Growing up as a Christian in the early 70s and 80s you often get to hear personal testimonies in the churches, of individuals who became Christians and overcame their three worst sins – smoking, drinking and seeing films! I know that since mid-90s there is a change in the list. Seeing films is no more part of the top sins one need to overcome as a sincere Christian, because unlike in those days when you had to go to a theatre to watch a movie (where the chances of you getting caught in sin were high), these days you have it played in your house. So its no more a top sin. (Poor God! We just re-wrote His list of sins)! 🙂
(Pic source: unknown)
I’m sick and tired of this wide-spread pseudo-spirituality that often glorifies the inconsequential and nullifies the essential! We are taught to live a life of lie – full of needless guilt, fear and shame. And what angers me the most is the fact that most of the time it is based on foolish interpretations and false teachings.
As the title suggests, in this article I am going to discuss one such “man-made sin” – the ‘sin’ of DRINKING. Like with other issues that I have dealt, I am going to expose here how some careless interpretations of the Bible have resulted in portraying “drinking” as a devilish act! The knowledge of truth will really set you free!! I know that many will criticize me for coming out with this. But I had to find the truth and expose it! I invite you to join me as I pass through The Book wine-hunting and party-hopping!
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN WINE AND GRAPE JUICE
I have seen preachers standing on their heads trying to convince their listeners that the “wine” Jesus provided for the wedding in Cana, was a non-alcoholic grape juice. And most of their listeners shake their empty heads in united agreement. But, since the Bible itself says that knowledge will increase in the last days, it is important that what is taught from it makes sense.
For the kind information of those preachers, the word used in John 2, is “wine” and not “grape juice”. Oh, you think they are the same? Wait. Let me distinguish them for you. Please read these two verses:
1) Gen 40:11 – Fresh grape juice served to Pharaoh by the Chief Butler.
2) Neh 2:1 – Wine served to Artaxerxes by Nehemiah.
The Oxford Dictionary classifies “wine” as an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice. And for those of you who do not know, “fermentation” is a process by which sugar is converted into ethyl alcohol as a result of chemical breakdown of micro-organisms in beers, wines and spirits.
Since the Oxford Dictionary is not “God-inspired” and since the Bible-centered, Greek-seeking saints wouldnt settle for anything less, let me go Greek: the Greek word used there for “wine” is ‘oinos’ – A primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin); “wine” (literally or figuratively): – wine. The Hebrew origin word is ‘yayin’, which means “effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine”. (Hope you have ignored the word “intoxication” found inbetween, because it means to cause (someone) to lose control of their faculties)! 🙂
The same word “yayin” is used in the below verse where the Lord is compared to a drunken man awaking from his sleep, shouting with joy: Psa 78:65 – “Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine”. The Hebrew word used here for “shouteth” is ‘ranan’ which generally means to ‘shout joyfully’. So if “wine” was just a grape juice then isn’t God’s reaction compared to someone’s who is very clearly overacting??!!!! 😀
When Jesus was on this earth, he was called a “winebibber” – ‘drunkard’ of wine. And there seems to be some fire behind that smoke as the below verses would prove! When it came to “wine”, Jesus was not naïve. He made it amply clear that he knew a thing or two about wine when he said, “No man also having drunk OLD WINE straightaway desireth new. For he saith, The old is better” (Luke 5:39). The term “old wine” is the key. It very clearly distinguishes itself from the normal “grape juice wine” concept the preachers are desperately trying to portray – because there is nothing called ‘old grape juice’ :-p :-D!! And what did Jesus mean by “the old is better”?? Oh, unless you drink it you won’t have a clue!!
At the wedding in Cana, after tasting the newly served wine, the MC said, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have WELL DRUNK, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). These words convey a lot… We can understand that the wine that Jesus provided was of a better quality than the “good wine” that was served first. We can also understand that people usually get “WELL DRUNK” by the “good wine” served initially, and they then go on to drink “that which is worse”, served later (and this was obviously done by the hosts to take advantage of the guests’ altered state of mind). And more importantly, the Greek word used there for “drunk” is ‘methuo’, which means – to drink to intoxication, that is, get drunk: – drink well, make (be) drunk (-en). If you missed it, ‘methuo’ means to drink till you are intoxicated. And, come on, you know what intoxication means, don’t you?!!
SO, THE VERDICT IS OUT AND CLEAR: IT WAS NOT AN ORDINARY GRAPE JUICE, BUT A FERMENTED “ALCOHOLIC DRINK” THAT JESUS PROVIDED FOR THE WEDDING AT CANA – WHICH WAS BETTER THAN THE “GOOD” ONE SERVED EARLIER!!
If I were in Jesus’ place and I knew that drinking was a sin then I wouldn’t have been attending any such weddings in the first place (Infact, I know there are many holier saints who wouldn’t attend such parties or functions even today)! Even if I had to, I would have left much before people started drinking. But look at Jesus! He not only stayed back while others were getting drunk, but he provided more wine to those who were already drunk (Something you wont do if you believed in moderate drinking)!!
I would have asked the servants of the house to fill those empty pots with water and have it poured over the heads of all those drunkards! Infact, Jesus could have used the whip here. Lo, he didn’t! Compared to the high standards of spirituality set by his saints, he seems to be way off the mark!! Way off…! Poor Jesus!!!
Isn’t it interesting to note that the first recorded miracle of Jesus happens to be the provision of “good wine” at a wedding party and that he signs off his last and most important earthly task (the death on the cross) with some “strong wine”?!!
WHAT DRINK DID JESUS DENY BEFORE HIS CRUCIFIXION, AND WHY?
In Matthew 27:34, before Jesus was crucified – “They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink”. And in John 19:30, we see: “When Jesus thereof had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished”. (When he said “It is finished”, he was obviously referring to the “Mission Accomplished” and not the vinegar that was served!). “Vinegar” or “sour wine” (‘oxos’ in Greek), is a sour-tasting liquid containing acetic acid, obtained by fermenting dilute alcoholic liquids, typically wine, cider, or beer. IT IS STRONGER THAN WINE. And “gall”, is believed to be a narcotic substance called Opium, derived from Poppy plants, found in abundance in Arabic countries and used as an analgesic (pain reliever).
When “gall” is mixed with “vinegar” (it is narcotic drugs mixed with alcohol), it becomes a heady mixture of highly intoxicating cocktail that effects the nervous system in such a way that the person does not feel much pain. During those days, this ‘heady cocktail’ was usually given to a person who was about to be crucified. Jesus refused to take this drink just before his crucifixion because he wanted to experience every bit of the pain that came his way! And as we see in John 19:30, he took the vinegar (without the gall), only moments before he died. And it was more out of thirst (vr 28) than anything else.
When Paul was dealing with the problems in Corinth regarding the ‘Agape Feast’, he said, “one is hungry, and another is drunken” (1 Cor 11:21). The Greek word used here for “drunken” is ‘methuo’. The same word used in John 2, mentioned above. YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW GREEK TO UNDERSTAND THAT ONE CANNOT GET “METHUO” BY GRAPE JUICE. So what was it that the believers drank in the church during the ‘Agape Feast’ that left some of them drunk? Intoxicating Wine?!! God forbid!!!
EATING, DRINKING AND BEING MERRY
The Bible very clearly portrays wine as a drink that makes the heart glad (Ps 104:15/ Ecc 10:19). A normal grape juice would not produce that result. And based on Prov 17:22 – “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” – we can conclude that WINE IS A SUPERB HEALTH DRINK…!!!
On 16th Jan 2010, Times of India’s Bangalore Times, carried a NewsAd (Pg 6) titled “Wine for health”. In it they have quoted researchers at Britain’s Reading University suggesting that blue grapes are the best variety of fruit that can be consumed as wine as it (believe it or not) reduces cholesterol in the body and keeps the human heart healthy by facilitating blood circulation!!!
There is no better verse than Judges 9:13, that portrays the value and purpose of this health drink – “And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my vine, which cheereth God and man…?”. This ofcourse is a figurative speech used here by a desperate Jotham, but it is based on facts he has known from the life around him. Is it possible for us to know what he has known? We just need to study the drinking and feasting habits of men and women mentioned in the Bible.
In the three ‘lost and found’ parables that Jesus said in Luke 15, the first two he started by saying “who among you…?” and then added “likewise” to compare our joy with the joy in heaven. The man who found one lost sheep invited his friends to enjoy with him and the woman who found one lost penny did likewise. It seems as if they were just waiting for an excuse to share their joy with others (atleast that’s how Jesus liked to convey that situation)!!
But in the third parable, he neither said “who among you…?” nor “likewise”, clearly portraying that he is directly referring to God’s love and care towards us. If so, then that parable reveals God’s heart. When the Prodigal Son came back, his father said to the elder son: “It was meet that we should MAKE MERRY, AND BE GLAD: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again” (Luke 15:32). The father was so eager to “make merry and be glad” that he did not even wait for his elder son to come home!
CHECK OUT THE BIBLE “PARTIES”
BACHELOR PARTY: Judges 14:10 – “So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do”.
BIRTHDAY PARTY: Job 1:4 – “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, everyone his day”. The last phrase makes it more likely a birth day than any other day. (Yes, for a child of God every day is equally important, but its just that some days are more special – like the “birthday” or “wedding anniversary”)!!
COMING OF AGE PARTY: Genesis 21:8 – “And the child grew and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast”.
FRIENDSHIP PARTY: Genesis 26:30 – “And he (Isaac) made them a feast, and they did eat and drink”. 2Samuel 3:20: “So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast”.
WEDDING PARTY: Genesis 29:21 – “And Jacob said unto Laban, give me my wife… 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast”.
ROYAL PARTY: 1 Kings 3:15 – “And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem… and made a feast to all his servants”.
I always used to wonder why the modern day saints find it difficult to just have a good time until I read Prov 15:15 – “He that is of a MERRY HEART hath a CONTINUAL FEAST”…!!! It’s just not everyone’s ‘glass of wine’. You need to have a happy disposition to enjoy special moments!! 🙂
According to Oxford Dictionary, a Feast means a large celebratory meal, an annual religious celebration or a DEDICATED DAY. From Exodus 23:14, we can understand that it was the Lord who taught the Israelites to feast. He says: “Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in a year”. And what did he want them to do in a feast? He said: “And thou shalt rejoice in my feast” (Deut 16:14). Why? Because “A feast is made for laughter” (Ecc 10:19).
CHECK OUT THESE MEN OF GOD MAKING MERRY:
JOSEPH – Genesis 43:34 – “And THEY DRANK, and were merry with”.
A LEVITE – Judges 19:21 – “So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and DID EAT AND DRINK. 22 Now AS THEY WERE MAKING THEIR HEARTS MERRY…”.
BOAZ – Ruth 3:7 – “And when Boaz had EATEN AND DRUNK, and his HEART WAS MERRY”.
DANIEL – Daniel 10:3 – “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor WINE IN MY MOUTH, neither did I anoint myself at all, TILL THREE WHOLE weeks were fulfilled”. Daniel had stopped having bread, meat and wine for three weeks. This obviously means that he did have them the other times. Note: bread and meat were also avoided – not just the wine.
NEHEMIAH – Nehemiah 8:10 – “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and DRINK THE SWEET, for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry”. 12 “And all the people went their way to EAT, AND TO DRINK, and to send portions, and TO MAKE GREAT MIRTH, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them”.
JEREMIAH – Jeremiah 35:2 – “Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, into one of the chambers, and GIVE THEM WINE to drink”. 5 “And I, set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites POTS FULL OF WINE, AND CUPS, and I said unto them, DRINK YE WINE”. This is very interesting. The Lord wanted Jeremiah to call the Rechabites for a drink in “the house of the Lord” not to highlight their abstinence from drinking, but to show how dedicated they were to their father’s command! Based on my spiritual upbringing… God’s choice of place was very wrong!!
In 1 Kings 4:20, we see written: “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry”. This verse portrays the blessedness of Israel under the reign of Solomon. The Lord seems to have taught the Israelites all the wrong things. “Eating and drinking and making merry”??!! If we were to re-write this verse according to our holy standards, it would have been, “Brethren and Baptist were few, as water in a parched dessert, teaching and preaching, and always grumpy”!!!
In the book of Esther we see the introduction of a feast called Adar to commemorate the redemption of Jews from their enemies and their turning of sorrow into joy. Esther 9:22 – “As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor”. It was a day of rest, feasting, happiness and giving gifts. Much like the festival of Diwali in India!
Unlike our church picnics, where we have church-like gatherings, the Israelites enjoyed themselves during their feasts. They just made merry because that was what the lord wanted them to do! (Based on my Christian upbringing, God does not seem to be spiritual at all – He wants His children to drink and enjoy?? I feel so much holier)!!!
LADIES TOO, PLEASE!
(Pic courtesy: bbc.com)
Even in today’s secular standards, a woman who drinks has to be a devil woman. And based on the high spiritual standards of latter day saints, such woman should surely be put to death! But the incidents mentioned in the verses below prove that such was not the case during Biblical times. Even the so-called spiritual women of the Bible are shown to have drunk wine and strong drinks!
SAMSON’S MOTHER – Judges 13:7 – “But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and NOW DRINK NO WINE NOR STRONG DRINK, neither eat any unclean thing”.
RUTH – Ruth 2:14 – “And Boaz said unto her… eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the VINEGAR …and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left”
HANNAH – 1 Samuel 1:9 – “So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had DRUNK”. Her response in vr 15 seems to be contradicting this fact. Hence, open for debate. But that does not take away the fact that Elkanah’s wife Peninnah would have drunk.
JOB’S DAUGHTERS – Job 1:13 – “And there was a day when his SONS AND DAUGHTERS were eating and DRINKING WINE in their eldest brother’s house”. That’s nice. Brothers and sisters drinking wine together!
AGED WOMEN – Titus 2:3 – “The aged women likewise …not given to MUCH WINE”. (Women drank even in the ‘NT’ period)!
In Judges 13, we see an angel of the Lord telling Manoah’s wife that she should abstain from wine and strong drink as she was going to have a Nazarite child. Nazarites are those who dedicate a period of their lives in abstinence from basic pleasures of life for various reasons. (People from south India can easily identify with their practices as the “Aiyyappa devotees” indulge in almost very similar practices every year). One of the main abstinence was of drinking wine: Numbers 6:3 – “He shall SEPARATE HIMSELF FROM WINE AND STRONG DRINK”. As if that was the most important abstinence, the verse where it talks about how a Nazarite can break his vow, the first thing mentioned there is wine: Numbers 6:20 – “and after that the Nazarite MAY DRINK WINE”.
EVEN THE PRIESTS!!
THE LORD HAD ALLOWED EVEN THE LEVITES TO DRINK WINE OR STRONG DRINKS. But there was only one restriction – no drinking while on duty! A Levite could not have wine or strong drink when he enters into the tabernacle. Leviticus 10:9 – “Do not drink WINE nor STRONG DRINK, thou, nor thy sons with thee, WHEN ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die”. Ezekiel 44:21 – “Neither shall any priest drink wine, WHEN they enter into the inner court”. The “when” makes it very clear that they were otherwise free to have wine or strong drink.
GIFT ME A BOTTLE OF WINE PLEASE
In today’s corporate world, executives often gift each other wine bottles. Discussion made over a drink often ends with a positive result. But imagine that a man of God is coming to see you and he opens his bag telling you that he has brought a gift for you and then he pulls out a bottle of wine and gives it to you. What would your impression about this man’s godliness be? Well, the Bible foolishly reveals that some Men of God did gift wine bottles!!
ABRAHAM TO MELCHIZEDEK – Genesis 14:18 – “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and WINE: and he was the priest of the most high God”.
HANNAH TO ELI – 1 Samuel 1:24 – “And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, AND A BOTTLE OF WINE, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young”.
JESSE TO SAUL – 1 Samuel 16:20 – “And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and A BOTTLE OF WINE, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul”.
ISRAELITES TO LORD – Numbers 28:7 – “in the HOLY PLACE shalt thou cause the STRONG WINE to be poured unto the LORD for a DRINK OFFERING”. This is an ultimate verse! The Lord wanted a “strong wine” to be offered unto him in the holy place as an offering! Ordinary wine wont do?!!
(Pic courtesy: publix.com)
WINE A BLESSING
Wine was not only a good gift to give, it was also a good blessing to give! Please don’t forget, this was done because Wine was considered as a drink that makes the heart of God and men glad!
Genesis 27:28 – “Therefore God gave thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and PLENTY OF corn and WINE”.
Genesis 49:12 – “His eyes shall be RED WITH WINE, and his teeth white with milk”.
Isaiah 62:9 – “But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; and they that have brought it together SHALL DRINK IT IN THE COURTS OF MY HOLINESS”.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 – “Then I COMMENDED MIRTH, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to EAT, AND TO DRINK, AND TO BE MERRY: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun”. (also 2:24/ 3:13/ 5:18).
CAFFEINE AND NICOTINE VERSES BARLEY AND GRAPES
It may be hard for the Saints of God to accept this at first, but the fact is that a limited measure of Beer and Wine is healthy for the body, but the same measure of tea or coffee does more harm to the body! Now this is a scientifically proven fact. A study has found that both nicotine and caffeine, found in tea, coffee, colas and some chocolates are intoxicants that constrict the blood vessels and thus inhibit the blood flow in our bodies. Caffeine is a crystalline compound found in tea and coffee plants and is a stimulant of the central nervous system, while Nicotine is a toxic (poisonous) oily liquid.
On 6th Dec 2009, The Hindu supplement carried an article with the tag line: “Unwitting addictions to seemingly harmless substances like tea and coffee can make our life a roller coaster ride”. The writer, Nutrition & Health researcher, Meeta Lal, says that the inherent appeal of the most popular “pick-me-ups”, candies, chocolates and sugar, is that it supplies “happy messengers” to the brain, albeit temporarily. The second most widely used “pick-me-up”, Caffeine, is a brain-active drug found not only in coffee, but also in chocolate, sodas and teas. Chocolates contain both sugar and caffeine.
She says, “Most of the time, we are not aware that we are ‘stressed’ and use sugar, caffeine, alcohol, etc to restore balance to our overstressed brain”. According to her, the urge to eat more chocolate and drink more cups of tea and coffee are similar to the urge to drink more alcohol. In other words, THE ADDICTION IS THE SAME! And just like how excessive alcohol can cause liver failures, excessive caffeine can affect the heart’s rhythm. She then concludes saying, “Continued use of pick-me-ups, even seemingly innocent ones like tea and coffee, makes our life a roller coaster ride: steep, fast and wild with rapid ups and downs!”
CAFFEINE-ADDICTED, WINE-HATTING SAINTS OF GOD
I used to wonder, if drinking tea or coffee is something that does more harm to the body than good and if people are drinking it more because they are addicted to it than because of its nutritional values, then how come they are thanking God before having it?! Infact, if drinking a limited amount of beer or wine was good for health, then why doesn’t anyone thank God before drinking them?!!
I started looking at 1 Cor 10:31 in a different light, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God”! So, one day I decided to act on this new enlightenment. Once a few of us youngsters were about to start a session of drinking. Just before saying “Cheers” I said, Guys why don’t we say grace? Everyone paused in whatever positions they were and looked at me as if I had just said something very vulgar! Words like “What?”, “Seriously?”, “You kidding?”, “What ‘excreta’?”, etc., dropped out of their stunned mouths! They could not fathom the fact that you could actually thank God for a drink you are about to enjoy! I said, “If we can’t praise God for it then we shouldn’t be drinking it”.
I have known many Saints of God who are so addicted to tea and coffee that they get headaches or constipation if they don’t drink it on time! Yet, I have heard no one having a problem thanking their good Lord for it!! WHAT HYPOCRITES!!! They can thank God for that which “intoxicates” them and makes them addicted to it, but they hate those who drink Wine which according to the Bible even cheers up God!
This then prompts me to ask, “Is addiction wrong?”. If addiction is sin then we all are guilty…! According to the dictionary, addiction is one’s physical dependence on a particular substance, or mental devotion to a particular interest. This in itself cannot be construed as negative or wrong as we all are physically addicted to food and spiritually addicted to doing good (atleast we are supposed to). SO ADDICTION IN ITSELF IS NOT WRONG. IT IS WHAT YOU ARE ADDICTED TO, THAT MAKES IT RIGHT OR WRONG.
DRAWING THE LINE
So, if spiritually and scientifically drinking is not a ‘sin’, and if men and women of God did not have a problem with drinking or even gifting wine bottles to each other then what else could be a problem? The problem, if any, is in knowing how much is too much?
In Isaiah 5:11, we see God giving the strongest and probably the most direct warning against excessive drinking, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may FOLLOW strong drink; that CONTINUE TILL NIGHT, till wine inflame them!”. In vr 12, He goes on to tell the Israelites the problem He has with their drinking: vr 12 “And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, AND WINE, are in their feasts: BUT they regard not the work of the LORD”. As we can see, God did not have a problem with His children enjoying their feasts with music and wine, but with the fact that they did not regard His works while doing so.
As if to reiterate the warning given in Prov 23:29&30, the Public Health Minister, Mr Gillian Merron, in a survey conducted by the British Dept of Health, said, “Damage from REGULARLY DRINKING TOO MUCH can slowly creep up and you won’t see it until its too late” (courtesy BBC Online).
In the book titled “Foods that Harm Foods that Heal – An A-Z guide to safe and healthy eating”, published by Reader’s Digest, the authors have differentiated between heavy drinking and alcoholism. According to them, only 5 out of 100 heavy drinkers are alcoholics (!!!!). But, effects of prolonged misuse are the same for both. There is a constant reference to “prolonged abuse” and “excessive consumption” as reasons for various alcohol-related health hazards. SURPRISINGLY, ALL THROUGH THE BOOK, TEA, COFFEE AND COLAS ARE MENTIONED AS ITEMS THAT NEED TO BE CUT DOWN OR AVOIDED FOR MOST ILLNESSES!
On 7th Dec 2009, in Bangalore Times (supplement of Times of India), nutritionist, Lisa Sarah John, wrote that 60ml of whisky, rum, vodka or beer, roughly contains 150 calories (equal to 8 teaspoons of sugar!). While wine, which is relatively safer, contains 120 calories in 100ml. SHE GOES ON TO WRITE THAT RESEARCH HAS PROVED THAT A LITTLE AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL CONSUMED EVERYDAY IS GOOD FOR HEALTH AND THAT IT HELPS TO RELAX OR DE-STRESS, EVEN HELPING LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE. (The same though cannot be said about tea, coffee, colas and chocolates!). But, according to her, the biggest danger of alcohol is that very few people can have just one drink and stop at that. We can thus conclude that it is not the addiction to wine or strong drinks but the uncontrolled consumption of it that is sinful!
Many Caffeine-addicted Saints of God do not know this but the Bible is full of verses that very clearly states the above mentioned (Oh, yes. Even verses from the NT)!!
Deutronomy 21:20 – “And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and A DRUNKARD”. A child who was disobedient, a glutton and a drunkard was to be stoned to death because he is not only a burden to his family, but a negative influence in the society. (This verse also tells us that we have to teach our kids not to be gluttonous).
1 Samuel 1:14 – “And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be DRUNKEN? Put away thy wine from thee”.
Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is DECEIVED thereby is not wise”. The Hebrew word for “Deceived” is ‘shagah’ which means to be LEAD ASTRAY through ignorance.
Proverbs 23:20 – “Be not among WINEBIBBERS; amoung riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the DRUNKARD and the glutton shall come to poverty”.
Proverbs 23:29-35 – “They that TARRY LONG at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine”.
Ecclesiastes 2:3 – “I sought in mine heart to GIVE MYSELF UNTO WINE, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom”.
Isaiah 28:7 – “But they also have erred through wine, and strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are SWALLOWED UP of wine, they are OUT OF THE WAY through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment”. The priests could take wine and strong drinks when they were not on duty. But here we see that they crossed all their limits.
Matthew 24:49 – “and to eat and drink with the DRUNKEN”.
1 Corinthians 5:11 – “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a …DRUNKARD …; with such a one not to eat”.
Ephesians 5:18 – “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is EXCESS”.
1 Timothy 3:3 – “Not GIVEN to wine”.
1 Timothy 3:8 – “Likewise must the deacons…, not given to MUCH WINE”.
1 Peter 4:3 – “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles …EXCESS OF WINE”.
All these verses very clearly mark the “laxmanna rekha” – EXCESSIVE DRINKING!
EATING WELL IS NOT GLUTTONY
Unlike today’s listless preachers, Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “The son of man came eating and drinking” (Matt 11:19). In that same verse we see him confessing that his enemies called him a “glutton” and a “winebibber”. No one is called a “winebibber” for drinking water or grape juice. Jesus came “eating”*, but he was NOT a glutton. He came “drinking”, but he was NOT a drunkard (*compare with Prov 13:25)! THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PERSON WHO DRINKS AND A DRUNKARD IS AS DISTINCT AS THE ONE BETWEEN A PERSON WHO EATS AND A GLUTTON!!!
In Ruth 3:7, we read: “And when Boaz had eaten and DRUNK, and his HEART WAS MERRY…” (Have you Saints ever noticed that just the previous day, while dating Ruth, Boaz had offered her bread dipped in STRONG WINE??!!). When we compare it with 1 Samuel 25:26 – “And Nabal’s HEART WAS MERRY within him, for he was VERY DRUNKEN”, we get a better picture. Boaz and Nabal, both drank wine and their hearts were merry and they both slept. The only difference being: while Boaz was drunk, Nabal was “very drunk”. He did not come to his senses till the next morning (1 Samuel 25:37), while Boaz awoke in his senses in the middle of the night (Ruth 3:8-13)!
So, here’s the philosophy (let those who have brains understand): WHEN A MAN WHO EATS AND A MAN WHO DRINKS, CROSSES OVER FROM A LEVEL OF A SELF-CONTROLLED, NEED-BASED SATISFACTION, TO THAT OF AN UNCONTROLLED, GREED-BASED SATISFACTION, THEY BECOME A GLUTTON AND A DRUNKARD RESPECTIVELY. OTHERWISE NOT!
Dear friends, if you are not aspiring to become holier than God then I would like to point out a couple of verses to you that shows the heart of the Lord: Deutronomy 14:23-26 – “And thou shalt EAT BEFORE THE LORD thy God… the TITHE OF THY corn, of thy WINE… And thou shalt bestow that money FOR WHATSOEVER THY SOUL LUSTETH AFTER …for WINE, or for STRONG DRINK … and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thine household”. Like an old man longing to sit and enjoy watching his children and grandchildren have a good time in his house, the Lord wanted the children of Israel along with their families to drink wine and strong drink, and rejoice in his presence!!!
Emphasizing the fact that He does not change, God has revealed that he has similar desires concerning us in the coming world, too! In Isaiah 25:6&8 he says: “On this mountain (Zion) the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for ALL PEOPLES, a banquet of AGED WINE – the best of meats and the finest of wines. 8 The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces… The Lord has spoken” (NIV). We can get more insight on this when we compare it with what Jesus said in Matthew 26:20/Luke 22:30. THE WINE SURE DOES CHEER GOD AND MAN AND IT SEEMS THAT GOD WOULD LIKE TO KEEP IT THAT WAY THROUGHOUT ETERNITY!
You may ask me: Isn’t it anyway better not to touch these things? Why take a chance? I would like to ask in return: When you walk down the road, an out of control vehicle could hit and kill you. So, would you just sit at home and not take a chance going out? Oh, but what if you are sitting inside your house, and the earth quakes and the roof of your house falls on you and kills you? So, would you start living in a tent? No?? You mean your life is not that important for you? And you want me to believe that you can takes such risks with your life daily but you have a problem with drinking wine because you think its sinful?
A simple, everyday routine of eating can become a sin if done without self-control! So, should we stop eating then? “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and DRINK THY WINE WITH A MERRY HEART; for God now accepteth thy works” (Ecc 9:7). “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink” (Col 2:16)!!!
With AMEN and CHEERS!
(Pic courtesy: dailymail.co.uk)