1) Please comment on Amos 9:11-15 – James in Acts seems to use it to refer to the church, but Jews say it refers to the present ingathering in Israel, Verse 9:15: NEVER AGAIN will they be uprooted. Isaiah 11:10-11 – “ the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN to recover the remnant of his people….”
When the people of Israel took occupation of the Promised Land they were given the Law, with its promises of blessings and curses, and were also warned that if they became unfaithful to the covenant and sinful like the other nations who had occupied the Land before them, they too would be exiled.
The lessons that the people of Israel were intended to learn through being entrusted with the Law was that their real enemy is sin which leads to all the curses listed in the law coming upon them – and also that sin ultimately leads to death.
If righteousness could be attained by observing the Law, then people could potentially attain life through obedience to the Law and Christ would not have had to die and neither would we need to put to death the old and sinful nature (if that nature could be reformed through obedience to the Law).
Jesus died to put an end to sin and that is done by putting to death the sinful nature – the last enemy to be defeated is death itself.
The promise of the Land, first given to Abraham, will be given to Abraham and all of his descendants. The writer to the Hebrews, (chapters 11 -13), taught that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as heirs to the promise of the land, dwelt in tents in the land as sojourners – being assured that the inheritance would not only be for a person’s lifetime in this mortal body, but that it would be received along with all his descendants – which by implication means in the resurrection from the dead.
Martha, (or her sister, Mary), told Jesus that she had assurance that her brother Lazarus would be raised to life in the last days – and then Jesus told her that he is, himself, the Resurrection. We, as the descendants of Abraham through faith in Jesus the Messiah will receive the inheritance of the Land – and never to be uprooted ever again.
The apostle Paul taught very clearly that it is not the natural descendants who are the heirs of the promise, but those born according to the promise – which is by the Spirit and includes people from all nations who believe in Jesus, they have become fellow-heirs.
However, those who try to take hold of the inheritance now by their own means, whether by military might and power – (and not through faith in Jesus and by the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead), will not take hold of the inheritance so as to never be uprooted again. On the contrary, if they stubbornly refuse to repent of the unbelief, which includes their rebellion against God’s Anointed King, they will indeed be uprooted and finally condemned when Jesus appears in his majestic glory.
The initial promise given to the exiles in Babylon was that they would be re-gathered, they would rebuild the temple, all in anticipation of the coming Messiah in whom they would then be established as God’s holy chosen nation into which many people from among other nations would be gathered. That gathering of the faithful is continuing so that the heavenly city of Jerusalem is a city without walls cf. Zec. 2:4 (and a city beyond earthly confines) and it will be inhabited by the redeemed in Christ who will indeed never be uprooted ever again and they shall not terminate the occupation even through death for they will be raised immortal.
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24).
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).
So, in order to sum up this short exposition of the Scripture referred to…:
“In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the Lord who does this.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God (Amos 9:11-15).
…when the apostles witnessed the inclusion of gentiles among the redeemed, with the promise and assurance of eternal life through faith in Jesus, they quoted this Scriptures, that the restoration of the kingdom is through faithfulness to the Anointed King, Jesus – through whom all the faithful assembly of Israel throughout all the ages is being gathered, (including descendants of exiles who had returned from their captivity). Those who returned and were assured that they would never be uprooted ever again were also informed through Daniel (chapter 9) that their redemption would only be completed 490 years later after the return from the exile – through the coming of the Messiah who is gathering us to the eternal city. The earthly shadow of the heavenly city is now figuratively compared to Sodom and Egypt in Galatians and Revelations (in which unbelievers are still in slavery to sin), and to Hagar and her children who are not the true heirs but figuratively like Ishmael who are merely born of the flesh and not of the promise.
As I illustrated from Hebrews 12:18-24, quoted above, we are indeed being gathered to Zion through our faith and our coming to Jesus – and this is the gathering of which the prophet Amos referred when he said by the Spirit that we will never be uprooted again.
Political Zionists may ascribe the Scriptures to themselves and to the gathering of “Jews” to the Land but not all who claim to be “Jews” are indeed Jews –
For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God (Romans 2:28-29).
2) What about Isaiah 11:10-11? “ the Lord shall set his hand AGAIN to recover the remnant of his people….” Could these scriptures not refer to a final restoration of Israel as one of the nations, if all nations become Christian?
The Scripture referred to:
In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea (Isaiah 11:10-11).
The words, “In that day…”, must surely refer to the time of the Messiah’s coming as it follows on from previous verses:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-2).
Jesus came to gather the lost sheep of Israel, but as was prophesied, the Seed of Abraham, the Messiah, would also become a blessing to all nations. Thus Jesus said that not only would he gather the lost sheep of Israel, but also people from other tribes and races and they would become one flock under the care of one shepherd.
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).
This truth was further elaborated upon by the apostle Paul who taught very clearly that there is one new humanity united in Christ, which is an undoing of the scattering of peoples and the forming of many nations which took place in the time of the building of the Tower of Babel. Paul taught that in Christ there are no longer many different nations but only the new Israel of God.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Galatians 3:27-29).
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11).
Those who were once members of other nations and once excluded from the promises, are grafted into the redeemed Israel of God and become one body, one nation:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).
With reference to the Jews who stumbled over the stumbling stone and were those cut off on account of their unbelief, the apostle Peter went on to say of believers, all believers, whether from Jewish or gentile background:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).
It was language, locality and kings and gods that distinguished the various nations from Israel, but in Christ, there is very clearly one new nation where there is no longer any distinction to be made between Jew or Greek. Mankind collectively at one time tried to establish themselves on the earth in rebellion to the LORD and they were scattered and divided into many nations speaking different languages to thwart such a united revolt of mankind against God. But that is undone through the coming of the Messiah and all who are not reconciled to God in the one new mankind in Christ will eventually be finally cut off and condemned. I do not see any need for us to entertain the notion that there will still be various nations in the new heaven and earth.
The gathering of the Jews scattered among the nations under the Messiah very clearly also includes people from all other nations, tribes and languages – so that they become one new man (one mankind – which also denotes one holy nation in Christ.)
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine” (Acts 2:5-13).
So, to sum up in reply to your question: “Could these scriptures not refer to a final restoration of Israel as one of the nations, if all nations become Christian?”
The first believers were mostly Jews and the gospel then spread further afield, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Those who were formerly gentiles and cut off from the promises and not citizens of the holy nation of God, have become one with the redeemed remnant of Israel. A remnant of Jews have been gathered throughout the ages since the coming of Jesus and believing gentiles are grafted into this redeemed holy nation. When gentiles become Christians their citizenship is in heaven and their identity is now “in Christ”, no longer as Greek, Roman, Egyptian etc. Your question would imply that only the gentiles believe and then a “final restoration of Israel” – to which you add “as one of the nations”. What nations? Greek, Roman, Egyptian – no, because in the redeemed humanity from all nations, there is no longer Jew or Greek. The “final” restoration of Israel is inclusive of all the people united in Christ throughout the period of God’s grace and salvation, Jew and gentile, which begun with the Jew first, not the Jew last of all – and throughout this process, it is the forming of one new holy nation.
There may indeed remain various nations while the kingdom of God is being established during the period of those rulers (cf. Dan 2:44), but at the close of the age, those who have not believed are finally condemned – and those who have believed have become one holy nation, one kingdom under one King.