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Destined to be ONE

written by Dan Juster
March 18, 2016

The book of Acts and particularly Acts 15 is a key passage for our understanding of the position and identity of the Gentiles who responded to the message of the Gospel and came into the kingdom. 

At first glance the response of the leader of the Jerusalem Congregation, Jacob (James) in Acts 15 regarding the Gentiles who were being saved, is curious. He quotes a passage from Amos 9:10-11 that is millennial in its original context. In the Septuagint version, it reads;

God at first showed his concern by taking form the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written, “After this I will return and will rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild and I will restore it that the remnant of men may seek the Lord and all the Gentiles who bear my name…” (Acts 15:14-17).

What Did Amos Mean?

Jacob’s view is that God is taking a people for himself from the Gentiles, not that he is taking some people and converting them to be Jews or to be now a part of a new, ” third race,” that is neither Jew nor Gentile. His quotation of Amos looks toward the final things, the last Age, when Israel and the nations are one under the rule of the Messiah.

Jacob’s argument fits the whole context of the Synoptic Gospels. If the Kingdom has broken into this world, as proven by the signs and wonders of Yeshua and the Apostles, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then another aspect of the Kingdom would also be fitting: the coming of the Gentiles to submit to the government of David. Though Yeshua does not yet rule on a throne on earth from Jerusalem, He has begun to rule and is seated at the right hand of God. 

Inclusion

The prophets speak in multiple places about the conversion of the nations, their coming to the light of the Messiah. He is a light to the nations, a banner for the peoples, and brings God’s salvation to the ends of the earth. Gentile inclusion, without conversion to Judaism, is the picture of the prophets, and this is now already taking place. However, there is the full turning of the nations to the God of Israel, that is yet to come. The Amos text is seen as already beginning to happen. The Tent of David is the re-establishment of Davidic covenant and the gathering is coming under his rule, under the covering of his Tent. 

The coming in of the Gentiles is further evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Kingdom has broken into this Age. Israel and the nations are destined to become one under the rule of the Messiah. However, at the present time, we see Jews and Gentiles as one in the Messiah. They are an eschatological foreshadowing of the Age to Come. They show the Age to Come as already demonstrating itself in the present Age.

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