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God’s program: first and after these things

01-05-2017 - Posted by Andre Piet

During the well-known apostle’s meeting in Jerusalem, James has a decisive role in the major issues which are being discussed. He takes the decision. He is the last speaker and he begins with these words:

Simeon unfolds how God first visits the nations, to obtain out of them a people for His name.
-Acts 15: 14-

Subsequently, James determines that this development, i.e. gathering a people out of the nations, is in accordance with the words of the prophets. In other words: the prophets already have already spoken about this phenomenon. He supports this with a quote from the prophecy of Amos (9: 11, 12)

After these things I will turn back, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen… And its overturned structure will I rebuild, And I will re-erect it… So that those left of mankind should be seeking out the Lord, And all the nations, on them over whom My name is invoked, is saying the Lord, Who is doing these things. Known from the eon to the Lord is His work.
-Acts 15: 16-18-

It is remarkable that James renders the words of Amos quite freely. James quotes the prophet in such a way that it fits perfectly into his speech. It is redundant to say that it completely complies with the word of prophecy. But, what now is drawing our attention are the first words of his quote: after these things. This is quite remarkable because neither the Hebrew Bible nor its well-known Greek translation (the Septuagint), reads in Amos 9: 11 ‘after these things’. In both cases it is undeniably written: ‘in that day’. Why does James implement ‘after these things’? Why this change? It is very simple: James programmatically indicates when God will fulfil what Amos had foretold:

  1. FIRST to obtain a people out of the nations
  2. AFTER THESE THINGS to turn back and rebuild the tabernacle of David

James quotes Amos to prove that what God is doing in the present time (that is: obtaining a people out of the nations) corresponds with what God will do later (‘after these things’). He compares God’s work in the present time with His work in the future. James shows the similarity, but also that the literal fulfilment of the prophecies is still not there. Hundreds of concrete promises about Jerusalem, Israel’s borders, the reconstruction of David’s dynasty etc., etc., these will all be realized in due course. James takes the words of Amos utmost seriously, and places the fulfilment AFTER the obtaining of the people out of the nations, and AFTER the return of the Lord from heaven. The words of the prophets (in casu Amos) form the next part of the program in God’s agenda.

The tabernacle of David which has fallen

The reconstruction of ‘the tabernacle of David which has fallen’ will take place immediately after the Second Coming of the Lord. The ‘tabernacle which has fallen’ refers to what was once ‘the house of David’. So the royal house or the dynasty of David. After Salomon’s death this dynasty had fallen, and for hundreds of years it only ruled over two tribes. Moreover, after the devastation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar never again a king ruled on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Related to this, Isaiah speaks of ‘the (set) slip of Jesse’, i.e. the royal family tree or dynasty seems to be ended. But that impossibly can be a definitive end. All prophets say that once, from the throne of David there will be a reign in great glory (Isaiah 9: 6). Not only over Israel, but over all nations. The throne of David will be occupied by the Messiah who shall reign ‘for the eons’ (Luke 1: 32, 33). He is the promising ‘twig from the slip of Jesse’. The tabernacle of David which has fallen, refers to the throne of David, vacant for already thousands of years. We are awaiting the Second Coming of the Son of David who will take place on it.