Why The Wine?

Why The Wine?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Noah plants a grape vineyard (Gen. 9). 

He makes wine. 

He gets drunk. 

When did he plant the vineyard? 

It wasn’t before the destruction of the world. There’s no time for vineyard planting when you’re focused on the end. 

He didn’t get drunk while on board the ark, either. There’s no time to get drunk when you’re well aware that God is literally keeping you afloat! He could hear God’s power in the storm and see it all around him in the form of water when he peers out of the window of the ark. 

He planted the vineyard after the rain stopped, the water levels lowered, and when there was dry ground to plant on. 

Why the wine? 

While scripture doesn’t give us an exact reason we can use some reasoning. Maybe he drank his fill in order to forget or deal with the traumatic event that he just survived. Maybe the reality of the situation finally set in and the ordeal had finally caught up with him. 

Perhaps he drank the wine to simply distract himself. It could be that in his mind he had fulfilled his purpose and accomplished his mission. What else was there to do? Lastly, maybe he became drunk to celebrate the fact that he and his family survived what nobody else did. All of these reasons are possible and even understandable. But none of these excuses were acceptable or pleasing to his Savior. 

Trouble seems to come knocking when we lose our sense of purpose and mission. I think Noah would agree that we’re more easily distractible when we believe we have the time to be distracted. Noah’s real purpose in life was not to build an ark. It was to live righteously, as he was doing just that before God even approached him. A righteous man listens to God and speaks on behalf of God as Noah did when he built the ark and preached to the world around him. His mission wasn’t over when the ark landed in the mountains. According to Genesis 9.28, Noah had 350 years of life remaining after the flood. His celebration and relief, like ours, is promised to be waiting for us after our lives on earth are completed. Noah still had a mission and purpose, but he had just forgotten what that was. Let’s learn from him and be mindful of why we’re here— to live within the grace of God (Gen. 6.8). 

Dispiriting Truths About Spirits

Dispiriting Truths About Spirits

Neal Pollard

In one of those statistics so massive that it is hard to comprehend, Gallup reports that 187 billion liters (there are 33.8 ounces in a liter) of beer are drunk across the world each year. There are 24 billion liters of wine drunk globally each year. The U.S. ranks second in beer consumption and first in wine consumption, with no reports of hard liquor even included in this report (Andrew Soergel, US News, 10/2/14). Not only is alcohol a common feature at holiday parties and family events this time of year, it is woven into the fabric of just about every event you can think of in society.

The Washington Post relates that 33 million Americans are problem drinkers, which amounts to 14 percent of our population. Almost 69 million Americans report that they had been problem drinkers at some point in their lives, while 40 percent said they had engaged in binge drinking at least once in the past year (via Associate Press, 6/8/15).  Whereas we can so often get caught up in debates about social drinking, we may be ignoring the fact that a sizable number of Christians—whether new converts or longtime members—struggle with serious problems with alcohol. This is startling, given the Bible’s clear teaching and warning about drunkenness (cf. Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3).

The Bible warns us about at least four clarion facts regarding alcohol:

  • Alcohol can be addicting (1 Tim. 3:3,8; Titus 1:7).
  • Alcohol can be enslaving (Titus 2:3).
  • Alcohol can make one reckless (Eph. 5:18).
  • Alcohol can be costly (Prov. 23:29-35).

It seems wise to think about these sober warnings God communicates to us through Scripture. There should be a vigilance, in view of eternity, about a substance that not only can but endlessly has done so much harm to individuals, their families, and society. May we wake up to the problems alcohol is already causing in too many homes, including the homes of those trying to live the Christian life. May we help each other to overcome any obstacle that bars the way to heaven. Nothing here is valuable enough to sacrifice what awaits us there.

COMIC-CON’s Courageous Conquerors

COMIC-CON’s Courageous Conquerors

Neal Pollard

Since 1970, San Diego has been home to a Comic Book convention that has grown to international renown and is patronized by over 100,000 people per year.  This is where your comic book aficionados, sci-fi fans, and the like congregate to celebrate imaginary heroes from the entertainment world.  From Spider Man to Spock, these fictional characters are honored by attendees who dress, act, and talk like them.  It matters little if the patrons are 5’6″ and 300 pounds.  It’s a place and time to pretend.

This year, three stuntmen promoting an upcoming movie heard the screams of onlookers as a drunk, jilted woman had climbed outside the railing of the balcony of her fourteenth story apartment.  In her inebriated, distraught state, she intended to take her life.  The stuntmen sprang into action, scaling a fence and then racing up to her apartment, before stealthily racing out to stop her from what seemed to be an imminent jump.  They had been trained for lifesaving operations, but they typically used those skills for entertaining moviegoers (via http://www.abcnews.com).

When I heard about this, I thought about the wonderful opportunities you and I have, week after week, to assemble and study God’s Word together.  Added to that, hopefully, is daily time spent by each of us in the Bible in personal devotion.  While this time and effort is meant to spiritually strengthen and protect us, it is also training for the work we have to do as Christians.  If we are not intentional, however, we can find ourselves in some ways resembling New Testament Christians without doing the heroic things they did.  Or, we can undergo that continuous spiritual training without putting it into practical use to save those who relatively soon will head into eternity.  God needs us mustering the courage and conviction to put what we know into practice in order to save those in desperate need of rescue.  What will we do this week to reach out and help someone in need of Jesus?  Doing nothing, as a matter of practice, makes us, at best, pretenders.  Seeking to save the lost makes us heroes on an unparalleled magnitude!  May we so strive.