What is meant by, “rebuilding David’s tabernacle?”

Fredy Winkler

When Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem (to clarify the issue of circumcision with the elders and apostles there), there was a heated exchange of words, until Peter stood up and told them about the wonderful way that God had intervened, so that he was prepared to share the Gospel with the non-Jews in Cornelius’ house (Acts 15:7). It’s remarkable how James finally ruled on this important question. He used Biblical arguments that would convince even the most determined opponents. He quoted the prophet Amos (Amos 9:11-12).

This part of the Bible is somewhat problematic, because it’s quoted in the New Testament a little bit differently than it was originally recorded. Acts 15:16 begins differently than the Old Testament, with the words, “After this I will return…” What does James mean by, “After this?” “After God has collected one people from among the nations?” Or, “After God has shaken the people of Israel among all the nations,” as it’s written immediately prior to this in Amos, in verse 9? He was probably thinking about both of these ideas, since the one is dependent on the other.

For James, it was apparently obvious at that time that the rebuilding of David’s fallen tabernacle was not approaching, but much rather, that which Jesus had prophesied in the Olivet Discourse; namely, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the worldwide scattering of the people of Israel (see Luke 21:20-24).

The wise ruling that James made was based on a fundamental knowledge of Scripture, particularly the prophecies in this case. There was good reason for Paul to value the gift of prophecy at a higher level among the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 14.

In the quoted portion of Luke 21, at the end of verse 24, it says, “…Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” As to the question of whether the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled, a number of opinions are being circulated. Some believe, that with the founding of the nation of Israel, or at the latest, with the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the times of the Gentiles have ended. Yet we know from the prophecy in Zechariah 14:2, that Jerusalem will again be trampled by the Gentiles. That shows us that the times of the Gentiles haven’t really been fulfilled. We understand, however, from the events that are taking place in Israel, that the end is near.

James also makes it clear in Acts 15:17, “that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name.” This order, which was ordained by God, must also be fulfilled before David’s fallen tabernacle can be rebuilt. With similar wisdom, Paul wrote,

“Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). What are James and Paul saying here? The rapture of the Church of Jesus must occur first; thereafter, God will prepare a way for Israel to repent and rebuild David’s tabernacle.

What is meant by, “rebuilding David’s tabernacle?” Does it simply refer to re-establishing a Jewish nation, as seen in the founding of modern Israel, or does it mean something more? Apparently, this expression refers to rebuilding David’s dynasty through the greatest Son of David, Jesus Christ, who will then reign for eternity.

News from Israel - 10/2018

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