Perry F. Rockwood (1917-2008)
In the opening chapter of the Book of Daniel we read of a young teenager who was being held in captivity in Babylon. The king of Babylon ordered the master of his eunuchs to give this choice young man, whom he desired to be trained for service in his court, food that was forbidden by the Law and wine to drink. In Daniel 1:8 we read: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor WITH THE WINE WHICH HE DRANK".
The strength of Daniel's character is revealed in the request he made of the master of the eunuchs. Verse 12: "Prove thy servants, I beseech these, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink." Daniel's choice was clear. "I will drink water", he said, "but I will not drink wine". I am reminded of the poem entitled
WATER OR WINE
There set two glasses, filled to the brim
On an old man's table, rim to rim.
One was wine, and red as blood.
One was water from the crystal flood.
Said the glass of wine to the paler brother
As they told their tales, the one to the other,
"I can tell of banquets, revel and mirth,
And the proudest and grandest souls on earth
That fall under my touch, as though stuck by blight
Where I am monarch and rule in might;
From the heads of kings I have torn the crown,
From the height of fame I have hurled men down.
I have blasted many an honoured name.
I have taken virtue and given shame.
I have made the arm of the driver fail
And sent the train from the iron rail.
I have made good ships go down at sea,
And the cries of the lost were sweet to me.
Ho, Ho, pale brother," laughed the glass of wine,
"Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?"
Said the glass of water, "I cannot boast
Of a king dethroned or a murdered host,
But I can tell of a heart, once sad,
By my crystal drops made light and glad.
Of thirsts I've quenched and brows I've bathed,
Of hands I've cooled and souls I've saved.
I've slept in the sunshine and dropped from the sky,
And everywhere gladdened the landscape and I.
I have made parched meadows grow fertile with grain.
I can tell of a powerful wheel of the mill
That ground out the flour and turned at my will.
I can tell of manhood debased by you
That I have lifted and crowned anew.
I cheer, I heal, I strengthen and aid,
I gladden the heart of man and maid.
I set the chained, wine captive free,
And all are better for knowing me."
These are the tales they told each other,
The glass of wine and its paler brother,
As they sat together, filled to the brim
On the old man's table, rim to rim.
Praise God for a young man like Daniel who was able to say, "No! I will not drink the king's wine." Oh, nearly everyone else was drinking. Surely if he was going to be successful then he should go along with the crowd! That is the prevailing philosophy of our day.
Many a man or woman will refuse a glass of liquor from some ordinary person, but will take it from the boss. Many will refuse a drink offered by some bartender, but will take it from the jeweled hand of a social queen. But it was not so with Daniel. The king said, "Drink it." Daniel said, "No".
God says in Proverbs 20:1: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." This verdict of the Bible has been confirmed in the endless story of human history.
Belshazzar, in the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel, loses the Babylonian empire in an orgy of drunkenness and lust. Alexander the Great, who conquered the entire civilized world, died at 33 years of age in drunken debauchery. When the iron Duke of England, Wellington, was marching his army across the peninsula, word was brought to him that ahead of him was a vast store of Spanish wine. He stopped his army. He sent his sappers ahead and they blew it up, then he marched his army on. It is said that the reason Napoleon Bonaparte lost the battle at Waterloo to the victorious Duke of Wellington was that the night before Marshal Nea tarried too long over his favourite glass of wine, and the next morning his head was clouded and his mind not steady. When France fell in World War II against Hitler, Marshal Petain said, "France was defeated because its army was drunk." And the Vichy government of 1940 said the reason for the collapse of the French army was due to alcohol. And it is the greatest of the four problems that face France today. Yet, France is pointed out to us as a nation where the people have learned to use alcohol moderately. There is no such thing as a people using alcohol moderately!
What about booze and sports? It is a disgrace today the drinking that goes on among those who play baseball, hockey, football, and other sports. Let me recount for you the true story of John L. Sullivan:
John L. Sullivan, who was the champion boxer of the world, was a man born with a tremendous physique and he was a tremendous fighter. But he had a weakness. He drank alcohol. There was another man by the name of Jim Corbett. Jim Corbett, as a boy, was weak and sickly but he studied foods and took care of his body. And upon a day, when he was grown, Jim Corbett challenged John L. Sullivan to a fight for the world championship of the ring. John L. Sullivan was insulted, and in anger he said, "With one blow I'll mash him flat!" The fight raged on for over an hour, and this in a day when they didn't pad the gloves, and when it was done the championship passed to Jim Corbett. After the fight was over, John L. Sullivan put the blame where it belonged - on liquor! Thereafter, he became a temperance and prohibition advocate, going up and down the land making speeches to young people against drinking liquor.
I want to speak today to every man, woman, and young person: The Devil is in every bottle of liquor. Be like Daniel and say, "I will not drink wine. I will not drink beer or liquor. I'll do what is right by my family and by my own body and soul." This decision will bring blessing to every part of your life. It will mean joy and gladness for you and for your wife and children. It will mean blessing upon your home, your health, your future, your business and your work.
But this stand cannot be taken in your own strength. You need the Lord. God says in Romans 1:15: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The Gospel is God's dynamite power to blow out the rotten, wicked, damning booze from your life. Receive Christ and allow Him to forgive your sins and to give you victory.
"Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. AT THE LAST it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder" (Proverbs 23:31, 32).
On the night of April 14th, 1865, a man went into a saloon in Washington for a glass of liquor. He drank it, then went straight to Ford's Theatre where President Abraham Lincoln was enjoying a play, and fired the shot that killed the great President. The guard, who was supposed to be on duty near the President, had slipped down the street for a glass of booze.
On July 2, 1881, another man went into a saloon and drank just one glass of strong drink. Then he sneaked up behind another President of the United States, James A. Garfield, and shot him in the back.
The third of the martyred Presidents was William McKinley. On September 6, 1901, a man took a drink of liquor and went immediately to where he knew the President was shaking hands with the people, and shot him.
Three drinks, three Presidents murdered, three men became murderers! Now multiply that by tens of thousands and you will realize the awful results of strong drink in our country! It is amazing to me that a nation as great as ours is would ever allow the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor, wine or beer. Day after day our newspapers blaze out the story of sin, crime, corruption and death caused directly or indirectly by the effects of alcohol. Broken homes, hungry children, distorted lives and minds, murder and suicides, are brought about by the demon killer of America - - Alcohol!
TIME magazine, May 12, 1986, reports that a twelve – year study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute involving 8,000 Hawaiian men between the ages of 45 and 68 found that heavy drinkers had nearly three times the risk of haemorrhagic stroke than that faced by teetotallers. Even light drinkers had a two - fold risk.
Haemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. This type of stroke is also more likely to be fatal than the more common type of stroke caused by blood clots. God says in Proverbs 23:31, 32: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright, AT THE LAST it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder".
In preparing this message I was reminded of the fall of France during World War II. For eight months, at the beginning of World War II, French and German soldiers faced each other across the Maginot Line. It was a period of inactivity so far as war service was concerned. Rigid rules were enforced in the German Army against drinking and smoking. The French soldiers revelled in unbridled lust, drink and dissipation. Reliable reports revealed that there were 814 French soldiers confined in one army hospital at one time with delirium tremors. Then the zero hour struck. Germany swept around the Maginot Line, blitzed into France and in a few days it was all over. The French Army, to the amazement of the world, crumpled like a crushed eggshell. Aged General Petain, the glory – crowned hero of Verdun in World War I, in a radio address explained the fall of France in these tragic words, "Our soldiers were drunk and couldn't fight".
France had gone down the same disastrous pathway to captivity that Isaiah described for Ephraim when he said: "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! ... The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: ... But they also have erred through wine, and through 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" (Isa. 28:1,3,7).
The liquor manufacturers, the bootleggers, the liquor sellers in taverns, lounges, bars and restaurants, never tell you what will happen AT THE LAST. But God faithfully declares in Proverbs 23:31,32: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright, AT THE LAST (OH< AT THE LAST!) it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."
When you look at the advertisements showing the so – called "good life" because of beer, wines, and other alcoholic beverages, they never show it all - - they never show "the last" - - the last of booze is broken homes, divorces, separations, common law marriages, illicit sex parties, ruined characters, lost jobs, and bankruptcy. But man does not want to face the last of booze and its effect upon society. God reminds us that while the wine may be colourful in the cup and while the booze may be stimulating to the brain, at the last it will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder.
Let's keep in mind that those who drink, never hear the last of it. The following is a true story of how liquor "biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder".
Many years ago a preacher friend and I were walking along the main street in Saint John, New Brunswick. A beggar approached us asking for 25 cents to buy himself a cup of coffee. It was a cold day in January. Snow was on the ground. This man had no overcoat. His suit - coat was pulled up around his neck. There were holes in his shoes. Buttons were missing from his suit - coat. His hair was long and unkempt, his beard unshaven, his eyes bloodshot, and his clothes ragged. He had vomited and the stink came up around him. He was just beginning to sober up. I'm sure that at one time or another you have seen a drunkard in a similar condition. Oh, isn't a man a fool to drink the poison of alcohol and at the last to end up like this!
But wait now, a minute. The preacher said to me, "Do you know this man?" "No," I replied. "I do not." Then the preacher said, "Let me tell you his story."
"That man was one of the most outstanding lawyers of New Brunswick. He came from a long line of distinguished relatives. He had the finest Mother and Dad. He had the best in education. When admitted to the Bar people flocked to him for legal advice and help.
"He married the daughter of a prominent family. They had a beautiful home and several lovely children. When he went to dinner with his colleagues they invited him to a glass of wine. At first he refused. 'Oh,' they said, 'a little wine won't hurt you. There is no harm in a social drink'. The booze crowd know that if they can get a person hooked on a little drink of wine or beer, it will not be long before they have him hooked on a whisky or rum bottle.
"That's exactly what happened to this lawyer. He began to drink nightly. Then he began to drink during the day. His business suffered. Soon there was trouble in the home. Financial problems arose. Moral problems developed. He had to give up his business. His family fell apart. He lost his home and his character. He lost everything."
Oh, dear friend, listen to me today. Hear what God says in Proverbs 23:31,32: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. AT THE LAST it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder."
Just like the Devil used the serpent to deceive Eve, so he uses booze to deceive multitudes today. Beware! The Devil is in every bottle of booze!
There is only one answer to this problem, as to any other sin question. "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures," and "was raised again for our justification". God made Christ "to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). There is power in Christ to lift you out of sin and deliver you from its consequences, if you will place a heart - felt faith in Him. We read in Romans 10:9,10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shall be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation".
Trust the Lord Jesus today as your Saviour, tell Him your sin problem, and accept the power of His blood to cleanse and deliver you. Be saved today; don't put it off! "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).
Last week I received a letter from a listener to our program who wrote: "Pastor, don't you think you are a little extreme in your preaching on 'Booze - - the Devil is in Every Bottle'?
My reply was, "The Word of God is an extremely extremist document. Sin is pictured as extremely heinous in God's sight. Hell is depicted as a very extreme location and condition into which all the unsaved will be cast to live for ever and ever. The Lord Jesus was an extremist when He said; "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). He was very much an extremist when He said to the Pharisees: 'Ye are of your father the devil' (John 8:44). Extremism - - in every form - - is a despised concept in the life of our nation. The enemies of the nation have been very successful in getting people to denounce extremism. But there have been extremists throughout history who have accepted what the Bible says about booze.
SHAKESPEARE: "Alcohol is a poison men take into the mouth to steal away the brain." GLADSTONE said that strong drink was "more destructive than war, pestilence and famine." SIR WILLIAM LAWSON spoke of alcohol as "the devil in solution". ABRAHAM LINCOLN believed it was "a cancer in human society, eating out its vitals and threatening its destruction." ROBERT HALL said it was "distilled damnation". LORD CHESTERFIELD's opinion was, "It is an artist in human slaughter". GENERAL PERSHING said, "Drunkenness has killed more men than all of history's wars". GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE declared, "My experience through life has convinced me that abstinence from spiritous liquors is the best safeguard to morals and health".
The OLD TESTAMENT says; "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Prov. 20:1). The NEW TESTAMENT says: "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit" (Eph. 5:18).
Have you ever noticed how closely the Devil is related to strong drink in the Bible? Revelation 12:9 says: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: ..." Here the Devil is called "that old serpent". Proverbs 23:32 says of wine: "At the last it biteth like a serpent".
In Revelation 20:10 we read: "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire". God tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:10 that drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and will therefore end up in the lake of fire. The Devil is a deceiver and wine is a deceiver.
There is a close relationship between the Devil and booze. Both are called serpents, both are deceivers, and both will finally lead to Hell. Truly, the Devil is in every bottle of booze. I am reminded of that old poem entitled,
THE HELL - BOUND TRAIN
Tom Gray lay down on the bar-room floor,
Having drunk so much he could drink no more.
So he fell asleep with a troubled brain
And dreamt he rode on the Hell - Bound Train.
The engine with blood was red and damp,
And brilliantly lit with a brimstone lamp.
For fuel an imp was shovelling bones,
While the furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with lager beer,
And the Devil himself was the engineer.
The passengers made such a motley crew - -
Church members, atheist, Gentile and Jew.
Rich men in broadcloth and beggars in rags;
Handsome young ladies and withered old hags;
Yellow and black men, red, brown and white - -
All chained together! What a terrible sight!
The train dashed on at an awful pace,
And the hot wind scorched their hands and face,
Wilder and wilder the country grew,
And faster and faster the engine flew.
Louder and louder the thunders crashed;
And brighter and brighter the lightning flashed;
Hotter and hotter the air became,
So clothes were burned off each quivering frame.
Now in the distance arose such a yell - -
Ha! ha! croaked the Devil, we're now nearing Hell!
Then - - oh, how the passengers shrieked in pain,
And begged the Devil to stop the train.
But he capered about and sang in his glee,
And laughed and joked at their agony.
My faithful friends, you have done my work,
And the Devil can never a pay - day shirk.
You have bullied the weak, and robbed the poor,
And the starving brother turned from your door;
You have laid up gold where the canker rusts,
And given free vent to fleshly lusts.
You have justice scorned, and corruption sown,
And trampled the laws of nature down,
You have drunk and rioted, murdered and lied,
And mocked at God in your Hell - born pride.
You have paid full fare, so I'll carry you thru;
For it's only just, you should get your due,
Why, the labourer always expects his hire,
So I'll land you safe in the Lake of Fire;
Where your flesh shall roast in flames that roar
And my imps torment you forever more.
Then Tom awoke with an agonized cry,
Clothes soaked with sweat and hair standing high.
And he prayed as he never prayed before,
To be saved from drink's satanic power.
And his vows and prayers were not in vain,
For he never more rode on the Hell - Bound Train.
- - Author Unknown
The Bible has more to say about booze than it does about lying, swearing, stealing, cheating, hypocrisy, pride, and blasphemy. Throughout the Bible there are over 600 references to drink and drinking. Here are 75 verses to warn every thinking person of the curse and damning results of drink:
1. Gen. 9:20 - 26. The first drunkenness and the attendant immoral behaviour. 2. Gen. 19:30 - 38. Drinking results in Lot's defilement of his own daughters. 3. Gen. 27:25. Isaac was drinking when he mistakenly blessed Jacob. 4. Lev. 10:9. An express command not to drink. 5. Num. 6:3. The vow of the Nazarite. 6. Deut. 21:20. Drinking leads to stubbornness, rebellion, and gluttony and brings dishonour to parents. 7. Deut. 29:2 - 6. Abstinence assures a closer walk with God. 8. Judg. 13:4,7,14. Samson's mother, an example of all womanhood, was commanded not to drink. Was alcohol recognized even then as a protoplasmic poison, injuring posterity? 9. 1 Sam. 1:14,15. Hannah, an example of honoured motherhood, refrained from drinking wine. 10. 1 Sam. 25:32 - 38. Nabal, a rich but churlish man who opposed David, died after a drunken spree. He had already lost his wife's respect. 11. 2 Sam. 11:13. By having Uriah plied with strong drink, David attempted to cover his own sin. 12. 2 Sam. 13:28,29. Amnon, in a drunken brawl, was murdered by his brother, Absalom. 13. 1 Kings 16:8 - 10. While a king was "drinking himself drunk" in his own home, one of his captains conspired against him and slew him. 14. 1 Kings 20:12 - 21. Drink and war. While Ben - hadad and thirty - two other kings were drinking in their pavilions, a small band of Israel's men fell upon the Syrians and put them to flight. 15. Esther 1:5 - 22. Drink wrecks homes and separates man and wife. At a week's feast of food and wine, King Ahasuerus drunkenly tried to subject his queen to the beastly gaze of inebriated nobles, thereby causing separation of the royal husband and wife. 16. Job 1:18,19. The children of Job were feasting and drinking when blown away in a cyclone. 17. Pr. 4:17. Violence results from drinking. 18. Pr. 20:1. No wise man will indulge. 19. Pr. 21:17. He that loveth wine is not rich. 20. Pr. 23:21. Drinking leads to poverty. 21. Pr. 23:29,30. Strong drink produces sorrow, contentions, wounds without cause, babblings, redness of eyes. 22. Pr. 23:31. Do not be tempted by intoxicants. 23. Pr. 23:32. God's Word warns that liquor eventually harms all who drink. 24. Pr. 23:33. It fills men's minds with adulterous and impure thoughts. 25. Pr. 23:33. It produces wilfulness and prevents reformation.
26. Pr. 23:34. It brings on insecurity. 27. Pr. 23:35. Insensibility follows drinking, rendering a man as a clod. 28. Pr. 23:35. Habit forming. One drink calls for another. 29. Pr. 31:4,5. Kings and all other rulers or officials with the weight of human lives in their control should not indulge. 30. Pr. 31:6,7. The only sanction for the use of strong drink was as a medicine or anaesthetic for those about to die. We now know better medicines and anaesthetics than whisky, wine or beer. 31. Eccl. 2:3; 12:8. The writer of Ecclesiastes tried strong drink, but in the end was forced to admit that it too is vanity. 32. Eccl. 10:17. Blessings are promised to the temperate and abstaining nation. 33. Isa. 5:11,12. Woe to drunkards. 34. Isa. 5:22. More woes to them who drink. 35. Isa. 22:13. Drinking and carnality go together. Leaves men hopeless. 36. Isa. 24:9. Drink is bitter to them that drink it. 37. Isa. 28:1. Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim. 38. Isa. 28:3. The pride of drunkards will be trodden down. 39. Isa. 28:7. Prophets and priests erred through drink. 40. Isa. 28:7. Those who drink are set aside as useless. 41. Isa. 28:7. Prophets and priests finally swallowed up by drink. 42. Isa. 28:7. Drinking brings on spiritual blindness. 43. Isa. 56:9 - 12. Rebuke to drinking church members, His watchmen. 44. Jer. 35:5,6,8,14. Total abstinence of the Rechabites cited as an example of obedience on the part of God's people. 45. Ezek. 44:21. Priests are not to drink wine. 46. Dan. 1:5,8,16; 10:3. God honoured Daniel because he abstained from the king's wine. Daniel, the man, was true to the home training he had received as a boy. 47. Dan. 5:1. Belshazzar exhibited as an example of a leader who drank and taught his people to drink. 48. Dan. 5:2, 23. A nation whose women drink. 49. Dan. 5:5 - 9, 25 - 28. Ruin and downfall for nations whose rulers and leaders cause them to drink. 50. Dan. 5:3. Belshazzar's sacrilege in using sacred temple vessels for liquor.
51. Hos. 3:1. Part of degradation of Hosea's wife induced by drink. 52. Hos. 4:11. Strong drink and immorality go hand in hand. 53. Hos. 7:5. King and people reproved because of drinking. 54. Joel 1:5. Drunkards to awake from their drinking. 55. Joel 3:3. Young virtue sold for the price of drink. 56. Amos 2:8. Wine of the condemned. 57. Amos 2:12. Pollution of the innocent. 58. Amos 4:1. Dissolute women, oppressors of the poor, call for their liquor. 59. Amos 6:6. Drinkers are not concerned about God nor the welfare of others. 60. Nah. 1:10. Drunkards to be destroyed. 61. Hab. 2:5. Arrogance inflamed by drink. 62. Hab. 2:15. Wrong to give one's neighbour drink. Social drinking. 63. Hab. 2:16. Drink leads to shame and humiliation. 64. Matt. 24:48 - 51. Drunkards warned about the return of Christ and His judgment. 65. Luke 1:15. Greatness of John the Baptist linked with his total abstinence. 66. Luke 12:45. Christ warns against being enmeshed in drink evils. 67. Luke 21:34. Warning against drunkenness and the acres of this life which follow, keeping one occupied to the exclusion of the Spirit. 68. Rom. 13:13. All are admonished to walk honestly, not in rioting and drunkenness. It is not honest to be less than men, created in the image of God. 69. Rom. 14:21. Drinking causes a brother to stumble. Importance of example. 70. 1 Cor. 6:10. No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. 71. 1 Cor. 11:25. The Lord's Supper no place for wine. Word "wine" not even used. Instead all accounts say "the cup" or "fruit of the vine". 72. Gal. 5:21. Revellers in drunkenness shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 73. Eph. 5:18. Direct command that exhilaration shall be of the Spirit and not by wine. 74. 1 Thess. 5:7. Sobriety enjoined upon the Thessalonians. Children of light must not be overcome by darkness. 75. 1 Tim. 3:3 - 12. Church officers must not drink; neither should their families.
A few weeks ago I had occasion to lunch in a restaurant. The first thing the waitress asked me was, "Do you want something from the bar?" As I thought on the word "bar" I came to the conclusion that it is a good name for the place where liquor is kept.
A Bar to Heaven, door to Hell
Whoever named it, named it well.
A Bar to manliness and wealth,
A door to want and broken health.
A Bar to honour, pride, and fame,
A door to sin and grief and shame.
A Bar to hope, a Bar to prayer,
A door to darkness and despair.
A Bar to honoured, useful life,
A door to sin and grief and strife.
A Bar to all that's true and brave,
A door to every drunkard's grave.
A Bar to joy that home imparts,
A door to tears and aching hearts.
A Bar to Heaven, a door to Hell,
Whoever named it, named it well.
- - Author Unknown
God says in Habakkuk 2:15: "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also."
A question that is often asked is, "What about Jesus turning water into wine? That is a miracle that surely proves that drinking is acceptable to our Lord."
When we turn to this first recorded miracle of our Lord in John 2:1 - 11, the question we must ask is, "When Jesus turned the water into wine, was the wine fermented?" Those who drink beer and rum and whisky and who seldom drink wine tell us that the Greek word for wine here is ainos which means intoxicating wine. Again, they use the Bible which they otherwise avoid, to excuse their drinking. If it is all right to drink, why make excuses?
The word ainos is used to denote ANY drink made from ANY fruit or vegetable concoction - - dates, apples, pears, grapes, barley, etc. But this in itself is not proof that the wine made is intoxicating. It could be or it could not be according to the circumstances.
In this instance, let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One who performed the miracle. If this wine is intoxicating then Christ would be under a curse according to Habakkuk 2:15,16: "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory."
Furthermore, if this wine of John 2 is intoxicating, then Christ encouraged the people to break the commandment of God. We read in Proverbs 23:31: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." The liquor advertisements never tell us about "the last" with its poverty, broken lives and broken homes!
Let us notice that when the master of the house tasted this wine he said he never tasted wine like this before. It was different from all other wines. It was wine that could not be reproduced by others for it was Christ's miracle before the people - - a miracle that proved Him to be the Son of God. Only those in spiritual darkness would say that Christ turned the water into intoxicating wine.
If you know personally the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you know that He did not make a wine that would unbalance the mind, make people drunk, and induce people to sin. I think of a little poem entitled,
WAS JESUS A BREWER?
The brewer they tell us is one who makes booze,
And does all he can to make all people snooze.
He puts them to sleep with that degrading stuff,
And says, "It won't hurt them", which is only bluff.
Three men out of ten who tipple with drink,
Will become alcoholics, be chained by that jink;
Thus saith Dr. Mayo, and then he says more,
The rest of them suffer, their health becomes poor.
Some states have it so, With one bottle of beer,
Or one ounce of whisky, they've lost their head clear.
Now God's Word speaks plainly, no drunkard shall see
The place we call Heaven with its glories to be.
But some people tell us Jesus made ferment wine
To give to that great crowd in Cana that time.
Forty or more gallons of booze to get drunk,
And send them to Hell! Do you believe in that bunk?
Jesus sure was a boozer if He made it that way,
Should be classed with men that wreck souls everyday.
Now, my Bible tells me that Jesus was good,
He came to save sinners, I'm sure that He would.
He suffered on Calvary, that old cruel cross,
To save us from suffering, and all of sin's loss.
"I came to give life, not to take it away,"
Said Christ to the people who listened that day.
So do not believe Jesus made things to kill;'
"Thou shalt call His name Jesus," He'll give life, if you will.
I heard His call, "Come," so I knelt at His feet,
Then He saved me from sin with its multiple heat.
He gave me salvation and a heart like His own;
Now He dwells inside me. It is His royal throne."
- - Author Unknown
Here is another Bible verse that many try to use to justify their drinking. I read 1 Timothy 5:23: "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."
Paul is writing to a young man by the name of Timothy who had been drinking the alkaline waters of Asia Minor and ruined his digestion. He had frequent attacks of stomach sickness. Paul sent this prescription of adding some of the common wine of that country to the water. This wine was highly acid like our cider vinegar and would thus counteract the alkaline water. It was a medical prescription.
It is always an amazing fact that most all drinkers and alcoholics make an excuse for drinking. If it is all right to drink, why then make excuses for doing so? We do not make excuses for eating or reading. One of the most common excuses given for drinking is that Paul told Timothy to drink wine. It must therefore be all right to drink wine and to get drunk.
There are several things that must be said. Doesn't it show the deceitfulness and hatred in the human heart for natural man, who hates the Bible and does not read the Bible, to use the Bible as an excuse for his drinking? I have asked many who use this excuse if they were drinking because of stomach trouble and the answer is always "No". I have also asked, "Are you drinking wine now?" The answer always is, "No, I am drinking beer or whisky or rum or something else". I have also asked, "Is your name Timothy?" And, "Are you drinking a LITTLE wine now?" Of course no one is satisfied with a little wine. So one can see how wicked it is for people to use the Bible which they never read nor obey as an excuse for drinking. God says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).
What about the Lord's Supper? We should notice that the word "wine" is not used in connection with the Lord's Supper. The New Testament speaks of the "cup" and of "the fruit of the vine". What was the situation in the Corinthian church? I quote from Dr. William Patton:
"The facts of the case are instructive. These converts from idolatry, mistaking the Lord's Supper for a feast, easily fell into their former idolatrous practices. The rich brought plentifully of their viands, and gave themselves selfishly to festivity. The poor, unable thus to provide, were a body by themselves, and were left to go hungry. This discrimination between the rich and the poor was 'a despising of the house of God', and was an unchristian act, which the apostle condemned. It is not stated that all the members were drunken, for the narrative expressly says, 'one is hungry, and another is drunken', which clearly indicates that a portion were not drunken. As the poor are generally the majority in churches, the strong probability is that a minority only were offenders in prostituting the ordinance and in the matter of drinking. If an intoxicating wine was used on this occasion by the rich church members when they turned the Lord's Supper into a common festive occasion, it furnishes no evidence that such wine was the proper element for the Scriptural celebration of that ordinance. Paul reenacted the Supper as originally instituted, and restored it to its proper celebration. It is worthy of notice that he says in 1 Cor. 10:16: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Verse 21: "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." The contrast between the tables and the cups is apostolic and instructive. Their table and the cup they used were the devil's. The proper table and the proper cup were the Lord's. If their cup contained that which was intoxicating, it was, as Paul declares, the devil's cup; but the cup which contained that which was the opposite, and was not intoxicating, was, as the apostle teaches, the Lord's cup, the cup of blessing."
You will agree that the bread used for the Lord's Table should be unleavened bread, because the bread symbolizes the body of Jesus, which was perfect and sinless. It is yeast that causes the grape juice to ferment into intoxicating wine. If the bread should be unleavened to represent the sinless and perfect body of Christ, broken for us, then the cup should represent the sinless blood of Christ. By using intoxicating wine you are taking a decaying, putrid, contaminated substance to represent the pure, sinless, precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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