PART 3 DRINKING ALCOHOL
The Incarnation of Christ
From the Birth of Christ to the Day of Pentecost:
This period of time began with the virgin birth of the Messiah of the Jews, who is called Jesus Christ, God incarnate. When Jesus was 30 years old, he began his public ministry. He chose twelve disciples to accompany him, and began to teach concerning a new kingdom, which involved a new way of life that was to come. He lived a sinless life; was rejected by the Jews; crucified on a cross; paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world; forgave these sins; rose from the dead after 3 days never to die again; witnessed to or seen by many after his resurrection as he abided on earth in his glorified body for 40 days; and then ascended into heaven. The Mosaic Law, and all that pertained to it, was still in operation during this time.
I’m sure drinking alcohol during this period of time will reveal to us Jesus mindset towards it. It wouldn’t be a reach to say that if Jesus abstained then both the dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist would say well if this is Jesus mindset we don’t have to go any further, right? And the converse is true just as well. If Jesus mindset was that drinking alcohol in moderation was considered protocol, then this approach would be approved of. Do you agree with this reasoning? Let’s find out what Jesus view is concerning drinking alcohol.
And to remind you one more time:
A non-dispensationalist will look at the instances, in which “Drinking Alcohol” was mentioned throughout the bible, and will choose those ideas that support the perpetuation of the practice of abstinence.
A dispensationalist will look at the instances, in which “Drinking Alcohol” was mentioned, and will confine the conditions of this practice to the dispensation at hand. If abstinence was suggested, then fine. If abstinence was not suggested, then fine.
John the Baptist was prohibited from drinking alcohol throughout his entire life. Why was this the case?
J. John the Baptist did not drink wine nor strong drink:
Suggested Reading: Luke 1:5-23
9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
This story revolves around two people, a man named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, who were advanced in age, and had no children. Their prayer to God for a child was given reassurance by the angel named Gabriel, who met Zacharias in the sanctuary of the temple, where he had entered in order to burn incense.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
The angel told him that his wife would bear him a son who they would name John. He would be someone that would make ready the Jewish people to be receptive toward the coming of the Lord. John would not be allowed to drink wine nor strong drink and would be filled with the Holy Spirit. Why was he prohibited from drinking wine or strong drink?
Commentators believe the reason for this was because John was called to be a Nazarite. A Nazarite was either a man or woman who exhibited greater strictness and zeal in religion than others. Some followed this path for a short period of time such as for 30, 60, or 100 days while others in the cases of Samson (Judges 13:5, 12-14) and Samuel (I Samuel 1:11) were dedicated by their parents to be Nazarites for their entire life. They spent much of their time in the study of the law; were bound to some religious observances; performed acts of devotion; and taught others.
Some of the conditions of their calling were as follows.
They were required:
~ To separate themselves from drinking wine and strong drink.
~ To not shave their head (a symbol of strength and abundant vitality.
~ To not cut their beard.
~ To not come near any dead body.
~ To not attend a funeral.
~ To not eat unclean food.
If their vow was not for life, then after it was fulfilled the restrictions would be removed, one of which would be for the allowance to resume drinking wine and strong drink.
Did Jesus drink wine from time to time or when the opportunity arose did he choose to abstain? What do you think?
K. Jesus ate fine foods and drank alcoholic beverages:
Suggested Reading: Luke 7:19-35
John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, asking whether He was the Messiah or not. During this time, Jesus healed many of the infirmities and plagues of the people. In response to John’s disciples, he told them to go back to him and tell him what they had seen.
Following this, Jesus spoke to the people about who John the Baptist was. There were many in attendance who had repented and believed John’s testimony concerning the Christ, and were subsequently baptized by him in water. There were others present at the time, such as the Pharisees and lawyers, who rejected John’s testimony. After which, Jesus gave a dissertation concerning what the men of this generation were like, and how He was perceived by them.
The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (Luke 7:34)
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. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:20-21)
He further told them that John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, but was characterized by some as being empowered by a devil. Likewise, Jesus said concerning himself that he did eat bread (fine foods) and drank (alcoholic beverages). However, he was accused by some of being a glutton (one who eats too much) and a winebibber (drunkard), which according to the Law were capital offenses punishable by death. Another name that was given to Jesus was that of being a libertine. A libertine was one who opposed paying strict attention to what was right and proper, according to those who abstained from the use of wine and certain kinds of foods.
It’s pretty obvious that Jesus ate find foods and drank alcoholic beverages. Are you surprised? Some would respond by saying yes he did drink alcohol, but later on in his life he had a change of mind deciding rather to abstain. The scriptures they use to support their argument are taken from the book of Luke, which we will look at next.
Near the end of his time on earth, did Jesus decide to abstain from drinking wine?
L. I will not drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come:
Suggested Reading: Luke 22:14-23
Jesus is with the twelve apostles preparing to eat the Passover lamb. As a pretext to these passages, I wanted to present to you the manner in which the Jews kept the Passover. The multitudes of Jews would come to Jerusalem to partake in the Passover, either with family, friends, or both. One of their number or of their group would be designated as the “proclaimer” of the feast. According to McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, the ceremonies of the feast took place in the following order:
⁓ The Passover feast was celebrated in the evening. As they reclined on couches, the proclaimer pronounced a blessing “for the day and for the wine” over a cup of wine, which was mixed with water. The cup was passed around, from which each person drank.
⁓ Everyone washed their hands.
⁓ The table was set with the paschal lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and the dish known as the Charoseth. This is a sauce made of dates, figs, raisins, and vinegar, which was designed to commemorate the Jews bondage in Egypt.
⁓ The celebrant or proclaimer would then dip a portion of the bitter herbs into the Charoseth and eat them.
⁓ The dishes involving the Charoseth were then removed.
⁓ A cup of wine was placed on the table. Questions were allowed to be asked by any bystanders in relation to the feast.
⁓ After, the cup of wine was passed around to drink.
⁓ The Charoseth dishes were brought back, at which time the proclaimer restated the blessing, which was mentioned earlier, followed by thanksgiving. Then, Psalms 113 and 114 were read.
⁓ The hands were washed again.
⁓ Following this, the proclaimer blessed and broke one of two loaves or cakes of unleavened bread. Each person took portions of the bread, along with the bitter herbs, and dipped them into the Charoseth and ate.
⁓ The flesh (meat) of the paschal lamb was now partaken of.
⁓ Another blessing was invoked, and a third cup of wine, known as the “cup of blessing”, was passed around and drunk from.
⁓ A fourth cup of wine, known as the “cup of the Hallel”, was passed around, accompanied by the recital of Psalms 115-118.
⁓ A fifth cup of wine known as the cup of the “great Hallel”, was passed around being accompanied by the recital of Psalms 120-137.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (Luke 22:16-18)
I’m sure that Jesus and his disciples followed the ceremony of the Passover. They would partake of the Passover Lamb and probably drink wine that was mixed with water. This was the custom of the day, which was thought to be the best way of drinking the best wine. However, it was during this particular Passover that he told them that he would no longer eat of the Passover lamb and drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. Why did he say this?
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
This appeared to be a clear sign that Jesus had a change of heart in regard to drinking alcohol, right?
After which, he took bread, broke it and passed it around saying, that this was representative of his body. Likewise, the cup was also passed around with his pronouncement that this was representative of his blood which would be shed for them. What did this signify?
This signified that Jesus would no longer be able to eat of the Passover Lamb and drink of the fruit of the vine, because he would be the fulfillment of that which the Passover Lamb and the fruit of the vine is a type of. He would suffer on a cross as a sacrificial lamb satisfying the justice of God, by bearing the sins of the whole world in his body while being separated from God the Father and sustained by the Holy Spirit, along with providing forgiveness (a removal of the record) for these sins.
The cup of wine would be representative of his physical death, the shedding of his blood, which would be followed by: his resurrection on earth, his ascension into heaven, and the sending of the indwelling Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, which commemorated the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth. The partaking of the bread and wine should be commemorated from time to time in remembrance of his suffering (payment for sin) and death on the cross.
Was Jesus saying that he had a change of heart concerning drinking alcohol and that it was better to abstain?
The last section we will look at involves the performing of Jesus first miracle being that of turning water into wine.
M. The miracle at Cana - the turning of water into wine:
Suggested Reading: John 2:1-11
Jesus is attending a marriage in the village of Cana, being accompanied by his mother. Apparently, during the wedding celebration all of the wine had been drunk. Why was there no more wine to drink? Was it because everyone drank too much? Was it because they miscalculated the amount needed in regard to the number of people that showed up? Was it because of some other reason? Typically, a Jewish wedding would last for a week. Someone, in this case, known as the governor, would be in charge of the food and drink provisions. This was simply a case of a lack of oversight.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
His mother, aware of the need for more wine, urged Him to address this matter. Seeing that there were six empty water pots nearby, each possibly holding between 20-30 gallons of liquid, Jesus instructed the servants to fill all of them with water and bring them to the governor of the feast.
9…the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, 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.
When the governor tasted of this wine he commended the bridegroom saying that usually at weddings the good wine was given out first followed by wine of lesser quality, but in this case he saved the best wine for last.
A question to consider is, if Jesus was concerned with changing the water into wine, because by providing more wine it could result in some of the partakers becoming drunk, then why didn’t he say to his mother that he would not do this? If some got drunk, would Jesus be held responsible?
Well, we’re ready to provide a summary and take another look at what the dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist would say in regard to whether a Christian should be mandated to abstain from drinking alcohol.
A Brief Summary
●John the Baptist did not drink wine or strong drink, because he was a Nazarite for life. Luke 1:5-23
●Jesus ate fine foods and drank alcoholic beverages. Luke 7:19-35
●Jesus is no longer going to eat of the Passover Lamb and drink of the fruit of the vine, because he will be the fulfillment of that which the Passover Lamb and the cup of wine is a type of. Luke 22:14-23
●Jesus turned six water pots of water possibly as much as over 100 gallons into wine at the wedding of Cana. John 2:1-11
If your leader is a dispensationalist, then they would not use any of the ideas concerning “Drinking Alcohol” as mentioned above as a basis for supporting or not supporting this practice in the Church Age, which is the age in which we currently live, because the idea for “Drinking Alcohol” is determined differently in each dispensation. The dispensationalist would say that during this period of time, which is called the Age of the Hypostatic Union, Jesus drank wine from time to time in moderation. He didn’t appear to have any leaning toward embracing abstinence as indicated by the turning of water into wine for the benefit of those who attended a wedding at Cana. His declaration of no longer being able to eat of the Passover Lamb and drink of the fruit of the vine was because he would no longer be able to participate in the Passover Feast, because soon he would be crucified on a cross. It was customary to drink wine (grape juice turned into an alcoholic beverage by a process known as fermentation) not only during most meals, but also at the Passover meal.
If your leader is a non-dispensationalist, they would say that Jesus didn’t change water into wine, but that the water only tasted like wine, because it was served after all of the initial wine had been drunk. John 2:1-11 They would also say that Jesus didn’t drink wine, but grape juice, wine mixed with water. Luke 7:19-35 Lastly, they would conclude that wine (including any type of alcohol) is not to be drunk under any circumstances, because Jesus said that he would no longer eat of the Passover Lamb and drink of the fruit (grape juice) of the vine. (Luke 22:14-23) The non-dispensationalist view on abstinence was shaped by verses from the Old Testament. This perspective forms the basis as to how verses which are taken from the Age of Christ’s Incarnation are interpreted.
Are you beginning to get an understanding as to why the teachings of any church are such and such? Are you beginning to understand why there are differences of opinion from one church to another in respect to their view on any particular biblical topic?
I am presenting this study because you should know the “why” behind the teachings of those which are presented by those in the leadership of the church you are attending. In some churches, you will not receive this kind of in depth teaching on any biblical topic. I believe that we as Christians should be able to make up our own mind concerning what we choose to believe, the exception would be in relation to foundational doctrines of the faith.
Before we proceed to the next dispensation, which is called the Church Age, I would like to briefly present to you a story which is reflective about this idea of abstinence.
By October of 1919 the Volstead Act, which gave the federal authorities the power to stop the manufacture, sale or importation of "intoxicating liquor"11 became law in the entire USA. This declaration prohibited the sale of any liquor whose alcoholic content was more than .5%. Believe it or not this prohibition remained in effect for almost 14 years.
Many of the proponents of Prohibition were women that were very religious who saw this law as a means to address disease and disorder. They were convinced that alcohol was a deadly threat to the health and virtue of American womanhood – not, perhaps, entirely erroneously, since papers of the time were full of stories of battered wives and broken marriages12.
11Dominic Sandbrook. “How Prohibition backfired and gave America an era of gangsters and speakeasies” 2012, 05 January 2014 <http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/aug/26/lawless-prohibition-gangsters-speakeasies>
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