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Amos 9 Prophecy Fulfilled in 1948?

Q. With respect, I am interested in why you say Amos 9:11 is a prophecy fulfilled in 1948 when James seems to be saying in Acts 15 that the gentiles coming to Christ was the fulfillment? I have not gotten an answer out of anyone who claims that Amos 9 is fulfilled in 1948. (Dr. B.)


What an excellent question! We are grateful to you for honoring us by viewing our website and giving us the opportunity to respond. Thanks for asking about the Amos 9:11/1948 connection. To begin with, Valorie and I do not claim to have any special or "revealed" insights into this connection. We can merely offer some observations and study which lead us to believe that a direct connection does indeed exist between Amos 9 and 1948, and that this can be demonstrated in Scripture. Our answer may be somewhat laborious so please forgive us.

Western Hermeneutic or Hebraic Pattern

There is, I believe, a bad habit that many bible students of this age fall into when seeking to identify a direct connection between an Old Testament (OT) prophecy and a New Testament (NT) or modern historical event and then attempt to declare that the prophecy has been "fulfilled." Prophecy - Fulfillment…and then it is over. One prophecy to one fulfillment. This seems to be a Western hermeneutic that frankly does not "jive" with the Hebraic idea of "Pattern."

Typology&Hebraic Interpretive Method

By "Pattern" we mean that an OT Prophecy may not have just one fulfillment in history, but many. Thus, it shows God's continuing work in multiple generations repeated over and over. This involves the study of Typology and Hebraic interpretive method which has regrettably been ignored and discounted in modern theology - not to mention teaching from the pulpit.

Patterns of Prophetic&Typological Fulfillment - Hosea 11:1

Patterns of prophetic and typological fulfillment are very common in Scripture but sometimes are difficult to grasp. Consider Matthew's 2:15 use of Hosea 11:1 "Out of Egypt did I call My Son." The entire passage in Hosea is clearly not Messianic on the surface. It speaks of the establishment of Israel in the past. Yet, Matthew feels free to apply this passage when referring to Jesus in order to bolster his assertion that Jesus is the Christ.

Matthew was using patterns of Scripture to make his point about the identity of Jesus and not necessarily as a direct fulfillment of a particular prophecy. His interpretation and application of the Scripture was Hebraic/Rabbinic - not Western/European.

James Quote at the Jerusalem Conference - Acts 15

With respect to Acts 15, why did James quote Amos 9:11 at the Jerusalem Conference? Was he stating that the prophecy of Amos was now completely fulfilled? Amos 9:11 speaks of, "I will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David…" Did God do this in the first century?

Tabernacle of David the Temple of God?

By the way, the "tabernacle of David" does not, in my opinion, refer to the Temple of God. The Hebrew word in Amos is "sukka" which refers to the dwelling place of David - where he pitched his tent or the place where David lived, i.e. the land of Israel or perhaps Jerusalem.

Dynasty of David, Land of Israel, or Millennial Temple

This passage in Amos might also speak of the Dynasty of David, the land of Israel and/or the Millennial Temple according to the Ryrie Study Bible notes on Amos 9. Surely, however, James was not claiming that the Dynasty of David had been rebuilt. Israel during the time of the Jerusalem Conference was not the independent and dominate nation described in Amos 9, but merely a dusty outpost and surrogate of Rome. Certainly, the Herodian Temple would not be considered by James to be the Shekinah glorified Millennial Temple as described in the O.T.

So why did James use the passage?

Gospel to be Shared with the Gentiles

I would submit that James' use of the Amos passage at the Jerusalem Conference was all about an authentication of Peter and Barnabas' testimony that the Gospel must be shared with the Gentiles - that Peter's outreach to the Gentiles was appropriate and justified by patterns in Scripture. Specifically, it meant that the Gentiles should hear the Gospel and turn to God - and those elders at the Jerusalem Conference should not hinder this movement of God by forcing Gentiles to become Jews under Mosaic Law.

In essence, James reminded the Conference that God uses the Land of Israel and the Jews to bring salvation to the Gentiles…c.f. John 4:22b…"for salvation is from the Jews." James citation was not about a physical fulfillment of every detail of Amos 9, but a demonstration of the spirit of "Evangelism" to the world of the Gentiles. This is a predictive, or if you will, a Prophetic Pattern.

1948 Israel - Prophetic Pattern

In a similar demonstration of the Prophetic Pattern of Evangelism to the Gentiles, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is in keeping with the many declarative statements by God in the O.T. that He will spread His Gospel to the Nations by using the land of Israel and the Jewish people.

When Israel (i.e. the tabernacle of David) was restored in 1948, millions of unbelieving Gentiles had their eyes and hearts riveted on Israel and the prophecies of Scripture. Israel and the Jews forced the world to consider God's handiwork and deliverance in modern history.

Resurgence of Interest as Prophecies Become Front Page News

As a result, there was a huge resurgence of interest in Scriptures as the prophecies of the Bible became front page news. Millions of Gentiles have become Christians and continue to do so because the dwelling place of David had been restored. It was through books like Hal Lindsey's 1970 edition of "The Late Great Planet Earth" and others that Valorie and I became believers.

Millions of Gentiles visit Israel every year. Our trip to Israel in 1980 solidified our conversion. If you have visited "The Holy Land" you, too, were most likely changed forever. This again is the pattern and supernatural work of God described in the Old and New Testaments - and this continues today as millions more are coming to Christ as a direct result of the restoration of Israel.

So we do indeed see a connection and a "fulfillment" of Amos 9 in 1948. But, we do not see 1948 as the final or complete fulfillment of Amos 9:11. The dwelling place of David will continue to be used by God until the "…fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Romans 11:25).

Benjamin Netanyahu's Very Words

It is an interesting side note that Benjamin Netanyahu stated in his first inaugural address on 6-18-1996 that his administration might fulfill Amos 9:11:

"In us, the words of the prophet Amos have been fulfilled: 'And I shall establish for them David's fallen tabernacle.' And it will, with God's help, stand for ever and ever."


Suggested Resources for Students:

Fairbairn, Patrick. 1989. Typology of Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal.

Kaiser Jr., Walter and Moises Silva. 1994. Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Wilson, Marvin R. 1989. Our Father Abraham. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Author Ken Emilio holds an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University and is the Director of the Gospel Rescue Mission in Grants Pass, Oregon. Valorie holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon Christian Origins.

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