Is drinking alcohol a sin?
The very short and simple answer is: drinking alcohol is a sin. However, this fact is overshadowed by a number of Bible verses that are being misinterpreted and misjudged. The Bible shows the fact clearly with a few examples, one with the Rechabites, and another found in Leviticus chapter 10. God praises the Rechabites who drink no wine; and they were actually following the law of Moses. This what we'll elaborate here. There's no conflicting statements in the Bible about the facts.
Just like Jerome (d.420 AD) has instructed:
As Christ's spouse avoid wine as you would avoid poison. Wine is the first weapon that devils use in attacking the young.
Drinking wine is a sin
Alcohol has divided opinions usually among the hypocrites and other fellows with very little or no understanding of the matter in the light of the Bible. Let's find out what the Bible says! Jesus Christ fulfilled the law but yet didn't follow its literal meaning: He didn't stone people to death and declared all food clean (thus including swine meat). The law is spiritual, meaning it's also hidden. One might read some parts of the Mosaic law and take it all literally. Even in the old testament, taking it all literally doesn't seem to be the way to go. The Rechabites is a perfect example about drinking, even in small amounts. The following verses are quotes from Jeremiah chapter 35, according to KJV translation. The verse 19 is also quoted from NIV.
5 And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.
6 But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:
7 Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.
18 And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:
19 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
19 Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.” (NIV)
Rechabites obeyed God, not just Jonadab
Do you think the Rechabites were just blindly obeying their forefather Jonadab? With the promise from God, one should understand that Jonadab was a man in true faith and that what they were doing was according to the God's word. Wait a minute - not building houses? Not sowing seed? Is there something wrong with that? Are we not allowed to build houses? Could that be the word of our almighty God! Yes indeed! There's nothing wrong for you or me to build houses nor there's nothing wrong for me and you to have a field. But for the Rechabites it was commanded for not to have such things. Why? Because they were strangers in a foreign country. They were descendants of Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses. Thus, they were no real Israelites but strangers in a foreign country. They had no land where to build a house nor place to sow seed. In like manner, you don't build houses on somebody else's land, do you? Do you sow seed on somebody else's land? I doubt it! Similarly Abraham, as a stranger on a foreign land, dwelt in tents:
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (Heb.11:9)
Let's find out that the Rechabites were indeed strangers on the promised land:
55 And the families of the scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab. (1.Chr.2:55)
16 And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people. (Judges.1)
18 When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt; (Exodus.18)
The Rechabites - prefiguring the elect, didn't drink wine
Why didn't the Rechabites drink wine? What was the wine on the table? It was the wine that had alcohol in it. It's the wine as we know it. The Rechabites obeyed and still obey the word of God. They may build houses and sow seeds in the fields - in case they no longer live in the Promised land. In that sense, there's no problem for them to build houses today - and I would guess they no longer live in the Promised land. Read one more time: "that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers." (Jer.35:9) - the Promised land! But they don't drink any wine - or any drinks containing such amounts of alcohol that would make you drunk. This is the greatest secret about the Rechabites. True Christians understand the same as did (and still do) the Rechabites - via the Holy Spirit.
Obedience to man-made religious rules isn't from God
For you see, there's no conflict at all - whereas the Rechabites obeyed Jonadab they were also obeying the Lord. Man-made rules don't have the same value as God's rules declared in His law. In fact, they often counteract and conflict especially in the religious domain. Following of plain man-made rules isn't represented in a good light:
13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (KJV: Is.29:13)
The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. (NIV: Is.29:13)
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (KJV)
The law simply denounces strong drinks
Remember that every Christian is a priest (1.Peter.2:9). The tent of meeting is figuratively the Christ's church scattered here on earth (See Hebr.9 and 10). It's the faith that unites the true Christians. Thus, understand that the Christians stay figuratively always in the tent of meeting; so this is what we get:
8 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying,
9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
Yes - that's a spiritual death on anyone getting intentionally drunk. True Christians stay always, 24/7 in the spiritual place called 'holy' located in the tent of meeting, also known as the tabernacle. They don't keep entering and exiting the tent but instead, they live in it. Thus the law denies drinking of all kinds of fermented drinks that affect one's mood. Take Joshua, the son of Nun, who made it to the promised land with Caleb, as your example:
11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle. (KJV)
...Y’hoshua the son of Nun, never left the inside of the tent. (CJB)
How is it possible that Joshua never left the tent as it was disassembled when they started moving? It was the spiritual tent he never departed from! Moreover, it's commanded that no believer shall go out from the tabernacle (tent of meeting):
7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses. (Lev.10:7)
This is the law (Leviticus.10) the Rechabites obeyed and are still obeying. They based their knowledge on their forefather who was a true believer. Why wouldn't you do the same? For you see the Mosaic law brings near the promised land (the kingdom of God) but gospel brings in from the border. Joshua was a figure of what the law couldn't do. Joshua led the people into the promised land. Law declares what's sinful - while gospel cleans from all the sin.
Posted January the 8th, 2018. biblenanalyses.com texts are all public domain free for all to copy and utilize.