Discover what the bible has to say about culture, civilization and class.
In keeping with previous components, culture plays a powerful role in kingdom life. It provides citizens with the ability to cultivate diverse qualities locally, these qualities have the potential to permeate society with the perfume of commonwealth.
The dictionary defines the term culture as:
the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
Culture is a modern concept based on a term first used in antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: 'cultura animi'.
The term 'culture' appeared first in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to mean a process of cultivation or improvement applied to agriculture or horticulture.
The term then began to be applied to the betterment or refinement of the citizen primarily through education, and then to the fulfilment of national aspirations or ideals.
This application could be characterized by the following:
The cultivation of excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture.
The application of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
The consolidation of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization, or group.
What does the bible have to say?
Whilst the word culture isnt specifically stated, the bible uses many words both literally and symbolically to convey the idea of culture.
Examples: Fruit, fruitful, grapes, figs, the Vine, vineyard, harvests, trees and cedars to name but a few.
Not disimilar to history the bible develops the idea of the application of culture from nature to man.
Read Genesis 1:11,22 The account of creation highlights horticulture as a necessary requirement for abundance.
Read Genesis 1:28 'Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The edenic covenant perpetuated the concept of horticultural terms 'fruitful' being applied to particular qualities in man. This is underpinned by the covenant between the Lord and Adam.
Read Genesis 2:15 'Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it'
The occupation / role of the first man further emphasizes his responsibility to sustain the existing qualities cultured. The covenantal blessing and occupation were seamlessly woven together to support the cultivation of particular qualities of fruitfulness.
Read Genesis 3:17-18 'Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying
, ‘You shall not eat of it’:Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it. All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.
The adamic covenant highlighted a fundamental horticultural and cultural shift from productivity to poverty. The subsequent rebellion of the first man emphasizes the ongoing failure to sustain what has been established in creation and in the beginnings of the first populace.
From this point onwards what ever the earth yielded, the ability to sustain an abundance would be with great difficulty.
Patriarchy and fruitfulness.
The progressive covenants instituted between God and the patriarch fathers underpinned the restoration of the means of cultivating fruitfulness in the Old Testament.
Read Genesis 8:15-17, 9:1,7 Noahic covenant.
Read Genesis 12:2, 17:4-8 Abrahamic covenant.
Read Genesis 26:22 Isaac testifies to covenant promise.
Read Genesis 28:3 Isaac confers covenant promises to Jacob.
Read Genesis 35:11 The Lord confers covenant promises to Jacob.
Read Genesis 35:11 Jacob confers covenant promises to Joseph.
Read Genesis 49:22 The Lord confers covenant promises to Joseph.
The life of the patriarchs are littered with the promises of fruitfulness both in horticulture and personal characteristics. These promises were no less challenged by the experiences of a nomadic life.
The Mosiac covenant included the restoration of fruitfulness with conditions attached.
Read Exodus 1:7 The children of Israel became a fruitful people in Egypt. So much so that their culture became a threat to the occupying Pharoah which subsequently lead to the enslavement of the Hebrews.
Read Leviticus 26:9 The Lord confers covenant promises to Israel.
Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14 The Lord confers covenant promises to Israel in Canaan.
Read Numbers 13:26-30 The report concerning the lands potential for cultivating.
In keeping with the promises to the Fathers the covenantal blessing of fruitfulness was not only applied to the people but would also be applied to an appointed land. The uniting of both would produce a culture pleasing to God.
The Davidic covenant identifies the renewal of the patriarchal promises of fruitfulness.
Read 2 Samuel 7, 7:10 Confirmation of covenant.
Read Acts 2:30 Confirmation of patriarchal promises.
As the nation of Israel peaked during the reign of Solomon the scriptures used a variety terms to describe the wealth of Solomon and the nation.
Read 1st Kings 10:1-12
Read Psalm 1:3, Psalm 52:8, Psalm 92:12
Read Proverbs 3:18
Read Song of Solomon 2:3-5, 7:7-8, 8:5
Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-6
With the apostasy and division of the kingdom of Israel the prophets declared diverse famines. These not dissimilar to the Adamic covenant were imputed upon both the land and the people. Because the people had rejected the Lord as their appointed authority, had rebelled his will (law) and corrupted his government, their citizenship had lost any peculiarity which had once made them distinct from the surrounding nations. Subsequently their culture would change from a
perfume to an unpleasing odour.
Read Jeremiah 2:7, 6:19, 7:20, 11:16, 12:2, 21:14
Read Ezekiel 17:8-9, 19:12-14.
Read Amos 8:1-2, 9:14 Remnant remaining.
Th ushering in of a new kingdom.
The prophets also spoke of the dawning of a new kingdom age capable of delivering a godly culture. This new age incorporated a new single godly class of people.
Read Ezekiel 36:8, 30, 47:12, Nahum 2:2
Read Zechariah 3:10, Zechariah 8:12, Malachi 3:11
Parables of the new kingdom.
The heralding of the new Kingdom by John the Baptist compelled the people to bring forth grounds for the preparing of a new culture.
Read Matthew 3:7-10
'But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire'
Christ parables identified the problems in Israel,s present day culture and the need for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven with its superior citizenship and culture.
Read Matthew 12:33, 13:33
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit'
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
The potency of the culture of the Kingdom of Heaven would be able to permeate any society.
Read Matthew 16:6, 21:18-19, 21:33-45, 13:1-43, 26:29, Luke 13:6-9
The parable of the wicked vinedressers provides us with an understanding of how important culture is to the Kingdom of God. Here we discover the desire of God to see his appointed government produce a quality of culture in keeping with his will.
The rejection of his son serves to point to a localised government no longer desiring to ensure his will is mantained.
They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.”
Their own words only served to highlight the final outcome. Whereby upon the rejection death and ressurection of the appointed King the new covenant expanded from the hebrew seed to the seeds of all man to release the potential of cultivating a new class of people in God's master plan.
Kingdom culture in the Ekklesia
As the covenant of the kingdom began to expand beyound Israel and the domain of the Lord took new grounds, cultivating kingdom culture became diverse. With various tribes and nations entering the Kingdom of God, the challenge became how to identify those peculiar characteristics which make the Kingdom of God what it is.
Read Acts 10:9-17 Those of the previous order who had transitioned such as Peter struggled relating with new covenant believers. His vision from the Lord equating to his resistance to embrace what was once under previous covenants not permitted. How was the law applied in the new covenant and what type of culture did this produce?
Read Romans 11:16-36 Paul called to the gentiles nonetheless progressively understood how they were to be engrafted into the covenant and the diversity this would produce in kingdom culture without taking away from the qualities of previous covenants.
The Apostles understood the impact of existing cultures upon citizens of the kingdom. Nevertheless they provoked the communities to produce a more superior culture underpinned by theocracy and theonomy delivered through the enthroned King.
Read Romans 1:13, 7:5, 1 Corinthians 5:6, 9:7, Hebrews 12:11, 13:15, Galatians
5:9,22, 1 Timothy 6:3-19, James 5:7, Revelations 2-3, 22:2
The words of our Lord bring a fitting end to this article and the cultivation of a kingdom culture.
John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples'
For King and for country...