Intro: The title of our lesson may seem perplexing given what we have already studied about the words of the prophet Amos. Amos was a messenger of judgment, not hope. Amos 5:2 – The virgin of Israel has fallen; She will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; There is no one to raise her up. Amos described the coming judgment in Amos 8:10 – I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day. It would seem that Amos saw Israel’s position as hopeless. God would not pass over them again. But then we come to Amos 9:11-15
- Amos 9:11-15 – “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the Lord who does this thing. 13 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. 14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. 15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God.
These are words of hope and restoration – (“Like a beam of sunshine streaming through an opening in the dark clouds of a storm”– Hailey) In fact these words are some of the most powerful words of hope in all of the O.T. In his judgment against physical Israel, Amos flashes forward to the days of Jesus and His spiritual rule in the hearts of His people. Amos brings us to the church – the restored kingdom of David.
I. Understanding Amos’ words: A misunderstood text. These verses constitute a popular proof text for the dispensationalists today. C.I. Scofield called the Amos text as quoted in Acts 15, “the most important passage in the N.T.” for dispensationalists. It is argued that the rebuilding of the “tabernacle of David” refers to the restoration of national Judaism in the supposed coming 1000 year reign of Christ on earth (“the millennium”). The dispensationalists teach that Solomon’s temple will be literally rebuilt and the Jewish economy reinstated. The nation of Israel will be restored to their land. But is this what Amos is predicting? In a few moments we will notice how this cannot be the right interpretation.
A. “In that day”…the days are coming” (v. 11, 13) These words are used by the prophets to refer to the coming of the messiah. Amos pointed to the coming Messianic age.
B. “Raise up the tabernacle of David” – Notice the language of verse 11, – “raise up, repair, and rebuild.” These words describe a restoration of something that is either destroyed or in disrepair.
1. God had promised to David 300 years before that his descendants would continue to rule over Israel – that his throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7). But the rule of David’s house had ended for Israel when they abandoned God’s commandments and served idols. Amos has just described a complete judgment on the house of David (eventually both the southern and northern kingdom will go into captivity). Amos says David’s rule will be restored.
2. But notice that Amos does not call it David’s throne, or even David’s house, but his tabernacle (tent, booth, or hut). It is no more than a fallen, damaged tent. God’s people are damaged because of their sin, and are ready to be judged. But God will restore the rule of David over His people “as in the days of old”. One will sit again on the throne of David, in the glory of His kingdom and rule over a united people.
C. “Possess the remnant of Edom” (v. 12)– Edom (the descendants of Esau) prophetically represent the enemies of God’s people. Edom was brought into subjection to the kingdom of Israel under David, but later revolted under Jehoram. Amos predicts that in the restored kingdom, God would possess His enemies. How will this happen? When will the Gentiles be called by the name of God?
D. “the plowman shall overtake the reaper” – Verses 13-14 describe a time when the kingdom is plentiful and there is no lack of blessings – a reversal of fortunes. It is as if, by the time the reaper is finished harvesting the crops, the one who plows the fields of a new crop has come to start his work. The one who has picked the grapes and tread them for the wine is still working when the sower goes out to sow a new crop. There is no time of famine or want.
E. “no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them” (v. 15) There is finally a picture of security for God’s people. God’s forgiveness to Israel is pictured as permanent and that blessings would continually flow from God. The restoration of covenant blessings is offered as an unconditional promise. Notice that they would be planted on their land and never uprooted reflects a fulfillment of the land promise given to Abraham by the Lord. Therefore, we are also reading about a reversal of destiny. In Amos 5:2, the Lord declared that the nation was fallen and never to rise again. But in those coming days a restoration would occur where this kingdom could never fall.
F. Summarize what Amos predicts:
- God will restore the rule of David’s throne
- The enemies of God’s people will be included under David’s rule
- There will a restoration of covenant blessings for God’s people
- There will be a restoration covenant security for God’s people
II. The Key that Unlocks Amos’ Prophecy – The most obvious and perplexing question raised by Amos’ prophecy had to be “how”. Given the depth of the judgment and punishment of God toward His people (both Israel and Judah would be disposed from the land) how could this restoration of the kingdom take place? Key to answering this question and understanding the hope of Amos is found in the N.T. in Acts 15
A. The pressing question in Acts 15 – Under the Old Testament law of Moses circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, and all his descendants. This was a mark to show the covenant relationship between God and his people. Some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem came to Antioch and taught that Gentile Christians had to be circumcised according to the law of Moses or they could not be saved (v. 1). This caused a great stir and Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem to address this issue with the apostles and elders of the church. The church came together to discuss the matter. 3 parties stood up and testified on this question.
1. Peter testified of his experience at the household of Cornelius, stressing how God approved of his preaching to the Gentiles by giving them miraculous gifts just like the Jews had received at the beginning. This was evidence that these Gentiles were saved by faith (V. 9 – “purifying their hearts by faith”) and were not required to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses. (v. 11 – “we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”)
2. v. 12 – Paul and Barnabas presented their evidence. God had shown that through the miracles they had performed among the Gentiles that He accepted them apart from circumcision. It was clear from Peter and Paul’s words that 1) God approved the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles and that 2) the miracles performed among them authenticated the Gentile’s conversion and salvation apart from any requirement of circumcision or keeping the law of Moses.
3. Then James, the brother of Jesus, and an elder at Jerusalem, speaks up. Acts 15:13-21 – 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 ‘After! this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
B. The Fulfillment of Amos’ Prophecy. It is always helpful when an inspired N.T. writer references an O.T. prophecy and gives an application of the words. James proclaims that the implications of the events described by Peter, Paul, and Barnabas are affirmed by the written testimony of God (“just as it is written” – v. 15). The prophecy of Amos was conclusive evidence that God was accepting the Gentiles into the restored kingdom.
1. It is also clear from James’ use of Amos’ words that the proper interpretation could not refer to a future millennial kingdom that was yet to come. James affirms that these words applied to what was happening at that time, and were to be understood as contemporary with Peter and Paul’s testimony and experiences.
2. The implicit predictions in Amos 9 were being realized in the events of Acts 15 in the early church. James did not misunderstand Amos’ prophecy. His application helps us understand the spiritual meaning and application of God’s promises.
C. Amos’ hope in the apostolic message:
1. The restoration of the tabernacle of David: This restoration of David tabernacle was not a geo-political promise of a physical throne or kingdom. It was a promise of the restoration of God’s spiritual kingdom, when one from David’s descent, Jesus, would sit on the throne of God in heaven. This corresponds with the clear teaching of the apostles that Jesus was sitting on the throne of David at that time.
- Acts 2:29-36 – 29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. 34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, 35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” The fallen tent of David and its ruins are restored through the resurrection, ascension and reign of Jesus at God’s right hand!
2. The enemies of God’s people will be included in the kingdom: This is the point of James’ reference to Amos. Notice that James does not use the same words as Amos.. Amos said “that they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,. What does it mean for the restored tabernacle of David to “possess the remnant of Edom”.
a. James gives us the interpretation of those words when he says… So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name. Edom represents the “rest of mankind”, or the Gentiles, and they are possessed as they submit to the authority of the one who sits on David’s throne – Jesus, the Messiah. James tells us that this was being fulfilled as the Gentiles came to Jesus through faith and were being saved through the preaching of the gospel. They came to the kingdom, not through keeping the law of Moses, but by seeking the Lord. As the apostles preached the authority of Jesus, the kingdom was being restored, and the hope of Amos was being realized.
- Eph 2:11-13 – Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 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. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- Gal 3:26-29 – 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- All God’s people are being gathered into one body through Jesus Christ. Wherever they are, they are “a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:10).
3. The restoration of the blessings of the covenant: The fruitfulness of Amos’s prophecy is not physical, but spiritual (as the kingdom). It is brought about through the work of the Holy Spirit among God’s people. This fruit has no end. The blessings are given to those who are in his kingdom and a reversal of fortunes has occurred. Rather than lost in our sins as part of wicked Edom, we are able to be part of righteous Israel.
- Romans 7:4 – 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
- Galatians 5:22-23 – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
4. The restoration of the covenant security – Those who were captive to their sins have been freed in the provision of the blood of Christ. As such they are secure in Christ. Rom. 8:1 – “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”. This is not a once saved – always saved dogma. It is based upon the sufficiency of Christ’s blood and our continuing faithfulness to the covenant. This offer of forgiveness is permanent and nothing can separate from the love of God found in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).
Conclusion: Today we are experiencing what God promised through Amos. This is our hope. We are Gentiles who have sought the Lord, the God of Abraham, and who participate in the blessings promised to him. Jesus Christ reigns over us. The Holy Spirit works in us to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Through Him all our enemies are conquered; and through Him there is security in this spiritual land in which we dwell. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire”. (Hebrews 12:28–29 ESV)
- We need to be thankful that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We should rejoice in the reign of Jesus on the throne of David. We should find our glory in the spiritual blessings of the covenant of Christ and the security of those blessings in Him. We need to be thankful for the hope of Amos. Do you have that hope? Are you in Christ? Are you seeking Him?