The Tabernacle of David
Having promised to shake the house of Israel and to sift them as in a sieve during their time of captivity, Amos then ends his prophecy with a message of hope. Although the nation was to be destroyed and the people were to go into captivity, their story would not end in an Assyrian graveyard. The death of the nation was the result of Israel’s failure to keep its Old Covenant vow, but the resurrection of the nation will be the result of God’s New Covenant promise, which overrules man’s decisions.
The Booth of David
Amos 9:11 says,
11 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.
The booth (or tabernacle) of David was the tent in which King David put the Ark of the Covenant during his reign. This was the temporary abode of the Ark prior to building the temple of Solomon. We read in 1 Chron. 16:1 how David put the Ark in this booth:
1 And they brought the Ark of God and placed it inside the tent which David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
The Ark was taken to Jerusalem shortly after conquering the city of Jerusalem, while David was also building his own house (1 Chron. 15:1). The Ark remained in David’s booth throughout the rest of his 40-year reign.
History of the Ark and Tabernacle
Recall that a century earlier, the Ark had been taken in battle by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:22). When Eli heard the news, he fell backward and broke his neck. Eli died at the age of 98 (1 Sam. 4:15), and it was another 98 years (2 Jubilees) before the Ark would be placed in Solomon’s Temple. This shows significant symmetry of timing.
The Ark never returned to its previous resting place in Shiloh but was taken to Kiriath-jearim into the house of Abinadab, where it remained for 20 years (1 Sam. 7:1, 2). It was still there 12 years later when Saul was crowned king, but it must have been moved from place to place.
Twenty years in Kiriath-jearim is not long enough to cover the 12 years to the coronation of Saul, plus 40 years of his reign, and then at least 7½ years that David reigned before taking the city of Jerusalem. In other words, it was about 60 years from the time that the Ark was sent back by the Philistines to the time that David put the Ark in a booth, or tabernacle, on his own property near his house in Jerusalem. (Dr. Bullinger says it was 89 years.) Only for the first 20 years was the Ark in Kiriath-jearim.
The Ark Separated from the Tabernacle of Moses
After 20 years the Ark left Kiriath-jearim, and at some point the tabernacle was set up in Gibeon (1 Chron. 16:39), one of the priestly cities in the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 21:17). One of the gatekeepers in Gibeon was Obed-edom. Years later, the Ark remained in his house for three months before it was finally taken to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:11).
The Ark was never again placed in the tabernacle in Shiloh—because the glory had departed. That tabernacle in Shiloh was the same tent built by Moses in the wilderness. That tabernacle was later moved to Gibeon. By the time David captured Jerusalem and erected “the tabernacle of David,” the original tabernacle of Moses was still located in Gibeon.
Gibeon was not far from Gibeah, where Saul lived. Most likely, shortly after Saul’s coronation, the tabernacle was moved to Gibeon so that it could be associated with the king and the town where he lived. Jerusalem at that time was still a Jebusite city, so Gibeah was the first “capital” of Israel during the monarchy of Saul.
By studying the chronology, it would appear that the Ark was in Kiriath-jearim for at least 70 years, not just 20 years. Scripture does not tell us what happened, but it is likely that after 20 years the Ark was moved to at least one other (unknown) location before being returned to Kiriath-jearim.
All we really know for sure is that the Ark was taken to Kiriath-jearim immediately upon its return from the land of the Philistines, and it was there when David brought it to Jerusalem over 60 years later. But since 1 Sam. 7:2 says that it was in Kiriath-jearim just 20 years, it must have been moved to another location during most of that intervening time.
After David took Jerusalem, he began building his own house on Mount Zion and then took the Ark from Kiriath-jearim and brought it to his own property in Jerusalem. There it was known as the tabernacle of David. Meanwhile, the tabernacle of the congregation remained in Gibeon, where the Most Holy Place was devoid of the Ark.
David built a new tabernacle for the Ark. We know this because in 1 Chron. 16:1 David took the Ark to his tabernacle in Jerusalem (Zion), but later he went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices at the tabernacle of Moses. He assigned Asaph to minister before the Ark with his music ministry at his own tabernacle, but he assigned Zadok (from a different priestly family) to minister at the tabernacle of Moses in Gibeon.
1 Chron. 16:37-40 says,
37 So he left Asaph and his relatives there [Zion] before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required… 39 And he left Zadok the priest and his relatives before the tabernacle of the Lord in the high place which was at Gibeon, 40 to offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering continually morning and evening, even according to all that is written in the law of the Lord, which He commanded Israel.
About 30 years later (toward the end of David’s life), after taking a census of the people in 1 Chron. 21, he was afraid to inquire of the Lord at the tabernacle in Gibeon. 1 Chron. 21:28-30 then says,
28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifice there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were in the high place at Gibeon at that time. 30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord.
Hence, we see that David’s tabernacle was not the same tabernacle as the one built by Moses in the wilderness, nor were they located in the same town. There were two tabernacles at the same time in the reign of David, one for the church in Gibeon, and the other for David in Zion.
From Tent to House
From the standpoint of prophecy, we see a progression of events, normally in two or three steps. This is based on the law of two or three witnesses by which all matters are established (Deut. 19:15). Each progressive step serves as a witness toward some great truth.
In one such case is the progression from tent to house. The Ark was first put in a tent and later in a house (temple). In the broadest picture, we see the tabernacle of Moses as the first step and the temple of Solomon as the second. But we also see a short-term pattern moving from David’s tabernacle to Solomon’s temple.
In each case, the purpose of a tent/tabernacle/booth is to portray an incomplete pattern. A tent is movable, whereas a house is immovable. A tent uses stakes, while a house is built upon a foundation. Being in a movable tent, then, suggests a temporary stage of development while something greater is yet being prepared.
It also suggests the difference between a type and its fulfillment.
Solomon’s temple was the fulfillment of the type of Moses’ tabernacle (as well as David’s tabernacle), but it too was a type of a greater temple yet to come—the temple with the Foundation of Christ, in which God’s presence was yet to reside.
The pattern of tent to house is also pictured in our own temple bodies. Our present mortal bodies are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but we also know that this is only a temporary dwelling place until the greater comes—that is, our glorified bodies.
Looking at it in another way, we are currently filled with the glory of God through Pentecost, but we seek a greater glory that will come through Tabernacles. Until the greater comes, we are still “pilgrims” (Heb. 11:13 KJV). What we have is merely a “tent,” a type and shadow of the permanent “house” that God is building (Eph. 2:21).
The prophecy in Amos 9:11 is interpreted in Acts 15:14-18 by James, the head of the Jerusalem church, during the first Church Council in 51 A.D. He says,
15 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles [ethnos, “nations”] a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “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, 17 in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles [nations] who are called by My name,” 18 says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.
The topic under discussion was how to treat non-Jews who had become part of the church by their faith in Christ. God was “taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.” Should they be circumcised or not? That was the most important issue, and their conclusion was NO, since this was a sign of the Old Covenant that had been rendered obsolete by the coming of the New Covenant.
David’s tabernacle was set forth as evidence to support this conclusion. James understood that David’s tabernacle had been open for all men to approach God. It was different from the tabernacle in Gibeon, where only the priests of Levi could enter.
David’s tabernacle had no such restrictions, even though it contained the Ark itself.
This proved to James and to the whole Church Council in Jerusalem that the “Gentiles” were not to be restricted in approaching God. Anyone from any of the tribes of Israel could approach God directly (at the Ark), so it was clear that the Levitical restrictions had been lifted. Even non-Israelites could approach God without hindrance.
After all, James certainly knew that Solomon’s temple was to be a house of prayer for all people, both Israelites and foreigners (Isaiah 56:6-8; 1 Kings 8:41-43). The booth of David revealed this great truth even before the temple of Solomon was built.
David’s Tabernacle is a Pentecostal Booth
At the Church Council, James understood that he was living in the time where David’s tabernacle had been restored. Hence, that prophecy was applicable to the controversy that was being resolved about how to deal with non-Jewish believers.
David’s Tabernacle, then, was a fixture of the Age of Pentecost, even while restrictions remained in the temple in Jerusalem. The dividing wall in the outer court continued to keep women and foreigners at a distance (Eph. 2:14; Acts 21:28). Like the tabernacle in Gibeon, the Ark was not in the temple in Jerusalem, for it had disappeared six centuries earlier when Jeremiah took it to Ireland.
Pentecost restored the tabernacle of David. Jesus is the Ark, and He has been present in the tabernacle of David since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Jerusalem temple, by contrast, was an empty room, devoid of the Ark, even as the tabernacle in Gibeon had been deprived of the Ark when it was moved to David’s tabernacle.
Again, as the glory departed from the tabernacle in Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:22), so also did the glory depart from Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem some centuries later (Jer. 7:12-14). Ezekiel saw the glory depart from the temple (Ezekiel 11:23), and soon that temple was destroyed.
The people of Judah were deported to Babylon for 70 years. When they returned to build the second temple and the city, they no longer possessed the Ark. Because the Ark was not placed in the second temple, the glory never returned to that place, and so Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled.
Instead, the glory returned many years later to the tabernacle of David that was restored on the day of Pentecost. It now awaits a greater fulfillment when the glory returns on the eighth day of Tabernacles of some future year. This will move us from Pentecost to Tabernacles and from the tent to the house. When the glory comes on the feast of Tabernacles, it will find rest in a permanent house whose foundation is Jesus Christ. That house is the Temple described in Eph. 2:20-22.
The Purpose of David’s Booth
The Hebrew text of Amos 9:12 says,
12 “that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by My name,” declares the Lord who does this.
The Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament reads, “that the remnant of men and all the Gentiles upon whom My name is called may earnestly seek Me.” The rabbis who made this translation more than a century before Christ appear to have had a Hebrew text which read Adam, rather than Edom. Adam means “man.”
The Septuagint translates the verse using the word anthropon, “mankind,” rather than Edom. Acts 15:17 quotes from the Septuagint, saying, “in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name.” Hence, it appears that Amos was not talking about Edom, but rather “mankind” in general).
This was an important detail in the first Church Council in Jerusalem, because James saw this verse as a reference to non-Jews who were called by God’s name. God’s name had previously rested upon the temple in Jerusalem (Jer. 7:14), but on the day of Pentecost God’s name was removed from the temple in Jerusalem and placed upon the new temple made of living stones.
So Rev. 22:4 says, “His name shall be on their foreheads.”
Back in the days of Solomon’s temple, anyone who adhered to the covenant and wanted to worship at the temple (Isaiah 56:6-8) were then said to be “called by My name.” But after the day of Pentecost, to be called by His name, both Jews and foreigners (all men) were required to place their faith in the New Covenant and its Mediator.
The Tabernacle of David removed the lawful distinctions between the priests of Levi and the rest of the people in their ability to approach God. It also abolished the dividing wall that had been built with Herod’s temple. Paul said this united the people into “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). This was the context of the dispute that needed resolution at the first Church Council over which James presided.
In essence, the Tabernacle of David gave all mankind the right to approach God freely, as Heb. 4:16 implies,
16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
The Promise of Restoration
Amos 9:13 continues,
13 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine, and all the hills will be dissolved.”
This Hebrew metaphor comes from the blessings of obedience in Lev. 26:5, KJV, which reads,
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
The metaphor pictures a time of such abundant harvest that farmers will still be threshing their wheat when the grapes become ripe for harvest. Then the vintage of grape harvest will be so great that they will still be treading grapes when it comes time to sow the next crop of grain.
When Amos says, “the mountains will drip sweet wine, and all the hills will be dissolved,” God was not threatening to dissolve or destroy the hills. The Hebrew word translated “dissolved” is muwg, “to flow, or flow down.” When understood figuratively, as Amos intends, it means that the hills will flow with wine and oil.
This is a picture of prosperity and abundance. Hills and mountains represent nations, so Amos hints of something much greater than the original land of Canaan. Amos was prophesying that the restoration of the tabernacle of David would greatly increase the harvest of souls. In other words, the Kingdom was to be universal in scope, for it was to include all mankind, not just Israelites by genealogy. In the end, all were to become Israelites as citizens of the Kingdom.
Restoring the Captivity
Amos 9:14 says,
14 Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them, they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.
“The captivity” refers to the people who are in captivity, that is, “the captives” are to be restored after their divine judgment ends. This is, of course, the purpose of God’s law. It is designed to restore sinners. The purpose of divine judgment is to restore the lawful order by giving justice to all victims of injustice. In this case Israel had been violating God’s right to rule the Kingdom, so God judged Israel by sending them into captivity for a season.
When that season is complete, the people will repent, having learned righteousness through judgment, as Isaiah 26:9 tells us,
9 … For when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
The end of judgment always coincides with repentance. Then comes restoration. There is no true restoration without repentance. If repentance has not taken place, then we know that restoration is yet a future event.
It is commonly believed that the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 was the restoration of Israel, essentially fulfilling Amos 9:14, 15. It is not. They did not repent (as a nation), nor did they confess Jesus as the Messiah.
Neither are they biblical Israelites, for the Israelites were the ten “lost” tribes, not the two “Jewish” tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Remember that Amos was a missionary from Judah to Israel. See my book, Who is an Israelite? Amos 9:15 concludes,
15 “I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,” says the Lord your God.
Amos does not explain this in any detail. He does not explain how or when Israel was to be restored to “their land.” This remains for other prophets to reveal as the divine plan unfolds throughout later history.
The land of Canaan was a small prophetic type of a much greater land that had been promised to Abraham. It was a land given to Israel for a short period of time, but the real land was a heavenly country. If the old land had been their inheritance, “they would have had opportunity to return.” But they did not. Heb. 11:14-16 says,
14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out [i.e., Canaan], they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Thus, the land that Abraham sought was not the land where he lived, for he confessed that he was a pilgrim in Canaan. He desired “a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” a country for all who are of Abraham’s seed by faith.