Nehemiah: Baruch The Zealous Builder

Have you ever gone into a high school and read the plaques on the wall that gave the names of the graduating class of the year 19-so-and-so? Unless you know the people, it can get tedious and mundane to read through the whole list. If something about that list doesn’t grab your attention, you can lose interest real fast.

Reading chapter 3 of the book of Nehemiah can feel like that at first glance. The whole chapter is a who’s who list of named individuals and groups of people that went to work on the Wall of Jerusalem. If you’re not careful, you can miss some small but important details.

One of the names on that list stood out to me…

Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai ZEALOUSLY repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest.–Nehemiah 3:20

This guy Baruch stands out because he is the only one in the whole book with the distinction of “zealously” repairing the Wall at Jerusalem. The fact that he stands out in such a peculiar and unmistakable fashion causes me to want to investigate this conspicuous person.

He repaired “zealously”. Does this mean he worked faster and harder? Does it mean he worked better? Does it mean that he “whistled while he worked”? Did he work long hours? What does zealous mean in this setting?

The Hebrew word for zealously in this instance is charah, and it means that “he burned”. Did he forget to wear sunscreen? Nah. This word is used 90 times in the Old Testament, and much to my amazement it is ALWAYS used in relation to ANGER!

I couldn’t believe it! Here are a couple examples of this type of “zeal”.

Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.–God speaking to Moses in Exodus 32:10

But on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry!–Genesis 4:5. This zeal led to the first murder.

So what about the zeal of Baruch? Did he bust his thumb and holler out in anger a lot? Was he cussing out his fellow workers? Did he get mad and throw his tools around like they were golf clubs into the lake? I just don’t think so.

Nehemiah writes about Baruch in such a way as to give him notoriety and honor. In contrast, Nehemiah was not at all hesitant in pointing out negative behavior. Look at what he said about the nobles of Tekoa:

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors–Neh. 3:5.

Those proud, lazy rascals! Maybe their laziness got Baruch all “fired up”. Nehemiah’s account shows he observed that Baruch’s work ethic was in stark contrast to the nobles of Tekoa. Nehemiah was pointing that out and putting it down on the record. I see nothing negative in what Nehemiah wrote about Baruch.

I’m gonna say that Nehemiah called Baruch “zealous” because he saw how he worked with much energized focus and great vigor. I believe Baruch attacked the work with the fire and energy of someone who looked angry. In other words he pounded, sawed, and laid stones with the fury of a madman. He poured himself into the work, and gave it everything he had.

The John Trapp Bible Commentary theorizes about Baruch’s zeal saying, “A ready heart makes riddance of God’s work. He burst out in a heat (so the Heb.), being angry both at himself and others that had done no more (Neh.3:5); and, in a holy fume, finished quickly, kindling himself from other men’s coldness, and quickening himself from their slothfulness”

Okay, so Nehemiah sees a guy working on this wall and says he’s zealous. So why are we making a big deal out of this? It’s just one verse! What’s the point? Just in case I’m not getting the point across, let’s look at this from one more angle.

We have to step back and take a look at the big picture to understand the magnitude of this assessment. In his day, Nehemiah worked for the most powerful ruler in the world. Nehemiah worked among the best of the best. Nehemiah was at the top of his game as well. There were no slouches in the court of the Emperor. Whether it was entertainers, artists, builders, decorators, architects, horseman, or goldsmiths, Nehemiah witnessed the work of the cream of the crop. Nehemiah knew what the very best looked like. He knew quality, he knew effort, and he knew great craftsmen. As a result, Nehemiah was not a man to go around throwing out frivolous compliments concerning the workmanship or the work ethic of a person. He is not easily impressed. This wasn’t just any wall, this wall was the largest construction project ever accomplished by any biblical author. Nehemiah was no ordinary man. He was a blunt man of excellence who got straight to the point. The fact that Nehemiah gave this exiled man a compliment is truly amazing. But that is only part of the story.

Now, everyone that actually worked on the wall worked very hard:

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

This was a dedicated corps of people. Yet, among this hard-working group of people, Baruch was the ONLY individual to ever receive a compliment from the great Nehemiah for his work on the wall. Now Nehemiah eventually complimented two other men for their character, but Nehemiah never compliments another man for his labor. Baruch stands alone in the eyes of a man who has been among the very best. That is an outstanding achievement.

The question now becomes this: What can we learn from Baruch and apply to our lives? What factors motivated Baruch to have more zeal than others? I do not believe that God is in the habit of giving us a challenge without providing a path of discovery. Let’s investigate! Continue reading

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Nehemiah Blows The Lid Off Faith!

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. –James 1:6-7

Nehemiah was a man of faith. However, his story blows the lid off what many believe about faith. In light of the verse above, how does a depressed, sad, droopy-faced, negative-confessing, fearful man receive such bountiful favor from the Lord???

When Nehemiah got the news about the ruinous condition of Jerusalem, he was initially devastated. But it didn’t stop there. Nehemiah went on to say that For some days I mourned.

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How long did he mourn ? His great sorrow began in the month of Kislev and continued through the month of Nisan. After four intense months of effectual fervent prayer, how was this man of unrelenting faith behaving? What did this history-changer look like right before his prayers were answered? He was looking and behaving just like he did four months earlier. He was a very heartsick, droopy-faced man…

The king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”I was very much afraid.” Another version says, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression. I was overwhelmed with fear.” Nehemiah confesses his lengthy sorrow and says, Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

In his 1880 Homiletical Commentary On The Book Of Nehemiah, W.H. Booth said that during the four month period from Kislev to Nisan, Nehemiah’s “sorrow increased rather than diminished”.

Some of you may be alarmed and thinking, “But Brother Dan, Nehemiah is not matching up with THE WAY WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT of how a “man of faith” should behave and look!

  1. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s emotions are not lining up with faith. If he really had faith that God would come through for him, then why is he still so depressed? Wouldn’t this be a sign of a double-minded man? Aren’t fear and prevailing sadness signs of doubt?
  2. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s behavior was not lining up with faith. He wasn’t practicing the “faith walk” with his head held high, a song on his lips, and a smile of victorious faith. We’ve been taught that real faith will show up on your face! As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he! Brother Dan, he must have had what faith teachers call “stinking thinking” because Nehemiah was looking down in the dumps!. Didn’t he know that all things work together for the good?
  3. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s speech was not lining up with faith. He wasn’t “speaking faith” by calling those things which are not as though they were. Nehemiah didn’t confess victory but confessed his own despair. He also seemed focused on how bad Jerusalem was, instead of declaring what it could be. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Brother Dan, death and life are in the power of the tongue. Nehemiah is feeling bad because he obviously hasn’t been confessing victorious faith and his face shows it.
  4. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s reflection was not lining up with faith. If he had real faith, he would have reflected perfect peace for those whose mind is stayed on the Lord, because they trust in you instead of looking so pitiful.
  5. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s confession of fear does not line up with faith. If he had such great faith, then why is he so afraid? We’re taught that you can’t possibly have faith and have fear!
  6. Brother Dan, Nehemiah’s hopeless despondence does not line up with faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Nehemiah’s heart was filled with sadness, not hope!

He was looking downcast, afraid, having a heart filled with sadness, confessing sorrow, and still thinking about the ruins. Nehemiah just doesn’t fit the mold of many current faith teachings. Yet, God answered his prayers and granted his requests with much favor. Why? Because during those four long months, Nehemiah operated in sound, biblical faith and never lost it. By faith, Nehemiah built the largest structure by a biblical author.By faith, Nehemiah helped lead a national revival. He was a man of faith.

Nehemiah has blown the lid off of many of our hardcore beliefs about what faith is supposed to look like. So let’s allow Nehemiah to show us how he defined and operated in biblical faith. Continue reading

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Nehemiah Suffers With Delayed Prayer

After hearing about the condition of Jerusalem, how bad did Nehemiah feel?

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

I personally believe that scriptures like this are just not meant to be read and glossed over! They were written in such a way to challenge you to think, unpack,  and find a way to emotionally relate to the whole picture. Nehemiah’s packing a LOT into one sentence.

The scriptures say that he sat down and wept. What is that telling you and me? He didn’t simply dust off a chair, straighten out his robes, sit erect in a chair, and hold a hanky to dab his tears. No! Brother Nehemiah didn’t have the will to stand anymore. I believe he just sank down and wept hard. The language suggests that he rarely got up during those days. Can you see it in your mind? Can you relate to it?

I remember the morning my niece walked into the room after hearing that her 16-yr. old brother had been killed by a car. She faced me and collapsed forward into my arms and slinked down to the ground. She just sat there and wept. It was heartbreaking. That’s what I see Nehemiah doing. This sinking of his soul went on for days.

He was in deep mourning. He didn’t even eat. He fasted and prayed. When we read his prayer, we see his heart was broken, contrite and overwhelmed with an awareness of his own guilt and sin. He was also struck with the guilt of  his family. His heart was suffering with a heavy weight. He cried out to God.

Out of this grief came an outstanding prayer that moved heaven and changed history. This prayer was answered in every way except for ONE very obvious exception. What was it?

Give your servant SUCCESS TODAY by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.–Neheniah 1:11b

Nehemiah prayed for success to be fulfilled TODAY! Again, the key phrase is SUCCESS TODAY. When Nehemiah asked God to do it today, he wasn’t asking for a process to begin. He was asking for  INSTANT SUCCESS and instant favor to PROSPER NOW. The Hebrew Bible specifies hay-yō-wm meaning “this day”. Again, Nehemiah was looking for a miracle RIGHT THEN.

Maybe Nehemiah was hoping the king would come running right in, and begin exclaiming how he had experienced a vivid dream telling him to send Nehemiah back to Jerusalem with all the supplies he needed to build a wall! But it didn’t happen that way. The clock struck, the sun came and went, and the king never showed up. Nehemiah did not experience success today, the next day, the next week, or the next month. That part of his prayer didn’t happen. Not only did he not experience “success today”, the scriptures show that after he prayed, the burden of sorrow was not lifted from him. Wow. He had to wait and wonder if his prayer was heard at all.

What does the very next verse say? In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes. Paraphrased that says, “four months later”. In other words, the two verses put together tell us that Nehemiah prayed that success would happen today, but it didn’t occur until four months later.

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Why did God delay Nehemiah’s prayer? Peter Osagie in his book The Way To Glory Land says that Nehemiah “asked God to grant his request immediately. It is not clear why God did not answer him immediately. Four months later, God answered his prayer.” According to the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, “The reasons for so long a delay cannot be ascertained”. Frankly, I believe that there is a reason and it is staring us in the face as we read Nehemiah. Nehemiah provides the clues and we just have to connect the dots. What I will say is that something needed to be completed first. We will do that in a later post on Nehemiah’s Faith. Like Nehemiah’s prayer, you’ll just have to wait.

Nehemiah suffered the effects of delayed prayer. You don’t think he did??? AFTER FOUR MONTHS OF WAITING, Nehemiah confesses to us that he was still sad. After having prayed, it was taxing to still be burdened with something you can do nothing about. The burden never lifted and it wore on Nehemiah. His sadness is showing to the point that the king says, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart. What do the scriptures say about this emotional condition? Proverbs 13:12 tells us that Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Another translation says, Delayed hope makes the heart sick”. This great saint of faith suffered from delayed hope. Some well-meaning preachers will tell us that we haven’t prayed enough because we are still carrying the burden. They’ll say  that you’ve got to give it to the Lord and let it go. Maybe that’s true in some cases, but try telling that to Nehemiah.

Is it possible that we have some unbalanced teaching concerning faith? Some teach that people of faith should just get up, start smiling, and start acting like they’ve got the victory. Some preachers will tell you that “real faith” will show up on your face and will change your feelings. You’ve been taught by certain preachers that this is what faith looks like. Did Nehemiah lack faith? NO. Continue reading

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Nehemiah’s Favorite Name For God

Jesus was asked to give instructions on how we should pray. What is the first instruction on the list? The first instruction He wanted to emblazon in our heads and hearts was this: Pray by saying, “Our Father”. But, He didn’t stop there. The next words were “who is in heaven”.

One of the disciples of Jesus said to Him, “Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven“–Luke 11:1-2

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Matt 6:9

I used to think that the phrase “who is in heaven” wasn’t really pertinent or important, but was simply added by Jesus as a description of God used to differentiate Him from an earthly father or another god. After all, the modern NIV and NAS versions of Luke don’t include “which is in heaven”. But since I have studied Nehemiah, I am wondering if Jesus was revealing a vital component to prayer.

Could it be that Jesus was telling us to make a conscious and deliberate effort to link God with heaven when we pray? Is he seriously asking us to recognize heaven along with God, or is it just flowery descriptive language used to adorn God? Why would it be  important that we make a conscious effort to link God with heaven in our prayers? If you are going to pin God to a location, why not go along with the majority of the Old Testament and say “God of Israel” (197 times), or ” God who dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:17 and so many more)? Why did Jesus change the emphasis away from Israel, Zion, the holy hill, Jerusalem, and begin to specify heaven? Could it be valuable for us to call upon God in the context of heaven instead of Zion? Why the big deal about God’s location when you pray? Does this change in location affect our faith? Is there additional power that comes when we consciously recognize the locale of heaven when we pray? Does scripture give us a clue?

Let’s ask Nehemiah. He holds the key. If you will continue to read, Nehemiah will challenge you to consider this in ways that no else will. He holds a place in scripture that belongs to no one else. I guarantee it. Continue reading

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Nehemiah’s Tiny Prayer

Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”–Nehemiah 2:4-5

“So I prayed to the God of heaven”. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “This was a prayer of a remarkable kind. I know it was so because Nehemiah never forgot that he did pray it!”

This had to be a small under-the-breath type of prayer. It may have been a split-second prayer. It occurred between the time that the king asked a question and Nehemiah delivered his answer. You don’t want to keep the king waiting! Some folks call this an “arrow” prayer. You only have enough time to shoot up one arrow.

Why was this tiny prayer included in this story?

  1. To encourage us to always pray, even in short spurts! I love this statement because it gives me great confidence! God values tiny prayers. This passage looks like me. Everytime the phone rings, I deliberately glance upwards. This is my way of asking God to help me with whatever potential situation (good or bad) I’m about to confront. I also say, “Lord have mercy” several times during the day. People may think I’m being funny, but I’m actually praying outloud. It’s not a vain mumble, but a quick burst from the heart.
  2. This type of prayer is a part of that whole “pray without ceasing” command. This is how you do it. Nehemiah is continually keeping an open line of communication with God.
  3. It shows clearly that although Nehemiah was about to receive provision from the King, Nehemiah knows that his provision is ultimately from God. This is why he talks to God first before answering the King. Nehemiah shows what is in his heart by his actions. It may have been a whisper like, “God help me” or “Thank you Lord”.
  4. The walls of Jerusalem were restored one stone at a time, both big and small. BUT, in the spiritual realm, the people of God were restored one prayer at a time, both big and small. Small prayers count! Facebook prayers matter.

What was the result of all of Nehemiah’s prayers?

And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.–Nehemiah 2:8

What can happen when we don’t recognize God in the things provided to us?

And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.–2 Chronicles 16:12-13

So whether your prayers are big or small, God is there to hear them all.

 

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Nehemiah’s Battle With Fear

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid–Nehemiah 2:1-2

 

 

 

 

 

Nehemiah wasn’t just “afraid”. Nehemiah wasn’t just “much afraid”. Nehemiah was VERY-MUCH-AFRAID! This emotional reaction of fear is a clue for us! This statement is packed with background information just waiting to be dug out for the purpose of revealing liberating truth. Let’s investigate!

“I was very much afraid”. Nehemiah was actually terrified, and I believe he was literally afraid for his very life! We will see that both his actions and words towards Artaxerxes had the potential to put his neck on the chopping block.

WHAT CAUSED NEHEMIAH TO BE SO SUDDENLY GRIPPED WITH FEAR?

1) Members of the King’s Court were expected to maintain a cheery disposition in the King’s presence. Anything less was not tolerated. In the Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, he states, “The exactions of Persian monarchs would not endure any independence of conduct in their presence. Everybody was expected to reflect the sunlight of the king’s majesty”. This was a line of conduct that you didn’t want to cross. It could result in a death sentence.

Here’s something even more interesting…

2) Years before, King Artaxerxes had received a letter about Jerusalem saying, you will find that this city is a rebellious city, troublesome to kings and provinces, a place with a long history of sedition. That is why this city was destroyed. 16 We inform the king that if this city is built and its walls are restored, you will be left with nothing in Trans-Euphrates!”–Ezra 4:15-16

What was Artaxerxes response to this letter? Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order!”–Ezra 4:21. Artaxerxes clearly considered Jerusalem to be a rebel enemy (Ezra 4:19). By the order of Artaxerxes, the walls continued to lay in ruin. Therefore, Artaxerxes was responsible for the condition that Nehemiah was grieving over. Nehemiah’s grief could be viewed as being in direct opposition to the King, and seen as the actions of an enemy.

Now back to the story:

So, was Nehemiah now being called out by the King? When the King says, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart”, is he being compassionate? Maybe the King is worried that the wine is tainted and has had a negative effect on Nehemiah? Or is the King making a case that Nehemiah was breaking the rules? If the King was speaking in sympathetic tones, then why would Nehemiah be suddenly sore afraid if the tone was simply compassionate? You have to look at cause-and-effect. Nehemiah was “very much afraid”; so, it makes me wonder if the King was calling him out for looking depressed in his court and wants an answer.

The facts: Nehemiah was caught red-faced disobeying the rules of conduct in the court, and he was about to ask the King to overturn his previous decision about stopping the restoration of the walls. It was a double death sentence! Are you beginning to understand the dire circumstances that Nehemiah was facing? Are you beginning to catch the emotional strain of this situation? Are you beginning to see why he was VERY-MUCH-AFRAID? It may be good to stop reading for a moment and let it sink in.

BEING SORE AFRAID WAS NOT THE END OF THE STORY FOR NEHEMIAH!

Nehemiah was sorely afraid. Do you know what this means? It means that what Nehemiah did next was highly courageous!

“I was very much afraid, BUT I said to the king…”

Nehemiah does something so bold and courageous. I imagine Nehemiah emotionally calculated that he would likely die ( a sound reason for being sorely afraid), but steps out and does the unthinkable. He openly confesses his sorrow in spite of the rules of the court. He doesn’t hide it but decides to be real about his feelings, regardless of the outcome! He states openly that he is sad about the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Everyone knows that Artaxerxes let the walls stay in ruin, and Nehemiah is complaining directly to the King. Nehemiah is now expressing grief over a city that the King had written down as being a rebellious enemy! Please understand that Nehemiah speaks very respectfully, yet assertively. It is one of the gutsiest confrontations in the bible. Without God’s favor upon Nehemiah (which resulted in a trusted relationship with the King), the next words in scripture would probably be, “Off with his head”.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather requires fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of your fear.”– Michael Hyatt

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”–John Wayne

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”–Nelson Mandela

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along”–Eleanor Roosevelt

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”–King David of Israel

What was the direct result of Nehemiah’s courageous act? It lead to unbridled, unhindered, and massive provision. The most powerful man in the world at that time turned to Nehemiah and said these impactful, empowering words: WHAT WOULD YOU REQUEST?

Nehemiah just went from being “very much afraid” to winning the lottery! Nehemiah laid his very life on the line for the people of God in Jerusalem and came away with an abundant outcome. I reminds me of something that Jesus said:

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

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Nehemiah, Wine, And My Sin

I was cupbearer to the King. And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence.–Nehemiah 1:11b-2:1

Nehemiah was the cupbearer and his job required him to swallow enough Persian wine to determine whether or not it was poisoned. It was his tongue that was ultimately responsible to be discerning enough to prevent the king from incurring sickness, death, and to also insure that the King and his party would not receive an inferior or distasteful product. Make no mistake, the wine of the Persian Kings wasn’t watered-down grape juice.

Nehemiah was not a drunkard, but he wasn’t a teetotaler either. Does Nehemiah appear to abhor his job? Does it appear to bother his conscience? Did this prohibit him from leading God’s people? Did it appear to hinder his standing among the Jews? Did it bother God that Nehemiah drank wine? Did God stop Nehemiah from returning to this practice 12 years later?

Nehemiah would not be accepted for a leadership position in many of our churches today. As a young teen, I went to a church that viewed the drinking of any alcoholic beverage as being sinful. As a young man, I attended a church which frowned strongly upon alcoholic beverages. I went to a college and a seminary that forbid any alcoholic beverages. Most of my adult life, I attended churches that continued to follow this pattern. Sermons against those who partook of alcohol were often preached with a sense of disgust, fear, and loathsomeness.

I adopted the position of these institutions, and I developed a negative view towards the Nehemiah’s of God’s Kingdom. We teetotalers often viewed believers who sometimes drank as being “worldly” or prone to being carnal, or somehow less spiritual. We would say things like, “that brother loves the Lord, but he does like to keep beer in the fridge for occasions. Just thought you should know”. This type of religion kept me sober, but it also blinded me from being able to equally embrace the wine-drinking Nehemiah’s that served my God with a free heart.

For some, being a teetotaler is freedom from bondage. To this, I say amen and stick to it. For others like me, being a teetotaler was a sinful attitude. To this, I say woe is me.

One day I met a Southern Baptist pastor who asked me to have a beer with him. I was puzzled! We talked a long time about the scriptures that spoke for/against alcoholic beverages. We talked about scriptures that said do not look upon the wine when it is red, and how wine is a mocker. We talked about whether the wine of the Jews was mostly water, grape juice, or diluted wine. While we were at the bar, he was able to buy a man a drink and fervently witness to him. I was amazed. We prayed in the bar. He was reaching people with the Gospel. He had a discipleship group that met at the bar.

Through this pastor I was able to see other positive scriptures which instruct us to do the following,

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.– Ecclesiastes 9:7

The Psalmist recognized that it is God Himself who gives us a drink specifically designed to gladden the heart and affect the mood:

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.–Psalm 104:14-15

In God’s economy, wine was a blessing of restoration and not a curse:

I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.–Amos 9:14

I could not deny the scriptures. I had to repent from my evil attitude and ways. Self-righteousness is insidious and unable to be seen by the one who possesses it. My religious practice would have caused me to hesitate from freely receiving wedding wine that had miraculously changed from water. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would make an alcoholic beverage that could lead to drunkenness. That’s as stupid as believing that Jesus didn’t multiply bread and fish for fear that people would commit gluttony. Clearly, there was enough food leftover to commit gluttony. I’m sure that some overate. Food and wine are simply amoral agents. We are the abusers.

So how do we reconcile the scriptures which speak against wine with the scriptures which promote wine? We can learn by observing the differences in Samson and Paul concerning hair. Continue reading

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