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Wine

 

Wine

By Les Sherlock, posted April 2021 but originally c2011

 

INDEX

 

Introduction

 

In the Old Testament

 

In the New Testament

 

The Teaching in the Bible on alcohol

 

My Personal Conclusion

 

Introduction

 

The drinking of alcohol is a matter of keen debate in some parts of the Christian Church. For those who have a high regard for the Bible, the most important factor is the teaching found within it on the subject. So here is a brief study. There are 224 references to wine in the Bible.

 

In the Old Testament

 

God has given wine to make the heart of men rejoice:

 

And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

Deuteronomy 14:26

 

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man's heart.

Psalm 104:14-15.

 

It is a gift and/or blessing of God:

 

Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.

Genesis 27:28

 

"All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to the LORD, I have given them to you.

Numbers 18:12

 

And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you… then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil… Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew.  

Deuteronomy 7:13; 11:14; 33:28

 

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Proverbs 3:9–10

 

And in this mountain The LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees… "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Isaiah 25:6; 55:1

 

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the LORD for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all.

Jeremiah 31:12

 

For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold— which they prepared for Baal.

Hosea 2:8

 

The LORD will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations… The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil… And it will come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; a fountain shall flow from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Acacias.

Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18

 

"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.

Amos 9:13, 14

 

For how great is its goodness and how great its beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women… Those of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. Yes, their children shall see it and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD.

Zechariah 9:17; 10:7.

 

It is an acceptable sacrifice/offering to God

 

With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

Exodus 29:40–41

 

Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin.

Leviticus 23:13

 

and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering you shall prepare with the burnt offering or the sacrifice, for each lamb… and as a drink offering you shall offer one-third of a hin of wine as a sweet aroma to the LORD… and you shall bring as the drink offering half a hin of wine as an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

Numbers 15:5, 7, 10.

 

It cheers both God and man

 

But the vine said to them, 'Should I cease my new wine, which cheers both God and men, and go to sway over trees?'

Judges 9:13.

 

Hannah’s gift to God was wine

 

Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young.

1 Samuel 1:24.

 

Used by David

 

Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys… So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, "Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person."

1 Samuel 25:18, 35

 

All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king. And they were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their brethren had prepared for them. Moreover those who were near to them, from as far away as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, were bringing food on donkeys and camels, on mules and oxen—provisions of flour and cakes of figs and cakes of raisins, wine and oil and oxen and sheep abundantly, for there was joy in Israel.

1 Chronicles 12:38–40.

 

Some Levites were responsible for looking after it

 

Some of them were appointed over the furnishings and over all the implements of the sanctuary, and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the incense and the spices.

1 Chronicles 9:29.

 

Perhaps the verse which sums up the Old Testament teaching is:

 

And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

Deuteronomy 14:26

 

INDEX

 

In the New Testament

 

 

Jesus drank wine.

 

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

Matthew 26:27-29

 

Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

Mark 14:25

 

 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' … Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

Luke 7:33–34; 22:17-18

 

In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

1 Corinthians 11:25–28.

 

Jesus turned water into wine — even when guests ‘have well drunk’!

 

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!"

John 2:1–10.

 

Jesus told His disciples he would be drinking wine with them in the future Kingdom of God

 

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

Matthew 26:29

 

Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

Mark 14:25

 

for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

Luke 22:18

 

Paul told Timothy to ‘use wine for your stomach’s sake’

 

No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.

1 Timothy 5:23.

INDEX

 

The Teaching in the Bible on alcohol

 

Drunkenness was a problem throughout the Bible — even for servants of God:

 

Noah:

 

And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.

Genesis 9:20-21

 

The priest and prophet:

 

But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

Isaiah 28:7

 

The Corinthian Church:

 

For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

1 Corinthians 11:20–21

 

But in spite of drunkenness during the celebration of communion, which proves they used alcoholic wine for the purpose, the remedy was not abstention, but moderation:

 

Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

1 Corinthians 11:33–34.

 

This can also be seen in Paul’s advice to the Ephesians, when saying we should be filled with the Spirit. He does not say we should abstain from wine, but avoid being drunk with it:

 

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:18.

 

The Bible warns against abusing (rather than using) alcohol:

 

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise… He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich… Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: "They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?"

Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:30–35

 

Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them! The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; but they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His hands.

Isaiah 5:11-12

 

Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it has been cut off from your mouth.

Joel 1:5.

 

Those with responsible positions in Church should be ‘Not given to wine’ - in other words, not addicted to wine:

 

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; …Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,

1 Timothy 3:2-3, 8

 

For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money… the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—

Titus 1:7; 2:3.

 

The excess of wine is wrong:

 

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

1 Peter 4:3.

 

Alcohol abuse creates poverty:

 

He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich… For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

Proverbs 21:17; 23:21.

 

Beware of and avoid alcohol abuse:

 

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

Luke 21:34

 

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

Romans 13:13

 

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person… nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:10

 

For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

1 Peter 4:3.

 

Those practising drunkenness have no part in the Kingdom of God:

 

envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:21.

 

People who were told to abstain from wine:

 

The priests were prohibited from wine when serving in the tabernacle, not because wine was sinful or wrong in any way, but in order to distinguish between that which was sacred to the Lord, and everything else:

 

"Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses."

Leviticus 10:9–11

 

No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court.

Ezekiel 44:21.

 

There was no restriction against them drinking wine at other times, however. They also had to abstain from other things which at other times are legitimate; e.g. wearing no clothing other than linen and cutting hair:

 

And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house… They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.

Ezekiel 44:17, 20

 

A person taking a Nazirite vow was to abstain from wine. But this cannot be taken to mean that wine is therefore sinful, as he also had to abstain from eating grapes, cutting his hair and going near a dead body, none of which could be called wrong. However, at the end of the vow period, they could once again drink wine:

 

"Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin. 'All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separates himself to the LORD he shall not go near a dead body… and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD; they are holy for the priest, together with the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering. After that the Nazirite may drink wine.'

Numbers 6:2-6, 20

 

Samson’s mother was to abstain from wine, but that was because Samson was to be a Nazirite from the womb:

 

Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean.  For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." … And He said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.' " … She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe."

Judges 13:4–5, 7, 14.

 

The Rechabites were commended for abstaining from wine, but this was because their father had made a vow that his family should be teetotal. This cannot be used as a reason for us to abstain from alcohol, because if it was so, then to be consistent we would have to abstain from sowing seed and building houses, which was also a part of their vow! It is clear they are mentioned in contrast to disobedient Israel — the Rechabites had obeyed their father, but Israel had not obeyed God:

 

"Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink." Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine." But they said, "We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, 'You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.' Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us… "The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father's commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me.

Jeremiah 35:2–10, 14.

 

Christians are told to avoid anything that causes a brother to stumble:

 

It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.

Romans 14:21

 

Therefore, if one is eating with a vegetarian, and meat eating would cause offence or difficulty, then meat must be avoided. Likewise, if drinking with an alcoholic (or recovered alcoholic who is not able to resist excessive drinking), then alcohol must be avoided. This is no more a command to be teetotal, than it is to be vegetarian!

 

Daniel’s normal diet included both meat and wine, so it is not possible to use Daniel 1:8 to teach total abstention from alcohol, as he clearly only abstained at certain times for specific reasons:

 

I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

Daniel 10:3

 

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8

 

 From the two references, it would appear that in Dan 1:8, as a slave, he had no choice of food and therefore abstained from defiled food and drink. But once he was promoted, living in his own house, he was able to obtain undefiled food and drink, only abstaining from wine during his fast.

INDEX

 

My Personal conclusion

 

In view of the mass of scripture, which favours the moderate use of wine, and the fact that I have not found a single scripture that prohibits it, I see no reason not to make use of that which God has provided for our enjoyment. If someone with a weakness in the area of alcohol is present, then it should not be made available to him or her. On the basis of all the above, my conclusion is that there may be times when  God may speak to an individual and ask them to forgo something as a part of their personal walk with Him, which could be alcohol, meat, newspapers, TV, or anything else — in Isaiah’s case, it was clothes!

 

At the same time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, "Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet." And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, "Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia…

Isaiah 20:2–3

 

There may be communities where alcohol abuse is a major problem and abstinence would be the best way of dealing with it. In this case Paul’s admonition to avoid anything that would cause a fellow-believer to stumble would apply. However, that apart there is no scriptural basis for making total abstinence of alcohol a rule of life for all, be they Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher, or anyone else in the Church. It seems to me that this is man-made, religious tradition, and would immediately disqualify both Jesus and His disciples, were they alive on earth today!

INDEX

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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