For our communion meditation I would like to briefly look at Amos 9:11-12. I want to simply pull out a few encouragements and challenges that we can take with us to the table.
The first phrase sets the context, It says, "In that day," and Acts 15:16-17 quotes these verses and identifies "that day" as the time of the New Covenant. In Acts 2 God rebuilt the tabernacle of David and is expanding it from that time forward.
God goes on to say, "I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down..." Acts 15 identifies this tabernacle of David as being the church. The church is the fulfillment of the unusual booth that David set up. It was a type of the church. It was a tabernacle that had Jewish and Gentile priests and Jews and Gentiles worshipped side-by-side. It was a booth that had no partition to block access to the ark of the covenant, which was God’s symbolic throne. But the ark of the covenant was the only piece of temple furniture that was there. It had no sacrifices, temple rituals, or blood. In many ways it was a 1-to-1 parallel to the New Testament church that goes directly to the throne of grace. It had instrumental music, congregational singing, close fellowship with God, preaching, and all the things we expect in a New Covenant congregation.
But by the time of Christ that booth was long gone. And Israel was apostate. When God restores this unusual kind of tabernacle (literally booth), things were so bad that it would take a miracle to restore it.
So notice that this is not something that man came up with. The text says that God would raise it up. In fact, though believers are described as being very active and involved in the next verse, they are active only because God is working in them. Every verb in verse 11 is God working in us. As Philippians 2:12-13 words it,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
We can only work out what God has already worked in us. And as we come to the Table this morning, we are receiving by faith the provisions of verse 11 so that we can go out of this sanctuary taking the actions of verse 12.
What does God commit to do in verse 11?
He commits to raise up the tabernacle of David that is broken down. And Acts 15 interprets that to mean that God will add people to the church by His sovereign good pleasure. You are not a Christian because of anything good in you. You are a Christian because God added you to His tabernacle as His sovereign grace. You can't take credit for being a Christian. God raised you up.
He goes on to say that He will "repair its damages." Is the church damaged today? Yes it is. It is filled with sin, bad theology, division, bad leadership, and bad membership. But we should not despair. God is in the business of repairing what is damaged. He can repair the church. He can repair your life. He can sew together what has been torn in this past year and he can repair the braces and tent pegs that were broken. No matter how broken your life may be, believe the promise of the Lord's Table that He can repair your life.
He goes on to say, "and raise up its ruins." This speaks of a Great Awakening and revival - something desparately needed in our own day. Again, all these action verbs in verse 11 are God's actions, not ours. Do you have faith that God can raise up ruins? That's what His covenant calls us to believe, and the Lord's Table is the sign of that covenant.
He goes on to say, "and rebuild it as in the days of old." I find that last phrase interesting. God values the past even if the past is not perfect. It’s easy to be so focused on the glorious church God has promised in our future that we despise the past. Don’t do that. There are many periods of the past that would be worth being restored to, the time of the Puritans being one. If we started with going back to the successes of the days of old, we could learn from their mistakes and get rid of the defects in the material that made the tabernacle tear too easily (for example, defects in their education of their children) and the stakes that broke too easily (such as a tendency toward statism). But don't neglect the past or disparage the past simply because it was not yet where planet earth will eventually be. Devour the Puritans and the preachers from the past who were good. When times are bad, as they are today, we should glory in this promise that God can rebuild the church as in the days of old. That would be a great start. And God is sufficient for all these things.
With God's provision of verse 11, we will then be in a place to take further advances that are symbolized by warfare in verse 12. This is moving beyond verse 11. Though we value the past, we don't stay stuck in the past. We keep pressing toward the upward calling that we have in Christ Jesus.
So verse 12 says, "That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name." Acts 15 applies that to the evangelistic outreach of the church. The tabernacle had been restored in Acts 2, but they didn't stay there. They kept pressing on to improve. In effect the verse is saying that as a result of the church being revived and reconstructed to the glory days of the past, that rebuilt church can make even further advances in the Great Commission.
And what is true of the church globally can be applied to our own church, to our families, and to our individual lives. Maybe you have blown it and want to go back to the good times that you had with God in an earlier time. That's good. But when God restores you in revival, don't stay there. In the strength of that revival, keep pressing into more and more of God's calling in your life.
The same is true of our church. God has been restoring prayer to our church, and evangelistic zeal, and increased discipleship of our children, and greater involvement in stopping all abortion, and faith-driven interactions with politicians. He is beginning to rebuild what used to be in our church. That is a great rebuilding of things that have been broken down. But don't stop there. Keep possessing your possessions. God's mission is to possess the earth. And the Great Commission promises that Christ's powerful presence will be with us to the end of the age.
And that's why verse 12 ends by going back to remind us that even our actions of possessing the nations are really God's actions through us. Look at the last phrase of verse 12. "Says Yehowah who does this thing." Which thing? The thing He has just mentioned - our possessing the earth. God does it through us. God has a call upon your life, and as you fulfill that call it is imperative that you do it in the strength that God provides, with faith that He can accomplish what you cannot, and with hope that He will build the church so that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Let's come to the table with rejoicing and faith that no ruins that face us in this coming week are any match for His grace (that’s verse 11). And let’s commit to keep pressing into our upward call (that’s verse 12). Let's pray.