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Alcohol And The Bible - Some Sobering Thoughts
Alcohol, sometimes referred to as liquor or spirits, is used by people all over the world on a day to day basis. Some people think it is good for the body when used properly and others write it off entirely.
There is the belief that drinking a glass of wine everyday will help one to live long and strong. There is another belief that those who consume rum on a regular basis never get the cold, flu or the latest virus around. Some people believe that when someone is under the influence of alcohol, their true nature is revealed while others believe that a demon takes over when the drinker over indulges in alcohol.
But what does the Bible say concerning alcohol? Is it good or bad or neither?
The very first time, alcohol is spoken of in the Bible is in The Book of Genesis after the flood. Noah had planted a vineyard and, after drinking the wine that he made from the vineyard, he became very drunk. So drunk in fact that he passed out naked and his son, Ham, walked in and saw his father in a disgraced state. This led to Ham's son Canaan being cursed.
"And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." Genesis 9:20-27 K.J.V.
Since this is the first introduction to alcohol and its consequences, it should not be taken lightly. We see Noah, the man of God who was saved from the wrath of the flood, over-indulge in alcohol so much so that he drinks himself into a stupor. Some of his descendants become cursed as a result of his drunkenness.
Also in Genesis, when Lot's daughters wanted to ensure that their family line would continue, they persuaded their father, Lot to drink wine until he was drunk and then, when he was no longer aware of himself, or his surroundings, they went into him and conceived two children by him. (Genesis 31-38)
Consequences For Drinking In the Bible
Just as Noah and his offspring had consequences for drinking, there were others in the Bible who faced some bitter consequences as well.
Elah, the king of Israel, drank himself drunk, according to the Bible. His drunkenness presented Zimri, his servant opportunity to seize the kingdom from him and his descendants forever. Zimri killed him while he was too drunk to do anything about it, and he killed all of his family as well so that no one from his line could ever be on the throne of Israel again. (See 1 Kings 16)
Benhadad, the king of Syria, also fell because of drunkenness. He went up against Ahab (one of the wickedest kings of Israel) and was well equipped to defeat him but the Lord gave the victory to Israel because of Benhadad's foolish statement that limited the power of God. In his arrogance, he declared that God is a God of the hills and not of the valleys. God gave Ahab the victory in the valley so that all would know the strength and length of the protective arm of God and that He indeed, is God.
While Benhadad was drunk, along with the thirty-two kings who had come along with their troops to help him conquer Israel, Israel's troops were on the move. They slew the Syrians with a great slaughter that day and that was the beginning of the end for the move against Israel by the Syrians. (See 1 Kings 20)
A Doctor Explains What Happens to the Brain on Alcohol
Effects of Alcohol
According to the Book of Proverbs, there are certain effects of continuous consumption of alcohol that always occur.
- wounds without cause
- redness of eyes
In Proverbs Chapter 23, the above are listed as things that people have when they drink continuously. All of these things seem join together and present the picture of a drunk individual. It is not unusual for a drunk individual to have complaints about everything. Some say that they drink because they have sorrows and woes to begin with but if Elah and Benhadad are anything to go by, the sorrows and woes that exist before drunkenness look less like sorrows and woes when the consequences of drunkenness take shape.
Indeed, contentions are known to occur much easier when one individual is drunk than when all involved are sober and it is not unusual for those who are drunk to end up with wounds, that is, injuries, and all because they were drunk. In that same Chapter, it says that alcohol bites like a serpent and causes a person to utter perverse things. That means that the things that one would not ordinarily do in a sober state, one does without the blink of an eye totally oblivious to the consequences of one's action.
Jesus And Wine
It is a well known and argued fact that Jesus Christ drank wine. This fact is used by many to say that it is alright for a Christian to consume alcohol.
One of the first of Jesus' miracles recorded is occurred at the wedding at Cana. The wine ran out and Jesus turned water into wine. When the wine was tasted, it was declared to be the best wine of the wedding. Since Jesus turned water into wine what does it mean? Indeed, it is recorded that Jesus drank wine.
"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.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! But wisdom is justified of all her children." Luke 7: 33-35 (K.J.V.)
What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink - Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic?
Did Jesus drink grape juice or something like it or was His wine fermented? This is a sub-question that is a popular one among many people, both Christian and non-Christian. For some, the answer to this question can either help or hinder their cause either for or against alcohol consumption.
It cannot be proved that the wine that Jesus drank was not real wine but I believe with certainty that Jesus never became drunk because of His intake of wine. The Bible states that He was without sin and since drunkenness is a sin Jesus would have never committed it.
So then, since Jesus drank wine can't we also?
In his letter to the Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and Titus, Paul says that one must not be given to much wine. 1 Peter lists excess wine as a sin. It is clear that moderation when it comes to alcohol is key but how do you know how much is too much? Personally, I think it is easy to slide into a life of constant alcohol consumption. One may argue that every person is different and does not become intoxicated by as much alcohol as the other. One may argue that if someone has self- control then it is safe for them to be able to drink and have a free conscience.
I, however, am weary because I am not Jesus Christ and therefore I was born with sin.This treacherous, traitorous flesh has been known to turn my soul to wickedness in the blink of an eye. I know that all self- control comes from the Holy Spirit and so I do not like to tempt Him and indulge in wine or any other spirits. He is the only Spirit I want to have as my guide. Each person makes their choice and moderation certainly does not seem to be a sin. It just seems to me to walk a little close to the edge and that cliff is not one I want to fall off of.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."1 Peter 5:8-9 (K.J.V.)