Evidence from Joel and Amos

No, these are not characters from Gasoline Alley, it’s a chapter from The Coming Millennial Kingdom.  The eighth chapter is entitled Evidence from Joel and Amos and is written by Homer Heater, Jr.  This chapter was fascinating because of the two key passages which were selected.  For Amos, it is Amos 9:11-12 and how it is used in Acts 15.  For Joel, it is Joel 2:28-32 and its use in Acts 2.  The chapter was fascinating for me because it detailed how and why these passages were quoted in the way they were.  It’s not necessarily that I agreed with his conclusions, but I love seeing the different options laid out on how to utilize the OT prophets from our perspective.

For the Amos 9 passage, much detail is spent on the differences between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint (noted as LXX).  Then the author also comes to Acts 15 to see which version was being quoted and why.  I found the idea of Edom and Adam both having roots in “mankind” to be a sound solution to an apparent discrepancy.  Even though I read this “discussion” with much interest, I disagree with the author’s conclusion that we do not have a citation of the Amos passage in Acts 15, but instead a theological idea.  To me, it should be obvious that James is quoting Amos 9 in Acts 15.  The focus should not be on the differences, but on what is the same in every single version; MT, LXX, and by James himself.  The fact in all texts is that there will be Gentiles called by the name of the LORD.  This in itself should have been miraculous to see a prophecy which shows pagan Gentiles calling themselves by the very name of the LORD, and not in any way becoming a part of the nation of Israel.  So whenever “that day” is (Amos 9:11), or what is meant by “after this” (Acts 15:16), it should be clear that what Amos and James jointly proclaimed is an event that would occur after an arrangement during which Gentiles would be called by the name of the LORD.

Here is where an overall understanding of Luke’s purpose should be noted.  Saul is commissioned to go to the Gentiles in Acts 9.  The way of salvation is opened up to the Gentiles in Acts 10.  In Acts 11, Saul becomes a part of the first multi-cultural church in Antioch (see Acts 13:1 for the nationalities).  These Jews and Gentiles are called “Christ-ians” at Antioch, Acts 11:26, meaning they are called by one of the names of the LORD Jesus.  The first Gentile missionary journey is in Acts 13-14.  Then the debate of Acts 15 settles the issue of whether or not these Gentiles had to participate in circumcision thereby making them a part of the nation of Israel.  James enlightens all present with a quotation from Amos which shows that Gentiles would be called by the name of the LORD when this event of the fallen booth of David being restored would occur.  The conclusion should be simple.  We as Gentiles are currently called Christians (thus receiving the name of the LORD) thereby ensuring that the LORD will return and rebuild the fallen legacy of David (forgive The Orange Mailman spin).

For the author’s explanation of the Joel passage, I was very excited to read someone whose views on the book of Joel were quite similar to my own.  Here is an exposition of how the repentance of Israel is the turning point, or “reversal of fortunes” as he puts it, of the entire prophecy.  Israel’s repentance is what the Day of the LORD and the blessings from God center around.  He writes, “The people of God must turn to God in repentance before the devastating Day of Yahweh can be turned back.  Any blessing by God upon Israel must be in response to spiritual repentance.”  Most of his time is spent in Joel, making it a fairly thorough conclusion that this repentance must be placed in the eschaton (end times).  However, this leaves very little room for any conclusions from Acts 2.  Some thoughts are given, but I think it lacks the “knock-out punch” that it could have had given just a little more emphasis.  The Messianic Age in some sense had begun, but the author doesn’t explore any concrete evidence for what remained in the future based on Acts 2.  I believe an appropriate point would have been the admonition by Peter to “repent” in Acts 3:19 in order that “the times of refreshing may come”, Acts 3:20.  The author points out that this is an OT phrase with earthly significance, but does not make the connection between this and the repentance of Israel to usher in the fullness of the Messianic Age.

Overall, I would say this is a good chapter.  It gives the reader the basic facts on both OT passages in their original contexts.  Different views are laid out, language is explored, and the NT usage of them is discussed in such a way as to make one think.  Both examinations are good starting points for any student of eschatology whether you agree with the final conclusions or not.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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