Pharisees, were so willing to swallow a lifetime of prejudice to accept the goyim into the family to start with. They had to have seen that God was now fulfilling the prophecies about rebuilding the tabernacle of David through Messiah, just as He said He would though Amos, and all the prophets. Jeremiah had said: “I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel and will rebuild them as they were at first” (Jer. 33:17).

The final piece of evidence for me that James no doubt understood who the new believers were, is found in his opening salutation in his one letter that made it into the New Testament. It begins, “James, a bond servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings” (James 1:1). In the Greek, it literally says – “to the twelve tribes in the Diaspora.” Keep in mind, the massive Jewish Diaspora following the Roman destruction had not yet occurred.

Some teachers are at a loss to explain this salutation by James, suggesting he was putting the equivalent of a note in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. Hoping some lost scattered descendants of the nation might see it and call home.

No, this was a letter of encouragement sent specifically to all the believers in Messiah who were living in all the different nations. Because I believe he knew he was speaking to all the mishpochah (Heb. “family”), the saved remnant of Judah and Ephraim. He understood that in them the “tabernacle of David” was finally being restored. It was just going to take a lot longer than anyone back then could have imagined.

                       Will history try to repeat itself – again?
I will conclude with this final heads-up. As the time approaches now for the full restoration of David’s Tabernacle and the physical and spiritual reunion of Judah and Israel, the very issue that should have been settled forever at the Jerusalem Council has come alive again.

It has arisen as more and more Christians have awakened to the falseness of the religion created under Constantine. We are finally seeing the Christianity that evolved from the decisions of Nicaea, and the so-called ecumenical councils that followed in the fourth and fifth centuries, was more influenced by the teachings of Plato and Aristotle than by the writings of Paul and the apostles. In time, this Hellenized hybrid became the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church.

Primarily a “Gentile religion,” it was  created by Constantine and others mainly as a substitute and a rival for Judaism, and in many ways, was modeled after it. It showed that the apple had not fallen far from the tree. We had followed in the same foolish footsteps of our Ephraimite ancestor, Jeroboam, who upon realizing God had given him a new kingdom, decided to keep it all under his control. So he cut the people off from their Hebraic roots so they wouldn’t rejoin the nation and leave him out in the cold. He accomplished this goal by giving them a parallel religion with their own holy days, shrines and gods.

It has now become obvious to many that Constantine was our Jeroboam. And Christianity was his “gift” to us.

Well, many centuries rolled by and God sent numerous reformations to restore us to Biblical integrity. But in took a miraculous Twentieth Century event outside of Christianity  to really awaken us: the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland and the establishment of the State of Israel. It showed God had not abandoned the Jews as Replacement Theology had taught. Though unable to rebuild their temple, there has been a huge push to do so. If God hadn’t allowed the Dome of the Rock to be on the temple Mount to keep that from happening, it would already be up. And their religion restored.

Following Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, two more miraculous events occurred. For the first time since the days of the apostles, the blinders came off Jewish eyes, and many began to see Yeshua was the Messiah. At the same time, blinders came off the eyes of many non-Jewish followers to see how we’d been cut off from the Hebraic roots of our faith. And even more, to realize how the religious title of “Christian” had robbed us of our true identity. So that we never saw all the prophecies about Ephraim’s restoration were actually talking about us.

That brings me to the deception I now see spreading among many Christians awakening to the Hebraic roots of their faith. In separating from the man-made holidays and rituals of Christianity they are replacing them with the tenets of Judaism. Like hungry Esaus’,  they don’t realize they are trading away their inheritance in Messiah for a mess of pottage.

Calling themselves “Torah Observant,” these foolish ones are just  exchanging one man-made-up religion for another. For with or without a temple and animal sacrifice, this brand of Judaism is just another hybrid. One that combines belief in Jesus with observance of a smattering of  Mosaic commands. I call it New Covenant Judaism.

The tail that’s wagging this dog, sad to say, are mostly teachers from the Messianic Jewish Movement. Early on, most Jewish believers had shucked Christianity’s holidays and traditional worship in favor of more Jewish-flavored celebrations that embraced their own heritage. It was not a giant step for them to then really start practicing their ‘old time religion.’ After all, most had grown up observing some form of Judaism before getting saved. So that’s where they are most comfortable.

Being Torah Observant lets them have their cake and Yeshua too (they think). And now they are inviting (in fact, insisting) all non-Jewish brethren who want to draw closer to their “Jewish roots” to join them in practicing the Law of Moses. For them,  true fellowship in the “Commonwealth of Israel” cannot be found outside of Moses. But Scripture tells us it is found only Yeshua. “That in himself he might make the two into one new man, thus establish peace” (Eph. 2:15).

                                   We’ve come full circle.

More and more believers are now seeing the restoration of Israel has been God’s primary concern all along. That the kingdom of God was never about going to Heaven. But about bringing forth a restored throne of David under a righteous king, Yeshua, here on earth. A servant nation through whom God could save the whole world from the corruption of evil.

But, just as it looks like it’s about to happen, we find ourselves once again facing the need of another Jerusalem Council. Only this time Paul won’t be here to rescue non-Jews from  succumbing to this false gospel, shouting – “who has bewitched you?” Or Peter to remind Jews, “Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our fathers no we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). Or a recognized leader like James to speak for the whole body and pronounce God’s warning not to go down that path. Or we’ll see the Israel of God split in two again.

Those anointed voices, of course, are still speaking loudly from our Bibles. But few seem to be listening. Which tells me we desperately need, and will surely receive, a fresh move of God’s Spirit to descend upon us and make it absolutely clear to all that there will be no going back to the Old Covenant. It’s a new day!

“Come let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us. He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So, let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn. And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

 

One Reply to “Restoring the Tabernacle of David”

  1. Woo Hoo!!! Praise the Lord!!! This awakening of truth really began for me last Passover Sunday (I don’t like to say Easter anymore :). For two years prior I had been diligently studying the books of the Prophets, trying to understand. Most nights I’d fall asleep listening to them on a Bible app. While sitting in church hearing a nice (often heard) sermon about the Prodigal Son, suddenly the blinders were lifted! I recognized in it the two Houses! I was amazed, wondering if this could be true. I went home, searching the internet to see if others saw this too. Sure enough…I was not alone!!! This has been an exciting discovery. May the division among many groups of believers be united by this truth. Thanks you for posting this article!!!

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