Monday, May 13, 2013

A Minor Rebel

The only reference of me in my brother’s book (or, in any book that I know of), he calls me a minor rebel for some  prank I once played on a Sunday School teacher when I was in 7th or 8th grade. Well, I guess in a minor way, I carried over the minor rebellion into adulthood. I don’t know how many times I had been told (in a career setting, mostly) that I just shot myself in the foot. One of the most memorable minor rebellious instances happened shortly before I got kicked off (okay, they didn’t actually kick me off, the moderator(s) won’t let me post there any more).
At the time, there were weekly debates, I mean, discussions about alcohol and the believer. There were those that said that drinking any amount of alcohol was sinful (and would refuse to take a shot of Vick’s Nyquil if the doctor told them to) and others that believed that drinking in moderation was okay. Both groups believed that it was sinful to drink to get drunk. So, to stir the pot a bit with the anti-Nyquil crowd I asked this question: What would you do if you were visiting a church with your family in tow and it happened to be the week they served communion. You pick up the little cup raise it to your lips and it turned out to be wine (the alcoholic kind...)?

I have heard all the Biblical-based arguments on both sides of this issue. I grew up in an alcohol-free home and always believed that all alcohol was bad until I heard someone say something to a group of high schoolers that got me curious to see what the Bible actually said. Here is I found:
  • There is no outright command.
  • The closest thing we have to a command is that priest were specifically forbidden  to drink alcohol while in service (Lev. 10:9-10). The Old Testament priest was a type of a New Testament believer. But there was nothing said about when the priest was not in service. Apparently, he could drink after work.
  • And then there is Paul addressing the issue of the Lord’s supper with the Corinthian Church. According to 1 Cor. 11:20-22, during the Lord’s supper, some people were getting full with the bread while some were going hungry. And some were getting drunk. If there was any place in the entire Bible there would be a prohibition against all alcohol consumption, it would be here. But Paul doesn’t say they shouldn’t drink, he says they should do it at home (v. 22).

The Lord’s table that we partake of today has two elements, the bread and the wine. In the tabernacle, the table of shewbread held loaves of bread, and vessels for wine. The bread was to be ‘before the Lord’ at all times and once a week the bread was taken and broken and consumed by the priests. The priests were to eat the bread but not drink the wine. So why were there vessels for wine if no one could consume it? The vessels held wine for the drink offering.

The drink offering was to be offered with most of the other Levitical offerings. Each of the Levitical offerings were pictures of Christ and four of the five required the shedding of blood. The blood of the animals had to be drained, or poured out, at the altar.

The drink offering was wine or strong wine (i.e., contained alcohol). When the drink offering was offered, it was to be poured out entirely, on the floor of the Holy place at the same time offerings were being offered on the altar of burnt offering (Numbers 28:7 and others). As the sacrificial animal blood was being poured out at the altar, the drink offering was being poured out in the Holy place. The drink offering was, if you will, for God’s consumption. God and God alone got to partake of the drink offering of alcoholic wine.

Wine, in the Bible represents joy (no matter what those other voices have been telling you). Wine in the drink offering was for the Father. The priest got something out of the other offerings which looked forward to Christ’s suffering and death but priests were not to take any part of the joy of Christ’s suffering and dying. The joy was the Father’s and the Father’s alone.

Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath subjected him to suffering. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see a seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. - Isa. 53:10.

The cross changed everything. After the cross, believers can partake of the joy of Christ suffering and death. In Mark 14:24 Jesus refers to the cup as representing His shed blood, a new covenant, or new testament. Under the new covenant we get to drink the wine and share in the joy that before the cross was reserved for the Father.

So, if you belong to one of those churches where all alcohol is evil and you visit a church and they the cup comes around and you raise it to your lips and it is not the diluted Welches grape juice you expected, don’t spit it out and grab your family and leave in the middle of the service (like one of the responders to my post said he would do). Relax. Drink. and remember the joy in Jesus’s suffering is now being shared with you.

"...Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." -- Neh. 8:10 RSV

No comments:

Post a Comment