“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” Acts 15:16 KJV
James is quoting Amos 9:11-12 which talks of rebuilding the tabernacle of David. This has always been a curious prophecy. You would expect that God would have wanted to rebuild either the tabernacle of Moses—the portable place of worship that the Israelites had in the wilderness or Solomon’s temple—an impressive, ornate building. But God doesn’t want to rebuild either of these rather he wants to rebuild David’s tabernacle. This was little more than a tent erected to house the Ark of the Covenant which David had brought back to Jerusalem.
James is quoting this passage at the first church council which was called to consider whether Gentiles should be accepted into the church without being circumcised and without being required to obey the Law of Moses (verse 5). So why is James quoting this prophecy?
James understands that this prophecy speaks of Gentiles coming into the tabernacle of David and not the tabernacle of Moses. If the Gentiles were coming to the tabernacle of Moses it would mean coming under the Law, being circumcised, observing the Sabbath etc. But coming to the tabernacle of David means coming by faith into the New Covenant of the Son of David—a covenant of grace. Animal sacrifices weren’t made in David’s tabernacle but instead, sacrifices of praise and worship were continually offered (1 Chronicles 16).
Today we come spiritually to the tabernacle of David. We come with singing and rejoicing as David would. We don’t come to the tabernacle of Moses since we are accepted by grace through faith.