Church, Gospel, Jesus
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The party tent

Edited by WordPress.com staff

© June 26, 2018 | Schulter Etyang

Amos, an Old Testament prophet, belts out this fascinating words about the restoration of a fallen tent. He calls this tent, David’s tent. He tells the nation of Israel that God will repair the holes in it, restore its ruined places and will rebuild them as they were a long time ago. (Amos 9:11-12 GW) What is he talking about? Hundreds of years later, the same words are repeated by the leaders of the early Church when they met to discuss what to do with these Gentiles whom God had saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 15:16-18 GW)

We have to go to King David and see what this tent was all about.

David took the Ark of the Covenant that he had abandoned in Obed Edom’s house and brought it back to Jerusalem. Initially, he had tried to bring it, from Abinadab’s house, but things didn’t go so well. On his second try, he did it the right way, and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel and set it up in a tent. This is what was known as David’s tent.

Five things happened when David erected his tent (2 Samuel 6:12-23 NIV)

  1. David was glad; he danced, leapt and whirled. The whole nation shouted for joy and played instruments – a celebration – Vs. 14-16
  2. David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings – Vs. 17
  3. David blessed the people – Vs. 18
  4. David gave a feast – Vs. 19
  5. David was mocked by his own wife, Michal – Vs. 20-23

It’s fascinating that Amos does not prophesy that Solomon’s magnificent temple would be restored but David’s ruined tent. Why? That’s how grace works. Grace chooses to work with the unseemingly, foolish, torn down, ruined, weak, least, disqualified, outcasts, etc. God chose a mere tent to display his glorious grace. 

And this is what Amos prophesied and what the early church leaders affirmed would be restored but they add one more component to it – gentiles.

So that the rest of humanity might seek the Lord, including the Gentiles— all those I have called to be mine. (Acts 15:17-18 NLT)

In David’s time, the tent was only for the Jews, but in Amos’ prophecy, which was repeated by James, the tent would be for Jews and Gentiles.

Gentiles? You and I – non-Jewish people. This is how Paul, a New Testament writer, describes us – God’s enemies. (Romans 5:10 NIV)

How was that going to happen? Enter Jesus Christ! He did the unthinkable. He became what gentiles were so that he would reconcile us to God. He literally became an enemy so that he could bring gentiles into David’s tent.

Check out what gentiles (you and I) are invited into –

  1. Gladness; dancing, whirling and leaping
  2. The gospel of God’s glorious grace
  3. Blessing
  4. A Feast 
  5. A dose of mockery

21st century David’s tents

Because I think and write a lot about the Church, it is natural for me to veer towards the idea that this is what our churches should look like – that we need to build 21st Century David’s tents all over the world. Oh, how we need them. Oh, how a generation longs for these tents.

How should these churches look like?

Firstly, they should be places of gladness; dancing, shouting, leaping and whirling. A celebration of sorts.

Secondly, which is the most important, they should be places where the Ark of the Covenant is center and burnt offerings and peace offerings are offered – the gospel of God’s glorious grace displayed in the work of Jesus for us – all of humanity – Jew and Gentile alike.

Thirdly, they should be places where Jesus pronounces the blessing – words of life being spoken over the people.

Fourthly, they should be places of feasting – hospitality – come let’s eat together.

Fifth, they should be places that attract mockery from religious people, good people, hardworking people.

Sadly, most of our churches cannot be described as David’s tents. Singing and dancing may take place in most. The minister may even pronounce a blessing over the people. They may have a social dimension to them where people gather and eat together. And just because they are a church, they might experience mockery from the world. However, most miss the most important aspect of David’s tent which is God’s glorious grace displayed in Christ Jesus.

David set the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the tent and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. The Ark of the Covenant, burnt offerings and peace offerings are all displays of God’s glorious grace in the work of Jesus on the cross for all of humanity – Jew and Gentile alike. And this is what draws gentiles aka sinners to God.

The absence or neglect of the gospel of God’s glorious grace, unfortunately, has made our churches places where only the good, strong and qualified come. The good, strong and qualified? Those who can keep up with the rules, responsibilities, mission statements, and programs. Those who are strong. Those who can pray the longest with tongues of fire. Those who are serious about their walk with the Lord. Those who witness to their friends daily. Those who have the right sexual orientation. Those who are still married. Those who are gifted. Those who have huge social media followings. Those who can prophesy. Those who have titles. Those who have the right theology and doctrine. Those with deep pockets and big ideas, etc. Sinners are not welcome.

What if we built 21st century David’s tents around the world? What if these tents are marked with the gospel of God’s glorious grace, gladness, dancing, leaping, whirling, blessing and feasting? What if we were mocked by people in our city for being “unashamedly and ridiculously happy”? Hopefully, Jenny and I will get to do just that – set up David’s tent in Johannesburg – a place where Gentiles aka sinners come and see God’s glorious grace in Christ Jesus, celebrate, are blessed, feast, and get the odd look.

That’s what grace looks like

 

 

This entry was posted in: Church, Gospel, Jesus

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.

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