September 26, 2013

Wine's A Mocker and Beer's A Brawler

The first alcoholic bender mentioned in the Bible is attributed to Noah and it comes early in the Bible. The verse immediately following shows the embarrassing and sinful fallout. Please keep in mind this is nearly immediately after the entire world is wiped out by flood due to sin. Soooo...nearly the first thing that again comes to the fore in the world is corruption and sin…even through the initially blameless man Noah who is described as righteous and blameless in Genesis 6:9.

Genesis 9:21 ~ “Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 

Much has been made of what is meant of Noah uncovering himself inside his tent. Further speculation is raised about what it meant that Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and subsequently tells his two brothers outside. This is taken to the extreme by our sex obsessed pro-homosexual culture to mean that there was some form of incestuous homosexual intercourse between father and son. Although potentially important, it is a contemporized distraction from the root problem of sin and unrighteousness inherent in humanity and individual humans. What is generally missed is that sin re-enters the world nearly immediately after being eradicated outside Noah's family which is to say it never left because it was inherent in Noah's family. It shows conclusively and definitively that that which defiles a man is not external or in the world but internal to him or arises from within (Mark 7:15). It is the latent or potential sin possible in all fallen humanity, even a blameless man such as Noah. All people are sinful and none are righteous without God’s righteousness (Romans 3:9-26). In the end, we see that Adam fell and sinned by partaking of what was prohibited. Conversely, Noah failed by over-imbibing of that which was allowed. All elements of God’s creation when used as intended are good but when misused or abused becomes sin because of the person themselves, not the things acted on by men. 

We then have the sordid and incestuous incident of Lot and his daughters. Lot is given too much booze and is seduced by his morally twisted daughters.

Genesis 19:32 ~ Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.”

One does not need to know the sordid details of this incident to realize it is morally depraved and sick. We need only keep in mind that these people had been so predisposed to sin and depravity in Sodom that it had effectually worn off on the daughters and on Lot but it was by choice that they all acted. Choice that arose from within...from indwelling sin. It is the proverbial passage from 1 Corinthians 15:33.

1 Corinthians 15:33 ~ Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

In Leviticus we then have the incident of strange fire with Nadab and Abihu. They are summarily killed by the Lord.

Leviticus 10:1-2, Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

It is later stated in Leviticus 10:8-9 that…

Leviticus 10:8-9 ~ The Lord then spoke to Aaron, saying, “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations…”

Although not specifically stated, it is strongly implied that Nadab and Abihu were intoxicated during the offer of the strange fire. Having been intoxicated they were clearly unable to make a proper decision and they paid with their lives.

The last legitimate episode of getting soused I will mention in detail is David’s transgression with Uriah because of his sexual impropriety with Bathsheba and the later consequences to David's and His family. David's sin will revisit not only him but his entire family. David falsely gains Uriah’s trust only to deceive and betray him later through allowing him to be killed in battle. This type of deception will be revisited within David’s own family when Absalom’s servants murder his half- brother while he is drunk (2 Samuel 13:28) because of the rape of Tamar. Absalom himself will then be killed due to his sinful rebellion. It is literally a encapsulation in microcosm of the Fall of man through rebellion and the punishment of death for said sin.

2 Samuel 13:28 ~ Absalom commanded his servants, saying, “See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.”

Some of the other remaining incidents of biblical intoxication that I will not elaborate on include the following.

Nabal held a feast and became very drunk.

1 Samuel 25:36 ~ “Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk; so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light. 

Elah was murdered while drunk.

1 Kings 16:8-10 ~ “In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel at Tirzah, and reigned two years. His servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. Now he was at Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household at Tirzah. Then Zimri went in and struck him and put him to death in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and became king in his place. 

Queen Vashti refused to display her beauty when King Ahasuerus was merry with wine

Esther 1:10 ~ “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. Then the king became very angry and his wrath burned within him.

Mistaken Assumptions

Sadly, there are at least three incidents of wrongful accusations of drunkenness in the Bible. The first of which is Hannah in the presence of Eli.

1 Samuel 1:13 ~ “As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.

To show the sinful depravity and minds of the Pharisees, there is then the incident of drunkenness attributed to Jesus by them. He is accused of being a glutton and wine bibber along with being a friend of sinners and tax collectors. The Son of God! A glutton and alcoholic! How messed up did the religious leaders of Christ’s day have to be to make this accusation?

Matthew 11:19 ~ "The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by her works."

Mark 7:34 ~ “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 

The last episode that should be mentioned that appeared as drunkenness but clearly was not was the episode just prior to Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2 that occurred because of Pentecost. The people present began speaking in tongues and they are subsequently mocked and accused of being drunk. As they spoke in tongues they…

…all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” ~ Acts 2:13

This is probably because of the cacophony of all the people speaking simultaneously in a multitude of languages. Most of the languages would’ve been familiar to the people in attendance and probably would’ve been extraordinarily bewildering to all including those speaking in tongues as is alluded to in verse 13’s amazement and perplexity.

Negative Portrayal of Intoxication

To conclude I will mention a few things. No matter where intoxication is mentioned in the Bible…it is never mentioned lightly and it is always shown in a negative light. Please note I did not say drinking in general is shown in a negative light. We must never forget that Jesus turned water to wine at Cana (wedding) and yes, it had alcoholic content. The wine was not full blown alcohol as we understand it today but rather proportionally mixed and alcohol content was used as a purifier/antiseptic. It was often diluted as much as a 20:1 ratio. Even so there was still a risk of severe intoxication in a hot and dry climate as the need of clean fluids was imperative to survival. This is why there were strict regulations on wine and fermented beverage usage. As is commonly understood wine can also be used for medicinal antiseptic purposes as Paul alludes to in 1 Timothy 5:23. Like everything else God has created, when used properly it is a blessing and aid to man but where it is abused as in the course of alcoholism…it is sin and derails life. 

Elders and leaders are specifically told that they are not to be alcoholics nor prone to volatility or violence. Used in the same sentence adjacent to one another, leads a reader to imply that the violence or volatility can be from or arise from the alcohol (i.e.: beer is a brawler). There is also an implication in this verse that those prone to over imbibe also have a high prevalence for being unstable or prone to foolish impetuousness. In here we see a requirement for clear-headed thinking and prudent decision-making...something that is not possible when one is intoxicated.

1 Timothy 3:2-3 ~ Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 

Sad Social Commentary

As a closing social commentary, I must mention the condition of the United States and many other westernized nations. I must discern what I see around me in the culture and it is an ugly commentary. Sadly, abuse is the predominate way we see booze used today. It is used in excess and imprudently. It destroys lives and aids in the destruction of character, morality and values. It lowers inhibition to the point people make fools of themselves and destroy otherwise good reputations through drunken debauchery. Wine is indeed a mocker and beer certainly becomes a brawler. Our college campuses have become the stomping ground of the spirit of Bacchus/Dionysus and the primary haunts of single adult America are taverns and bars and people are rarely there just for the jovial conversation. They appear to be there mainly for the lowered morality that results from intoxication and the sinful sensuality and sexual immorality that often ensues due to booze consumption or use of illicit pharmaceuticals. If we think we are any different than in the days of Noah we need only turn our televisions on and watch things like Mardi Gras, the Burning Man festivals or Spring Breaks nationwide to realize we are exactly the same. All this time and humanity has learned nothing. Instead we continue to regress and descend into deeper and deeper depravity. There is nothing new under the sun.


Melinda said...

My Dad was an alcoholic. It's no wonder so many bad things happen when someone is drunk, whether recorded in the bible or in our own lives. And yet, we live in a world (in the US at least) where drinking to excess in the younger years is not only accepted but expected. I hope I can teach my children why excess isn't okay. I learned not to drink from watching the damage my dad did to me, our family, and himself. It's so devastating. You provided a really good and short study on being drunk. Thank you. I enjoyed it.

Andy Pierson said...

Thanks for your comment Melinda. I grew up in a family of people that struggled and still struggle with mind altering substances (mostly booze). I struggled for 20 years trying to get out of the bottom of both a beer bottle and whiskey bottle. A near-death experience with drugs and train-wrecked life woke me up to sobriety and Jesus woke me to holiness and righteousness. I did the only thing a sane person would do when presented with the gift of the Gospel, I repented and believed. :) Andy

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