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,
The prophet Amos ministered in Israel during the realm of Jereboam [Amos 1:1], and his main message was largely similar to that of the prophets before him – seek the Lord, return to the Lord – or face destruction. He was a shepherd, untrained as a prophet, and his time of ministry was brief as compared to some of the other prophets, but as a minor prophet the book of Amos is much longer than most others. He came between two of the most dramatic prophets, Jonah (who was once swallowed by a fish for 3 days) and Hosea (who God told to marry a prostitute), and thus in comparison his life seemed bland, though his message was most certainly not. In Amos 9 in particular, the last chapter of the book, Amos prophesied the destruction of Israel, with imagery that is no less graphic than his predecessors and words no less tragic than those before him. Yet, like all the other prophets, as good as they are in the sensational, the harsh and the tragic, they are equally good in providing hope in the midst of overwhelming woe. In Amos 9, after 10 verses of tragic destruction, the book of Amos ends with 5 verses of hopeful restoration.
The crux to this verse depends on how you interpret David’s fallen tent. Interpretations are what make prophetic verses so difficult to study, so hard to understand. There are so many possible interpretations to any one prophecy. They always seem to relate directly to the prophet’s setting and situation at that time, but they always also seem to relate to the coming of the Messiah and they always seem to be applicable to us in our modern lives. The first thing to do is always to strike out the ideas that do not fall in line with the rest of the Bible – but even so, many possible arguments remain.
Here I will refrain from discussing more about how this verse related to Amos’ situation then – I’m not familiar enough with the history of the prophets and the history of the Israelites for a sound analysis – but the Messianic relation, while arguably an assumption (it’s not like this verse said Messiah explicitly), can be easily referred to. David’s descendants were promised to be kings – and under the bracket of a king is his people – hence, the Israelites, or in other words, God’s chosen people – which by extension today refers to Christians – those who have been restored to God via the gospel, the message of Christ. Hence, David’s tent is, since the coming of Jesus, Christ’s church. I will restore Christ’s church. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be. In Acts 15:14, after the likes of Paul, Barnabas and Peter had argued for Gentiles to not have to be circumcised, James quoted this verse to substantiate their point. Well, technically, this is probably not considered by scholars as a messianic prophecy since it probably does not refer to the coming of the Messiah.
During the time of Amos, Judah and Israel had both not fallen. We all know that Israel fell way before Judah, but eventually, Judah faced destruction as well. We also know that eventually the nation was rebuilt, and the destroyed temple was rebuilt as well. The prophecy, technically, was fulfilled. But it happened a second time. Jerusalem was destroyed within decades of Christ’s crucifixion. But yet the country has been restored. Amazing.
It could yet happen a third time. Hopefully not. But metaphorically, it has perhaps happened again and again. Churches and Christians in certain parts of the world today still face prosecution by law. Christians all over the world today face persecution by society. New churches may be built, but old and current churches could be rotting away. The Church today, in general, may be facing attacks, even if not destruction yet. Jesus has promised to sustain the church – [Matthew 16:18]. The Church will not fall. But we, as little parts of the church, could. In that day, when we waver, let us remember God’s promise of restoration even if destroyed. In that day, if we had sinned against God because our faith had been destroyed, let us somehow remember this verse. In that day, I will restore David’s fallen tent. David’s tabernacle could be restored. The destructed temple could be rebuilt. A nation destroyed for over a millennia could be re-established.
In that day, restoration will happen, and it will be as it used to be.