Group work ::
Look at these passages and answer:
What area of culture is going on here?
What is the effect? Why is it being used?
Is the effect good or bad? What does it reflect about the participants relationship to God?
Where does it fit into the ‘Big Story’?

Genesis 1:
Genesis 4:21

Proverbs 1 (poetry in teaching)
Exodus 15:1-18 (music in celebration of rescue)
Isaiah 16:10 (Lack of singing – sorrow for sin/music in work)
Jeremiah 48:33 (Work)
Ecclesiastes 2:8 (celebration and play)
Matt 11:17
Judges 11:34
Exodus 32:17-18 (war)
Psalm 30:11 (Dancing)
Psalm 150:4
1 Samuel 18:7 (Positive)
Ezekiel 33:32 (Negative)
Psalm 67:4 (whole nations called to praise God)
Revelation 4-5
James 5:13 (expresses joy)
Psalm 92:1-3 (thanksgiving)
1Corinthians 14:15 (prayer)
Psalm 72:20
1 Kings 18:26-28
Job 3

According to the big story of the Bible God’s plan is to bring everything under Christ.
And culture comes under this too.

Culture is something that comes out of the ‘cultural mandate’ of Genesis.
The command to fill and subdue was not only about sex and farming.
It was about reflecting the nature of the God in who’s image we were created.
We’re to be creative.

That’s what the descendants of Adam and Eve get on and do.

And this creativity in terms of culture is hugely valuable.
Not only is it a way we express the image of God in us, but it also helps humans express themselves in ways that move us beyond the capability of mere words.
It helps people engage with the deep issues of life.
It unites people as they share this creativity.
It entertains, it brings laughter and joy.
It can be therapeutic, and also challenging.

However because of the fall it is inevitably marred.
What was previously meant to reflect the God who created us could now be used to demonstrate our rejection of him.
We use it to show how great we are, thinking that by creating things somehow we are the true creators and not God.

That’s what the Canaanites do.
They use music and dancing as part of their worship of false gods.

So what do the Isrealites do?
Do they run from culture because it was being used by the pagans to demonstrate their rejection of God?

No – they redeem it.
It’s been argued that they used similar music, and dancing but use it in praise and worship of God instead of against God (see Psalm 93).

And in this they not only reflect God in creativity, but also in redemption.
They redeem what has been corrupted, and use it for what it was intended.

That’s exactly what God is doing with the whole of creation.
Through the death of Jesus he is not only redeeming people, but the whole of creation.

We see glimpses of that now, Singing is redeemed in heaven and used for the praise of God and the lamb rather than for the praise of men and woman.
But it is only when we get to the stage of ‘Consummation’ that we will see it completed.

That’s what we see in Revelation.
Cities were now doubt corrupted when John was writing, but when God makes the new heaven on the new earth the city will be all that it was meant to be.

So culture is something created to be good.
The Fall has meant that it is now used not to reflect our creator, but to assert our dominance and independence.
But God’s plan is to redeem everything, to restore everything to its rightful place and use.
And when we reach the consummation of this plan we will see all these things, including culture, in all its glorious light, being used in the praise and worship of God…