Monday, June 22, 2015

Alcohol 6 - The Blessing of Wine

          We have spent the last five blog posts examining by my count fifty seven different Scripture verses about alcohol. This large group clearly puts the subject in a negative light. Alcohol produces woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, wounds without cause, and redness of eyes. Alcohol causes you to lose control of yourself. Alcohol is addicting. Alcohol's very nature is intoxicating. Alcohol prevents us from yielding to the Holy Spirit. People who drink are spiritually deluded. Alcohol and rebellion are found together in Scripture. Depression increases when it is treated with alcohol. Drinking produces serious health problems. Alcohol negatively affects your sense of modesty and propriety. People who act erratically are assumed to be under the influence. The greater your responsibility the greater the potential disaster you will cause by drinking. Whether you intend it or not alcohol will negatively affect you. As I said -  a negative light. That is where the weight lies.

          At the same time, it is also true that Scripture also speaks often in glowing terms about wine. For instance, consider these:

-Isaac asked God to bless Jacob with wine
Genesis 27:28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, And the fatness of the earth, And plenty of corn and wine:

-Isaac informs Esau he has asked God to bless Jacob with wine
Genesis 27:37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

-God tells Aaron that wine is a gift from Him
Numbers 18:12 All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.

-Moses tells Israel that obedience will bring God's blessing on their lives including wine
Deuteronomy 7:13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

-God says He will bless His people with rain so that they may have wine
Deuteronomy 11:14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

-Moses tells Israel to rejoice in the Lord while drinking their wine tithe
Deuteronomy 12:17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
(see also Deuteronomy 14.23)

-Moses instructs Israel to support priests by giving them wine
Deuteronomy 18:3 And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.
4 The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.

-with his last words, Moses prophesies a loving God's rich blessings poured out on a happy Israel; that blessing included wine
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms: And he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; And shall say, Destroy them.
28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; Also his heavens shall drop down dew.
29 Happy art thou, O Israel: Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, The shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; And thou shalt tread upon their high places.

-Abimelech tells a parable in which he explicitly says that wine makes God happy
Judges 9:13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

-Hezekiah led God's people in a revival that included obeying the old customs of tithing wine
2 Chronicles 31:5 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.

-Hezekiah was so blessed by God that he had to construct bigger storage facilities for his wine
2 Chronicles 32:27 And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels;
28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
29 Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.

-Nehemiah tells the usurious moneylenders to give God's people back their wine
Nehemiah 5:11 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.

-Nehemiah, like Hezekiah, led the people in obedience to the old customs of tithing, including wine
Nehemiah 10:37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
(see also similar passages in Nehemiah 10.39, 13.5, and 13.12)

-the psalmist said that God blessed him with joy and peace and likened it to a good harvest that produced wine
Psalm 4:6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: For thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

-Solomon informs us that honoring the Lord via tithing results in His bountiful provision to us, including wine
Proverbs 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

-Isaiah tells us that God will richly bless His people, and this blessing will include protecting their wine from their enemies
Isaiah 62:8 The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; And the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:

-Isaiah explicitly says that wine is a blessing
Isaiah 65:8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: So will I do for my servants’ sakes, That I may not destroy them all.

-Jeremiah agrees with Isaiah, and specifically says wine is a blessing that flows to His people from the goodness of God
Jeremiah 31:12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, And shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, For wheat, and for wine, and for oil, And for the young of the flock and of the herd: And their soul shall be as a watered garden; And they shall not sorrow any more at all.

-Hosea mentions wine in a negative context but the usage is positive; God is here explicitly saying wine is a gift from Him
Hosea 2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold, Which they prepared for Baal.
9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, And my wine in the season thereof, And will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.

-later in the same conversation Hosea says that God's mercy on His people includes the blessing of wine
Hosea 2:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, And they shall hear the earth;
22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; And they shall hear Jezreel.
23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; And they shall say, Thou art my God.

-Joel tells us that God blesses His people with wine specifically in order to satisfy them
Joel 2:19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, And ye shall be satisfied therewith: And I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
(see also Joel 2.24-25)

-Zechariah says wine is a great goodness from the Lord
Zechariah 9:17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.

          Well, there you have it. Wine is a wonderful blessing from God. It makes Him happy. It ought to make us happy. Drink up.

          …hold up for just one moment, though, before you rush out to the nearest package store. Anyone want to take a guess what every single verse in the above list has in common? All twenty six of these passages that speak of wine in an extremely positive sense in the King James Version all come from the same root word in the original language Hebrew – תִּירוֹשׁ  which transliterated into English is tiros. Anyone care to see how tiros is defined? You're ahead of me, aren't you? Some of you are growling right at the moment and some of you are grinning ear to ear. Yep,  תִּירוֹשׁ  means fresh squeezed grape juice. That definition is supported by A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, The Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, A Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition, and Logos Bible Software. I know. I have them all and I just looked.

          So knock yourself out with both my blessing and His. Rush right down to the grocery store, pick up a bottle of Welch's grape juice, and drink up. It is a wonderful gift from God. 


  1. Just to confirm (since it appears you are way ahead of me in research)...there are no positive scriptures about specifically alcoholic wine?

    1. There are quite a few. Like the ones that tell us that when we tithe we can partake of wine and strong drink as praise to God.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Jeff, I'm having trouble with my computer this morning. There is one clearly unambiguous positive reference to alcoholic wine in the Old Testament. I will discuss it in a future post.

  2. Sometimes, a person needs to pick, choose and ignore passages to get a certain point across.

    Again and again, yes folks, we ALL know that drunkenness is a sin. What is drunkenness? EXCESS alcohol. Is drinking alcohol a sin? No. Did God say avoid it? No.

    Now, do we really need 12 blogs to point his out? No.

    BUT, this is fun and comical.

  3. Hi Tom, Good discussion. You are right “some” of the reference works list “Tiros” as “freshly squeezed grapes.” But this does not mean that these grapes were not fermented eventually. Of the 37 times the OT lists this word, most of them are in reference to God’s blessings. I.e. - God increasing their crops, good harvests etc. Or these blessing being stopped due to some failure of God’s people.

    This does not demonstrate what they did with these harvests. In a world without refrigeration your “vats” would ferment. Archaeology demonstrates this point clearly. You are assuming a strict separation between “Tiros” and “Yayin.” This is an invalid distinction in light of the context.

    We would be hard pressed (no pun intended) to demonstrate that Israel did not ferment grapes that yielded a wine. The Nazarite had to refrain from wine and strong drink, but also from grapes (Numbers 6:3-4). But both products were offered to God (Numbers 15:1-10) and (Deut 12:17). (Note the Hebrew)

    Moving into the NT it would be hard to take Paul’s command seriously in Eph 5:18 if he was merely meaning grape juice or the requirement that deacons or older women should not be “slaves” to grape juice. It all becomes rather ridiculous. You begin to wonder if we are reading our own “American” context into the bible.

    However we are foolish to assume there are no dangers associated with alcohol. So much so that it may be wise and necessary to abstain from alcohol, esp in the antinomian culture of the church today. However, I insist the matter rests in the individual conscience in line with Romans 14 because that’s the line I see in scripture.

    P.S. If this posts multiple times I am sorry, I have a google account and it won't let me post (unless it is:( )

    1. Outstanding post and well researched! Too bad you will be viewed as a person with a "hard Heart towards God" "Backslidden" "un-wise" and just not right with God.

    2. ...just to make sure I follow you: since we don't know what they did with that unfermented grape juice it means it is ok to drink alcohol? That is a bit of a stretch, what? The entire point of this post was to show that many of the verses in the Bible that discuss wine in a positive sense clearly are discussing juice. It removes much of the fog that pro-drinkers put up regarding this. Of course, I do not take the position that the Jews never made alcoholic wine - but that has nothing to do with this particular post.

    3. Hi Tom, I am just pointing out that your conclusion does not necessarily follow from these verses you put forward. It is true that scripture speaks of wine in two senses in the OT but the context would demand the word for freshly squeezed grapes as they are new, new blessings, it's more a symbol of God's abundance for His people, often combined with grain.
      (Incidentally, Hosea 4:10-11 combine the two in relation to "taking away the heart")

      I do not see a explicit command to say all alcohol is wrong, unwise, yes, dangerous, absolutely. However it does not follow that because there are two words for wine in the bible, one of which was not yet fermented (it's doubtful if we can make a strict separation as you do) that the wine that is fermented is always sinful.

      I don't disagree with your concern, just your method.

      God bless


  4. I think grape juice should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because it has SUGAR!!!! Here's proof:

    It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink grape juice, nor any thingwhereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
    And be not drunk with grape juice, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

    Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much grape juice, not greedy of filthy lucre;

    Drink no longer water, but use a little grape juice for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.

    The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much grape juice, teachers of good things;

    1. Ah, so every time the Bible mentions 'wine' it means grape juice... I think that is perhaps, just perhaps, as unbalanced as those who assert that every time the Bible mentions 'wine' it means alcohol. One wouldn't want to have to do any actual study now would they...

    2. Wait a second...

      Are you now saying that the verses above are mentioning alcoholic wine? If so, then it seems clear (not foggy as you think) that drinking is ok but not in excess.


  5. I think I'm going to do a blog on sugar too. 12 blogs on sugar. Sugar has cause so many deaths and problems. That's why I stay far away from that devils brew! I only drink SUGAR FREE grape juice!!!

  6. Methinks Mr. or Ms. Anonymous is using an anonymous Bible as well as their education from an anonymous university.

    1. Anonymous has many faces. Don't let that scare ya!

  7. So God blessed people with grape juice to put into vats that would just rot and not ferment at all? What the heck do you think they were going to do with all that "grape juice," Tom?? Grape juice wasn't a drink from the fridge until the last 100 years. Why? Because it ferments, lol.

    1. Ah, so there was no way to preserve grape juice in an unfermented manner until Welch, eh? Huh. I guess I should have thought of that before I started this little series. It sure would have made me look a little less stupid if I had just done my homework.

      On the other hand...

  8. Tom said, "People who drink are spiritually deluded."

    How so?

    1. People who turn to blogs for spiritual direction are spiritually deluded. Do your own study, people. Be a Berean about it. Put all of man's opinions aside and read the Bible yourself. If you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit within you to guide you.

      That way, you won't be swayed by every opinion. Instead of "Preacher says..." you will know what God says.

      It isn't dangerous to trust the Holy Spirit. It is dangerous to trust a man.

    2. "Sometimes all the reassurance I need that I am going in the right direction is to note the direction from which the rocks are being thrown..."

      Yes, so true.

    3. Proverbs 20.1

    4. Explain to me this verse and how it applies to a person who drinks wine.

      Do you have any idea of how many followers of Christ drink and are more Godly than you and I?

      Please explain.

    5. No thanks. You don't want an explanation. You want an argument. And I've got bigger fish to fry today.

  9. Can you show passages against alcohol which do not involve drunkenness?

    1. Nope. Not at all. In fact, this entire blog series is a pointless exercise is hermeneutical malpractice and pharisaistic legalism. Thanks for pointing that out. I am duly chastened.

    2. I can always count on getting a very well researched, full of godliness response from you.


  10. "when Scripture is taught and the response is ALWAYS critical there is a heart problem. It is frowardness. It is willful stubbornness. Jesus Himself could not teach them anything. There are other contributing factors but that is the heart of the matter."

    So, is your heart right then Tom? Is this how it is when people disagree with you?

    1. Most of the time, yes. Most of the time, no.

    2. When Scripture is taught as Scripture and man balks, let's discuss the heart. When Scripture is taught and it's like playing a game of Twister, let's talk about something else.

  11. Well Pastor,

    One more round down with Anonymous. Cheer up. Only 11 more to go. Greatness is a sustained burden.