Your ability to be inspired by a symphony, to be enriched by a sculpture, or to be uplifted by a sunset is a miracle. That ability is due to a God-like mind that God created in you.
God “endowed man with the power of mind,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Incredible Human Potential. “It seems obvious that human minds were made to function in the same manner as the Creator’s, although in an inferior way. But how do we humans use our minds? We are endowed with something akin to creative powers.”
This ability makes the human being a unique creation. No animal has this ability. God gave it only to man, because of our unique and special purpose. Part of the unique God-like mind that humans possess is the ability to appreciate creative, artistic endeavors.
The Cultured Mind of God
God—creator and possessor of this mind power—is the most cultured, brilliant and sophisticated Being. He appreciates the finest things. He is a God of quality.
God gave us such mind power so He could create His character in us. And His character is that of a perfectionist, of creating the highest quality, of appreciating the finest things. “[T]he Bible teaching upholds prosperity, culture, education and acquisition of right knowledge, good quality, proper attire in clothes,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his March 1978 Plain Truth personal, “Is It Wrong to Be a Cultured Individual?” He continued: “The Bible reveals human nature as being lazy, slovenly, yet full of vanity and greed. When people brag about being poor, uneducated and uncultured, that is merely vanity. It is usually self-excusing shiftlessness, neglect, lack of effort.”
God is surrounded by brilliance and sophistication.
In the Apostle John’s vision of God’s throne room, he records: “And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. … And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever” (Revelation 4:3-4, 8-9).
In Revelation 5, we read that these 24 elders sing a new song before the throne (verse 9).
What a visually rich environment: pure gold, precious stones, fiery crystals. And what aurally rich conditions—harps, singing and constant music. Verses 11-13 reference an angelic chorus of 100 million voices!
All this, you could say, is God’s throne-room culture.
We read more about it in Psalm 45:8, “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” This is in a section of the psalm where the Bride (a type of the Church) is praising her husband (a type of Jesus Christ). The word whereby is a mistranslation in the King James Version. The Hebrew word means stringed instruments (as it is translated in Psalm 150:4). The verse should read thus: “out of the ivory palaces, string instruments gladden you.”
Think of our God’s majestic surroundings! Think of the mansions and offices He is preparing for you! (John 14:1-2). Such inspiring music comes from His residence—His throne room!
What is most inspiring about these environs is the fact that God intends to export that throne-room culture!
The Culture of Lucifer
God, being the giver that He is, wanted to propagate and expand His joyous surroundings so others could benefit. It began with the greatest creation in the angelic realm. Of the archangel Lucifer, God said: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created” (Ezekiel 28:13). God’s angelic masterpiece was endowed with the finest jewels of the spirit dimension and superior musical skills.
Lucifer dwelled “upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (verse 14). He had spent considerable time in that throne-room culture until he was sent to “Eden, the garden of God” to bring that culture there. Eden, in fact, was to be God’s “throne room” on Earth. When God designed this garden, He gave it the same basic design as His home in the third heaven.
When Lucifer was stationed there, the garden was merely a testing ground: God intended for him eventually to expand that “throne-room culture” to the universe. Editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in The Former Prophets: How to Become a King: “Lucifer was a universe being, created to fill the universe with beautiful music! God made him to think as He thinks, and to love and produce music that He loves. Lucifer did so for a while, but then he rebelled, and God changed his name to Satan.”
God had created a being specially designed to export His artistic tastes and sensibilities throughout the universe. That is going to be the job of human beings born into God’s Family! And they will be even more skilled and able to do that than even Lucifer was while he was still righteous.
The spread of the throne-room culture was to start at Eden with humankind and expand from there. God created man out of the dust of the ground, with God-like mental capabilities, and placed him in this garden that represented the throne-room in heaven. It was a place of quality, of godly education and responsibility. It represented the way that God wanted spread over the whole Earth.
In the Garden of Eden, mankind chose not to export God’s throne-room culture. Man chose to live under Satan’s sway.
Think of the world we have lived in ever since! As Mr. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages: “God sits on a throne surrounded by brilliant splendor, quality and beauty and character. … God intended man to work this Earth, improve it, beautify it, give it glorious character—and in so doing to build into his own life the ‘beauty of holiness’ …. God never intended humans to live in poverty, filth and squalor or ugliness. Man should have beautified the Earth, and developed man’s character in so doing. His civilization should have been a ‘heaven on Earth.’”
The Culture of Physical Israel
Under Satan’s influence, however, man has generally not partaken of the finer things. Looking through the millennia of human history, culture has been a privilege for only a small minority.
One exception to this was the physical nation of Israel. God intended for the Israelites to live His type of culture. The greatness and renown of their culture was possible because they were given God’s laws and systems (see Deuteronomy 4:5-8).
The nation’s progenitor, Abraham, was an extremely well-educated, well-traveled, refined man. According to the Austrian Chronicle of the 95 Rulers, he established Austria as the cultural center of Europe. It still is today, over 4,000 years later! The evidence of Abraham’s influence in Austria is found mostly in its musical culture. Vienna remains the music capital of the world. Salzburg was the film location for much of The Sound of Music, and is world famous as the birthplace of Mozart, the great musical genius revered in that city, as well as in greater Austria.
The Bible reveals that Job and Joseph were prosperous, capable, intelligent men. God spoke to Job in musical terms on several occasions.
God ensured that Moses was trained not only in shepherding but in the royal Egyptian court (how much of Egypt’s culture came from Abraham’s, Job’s and Joseph’s influence?). Moses also received practical training in organization from his father-in-law, Jethro. All this was partly so that Moses could establish Israel as a more culturally advanced civilization.
Within that nation, the Levites embodied God’s culture perhaps more than any other tribe. The priests were selected out of that tribe: They were arrayed in the finest attire, had the finest education and income—all for the purpose of being equipped to serve the nation in a number of cultural capacities. The idea that human beings would replace Lucifer in cultural abilities was visually represented on the breastplate of the high priest’s wardrobe: It was studded with the same gems with which God had endowed Lucifer! Ancient Israel’s cultural prowess reached its zenith during the reigns of Kings David and Solomon. Both kings inspired a highly refined national culture. The Bible reveals that the nation’s musical output was well known among neighboring lands—an extremely rare feat in days without radios, cds or digital streaming.
King David established a musical culture surrounding the ark of the covenant that depicted the kind of musical activities in the heavenly throne room itself! 1 Chronicles 16:37-42 reveal that music surrounded the ark “day and night” (just as Revelation 4:8 describes the worship round God’s throne in heaven): Asaph made music around the ark; Heman and Jeduthun stayed with Zadok and made music around the sacrifices.
During Solomon’s reign, the temple stood as a structure unmatched in architectural and aesthetic achievement.
Later, when King Hezekiah decided to pay tribute to Sennacherib to dissuade an invasion of Jerusalem, secular history shows that he offered some of his court musicians as part of the tribute. The musicians of the Davidic throne were considered a valuable commodity!
The Bible also reveals that the Prophets Amos and Isaiah were extremely well educated and partook of the fine arts.
A study of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah reveal a startling connection between the spiritual health of the nation and its cultural output: Music is never mentioned during the reigns of any of the kings of Israel (and all of them were evil); nor during the reigns of evil kings of Judah. It is only mentioned during righteous Judaic reigns, or the righteous portions of those reigns.
And when Judah fell to Babylon in the sixth century b.c., Psalm 137 shows that the captors wanted the Jews to sing Zion’s songs. The nation was renowned for its musical achievements! Daniel 1 also shows that Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar wanted Jewish youth in his court. They were known to have “ability in them to stand in the king’s palace” (verse 4), and he found them “ten times better” than his experts (verse 20).
The Culture of Spiritual Israel
When certain Jews returned to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity, some of the “God culture” was recaptured amid the building of the second temple under Zerubbabel and later during the time of Nehemiah, when he constructed a wall around Jerusalem. But it was not long before even this nation lost much of the “God culture.”
The culture would soon be revived after God began working through a spiritual nation. Psalm 22:3 states that God is enthroned in the “praises of Israel.”
And though He calls them “the weak and the base,” God exposes His Church to the finest things!
The Feast of Tabernacles is a perfect example. Deuteronomy 14:25-26 explain how we save 10 percent of our income to spend on God’s festivals (mainly the feast of booths)—to “eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household” (verse 26). How many people in the world—and in history—get to dine on that level? Spending that percentage of annual income on just over a week of dining exposes God’s people to truly royal living. Is God’s Church just a backward bunch of poverty-stricken misfits? Absolutely not. If they are obeying the second-tithe command, they are blessed with living in this kind of godly culture.
Even the fact that each week, we don our finest and come before God’s presence in Sabbath services puts us in a different “class” of people.
God’s people have to know how to conduct themselves in God’s presence. That is the throne-room culture! We learn good grooming, proper dress, good manners, even proper grammar and speech—all these are part of the throne-room culture.
As in physical Israel, the refinements of the spiritual nation’s culture match— and are caused by—the nation’s spiritual health. And when the Church thrived under the influence of the end-time Elijah (Matthew 17:10‑11)—when all things were restored to the Church—this element of God’s lifestyle was restored also. The campuses God used Herbert W. Armstrong to build were famed for being paradises. Mr. Armstrong mentioned in Mystery of the Ages a comment from a head of state when visiting those grounds: “A royal queen on a recent six-day visit to the headquarters campus in Pasadena, California, on touring the campus, exclaimed, ‘I have just been in heaven.’”
Students in the colleges were learning how to be ambassadors for God’s way of life in practical ways. Mr. Armstrong established spokesman clubs throughout the Church “to qualify Church members to better represent the Kingdom of the Eternal, living God by training in character development, leadership within God’s Church, effective organization of right thoughts and ability to put them across in plain, understandable speech” (Spokesman Club Manual). He built an auditorium to promote the highest artistic achievements of the human spirit.
Our Work today consists of the same kinds of cultural opportunities, training us how to better represent God’s culture as His ambassadors. God is blessing His people with opportunities to grow in this kind of culture. Even Church members living in far-flung places around the world can live-stream many of the performances from Armstrong Auditorium. Witnessing the gold standard of performance art is a rare experience in human history. Historically, for people to witness such performances, they would had to have been born into a privileged palace—and one that patronized the arts.
Nowadays, it is more common for people to be able to watch great performances in the form of live concerts, particularly with the advent of television and film. Art museums are also affordable and attainable for many. But this still applies mainly to the First World and Israelite-affected nations. The vast majority of humanity today is unable to partake of anything of this sort.
The Culture of Tomorrow’s World
Now project this culture forward into the World Tomorrow, when the whole world will be God’s (Zechariah 14:9), when all will be keeping God’s laws (Isaiah 2:1-4), when that spiritual nation is the ruling Kingdom of God (Daniel 2:44).
Isaiah 51:3 states: “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
Notice, the wilderness will be transformed into Eden, and the desert into the garden of the Eternal—both types of God’s throne room! The throne-room culture will be planted here on Earth during the reign of the Messiah. “The voice of melody” will be heard—showing us that this kind of music existed in the original Eden. And it will resound in this future Eden. Even the Hebrew root for the word melody means to strike with fingers. So there will be voices and instruments—all kinds of music in this Eden!
The culture of the World Tomorrow will be an export of God’s throne-room culture! It will be a world of true culture.
Mr. Armstrong wrote in his March 1978 article about culture: “There is much sophisticated ‘culture’ in this world that is pure snobbishness and vanity. But true culture is based on God’s great law: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ That part of culture and good manners which expresses concern for one’s neighbor in politeness, graciousness, pleasantness, smiles and service is true culture.”
God’s way is that of refined manners, proper dress and good grooming. His world will be full of godly refinement and culture.
Isaiah 25:6 states, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (English Standard Version). As God’s spiritual nation, we learn a lot about this subject when we keep and live the Feast.
Zechariah 14:16-19 show that God will enforce proper Feast-keeping on the world. In the verses following this passage, Zechariah shares another detail about this time: “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein …” (verses 20-21). A phrase that originally was only inscribed on the bells of Israel’s priests (Exodus 28:36) will be inscribed on the bells of the horses. People will look to Jerusalem as the epitome of the throne-room culture—where even horses wear inscriptions once reserved for the sanctuary, the priests and the temple! There people will do everyday cooking in pots dedicated to serving God.
God wants humanity to savor the finest things—to have excellent standards, manners and taste. Why? Because they point to the character of God. Good grooming, proper dress, good manners and proper speech all build character. They are all based on God’s law of love.
As rulers in the World Tomorrow, we will teach that the physical things are temporary and are not to be idolized, but that they can teach us about God’s mind and character. They point us to spiritual excellence.
“For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob …. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:11-14).
A time is coming when all will partake of the finer things! These include fine food and drink, singing and dancing. And this is a lifestyle that, in Satan’s world, was only enjoyed by a privileged few. Verses 12 and 14 show that this all typifies spiritual bounty. These physical things represent God’s goodness.
The Culture of the Spirit-Born God Family
This lifestyle will be possible partly because the world will be ruled by a spirit family of God beings—a family whose achievement, again, will be far greater than Lucifer’s ever could have been. In John’s vision recorded in the book of Revelation, he saw 144,000 of those Family members singing a new song “before the throne” (Revelation 14:1-5)—contributing to the throne-room culture.
John, in his vision, then saw people born into God’s Family—singing before the throne with harps (Revelation 15:2-4). This ruling God Family will succeed where Lucifer failed.
This family will make wealth, land ownership (Micah 4:4) and therefore cultural experiences the norm for every man, not just the privilege of the select few.
Zephaniah 3:17 shows who is ultimately behind this cultural revolution: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
God will joy over people with singing! The Hebrew word for joy means to go in a circle, to leap or to dance. God will personally bring His tastes, His appreciations, His arts to the Earth—into the human culture.
Jeremiah 33:10-11 reveal that the voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride will be heard in Jerusalem, along with those who bring “the sacrifice of praise” into the house of the Eternal.
God gives us a foretaste of this kind of world today: every Sabbath, every Feast, in the continual experiences He gives His Church. This is because we will help bring this throne-room culture to the Earth.
It does not stop on Earth though! Isaiah 51:16 states: “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”
The Earth is merely the foundation for planting the heavens!
God wanted Lucifer to fill this universe with godly culture. Instead this is our job. God is ensuring we have the abilities to perform this! For we are about to fill this Earth—and this universe—with God’s throne-room culture!