Concerning Alcoholic Beverages
- Friday, November 23, 2007
In the three instances outlined above, the very significant question “why?” must be broached. Apparently of the three categories given -- prohibition, acceptability and God’s ideal -- the above situations fall under the ideal of complete abstinence, and hence appear to be most acceptable to God.
To this evidence must be added Scripture’s numerous warnings against strong drink. Here are a few:
*Strong drink is deceitful.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whosoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
*Strong drink is prohibited for those in leadership.
“It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes intoxicating drink” (Proverbs 31:4-5).
*Strong drink has a side-effect: weakness in judgment.
“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).
*Strong drink may dull the senses so that embarrassment comes -- even indecent exposure.
“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory, you also drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, and utter shame will be on your glory” (Habakkuk 2:15-16).
*Another result of strong drink is overindulgence.
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!” (Isaiah 5:11).
Some Texts to be Explained by Abstainers
In Jesus’ miracle at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11), one can neither affirm with certainty that Jesus turned the water into a non-intoxicating wine nor that He drank no wine Himself. But the following evidences cannot be easily bypassed:
-- The text nowhere indicates that Jesus participated. Either way the argument is from silence.
-- The governor of the feast obviously was able to identify “good wine” by tasting it, indicating that there was no intoxication on his part. On the other hand, by the governor’s own testimony, by the last stages of such a feast participants generally had their senses sufficiently dulled so that they could not differentiate between good and bad wine. Was this feast different? Is this why Jesus agreed to attend?
-- From a standpoint of logic, the oinos that Jesus produced was more likely pure, rather than fermented, grape juice, since that which comes from the Creator’s hand is inevitably pure. Also, there was no time for fermentation to take place subsequent to the miracle. Furthermore, the ancients always acknowledged that the best oinos was the unfermented oinos, i.e., that which came from the initial mixing of the grapes.
-- The accusation that Jesus, in contrast to John, was a socialite, a glutton, and a winebibber is manifestly void of foundation (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). Because Jesus enjoyed social contacts and openly mingled with the people, some assumed that He had a propensity for food and drink. If Jesus had been a winebibber, He must have also been guilty of gluttony, which is clearly identified as a sin. In fact, Jesus was neither, and again there is no evidence that He drank oinos or anything other than the fresh, natural fruit of the vine.
-- Paul advised Timothy to imbibe a little wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Timothy 5:23). But note the following:
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