The leaders of the 1948 Latter Rain Movement taught that part of God’s restoration scheme for the church was the restoration of Davidic protocols of praise and worship. It was believed this was an integral part of God’s overall equipping of the church to reach its ultimate purpose. David’s life as a Psalmist and his relationship and interaction with the manifest presence of God (the ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, Mt. Zion, etc.), were presented as the pattern for all subsequent generations of believers, in a restored truth sense. How did the apostles interpret and apply the “restoration” of David’s tabernacle (tent)?
Since David’s life was characterized by direct, non-mediated relational intimacy with God in a way that was ahead of the privileges of the covenantal period of his era, the question was asked: “Well, what was it about David’s life that enabled him to access God’s manifest presence in that way?” And here is the critical leap in thinking: It was his praise and worship that granted him access to God in intimacy. The promise to restore David’s tabernacle of Amos 9:11 was linked to praise and worship. Since David was a man after God’s own heart, the logic goes, how do we get a Davidic heart and a relationship with God the way David did? Through Davidic praise and worship.
It was believed that through the recovery and expression of restored Davidic worship, a habitation for God on earth would be created, the glory of the Lord would shine upon his people,[i] the Gentiles would see the light of God’s glory upon His people, the nations would come running to the church,[ii] thousands would be saved and the great last day revival would be realized in our lifetime and the Lord would return. The only problem is . . . none of it happened. The Latter Rain Movement extinguished itself fairly rapidly. While the movement died as an entity, the theology didn’t.
What do the Scriptures say? I am one of what seems to be a dying breed these days, who believes that the Scriptures mean what the apostles said they mean, and that the cultural context, and the scriptural context are critical to accurate understanding and contemporary application of any biblical passage. If we choose to let go of these principles, we might as well just shut our Bibles now and make it up as we go along, because anything that anybody, “feels in his/her heart,” or has a proof-text for, becomes true and we are full-slide into spiritual relativism.[iii] So, since the entire premise of restored Davidic worship rises or falls on interpreting Amos 9:11, let’s consider how the apostles interpreted the verse as well as some cultural and contextual background.
Amos prophesied during a time of national peace, and peak material and political success in the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel. He prophesied of a coming calamity upon Israel because, in spite of their favored covenantal relationship with God, their values and behaviors were no better than the surrounding pagan nations. The inevitability of God’s judgment soon would descend upon them. However, in the presence of this inevitable doom, the Spirit of the Lord holds out a promise: the “fallen” tabernacle (tent) of David will be restored.
Neither Hebrew nor Greek has a word for “family” in the sense of biological generation. The words beth in Hebrew and oikos in Greek mean a “house” or “household.” The house is a metaphor for family, and in the context of royalty, ruling lineage David’s descendants had corrupted the throne of Israel and God promised that He would build again, or restore David’s “family” (tent) that had fallen into decay. David’s line had been promised rulership, his line was about to lose it, but “not to worry,” God Himself will rebuild it. That is the promise.
Please note: there is no mention of David’s tabernacle on Mt. Zion, and no mention of praise and worship anywhere in this text. It is an inferential jump to insert that topic. When I have heard the topic of the restoration of David’s tabernacle taught, Amos 9:11 is quoted in a proof-text sort of way, and then the speaker jumps to issues of the mechanics of praise and worship, never mentioning verse 12. The rest of the passage is never quoted. If it were to be quoted and understood, the entire Latter Rain premise of the purpose of the restoration of David’s tabernacle comes undone. The next verse tells us specifically what the result of the restoration will be.
When David’s tabernacle is restored, the “remnant of Edom and the heathen” that are called by the Lord’s name, will be possessed (inherited) by David’s descendant line of rulers. This is referring literally to either the disaffected brethren (the remnant of Israel who settled in Edom) or the Gentile nations being brought back under the sphere of Davidic governance.
Please note: the purpose and result of the restoration has nothing to do with praise and worship. Praise and worship are not in the text.
What did the Apostles of the Lamb Teach?
So, is that all there is to the verse? No. How do we know? We see how the apostles applied the Scripture. Remember the issues in Chapter Two? That’s why they are important. They kick in right here. The apostles did not interpret the passage literally. They applied it spiritually.
In Acts 15, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Peter applied Amos 9:11 to the in-gathering of the Gentiles in the New Covenant, not praise and worship! Glory to God! Please note: Again, reference to praise and worship is nowhere to be found in Acts 15. The restoration of David’s tent is about the extension of the kingdom rule of God as it was in David’s heart, into the heart of the “Gentile/heathen” nations! David (through his descendants) inherits the nations. The nations do not inherit Davidic worship!
Peter got it. Under divine inspiration, he saw it, just like on the day of Pentecost when he saw Joel 2 being fulfilled non-literally.
How does David get the heathen nations?
- Through the Messiah;[iv] Messiah “possesses” the remnant of Edom and the heathen in type. The nations are His inheritance!
How does Messiah get the nations?
- Through the indwelling Spirit,[v] the New Creation race.
How do the nations receive the indwelling Spirit?
- Through the New Covenant!
How do the nations hear?
- Through the preaching of the gospel and the discipleship of the nations!
David’s tabernacle has nothing to do with my individual need for a touch from Jesus through the presence of the Lord during a praise and worship service. There is nothing from the Scripture or the apostle’s application of that passage that can justify this application. The restoration of David’s tent has everything to do with me getting out of myself, and being engaged in the extension of Christ’s kingdom rule in the earth through the conversion of souls, not endless hours of free praise and the song of the Lord. The practical outworking of the restoration of David’s tent is evangelistic and vocational, not pastoral and devotional.
This blog is an excerpt from our title: Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord: A Better Way to Worship It is available in all formats at www.stevecrosby.com.Copyright 2014, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. #www.badchurchexperience.com
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[i] Isa. 60:1.
[ii] Isa. 60:3.
[iii] This problem plagues some forms of emergent and house church expressions.
[iv] Ps. 2, Ps. 110.
[v] Gal. 3:14.
[vi] Ps. 2:4, 9