Abusing the Gift of Wine

     During Israel’s history, wine represented their prosperity, was part of their drink offerings, was consumed to make one’s heart merry, was a part of festive celebrations, and will be shared with Christ in the approaching kingdom.
     However, God’s gift of wine can be abused.  Too much of a good thing can lead to disaster.
     The Bible is definitely not silent regarding the affects and consequences of partaking of excessive amounts of the ‘fruit of the vine.’
     Proverbs is a fitting place to begin.
     “Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has contentions?  Who has complaints?  Who has wounds without cause…?”  Proverbs 23:29
     And the writer answers the questions.
     “Those who linger long at the wine…”  Proverbs 23:30
     And then the effects:
     “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.”Proverbs 23:32
     The most common Hebrew meanings of ‘drunkard’ in the Old Testament include ‘influence,’ ‘stimulate,’ and ‘intoxicate.’ Excessive wine removes inhibitions and gives a false sense of confidence.  Being intoxicated does in fact stupefy one to the point where physical or mental control is greatly diminished.
     Solomon, in another proverb states:
     “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”  Proverbs 20:1
     Excessive wine should definitely not be the way of rulers.
     “…It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice…” 
Proverbs 31:4-5
     In a subsequent passage Isaiah described those Jews who lived in the northern part of Israel often referred to as Ephraim.
     “But they have also 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
     Not only had the common people of Israel participated in excessive wine drinking, but also the priest and prophet.
     The word ‘err’ is found three times in the aforementioned verse.  The basic Hebrew word for err in the present context means to go astray or be deceived.
     Their excessive drinking resulted in erring in their vision and stumbling (wavering) in their judgment.
     Also in the verse cited, the phrase ‘are out of the way’ is found twice.  There is a single Hebrew word used for this phrase that has several synonyms including ‘deceived,’ seduced,’ and ‘astray.’
         As can be seen, the Hebrew word for the phrase ‘are out of the way’ is very similar to the meaning for ‘err.’
     We’ve seen a sampling of the effects of excessive consumption of wine; now let’s turn to examine the consequences.  
     “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them…but they do not regard the work of the LORD… Therefore my people have gone into captivity…”  Isaiah 5:11-13 
     Isaiah was describing those Judeans who were subsequently deported to Babylon.  They were preoccupied with their own lusts and desires while ignoring their work for God.
     The prophet Amos also addressed those Israelites who ignored reality by living for themselves and the present.
     “Woe to you who put far off the day of doom…who lie on beds of ivory…who drink wine from bowls…but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.  Therefore they shall now go…as the first of the captives…”  Amos 6:3-4, 6-7
     Excessive wine consumption was first noted in the days of Noah and will continue through the end of this age.
     The consequence of such excess is also stressed in the New Testament, such as:
     “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation (excessive); but be filled with the Spirit…”  Ephesians 5:18 
     One’s thoughts and actions should be motivated by the Holy Spirit, and not by the effects of any other stimulant. 
     And finally, Paul states that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.
     So then, we’ve discussed blood and wine separately.  Next we’ll address the similarities of blood and wine.

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