Wednesday 19 December 2018

Bible Book:

‘He must never drink wine or strong drink.’ (v 16)

Luke 1:5-25 Wednesday 19 December 2018

Psalm: Psalm 71 


Clearly our society has some serious problems with alcohol, but this was not the real issue behind these words. By not drinking alcohol, John would engage in prophetic action or protest against a sophisticated society that had turned away from God. Prophetic action is powerful; many will remember John Sentamu’s protest against Robert Mugabe, in the form of removing his dog collar and then reinstating it on The Andrew Marr Show in November 2017 after Mugabe left office.

In the Old Testament some groups such as the Rechabites saw wine as a symbol of Israel’s desertion of God. They looked back to the time in the wilderness when there was no vine or pomegranate and saw this as a time of loyalty to God. When the people moved into Canaan there were so many temptations and the vine and its fruits was sometimes seen as symbolising the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel. John, in the wilderness, would later call his people to repent of their selfishness and abuse of power. They should turn back to God and live faithfully as his people; not drinking alcohol was a pointer towards this message.

John’s abstinence from strong drink would be understood as a sign of his devotion to God. For some in our society, abstinence sends the same message. It is not easy to be sure whether this or alcohol in moderation only is the best Christian approach. Sometimes Christians are seen as killjoys and, while the Bible has many passages opposing drunkenness, there is not a universal message for being teetotal and even positive verses about the benefits of alcohol. Christian loyalty to God should affect our lifestyles and alcohol is just one small part of this. In the season of Advent, alcohol abuse and linked crimes such as domestic violence increase. Christians have the opportunity to live positive lives, supported by God’s grace, that give a better message than those who would suggest you need alcohol to celebrate and ignore its negatives.


To Ponder:

  •  In what ways we can engage in prophetic action?
  • Consider how your life and actions regarding alcohol speak about your faith?
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