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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Nation of Israel > God's Use of Wine


God’s use of wine in His dealings with the nation of Israel has three dimensions: the gift of wine because of obedience; the withholding of wine because of disobedience; and the blessing of wine after repentance.

God’s gives wine to the nation as a result of obedience! After giving the Law to the new nation that arose during the forty years of wandering, Moses tells the people that if they listen to God’s laws and obey them God will “bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine (tirosh), and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock” (Deut. 7:13). Further, if the people obey God’s commandments then He will “give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine (tirosh), and your oil” (Deut. 11:13-14).

The wise man adds: “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the firstfruits of all your increase, so you barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats overflow with new wine (tirosh)” (Prov. 3:9-10). Blessings follow obedience, and continual blessings follow continual obedience.

God withholds the wine because of disobedience! If the nation did not obey the voice of the Lord, Moses said, then “you shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine (yayin) nor gather grapes; for the worms shall eat them” (Deut. 28:15, 39). In the same chapter he told them that if the nation did not serve the Lord (v. 47), then their enemies (v. 48) would “eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine (tirosh) or oil” (v. 51).

To be without grain, wine, and oil was to be under God’s judgment and the object of His disfavor. And according to Zephaniah, punishment would mean that “they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine (yayin)” (1:13). Through Micah God declares that you shall “make sweet wine (tirosh), but not drink (yayin) (6:15). God declares through Hosea: “I shall return and take away . . . My new wine (tirosh) in its season” (2:9). Note that God speaks of the wine as “My” wine; He continues: “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees” (v. 12). Turning from God resulted in the removal of the vine and its wine by God.

God gives wine after repentance! In Joel 2 God tells the nation of Israel to turn to Him with fasting, weeping, and mourning, rending hearts and not garments (vs. 12-13). If this is done then perhaps God will “leave a blessing behind Him—a grain offering and a drink offering (v. 14). The blessing follows the rending; after repentance is restoration of the wine.

The prophet continues: “The Lord will answer and say to His people, ’Behold, I will send you grain and new wine (tirosh) and oil, and you will be satisfied by them; I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations’” (v. 19). God predicts that the people will be “satisfied” with the new wine that He will send to them. In light of this revealing statement, how can knowledgeable believers who are committed to the text affirm abstinence as the Biblical teaching?

God will also cause the threshing floors to be full of wheat, and “the vats shall overflow with new wine (tirosh) and oil” (Joel 2:24). After judgment God will “speak comfort” to Israel and “will give her her vineyards,” and “she shall sing” (Hos. 2:14-15); in fact, she will sing “as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (v. 15).

I shall return and take away My grain in its time
and My new wine in its season,
and will take back My wool and My linen, given to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall deliver her from My hand . . .
and I will destroy her vines and her fig trees.
Hosea 2:9-10, 12
(Note that God speaks of the wine as “My” wine)

The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
and you will be satisfied by them;
I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.”
Joel 2:19
(The people will be “satisfied” by the wine that God will send)

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