Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 01/07/07.
"I stand amazed at the fathomless wealth of God's wisdom and God's knowledge. How could man ever understand his reasons for action, or explain his methods of working?" (Rom. 11:33, Phillips).
This topic feels like a strange one for me to be writing about, but since the Spirit is pressing me, I must do it. Within the past year, someone sent me a prophecy about God rebuilding "David's fallen tent." The "prophet" went on at length about the symbolic meaning for us today of the various items in the Tabernacle. I didn't get anything at all from the writing, which is why I was surprised when the phrase "David's fallen tent," began to beat in my brain. When I ran the references, I found two: 1) "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name," declares the LORD, who will do these things" (Amos 9:11-12); and 2) the Apostle James referred to it on the occasion of the council at Jerusalem when the Apostles and Elders met to discuss the question of whether the Gentiles had to add circumcision to the finished work of Christ on the cross (Acts 15:1-11).
After Paul and Barnabas had testified to God's acceptance of the Gentiles by doing miraculous signs and wonders in their midst, James pointed out that God was "taking from the Gentiles a people for himself." Giving Amos 9:11-12, as his reference point, he said, "'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old'" (Acts 15:16-18). Some say this shows the progression by which God is working: first the Jews and then the Gentiles. Others maintain that it refers to end time events in which the Jews are restored to their covenant relationship to God and the Gentiles are brought into "the tent" as well.
The first point that struck me forcefully was that before the tent can be rebuilt, it first has to be knocked down, made of no importance. As a quick review, you will remember that Moses made the Tabernacle under the exacting directions given him by the Lord on Mount Sinai (Ex. 25:40; Heb. 8:5). It traveled through their wilderness wanderings for 40 years and was carried across Jordan into the Promised Land under Joshua's leadership. At the time of David, it was located on the high place of Gibeon, about which the Chronicler states, "But David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord" (I Chron. 21:29-30). The reason for his fear was that David had sinned a great sin against God by numbering the children of Israel, and God gave him a choice of punishment for the sin: "three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD, days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel" (I Chron. 21:12). What a choice! But showing again why he was a man after God's own heart, David chose the third punishment, because he said, "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men" (Vs. 13).
During the plague sent by God, seventy thousand Israelites fell dead. The angel of the Lord was in the process of destroying life in Jerusalem when David looked up and saw him. Again, showing the richness of his relationship with God, the king pleaded for his people by saying that he was the one who had sinned, and God should take out his wrath upon him and his family, not on the rest of the people who were innocent. That took a mighty act of faith and grace in his heart to throw himself into the fires of judgment like that. In response, the Lord sent the prophet Gad to tell David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah. When he did, fire fell from heaven on the offerings as a sign that God was pleased and David was forgiven (I Chron. 21:25-30). It was also given to indicate that this was to be the site of the permanent Temple they would build in which to worship the Lord, which would replace the mobile Tabernacle (I Chron. 22:1). Bible students remember that this site was the same place where God told Abraham to bring Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice, the place where the angel stayed his hand and provided a ram caught in the thicket (Gen. 22: 1-18). Called "the mount of the Lord" (Vs. 14), this is where Solomon built his temple, and later, the site of Herod the Great's temple. The Dome of the Rock sits there now.
The Tabernacle referred to by Amos and James would more logically be called "Moses' tent," rather than David's, but the Temple was on David's heart to build for the Lord. As you'll recall, God told him he would not build it because he had too much blood on his hands, but rather the task would fall to his son Solomon (I Chron. 22:6-10). However, since the verse in Acts and Amos refer to "David's fallen tent," I believe it symbolizes the place where God met with his people. In that Paul said that WE are the temple of God, whatever was true of David's tent, may pertain to us as well, both corporately (the church) and individually (I Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19).
This "tent" then is a metaphor for where God dwells, where He meets with His people. Israel was commanded to bring their offerings and sacrifices and to celebrate the three great feasts at the Temple in Jerusalem. Many Christians assume therefore, that the church they attend has replaced the Temple as the place where they meet God, but this concept is a perversion of the word "church," which comes from the Greek word "ekklesia," meaning "assembly" or "gathering" (NOT building). Paul extends the metaphor to mean our physical body: "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (II Cor. 5:1-4). Whatever this place, this tent, this tabernacle, this temple may be, Amos and James declare that it is going to fall so that GOD will rebuild it.
Those to whom God has revealed the reconciliation of all men, sometimes think they have the inside track on truth. They also feel passionately that if they can just convince the ETers (believers in eternal torment) of this fact, all will be well in religion's hallowed halls. They set about with zeal and scripture to make their case to those who now see God only as a righteous Judge, One whose sensibilities have been so offended, that He can do nothing other than throw 99% of His children into an eternal burning hell as punishment for their sins.
Correcting doctrinal error always sounds like a grand plan to the natural mind, but the gospel (the power of God unto salvation to all men and women), cannot be taught to anyone, Christian or pagan, unless and until the Lord has opened the stopped ears and the blind eyes that He Himself made that way. (If you doubt that God is the one responsible for the sorry state religious people are in today, please consider: Isa. 6:9-10; Matt. 13:11-14; Jn. 12:40; Acts 28:26; Rom. 9:15-16; 26-27; 10:20; 11:7-8.) God has had a plan from before the foundation of the world, and that plan always included the cross by which God redeemed His creation unto Himself (Rev. 13:8). As I ask them at Medicalodge, what did any of us have to do with that plan when it was being made? Absolutely nothing! And yet we think He needs us to implement it now?
That's a hard pill for religion's disciples to swallow, because they have built their "tent," corporately and individually, based on the doctrine that WE choose God, which brings us blessings, or we reject Him, which brings us curses. That concept was true for Israel, because it was the foundation of Law (Deut. 28), but it is NOT true for us, for we are saved by GRACE through faith, and even that is a gift, so that none of us could take credit for anything, which we certainly would if we thought we could get away with it (Eph. 2:8-9).
God sent the Law by Moses; He sent grace and truth by Christ (John 1:17), but He did NOT give us a choice as to which we'd like follow. The book of Acts reflects the growing pains of the infant church, birthed in the fire and light and power of the Holy Ghost. The church was then confronted about what to do with the Gentiles when God began calling them into fellowship with His body. Would they have to follow the Law as well? Peter put it very succinctly to the council at Jerusalem which was convened to consider this matter: "Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will" (Acts 15:10-11). It was in this context that James made his observation about God rebuilding David's fallen tent.
Since two prophets, Amos and James have said that GOD is the one to rebuild "the tent," my question about this is, why do we think we can fix what's broken in the church, as countless writers and preachers have tried to do? Religious people have always thought they had a corner on the market of truth, a straight path to God, but John the Baptist came into that stifling morass of hypocrisy and said, "Bear fruits that befit repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Lk. 3:8). Ouch, that must have smarted, not the way to win friends and influence people. Jesus added insult to injury, "They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did" (believe God, John 8:39).
God is the one responsible for all things. He authorized Solomon to build his gold slathered temple, and then later as a result of Israel's sins, sent Nebuchadnezzar to completely destroy it and all its contents. When the Israelites were allowed to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem, a modest Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel and others (Ezra, Chapter 5). As another conformation that I am supposed to write this now, the History Channel had a piece on Herod's Temple. He had to obtain permission from the priests to demolish Zerubbabel's Temple in order to build his fabulous Temple on the site, but they didn't trust him, and so to show good faith, he told them that he would first amass the quarried stones before he demolished the old temple. Because the stones were so huge, it required eight years to accomplish that.
However, within a generation of the birth of the church, in A.D. 70, God sent the Roman General Titus to obliterate Herod's Temple, which was said to be one of the most beautiful structures in the ancient world. In order to rebuild it, God first destroyed "David's tent," which I believe is a metaphor for religion's hallowed halls. Is that the fate of the churches on planet earth today? Whatever happens, the visible church standing on Main St. today, is but a dim reflection of the church about which Jesus declared, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
God has not shown me how He will deal with the extant church, but I do see what John the Baptist prophesied about religion without Spirit, "Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Luke 3:9). This is not referring to hell fire after we die, but rather, the fire of God now on the earth, burning off the dross, cleansing the temple with the refiner's fire. Malachi saw it: "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD" (Mal. 3:2-3). God IS a refining fire (Heb. 12:29).
The elect are the first fruits, which under the Law were burned as an offering by fire to the Lord (Lev. 2:14). During this not so pleasant but necessary process, our works may be burned up, if they are not built on Christ, yet we ourselves will be saved, AS BY FIRE (I Cor. 3:15).
When Lenny and I were going through our great purging in California, I used to say, "The dross is being burned off. Parts of me are pure gold." The process has continued, as the Lord has knocked down one "tent" after the other in order to rebuild them better than before.
For instance, during that time, we lost our credit, which was a bitter blow to ones who had maintained a sterling credit rating. You might say that a credit rating determines the quality of your life in this world, not in the kingdom, of course, but in the physical world. Without it, you cannot buy much of anything, and when you need money the most, you can't borrow it anywhere. It's a bad deal. Now, after 10 long years, God has rebuilt our credit rating so that it is better than ever before. What He destroyed, He has now restored. God did it all while we watched the Master Craftsman work.
I had another example very recently in the "tent" where I work and write, my laptop computer. There, I store hundreds if not thousands of files containing graphics, photos, fonts, all the aids needed for web building and all our writings and writing tools. Because the internal directory was damaged, the techies at Apple recommended I erase my hard drive. The very thought tied my stomach in knots, but I ordered a small external hard drive and dragged the contents of the hard drive in my laptop over to it. It looked fine. Absolutely everything was there, and I turned it off and rechecked it three times. With a prayer for courage, I pressed the command to erase my hard drive and reinstall the operating system. When I had it all back, and prepared to transfer my data from the external hard drive to my laptop, I discovered to my utter dismay and horror, that there was nothing there. All my files were gone!
Long story short, it turns out that the external hard drive had to be formatted for the MAC, but the instructional manual didn't say that. I sat in ruins, wondering what message God had for me in this. I had been pondering "David's fallen tent" for days, but had concluded that I wasn't going to write about it. As I sat here in our little 5th wheel surrounded by CDs, Zip Drive Discs, and boxes of software that all had to be sorted out and reinstalled, I got it that yes, indeed, I WAS going to write about it. When God smacks something and rebuilds it, thankfully, it is NEVER the same again, but better because He built it.
Remember Jesus' comment about not putting new wine in old wineskins? (Luke 5:37-38). He never said we were to get bigger and stronger patches and patch up the old wineskin. Instead, we need new wineskins or else the new wine will be lost. With all due respect, I make this observation. The extant church on planet earth does not need better fixes for glaring problems; it does not need more hell fire and damnation preachers to get people to repent; it does not even need more money to operate it's worthy programs. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch. I am NOT suggesting that God will send conquering armies to blow up our church buildings, for they are NOT the church. WE are the church! What I see in my life and in the lives of others who are willing to share with us what God is doing, is that God is erasing our corrupted files so that the operating system installed by the Master Computer Technician at the new birth will once more operate smoothly.
I didn't want to write this because it appears so negative, but many of you are sitting in the rubble of your own tents right now. "Fear not," the angel says when bringing Good News from God. Why? Because our Father loves us and everything He brings us is a gift of that love, no matter what it looks like! He created us in His own image and likeness and He will make of us whatever His foresight deems good and true for His Kingdom. Like the Master Potter He is, He will do it just right, so that when the world looks at us, they will see Him shining back at them. This is not something to fear but a cause to rejoice!
Father, we thank You that You do all things well. We await the touch of Your hand, the timing of Your will, and the white hot fire of Your Love destined to refine Your most magnificent creation: Your children. Amen. Jan Antonsson
To Be Continued.....
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Tent David Built, (Clarification)
The Glory Road
We're always happy to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 12/20/06
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 12/11/08.