Worship in Prophecy
Is the Revival of Davidic
Worship a Sign of the End Times?
Dr. David R. Reagan
Most Christians are familiar with this
prophecy from Amos 9:11-12 because it is quoted in Acts 15. The
occasion was a special conference of church leaders that was called
in Jerusalem to consider the momentous implications of Gentiles
being added to the Church. In the midst of the debate, James, the
leader of the Jerusalem church, quoted this prophecy from Amos to
prove that it was God's intention to someday include the Gentiles
in His scheme of redemption.
that day I will raise up the fallen tabernacle of David,
And wall up its
I will also raise
up its ruins,
And rebuild it
as in the days of old;
That they may
possess the remnant of Edom and all the Gentiles
Who are called
by My name,'
Declares the Lord
who does this."
This usage of the prophecy has historically
led to the conclusion that the term, "the tabernacle of David,"
refers to the Church. And perhaps it does in a spiritual sense.
But the context of the passage in the book of Amos makes it clear
that the prophecy will find its ultimate fulfillment in something
other than the establishment of the Church.
Note that the prophecy begins with
the words, "In that day." What day? A quick glance at the prophecy
in its context shows that the "day" being referred to is the period
of time when the Jews are regathered to the land of Israel (see
Amos 9:14-15). That is this century. There were 40,000 Jews in
Israel at the beginning of this century. Today, there are nearly
five million. They re-established their state on May 14, 1948,
and they have regathered their people from the four corners of
Has anything happened since 1948
that could constitute a literal fulfillment of the restoration
of the "tabernacle of David'" To answer this question we must
first seek to understand the meaning of the term, "tabernacle
of David." What did Amos have in mind when he used this term?
Tabernacle of Moses
To fully understand the Tabernacle
of David, we must first begin with a consideration of the Tabernacle
of Moses. It was a nomadic temple that moved with the Children of
Israel as they crossed the Wilderness of Sinai in search of the
Promised Land. Its Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant
where the Shekinah Glory of God resided.
When the Children of Israel entered
the Promised Land, they settled the Tabernacle of Moses at Shiloh
in Samaria. There the sacrificial ceremonies were conducted for
400 years during the period of the Judges. By the end of that
chaotic period, the Children of Israel were engulfed in spiritual
darkness, having fallen victim to idolatry and immorality.
One day, during the judgeship
of Samuel, as the Israelites were preparing to fight the Philistines,
they decided to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle with
them, as if it were some sort of good luck charm. They evidently
reasoned that God would never allow the Philistines to capture
the Ark, and therefore they would win the battle. The Lord was
not pleased by this action, so He allowed the Philistines to defeat
the Israelites and capture the sacred Ark (1 Samuel 4:1-11). They
also proceeded to destroy the Tabernacle of Moses at Shiloh (Jeremiah
7:12). Israel had become "Ichabod," (meaning, "no glory") for
the glory of God had departed (1 Samuel 4:21).
Odyssey of the Ark
Plagues afflicted the Philistines,
so they sent the Ark back to Israel on an ox cart. It finally came
to rest eight miles west of Jerusalem in a town called Kiriathjearim
(called Abu Gosh today) where it stayed for approximately 70 years
(20 years under Samuel's judgeship, 40 years under Saul's kingship,
and almost 10 years into David's kingship). The tabernacle of Moses
was moved to Nob for a while (1 Samuel 21:1) and then on to Gibeon
(about ten miles northwest of Jerusalem) where it remained until
the Temple of Solomon was built (2 Chronicles 1:3).
Now note something very important.
During this 70 year period of transition between the Judges and
the Kings, there was no Shekinah Glory in the tabernacle of Moses
located at Gibeon. The Holy of Holies was empty. The priests continued
to minister at the tabernacle, offering daily sacrifices, but
it was all dead ritual, for the glory had departed.
The astounding thing is that the
Ark was located in a farmhouse situated only about five miles
from Gibeon. It would have been very easy to restore the Ark to
the Tabernacle of Moses, but no one cared enough to do so. The
Ark was ignored, and it became a symbol of Israel's apostasy.
Saul did not have a heart for the Lord,
so he ignored the estrangement of the Ark from its proper resting
place. But when David became king, he was determined to correct
this situation, for he was a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel
13:14). David had to wait seven and a half years until he became
king of all Israel (he was king of only Judah during his first years
in power -- see 2 Samuel 5:5).
David was determined to bring God
back into the heart of his nation, and he recognized the symbolic
significance of the Ark in accomplishing this purpose. He was
so determined to provide a proper resting place for the Ark that
it became the top priority of his kingship. In this regard, we
are told in Psalm 132 that when David became king of all of Israel,
he "swore to the Lord" that he would not sleep in a bed until
he could provide a proper "dwelling place for the Mighty One of
Jacob" (Psalm 132:1-5).
Tabernacle of David
The amazing thing is that David brought
the Ark to Jerusalem rather than returning it to the Holy of Holies
in the Tabernacle of Moses at Gibeon. David pitched a tent in Jerusalem
(probably on a slope of Mt. Moriah), placed the Ark inside, and
instituted a whole new concept of praise worship. Instruments of
worship were introduced. Special psalms of praise were written and
sung. And, incredibly, special priests were appointed to minister
music before the ark continually (1 Chronicles 16:6,37) -- whereas
only the High Priest had been allowed to minister before the Ark
once a year in the Tabernacle of Moses.
In fact, the Scriptures indicate
that there was such great intimacy with the Lord, that David would
actually lounge before the Ark (1 Chronicles 17:16). It is probably
during these times of intimacy that he wrote new songs to the
Lord (Psalm 40:3).
David's revolution in worship was
very radical. There was no singing or celebration at the Tabernacle
of Moses. The worship there was one of solemn ritual focused on
sacrifices. The only joy that had ever been evidenced in the worship
of the Israelites had occurred spontaneously, as when Miriam danced
with a tambourine and rejoiced over the destruction of Pharaoh
and his army (Exodus 15).
The Psalms make it clear that the
praise worship inaugurated by David was a worship of great joy
that was characterized by hand clapping (Psalm 47:1), shouting
(Psalm 47:1), singing (Psalm 47:6-7), dancing (Psalm 149:3), hand
waving (Psalm 134:2), and the display of banners (Psalm 20:5).
The worshipers were encouraged to praise God with every form of
musical instrument, from the gentle lyre to the "loud crashing
cymbals" (Psalm 150:3,5).
But why? Why did David so radically
change the worship of Israel? We are told in 2 Chronicles 29:25
that he did so in response to commands of God given to him through
the prophets Nathan and Gad. But why didn't the Lord simply tell
David to put the Ark back in the Holy of Holies in Gibeon? Why did
God tell him to revolutionize the worship of Israel?
The Bible does not tell us why.
We can only guess. My guess is that God wanted to give David a
prophetic glimpse of the glorious Church Age to come when animal
sacrifices would cease, worshipers would have direct access to
God, and worshipers would come before the Lord in rejoicing with
a sacrifice of praise.
I think there was also another reason.
I believe the Lord wanted to give the Church a model for Spirit-filled
For one generation (about 30 years
under David and 12 years into Solomon's reign), two tabernacles
existed in Israel. In Gibeon there was the dead, liturgical worship
that characterized the Tabernacle of Moses. In Jerusalem, there
was the lively, spontaneous worship that characterized the Tabernacle
of David. The worship in Gibeon was the performance of ritualistic
symbolism. The worship in Zion was the experience of the presence
of God. At Gibeon, the priests offered the sacrifice of animals.
At Zion, the offering was the sacrifice of praise: "Come before
Him with joyful singing . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:2,4).
The Tabernacle of David served as a
joyous bridge between the spiritual deadness that had come to characterize
the Tabernacle of Moses and the Spirit-filled glory that would characterize
the Temple of Solomon.
In like manner, since the reestablishment
of the nation of Israel in 1948, God has been raising up the Tabernacle
of David again to serve as a joyous bridge of transition between
the dead worship of mainline Christendom and the glorious worship
that will characterize the Millennial Temple of Jesus Christ.
God wants His Son to return on a cloud of praise.
Appropriately, God began to focus
His revival of the Tabernacle of David in Jerusalem in the early
80's. It occurred when the International Christian Embassy decided
to host a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Zechariah 14
says that during the millennial reign of Jesus the nations will
send representatives to Jerusalem each year to celebrate this feast
and that any nation that fails to do so will not receive rain. The
Embassy decided it would be appropriate for Gentiles to start rehearsing
for the Millennium, so they sent out a call worldwide for Christian
to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast and to show their support
The Embassy also decided to give
an emphasis to Davidic praise worship which was springing up all
over the world at that time through a sovereign move of the Holy
Spirit. They brought together Christendom's best practitioners
of celebratory worship.
The result was an explosion of Davidic
worship all over the world as the thousands of Christians who
came to Jerusalem took what they had experienced back home with
them in their hearts and on videos. The Embassy's celebration
has continued to this day, with 4,000 to 6,000 Christians attending
annually from every continent.
Move of the Spirit
The Church at large is the symbolic
Tabernacle of David. But the more literal Tabernacle of David today
consists of those churches that have rediscovered the true meaning
of worship and have given their people the freedom in Christ to
worship God with all their energy, resources, gifts and talents.
That is the reason that renewal
in worship is sweeping Christendom worldwide. It is a move of
the Spirit. It is a fulfillment of prophecy. It is a mark of the
end times. It is a sign of the soon return of Jesus. And it is
preparation for that day very soon when:
The ransomed of the Lord
And come with joyful shouting to
With everlasting joy upon their
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee
away. Isaiah 35:10
That is the day when the Tabernacle
of David will be restored completely.