The Gift of Culture

Restoring Culture (2)

Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:8

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Ascension and culture
There are two aspects to Paul’s use of this quote from Psalm 68:18 which I find fascinating, and which relate to how we should understand culture and its use.

First, Paul is clearly applying this text to the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The “gifts” he mentions most probably refer, in the first instance, to the spiritual gifts by which believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, do the work of seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.

The Inevitability of Culture

Restoring Culture (1)

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it. Genesis 2:15

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Creatures of Culture
Human beings are creatures of culture. We’re not the only creatures which engage in cultural activities, as we know that many creatures communicate through forms of language, build particular kinds of nests, make and use certain tools, and even sing.

But the “culture” which animals make and use can hardly be compared with the multifaceted, variegated, sophisticated, and ever-changing cultural creations and activities of human beings. In fact, so far beyond comparison with the habits of animals are the cultural activities of men, that we reserve the very word, “culture,” to refer to the activities of humans alone.

Increasing Glory!

A Prayer for the King and His Kingdom (7)

VPBlessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. Psalm 72:18-20

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God's Redemptive Purpose
From the beginning of God’s redeeming work with Israel, His purpose has been to glorify Himself through His people. The glory of God is the presence of God as He makes Himself manifest to the world. God glorified Himself in ancient Israel by filling the Tabernacle with His presence and leading His people through the wilderness in a pillar of smoke and fire. He glorified Himself in the nation by giving them His good and wise Law, overcoming all their enemies, endowing their kings with wisdom, and receiving their joyous and sincere worship.

Increasing Praise and Thanks!

A Prayer for the King and His Kingdom (6)

VPLong may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field! May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! Psalm 72:15-17

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Blessed to Praise
David prayed that God would abundantly bless the people of Israel under Solomon’s rule, so that the people of Israel would celebrate the virtues of their king and continue the legacy of his reign. He longed to see all the good of the land associated with the wisdom, benevolence, and judgment of his son. The people would surely be supportive of Solomon and his sons if they understood that all their richest blessings were the result of his wise and generous rule.

Love for the Least!

A Prayer for the King and His Kingdom (5)

VPFor he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight. Psalm 72:12-14

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An Upside-Down Agenda
When the Gospel of Jesus Christ came into the cities of the Roman world, people readily observed that something new and different had arrived. The Thessalonians declared that Paul and the other followers of King Jesus were turning the world upside down (Acts 17:1-9). It would be more accurate, I think, to say that they were turning it rightside-up.

Pray for Kingdom Increase!

A Prayer for the King and His Kingdom (4)

VPMay he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before him and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! Psalm 72:8-11

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A Growing Stone
In one of the most compelling Biblical images of the Kingdom of God, Daniel explained that it would be like a growing stone (Dan. 2:44, 45). Once the Kingdom has come it will increase and grow and overcome all opposition to it and every other kingdom that exists on earth. Isaiah rejoiced to see the coming of the King Whose Kingdom would increase without end (Is. 9:6, 7). And Jesus taught, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the whole world would be sown with the good seed of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).

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