5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
What is the tabernacle of David?
In the book of Acts, we read about this controversy in the church in which Messianic Jews who had been orthodox, rabbinic Jews (Pharisees) prior to their conversion believe that in order to be saved Gentiles needed not only to believe in the Messiah, but to become proselytes of Judaism: to follow the full religious system of the Jews.
Interestingly, some time prior to this Peter had been given a vision three times – the interpretation of which was that no man who was sanctified by faith was unclean (Acts 10:28 & 34-35). God further confirmed this to Peter by pouring out the fullness of the Holy Spirit on uncircumcised, Lawless Gentiles, effectively proving that Peter had correctly interpreted his vision, and that God fully accepted the uncircumcised (that is: ‘not in covenant with God’ – circumcision was the sign of the covenant, or relationship with man.)
If that did not prove that the Law of Moses need no longer be followed, Paul who had been the strictest of Pharisees among the Apostles prior to his conversion had made the larger part of his ministry among the uncircumcised, and verified what mighty miracles God wrought among them though the gentiles whom God miraculously worked among were uncircumcised, and Lawless as well. Thus showing that God made no preference between Jew or Gentile in this beginning of the church age.
Ah! But there were the prophecies of scripture to reconcile with, and does not the Old Testament, in many places prophesy that God would, again, prefer the Jews one day and bring them back to their land?
So taking all of the prevalent evidence supplied by the Apostles of Christ that a New Covenant era had come, James, the brother of Christ was faithful to refer back to the bible! Can we come into a new spiritual paradigm without confirmation from the Word of God?
James, therefore, quotes a scripture which the Messianic Pharisees may well have been holding to regarding the era promised of the Messiah’s coming. James references ‘the prophets,’ by whom he meant those Old Testament Prophets which prognosticated the era of the coming Messiah. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah… specifically, James quotes from Amos 9:11 & 12.
Interestingly, this passage in Amos clearly mirrors passages in Isaiah, and Ezekiel which Zionists of today claim means that the earthly land of Palestine will again become the possession of religious Jews, yet James by the Spirit of God interprets the passage entirely different from that perspective – though it surely would have been the perspective of the Jews at the time, just as it is also their perspective today.
Let’s look at the passage that James quoted in full:
11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
I think that verse 15 here is the real clincher: ‘I will plant them upon their LAND, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their LAND which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.’
But wait… let’s go back to the early church council that we started with in Acts 15. Doesn’t this mean that if this era has begun, the Jews are preferred in God’s eyes above the Gentiles… or that one day they will be? Does Jesus Christ (the tabernacle of David) change? Is He not the same yesterday, today, and forever?
But Peter has prophesied that in the age of Messiah, ALL MEN WHO BELIEVE are sanctified by Christ. Paul has proven that God works equally among those who are not circumcised. And then James, the brother of Christ gives the final word on the matter by quoting this scripture.
No, it is not the Pharisees – not the Zionists – who interpret this passage correctly, but James realizes that in the era of Messiah, those who flock to the tabernacle of David (those who put their faith in Jesus) ARE THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL – those of the tabernacle of David.
James interprets the passage as a spiritual fulfillment in which the Gentiles are incorporated into Israel. Whereas the Jews believed it meant that they would own gentiles as slaves in the age of Messiah (and still do orthodox Jews believe that today), James declared that no: the Messiah of the Jews will be received of the Gentiles as well. This is confirmed by all the prophets, just as James also affirms.
This being the case, the understanding of Israel as a ‘nation,’ and Israel as a ‘land’ must be interpretted from the spiritual context which includes the Gentiles. Jesus declared to the Orthodox Jews of His day that the kingdom would be taken away from them, and given to others (Matt 21:43-46). Christ’s ministry spread the promises of inheritance to ALL PEOPLE. Since Amos 11:12 means the promise of inheritance was opened to the Gentiles, the LAND described in Amos 11:15 MUST BE a promise of inheritance of the Kingdom of God, and not of physical property – if all nations of the earth recieved LAND in Palestine (which the promise indicates if interpretted to mean land) then there would be no room for them all. OR if it actually meant land, then Christians, not Jews should own Palestine.
If you believe in the New Testament scriptures, and if you believe in the authority of Christ’s Apostles, there is no question of Zionism in the age of Messiah. God does not prefer Jews above Gentiles – He prefers those who flock to the tabernacle of David: Jesus Christ.
The prophets predicted the coming of Messiah, and they also predicted the True Spiritual Israel. Whereas the LAND we inherit is not physical, but spiritual, just as there is no literal, physical tabernacle, or temple during the reign of Messiah – Just as Christ declared: ‘neither this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem…’ but they that worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (see John 4:21-24); the tabernacle of David is the invisible reign of Christ over the True Spiritual Israel (Christians).
The Land is not Palestine, it is the kingdom of heaven given to those in fellowship with Jesus the Messiah.
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come [for they were awaiting the ‘tabernacle of David’ as prophesied in Amos, Ezekiel 34:11-31; 37:15-28, etc.], he answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.