The Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:1-18)
The Bible references for the above title of this article are passages which I believe to have strong Eschatological ties and implications. When we hear the term, "The Tabernacle of David," our minds immediately think of the landmark conference of the church in Jerusalem; a conference consisting of Peter, Paul, James, and Barnabas, along with the elders of the Jerusalem congregation (Acts15:1-29).
This "Jerusalem Conference" was held as the result of Jewish Disciples (Pharisees in particular, vs.5) who had gone from Jerusalem to Antioch, teaching the Gentile Disciples there that they must also be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses to be saved. Needless to say, this precipitated a much-spirited debate among the brethren in Antioch. The contention was so sharp, the brethren determined to send Paul, Barnabas, and certain others to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles and elders there about this question! (vs. 2).
The part of this conference that plays the major role in this article centers on the remarks made by Peter and James. As we look into the words of these two Disciples, it behooves us to remember that James and Peter were very well-learned in the Old Covenant writings, and thus were very familiar with not only the original prophecy by Amos (Amos 9:11-12), but all of the passages we will cite in this study.
The Prophecy of Amos (Acts 15:14-18); the Basis for James' Judgment (Acts 15:14-18)
The first to speak at this conference was Peter (verses 7-11), then, Paul and Barnabas (vs. 12), and, finally, we hear from James. Now it is his (James') words that I wish to invoke at this point. For the purpose of a closer adherence to the original text, I have taken this passage from Young's Literal Translation of the Bible. James begins his brief discourse in Acts 15:14 where he quotes some monumental words God spoke through His prophet, Amos (Amos 9:11-12). Beginning in Acts 15:14 let us now examine the words of James: (vs. 14) "Simeon (Peter) did declare how at first God did look after to take out of the nations (Gentiles-jg), a people for His name, (vs. 15) and to this agree the words of the prophets, as it hath been written: (vs. 16) 'After these things, I will turn back, and I will build again the Tabernacle of David that is fallen down, and its ruins I will build again, and will set it upright (restore it - NASB). (vs.17) that the residue of men (rest of mankind - NASB) may seek after the Lord, and all the nations (Gentiles), upon whom My name hath been called,' saith the Lord, who is doing all these things. (vs.18) Known from the ages to God are all His works; (vs.19) Wherefore, I judge: not to trouble those who from the nations, do turn back to God."
I don't know to what depth or degree you may have considered this account of "The Tabernacle of David," but I fear that perhaps most, upon reading this passage, have perhaps (as I once did) looked right past a monumentally important lesson that our Father intended for us to learn from this account! For many years, the degree to which I understood Amos' prophecy was simply this: That James is merely addressing the point in time at which the gospel was introduced to the Gentile World, which was accomplished when Peter, in Acts 10, preached to Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. And as a result, Jews and Gentiles would no longer be divided, but would now be "one" in Christ Jesus!
While the above is indeed an undeniable truth, it is clearly obvious from the language that there is far more to it than this! Therefore, I believe this begs a most important question: Why does God, through the prophet Amos, along with James' interpretation, indicate that there is a nexus or connection between "bringing Gentiles into the Church" and "rebuilding or restoring the Tabernacle of David?"
One thing for certain; for James to apply the prophecy as he does, assures us that he understands the Old Covenant Scriptures to teach such! And for that reason, I believe, if we can learn more of the facts regarding the Tabernacle of David, it just might clear up the mystery for us!
As I indicated above, beyond the obvious of bringing Gentiles into the church, I completely overlooked the deeper application that I now understand James made of Amos' prophecy of The Tabernacle of David! It could be that this is something that has escaped your notice as well! Let me say also regarding the "connection" above: I believe, because there was no disagreement with James' application of Amos' prophecy on the part of any of the other brethren there, that this is evidence that they also understood and agreed with James' application of the prophecy!
In light of these facts, doesn't it naturally follow that our Father intended that we 21st Century Disciples also reach the same conclusion as those in the conference? Surely, He didn't intend for this to be a mystery to us any more than to them! I say this because this prophecy was being revealed and fulfilled during the First Century; the very time when our Father was making known to men those things which before had been mysteries!
We have already established that this meeting of the Apostles and church leaders, centered on "Gentile Disciples" coming into the church. However, I believe when we look further into our Father's word, we will see that this matter of "The Tabernacle of David" deals not only with "Gentiles" in general, but also with some "very special Gentiles!"
As we explore this most intriguing subject, one other thing of which I believe we should guard against is: believing that this "rebuilding of the Tabernacle of David" is something that is to happen in our future. If we should infer from the prophet that he is speaking of some "physical" building or Tabernacle of David at some point yet in our future, then we have missed James' point entirely! I believe it is crucial that we understand that James is saying the words of Amos were in agreement with what was transpiring right before their very eyes with the conversion of the Gentiles! Yes, judging from the language, I believe it is abundantly clear that the building-again of the Tabernacle of David was in progress in James' and Peter's day! In other words, it had a First Century Fulfillment! And because it had a First Century Fulfillment, the Tabernacle of David, of necessity, cannot be a "physical" building, but rather a "Spiritual" one! And for this reason, I believe that our task now becomes: To learn just what the connection is between the "bringing of the Gentiles into the church" and the "building again of the Tabernacle of David." Just how do we reconcile the two events, and just how do they relate to one another? First, if we are to get a clear understanding of a "First Century Fulfillment" of this prophecy, I believe we must view it through a "spiritual" lens as opposed to a "physical" lens, as some Disciples are wont to do. In other words, we must make a "Spiritual" application of the term! To get a better understanding of just what the prophet was saying, let us look back in the Old Covenant writings and find out more about the times of David, to see just what it was that would have caused Amos and James to use the expression, "The Tabernacle of David."
The Twelve Tribes Prior To And During The Davidic Reign
At the time David became king, and even before that, under their first king, Saul, the twelve tribes had become a fractious and quarrelsome people, continuously fighting and warring among themselves. Moreover, the sinfulness of King Saul only added to their rebellion, strife, and division! For example, from 2 Samuel 3:1, we learn that there had been a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David (2 Samuel 3:1). Therefore, it is clear that during the period before the Davidic reign, the twelve tribes of Israel were a greatly "divided" people! But the Inspired Writer tells us that during this period, David grew stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker. Then, upon the death of Saul, circumstances began to take on a brighter hue. David was anointed king, first, over just the house of Judah only (2 Samuel 4). However, shortly thereafter, we learn from 2 Samuel 5:1-3: "Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, 'Behold, we are your bone and your flesh.' Previously, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and in. And the Lord said to you, 'You will shepherd My people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel.' So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel (all twelve tribes-jg)."
Adison Martin observes: "David subsequently subdued the Philistines and brought peace to Israel from all of their incursions. At that point, David brought the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem and placed it within the tabernacle that he had pitched for it there (2 Samuel 6:17). That is the Tabernacle of David, and it served as both a type, and in later writings, as prophecy." (The Tabernacle of David by Adison Martin, pp 12). Adison Martin says of the tabernacle/tent David built for the Ark of God: "As far as we can tell from Scripture, God did not command David to set up a tabernacle and bring the Ark of the Lord into it. Neither is there any record of its design, construction, or the materials from which it was made. The Testimony simply tells us that it was David who built and erected it upon Mount Zion, a mountain that was inside Jerusalem upon which David lived (2 Samuel 5:7, 9) in his own palace of cedar (2 Samuel 7:1-2). To the prophets thereafter, Mount Zion became a metaphor for God's heavenly dwelling place (Micah4:7); also various passages in Isaiah). The fortifications around Mount Zion were called the city of David (2 Samuel 7; 6:16-17)." (The Tabernacle of David, Adison Martin, p. 12). It was after David had reigned in Hebron for the first 6½ years that the battle with the Philistines ensued. It was they, who had previously taken the Ark of God and had placed it in their city of Baal-Judah (1 Samuel 4:10).
The Initial Building Of The Tabernacle Of David
Being the "man after God's own heart," David, after placing the Ark of God in the tent (tabernacle) he had pitched (stretched-jg) for it, assembled all the people. Immediately, upon offering burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord, David "blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts (2 Samuel 6:17-18)." Then we learn from 2 Samuel 7:1, the Lord had given David "rest" from all his enemies. When one reads the entire account, one learns from the language, that God was greatly pleased with David's actions.
As the Ark was being moved, there was much joy, celebration, and praise to God. And just what does all this mean? What it means, I believe, is something of great moment in Israel! It was of great moment because, all twelve tribes of Israel were now brought together, and at one in this marvelous "tent/tabernacle" that David had built for the Lord. And thus, this "Tabernacle of David," symbolized the peace and unity that all twelve tribes would now enjoy, as they would now have with them, the presence of the Sovereign Lord! The rebellion and strife had now ceased and the twelve tribes now becoming one, united and at peace under their king and shepherd, David.
This, of course, was God's plan all along! This was the initial building of the Tabernacle of David and what it symbolized. David would now reign in Jerusalem another 33 years over the whole twelve tribes of Israel.
The Falling Down Of The Tabernacle Of David
Sadly enough, this Tabernacle of David (i.e., the peace, tranquility, and unity of the Twelve tribes) was not to be for very long, but would be torn down a mere two generations later. And just how did this come to be? Well, upon King David's death, his son Solomon would reign. During the later years of Solomon's reign, he married foreign wives; pagan wives who turned his heart away from Yahweh, even to the point of his worshiping their gods for a period of time. Because of this egregious sin on the part of Solomon, God said He was going to tear the kingdom away from him, albeit for the sake of his father, David, He would not do this in Solomon's lifetime, but in the lifetime of his son, Rehoboam (1 Kings11:1-13). This, God did, when He tore away ten tribes from Rehoboam's rule, giving them over to Jeroboam, son of Nebat, leaving Rehoboam only two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. After this great division in Israel, Judah and Benjamin would become known as the house of Judah, whereas, the other ten northern tribes became known as the house of Israel. And once again, wars and fightings between them would ensue! The once mighty united nation of Israel was now divided into two houses and thus, two kingdoms. Now there would be the southern house and kingdom of Judah, under the rule of Rehoboam, and the northern house and kingdom of Israel, under the rule of Jeroboam. And it was this that constituted "the falling down of the Tabernacle of David!" During the evil reign of Jeroboam, he made the house of Israel to sin a great sin against Yahweh - spiritual harlotry (idolatry). And in spite of God's many warnings to them, they ceased not to worship other gods (See 2 Kings17:21). God would now put her away and give her a writ of divorce for her harlotry (Jeremiah 3:8).
Ten Northern Tribes Taken Into Assyrian Captivity
Most Disciples today are aware of the fate of the Northern Ten Tribes, i.e., "The house of Israel." Because of their refusal to cease following after other gods, Yahweh had finally had enough. In 2 Kings 17:23-24, the Inspired Writer, says what happened to them in 721 B.C.: "…the Lord removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva, and from Hamath, and Sephar-vaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities." Most of us are aware of these things that happened to the house of Israel at this point in time. However, many are not as aware of what happened to them in the interim, i.e., what became of them subsequent to their Assyrian Captivity and Diaspora of 721 B.C.?
The House Of Israel Become Gentiles
I know! I know! To some of those reading this, the words of this subtitle will seem strange indeed! However if you would please be so kind, I would like to explain! You may remember that at the start of this essay, I mentioned how that James, in his reference to Amos' prophecy about "The Tabernacle of David," would speak not just about "Gentiles" in general, but also about some "very special Gentiles!" Well, it's the matter of those very special Gentiles that I would like to address at this time.
The Prophecy Concerning Joseph's Two Sons (Genesis 47:1-20)
We won't quote the entire passage, but this prophecy is made by Jacob regarding Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. In this prophecy, Jacob, who is on his deathbed, is blessing the two boys before he dies. And in doing so, he shows God's choice of Ephraim, the younger, over Manasseh, the older. The verse I would like to call to your attention is vs. 19 which reads: "But his father (Jacob-jg) refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know; he (Manasseh-jg) also shall be great. However, his younger brother (Ephraim-jg) shall be greater than he, and His descendants shall become a multitude of nations.'" In this passage, what is so interesting is the translation of the Hebrew for "multitude" and "nations." In Strong's Concordance the Hebrew word for "multitude" is "melow," which is translated "fullness." The Hebrew word for "nations," he says is "goyim," and is translated "Gentiles." Therefore, it is clear from this passage that Ephraim, at least his descendants, were to become the "fullness of the Gentiles." This is most interesting when we consider the fact that both of these boys were Hebrews, i.e., Israelites! Yet, God says that Ephraim's descendants would become "the fullness of the Gentiles." It's even more interesting when studying Romans 11:25-26, which we won't get into here.
As we continue now in the Book of Hosea, we learn from chapter 1, that the Lord, because of Israel's (northern ten tribes) incessant sin of harlotry, said He would put an end to the "kingdom" of the house of Israel (vs. 4). As for the people (the house of Israel), well, during the period of time after their captivity and dispersion by Assyria in 721 B.C., they became interspersed among the nations (Gentiles) around them and among them, and becoming "Gentiles" themselves! Yahweh declares quite definitively in Hosea 8:8-9: "Israel (house of Israel-jg) is swallowed up; they are now among the nations (Gentiles-jg). Like a vessel; in which no one delights. For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has hired lovers." In Hosea 1:6-9, Yahweh expresses in the interpretation of the names He has Hosea to give his children, that for the time-being, He would have no mercy or compassion on them, and that the house of Israel would no longer be His people, and that He would no longer be their God. However, that is not the end of the prophecy, for He also says that this would not be a permanent condition. He continues in verses 10-11: "Yet the number of the sons of Israel (house of Israel-jg) will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, you are not My people, it will be said to them, you are the sons of the living God. And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel (harvest-jg)."
Now please take careful notice of what God says would later be said of them. He says that it would be said of them (house of Israel): "for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (vs. 10). Have you ever wondered just who it was that reported the fulfillment of this prophecy? Well, here is a hint. It was one of the brethren in attendance of this Jerusalem Conference - the Apostle Peter! Would you please now look at that prophecy once again, and then compare these words with Peter's words in 1 Peter 2:9-10, 25: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy…for you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." It is probable that some readers would declare, "Surely, this can't be so because Peter was writing only to Jewish Disciples." To which I would suggest that perhaps the reason for their saying this, could possibly be because they may not have considered the manner in which both Peter and James addressed their Epistles. Please notice 1 Peter 1:1 and James 1:2. For example, here are the greetings in their Epistles: Peter (1 Peter 1:1): "Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen." James (James 1:1):"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings." I believe the greetings from these two Inspired men speak for themselves; that "Gentile" Disciples were being addressed as well as Jewish Disciples! If one should consult a map of the Middle East showing the ancient Assyrian Empire of 721 B.C., one will find that the provinces described in Peter's greeting were a part of that great empire! Moreover, judging from the words of Peter in 1 Peter 2:9-10, 25; it seems clear to me also that some of these Disciples being addressed here would have been those who were the "very special" Gentiles we alluded to earlier, who were the subjects of the prophecies in Hosea 1:10; Hosea 8:8-9. And so, with this, I believe we have offered more than enough evidence from the Scriptures to show that it was the division or breaking apart of the 12 tribes of Israel that constituted the "falling down of the Tabernacle of David" of which Amos had prophesied!
The Building Again Of The Tabernacle Of David
If you remember, at the beginning of our study we stated that our primary goal was to learn exactly what the connection was between the "bringing of the Gentiles into the church" and the "building again of the Tabernacle of David," and how these two things relate to one another? We have shown from the Old Covenant Writings, that it was "the tearing down of the peace, unity, and oneness of the twelve tribes of Israel," which occurred during the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, that constituted "the falling down of the Tabernacle of David"! And so, in light of this fact, the next logical question would be: What then would constitute "the building again or restoring of the Tabernacle of David?" Would not the simple answer be: "the bringing back together of the twelve tribes of Israel," in peace and unity?" At this time, I would like to bring to your remembrance, the prophecy we quoted earlier from Hosea 1:11, which speaks to the "bringing back together" of the "house of Judah" and the "house of Israel" (the twelve tribes), restoring the "peace and unity" under one leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the "New" Covenant of peace! Here's what Yahweh said in that prophecy:"And the sons of Judah (house of Judah-jg) and the sons of Israel (house of Israel-jg) will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader. And they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel (harvest-jg)." But this is only the beginning of the many like prophecies that spoke of this coming-together-again of the house of Israel and the house of Judah under the "New" Covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ! I would now like to follow with some of those prophecies.
Prophecies Of The Soon-to-Come, Fully Perfected And Consummated New Covenant
Among the many prophecies that speak to the re-uniting of the house of Israel and the house of Judah, are those which prophesy of the coming of Yahweh's New Covenant. This New Covenant of peace, He would effectuate with the twelve tribes, and with His Son as "mediator." One of the first ancient prophets to speak of this promised New Covenant was the prophet Jeremiah, who prophesied 628-586 B.C. Please hear God's promise of this monumental "reunion" and "New Covenant": "Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord, I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying Know the Lord, for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Then, Ezekiel, who prophesied 593-571 B.C., also spoke of this same great promise to re-unite the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Please notice the colorful manner in which Yahweh has Ezekiel to characterize this reunion and New Covenant: "The word of the Lord came again to me saying, 'And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, "for Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions." Then take another stick and write on it, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions." Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick that they may become one in your hand. And when the sons of your people speak to you saying, "Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?" Say to them, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.' And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. And say to them, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. And they will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. And My servant David (i.e., Jesus-jg) will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them. And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant (i.e., Jesus-jg) shall be their prince forever. And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them (See Revelation 21:2-3), and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.'" (Ezekiel 37:15-28).
It would be some six centuries before the time would come for the fulfillment of these prophecies of our Father's promised New Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. During the last days of the Old Covenant age, (approx. A.D. 64-65) the voice of God would be sounded once again via the pen of the Writer of the Hebrews Epistle. Interestingly enough, the Writer announces that it is Jesus (the Son of David) who is the mediator of this New Everlasting Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Hebrews 8:6). And then, beginning in verse 8, the Writer echoes the words of Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Yahweh's promise of His New Covenant. Here, the Writer quotes the Prophet Jeremiah, saying: "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord.' For all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.' When He said, 'a New Covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear" (Hebrews 8:8-13).
This also brings to mind John's gospel account of Caiaphas' remarks regarding our Master. Caiaphas had, unknowingly, prophesied saying: "It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation should not perish" (John 11:50). John then writes in vss. 51-52: "Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that He might also (gather together into one), the children of God who are scattered abroad" (cf. 1 Peter. 1:1; James 1:1).
Just as a side note, it should be noted here that in this study, even though "the house of Israel" is mentioned more than the "house of Judah," it should be noted that the "house of Judah" also had people who were scattered among the Gentiles as well. For example, when the house of Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity, some of the Jews had gone to Edom for safety from King Nebuchadnezzar.
Also, after the 70 year exile, when the house of Judah were given their freedom by King Cyrus of the Medes and Persians, to return to the land of Judea, many of the Jews remained behind. Josephus records that only about 50,000 of them returned to Judea. Isaiah speaks of both houses in Isaiah 11:12, 13, 16: (vs. 12) "And He (God) will lift up a standard for the nations (Gentiles-jg), and will assemble the banished ones of Israel (house of Israel-jg), and will gather the dispersed of Judah (house of Judah-jg) from the four corners of the earth" (vs. 13) Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, and those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim... (vs. 16) And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel in the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt."
Now back to the Jerusalem Conference. In Luke's account of this meeting (Acts 15:14-19), we learn from vs. 17 that the time of the "rebuilding" of the Tabernacle of David, would also be the same point in time when the "residue of men" (rest of mankind - NASB), would seek the Lord. When I see the words "rest of mankind," to me that means: In addition to those who were Israelites, I understand them to be speaking of all of those people who were "non-Israelites" of the world, i.e., "Gentiles in general." That brings us to a real eye-opener for me! Please take a close look at whom He names immediately after he speaks of the rest of mankind. He says, "and all the nations, upon whom My name hath been called."
I just have to say, that I find that simply remarkable! But if one doesn't pay close attention to what the Writer is saying, one might think the prophet Amos is repeating himself. But no, I don't believe this is the case at all! I believe the prophet is speaking of still another group of people. Judging from the things we have already studied, I believe we recognize exactly to whom he is referring. For when I consider those among the "Gentile" people, who at one time, "had been called by Yahweh's name," the only Gentiles, who come to mind for me, would be "those from the ancient house of Israel." Please notice the past tense "hath been called." And for this reason, it seems abundantly clear to me that among the Gentiles mentioned in the passage, the descendants of those from the "house of Israel" would have been among them.
In light of the context of Amos' prophecy (Amos 9:11-12), please note carefully, what he had said just three verses earlier, regarding the "house of Israel." In verses 8 and 9 we read: "Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom (kingdom of Israel-jg), and I will destroy it (the kingdom, not the house-jg) from the face of the earth; nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob, declares the Lord. For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel (ten northern tribes-jg) among all nations as grain shaken in a sieve, but not a kernel (of the remnant-jg) will fall to the ground."Amos originally prophesied these words, so scholars say, in approximately 728 B.C. I find that interesting in that this would have been only about seven years before the house of Israel was banished to Assyrian captivity and the Diaspora of 721 B.C.
Here's something else I find very interesting. In one of Paul's letters to a church made up mostly of Gentile believers, Paul says in Ephesians 2:11-12: "Wherefore remember, that you being in time past, 'Gentiles,' in the flesh, who are called Un-circumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, 'being aliens from' the commonwealth of Israel, and 'strangers from the covenants of promise,' having no hope and without God in the world..."
Having limited Greek skills, and relying on those who possess such, I looked at what Strong's concordance says with regard to the word "alien" as it is used here. Under his #526, he says the Greek word here is, "apallotriow" English, "apallotreeo." Mr. Strong defines the word as: "to estrange away." In light of this definition, I asked myself this: If these are people who were "estranged away" from the commonwealth of Israel, would that not also imply that they had, at some time in the past, been associated with the commonwealth of Israel? These things got me to thinking more, and so I went to Young's Literal Translation to see how the passage was rendered there. Young renders Ephesians 2:11-12 as follows: "Wherefore remember, you were once 'the nations' of the flesh, who are called Un-circumcision by that called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, that ye were, at that time, apart from Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world." Isn't it also the case that, when a person is "estranged away from," or "having been alienated from" another person, it could imply that he/she was, at some point in the past, associated with the other person… as in the case of a husband and wife, for example? Therefore, I am persuaded that bringing the Gentiles into the church, was that which facilitated the restoration of the two houses, and did make the twelve tribes "one" again, just as in the days of David. This time -Spiritually - under the one Shepherd and King - the Lord Jesus - the Christ, under the "New" Covenant that was promised, of which we other Gentiles, have been made "fellow citizens" and heirs with them! In Ephesians 3:3-11, Paul declares that he is revealing to the Ephesian Disciples (most of whom were Gentiles) something which in past times was a "mystery." He calls it "the mystery of Christ" (vs. 4). As he said, this "mystery of Christ" was: "…to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (vs. 6).
In closing, I believe there is something that should be understood regarding Paul's preaching to the Gentile World: I wouldn't think that we are to conclude that Paul, as he preached the gospel to the Gentile World, would have been able to delineate between the Gentiles, as to which ones among them were descendants of the house of Israel. But, I would say, with His knowledge of all the prophecies by God's great prophets, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and Hosea, that he certainly knew that among those Gentiles to whom he was preaching, were those who were descendants of the ten northern tribes. And he also would have known that among them, would also have been some of the descendants of the house of Judah, who did not return to Palestine after the Babylon captivity.
Permission granted by the author, Jim Gunter, who may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim and his wife Gloria have been Full Preterist Believers since 2002. The Holy Spirit has inspired Jim to write numerous articles as a freelancer to God's Praise, Honor and Glory. Those wishing to be placed on Jim's mailing list, may subscribe via his e-mail. All Scripture texts - unless otherwise indicated - are quoted from the NEW AMERICAN
STANDARD BIBLE® (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The
Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Inserted explanations by the author are indicated as (-jg). This article may be printed in its entirety for personal study and free distribution, but never to be sold as Jesus Christ said, "The Kingdom of Heaven [He Himself] is at hand ... freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7-8).