In this article, we will demonstrate that the calling of the Gentiles (confirmed by the giving of the Spirit to them), was a sign to Israel that the “house” of David was being restored. As we shall see, it was into David’s house that the Gentiles were being called, and as they entered, they became a part of it. Let us begin.
Because of the false teaching by some men from Judea, Paul, Barnabas and some of the others decided to go up to Jerusalem to discuss the issue with apostles and elders. The issue was that these men from Judea were teaching the Church in Antioch that the Gentiles could not be saved unless they had put their faith in Christ, and had been circumcised according to the Law of Moses (Acts 15:1).
These false teachers were not unbelievers, they were Jewish Christians who were imposing the custom of circumcision upon the Gentiles as an additional requirement for salvation in Christ. In other words, they were teaching Gentiles that to become a Christian by faith, they had to also become a Jew by circumcision.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, as Paul and his companions began to report all the things that God had done with and through them, they were confronted by the same group of false teachers. Some of the sect of the Pharisees “who had believed” (they were Christians) began to say that it was necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses (Acts 15:5). When the apostles and elders had come together to “look into the matter” and after there had “been much debate” (v.6-7), Peter stood up and rehearsed how God had equally accepted the Gentiles and had given them the Holy Spirit, just as He had given the Jews (v.8-9).
Paul and Barnabas echoed the words of Peter as they related to the people “what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles” (v.12). After they had stopped speaking, James (The Just) said….
“… Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 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, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name says the Lord who makes these things known from long ago”.
James validates Peter’s testimony that the pouring out of the Spirit upon the Gentiles was proof that God was calling from them a “people for his name” by appealing to the prophet Amos.
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.
According to James, Peter’s testimony of the Spirit being poured out upon the Gentiles was in fulfillment of their prophetic scriptures. But that’s not all. Both Amos and James specifically connect the raising up of the tabernacle of David with the calling of the Gentiles. In fact according to the text, it was necessary for the tabernacle of David be restored if the Gentiles were to be saved. In other words, the only way that the Gentiles (the rest of mankind) could “seek the Lord” (be saved), was through the rebuilt tabernacle of David. Notice how James put it…
“…I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord…”
Did you catch it? Notice the words “so that”. The purpose of raising up and restoring the tabernacle of David was so that (in order that) the Gentiles (the rest of mankind) could seek the Lord (be brought into Israel’s salvation).
So, the implication is this. Since the Gentiles were in fact being saved, the tabernacle of David must have been raised up, it must have been in the process of being restored. This is a powerful, but in order to understand the full force of this conclusion we must answer the following questions regarding the tabernacle of David.
- What was the tabernacle (booth) of David, and how had it fallen?
- How was David’s tabernacle being raised up and restored?
To answer the first question, we begin with the Lord’s promise to David through the prophet Nathan….
2 Samuel 7:11-12
“…. the Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
This promise was typologically fulfilled in Solomon, the son of king David.
1 Kings 2:24
Now therefore, as the Lord lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father and who has made me a house as he promised….
According to these texts, the “house of David” was to be the kingdom-dynasty of David over all 12 tribes of Israel. The house of David had reached its zenith in the days of king Solomon, and would begin to “fall” a generation later.
The fall of the house (tabernacle) of David.
1 Kings 12:16,20
When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!” So, Israel departed to their tents…. It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David.
The house of David had begun to fall when the ten tribes of Israel had rejected the kingdom of David and the inheritance that was to come through the Son of Jesse. However, this “falling” of the house of David was according to the purpose of the Lord, for it was the Lord who had rejected the nations.
2 Kings 17:20-21
The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight. When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king…”
Because of the sins of the nations of Israel, the Lord had purposed that they should be “torn from the house of David” and be cast out of his sight, excluded from the inheritance of David. This the “fall” of the house of David would culminate in 536BC when the tribe of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, and the last king to sit upon the throne of David was slaughtered by the king of Babylon.
As we have already noted, this was the purpose of God. For it was necessary that the “natural” house (kingdom-dynasty) of David be broken down so that the “spiritual” house of David could be fully established (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). The Old Covenant house had indeed fallen, and the New Covenant house had been raised up and restored through the Son of Jesse, the rightful heir to the throne and kingdom of David.
Now we come to the second of our two questions….
How was David’s tabernacle being raised up and restored?
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant.
Notice that Zacharias under the inspiration of the Spirit specifically prophesies that in Jesus, God had raised up a strong (horn symbolizes strength) salvation in the “house of David”. In other words, the house of David was being raised up through the birth of Jesus, who came into the word as his royal Seed and rightful heir to his kingdom-dynasty – his house.
Thirty years later, the words of the prophet Nathan which had found typological fulfilment through the reign of Solomon, found their perfect and final fulfillment through the ascension and enthronement of Jesus. As apostle Peter so eloquently put it….
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
These words of Peter are nothing less than amazing! According to Peter, the oath that God had sworn to David to “seat one of his descendants on his throne”, was the promise of the resurrection of Jesus. The “raising up again” of Jesus refers to his resurrection and ascension, and in these events, the house of David was being rebuilt and the nation of Israel was being restored to their kingdom. That’s why Peter could say…
“Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
Make no mistake about it, by the birth of Christ the rebuilding and the raising up of the house (the kingdom-dynasty) of David was initiated, and by his resurrection and ascension, Jew and Gentile could be gathered into it. But that’s not all. By being gathered into the house, they were becoming the house.
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
The words of James were then and are today, a powerful witness to the restoration of Israel in the first century. As we have seen, for the Gentiles to “seek the Lord” and be called into the salvation of Israel meant that the House (kingdom-dynasty) of David was being restored in Jesus Christ and his kingdom. Remember, the house of David was being raised up “so that” the Gentiles could seek the Lord.
The salvation of the Gentiles was in fact a definitive last days sign to the nation of Israel that Jesus was establishing his Kingdom as the house of David, and by restoring them into His house, they were becoming the House of the Lord.
Continued in Part 12