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by Richard Nichols
Republished by permission from the Giving and Sharing web site
Fermented wine, and not grape juice, is to be used for the ordinance of the Christian Passover. This article shows why.
(Editor's Note: The Christian Passover IS NOT the passover which the Jewish people observe on the night of Abib (Nisan) 15, but a completely new, never before observed MEMORIAL begun by Jesus the Christ on Abib 14, the night in which He was betrayed!)
Deuteronomy 32:9-10, 14, "For the LORD's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye . . . . thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape."
How God has blessed us! The greatest blessing is to drink the pure blood of the grape, a symbol of the perfect shed blood of our Savior. That is why at the Christian Passover we symbolically partake of the blood (the life) of the Messiah. We are shown to be the Almighty's inheritance by partaking of the annual Passover. Partaking of our Savior's body and blood at His table is proof we are His.
Many of Israel (Jeshurun) wax fat, forget the Eternal, lack faith, and worship other gods, Deuteronomy 32:15-31. Verses 32-33, "For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps." The result is the Eternal's judgment, verses 34-43.
Genesis 49:10-12, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes; His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk." Shiloh is a type of the Messiah, the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Grapes are Symbolic of the Fruits of Men's Lives
Matthew 7:16, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Luke 6:44-46 shows that the fruits have much to do with what a man says, and whether or not he obeys God.
Revelation 14:14-20, God will reap for His winepress of wrath the "grapes," i.e. the rebellious people, whose lives have produced bitter fruit.
Christ is the Vine, We Are the Fruitful Branches
John 15:1-16, God the Father is the husbandman, Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. Fruit borne on the branches comes from the vine. Pruning is necessary to produce much fruit. Branches die if disconnected from the vine. They will be burned. Producing fruits depends on keeping the Commandments. Lasting fruit is the reason why the husbandman (God) works with the branches.
Christ To Abstain From the Fruit of the Vine -- For a Time
Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18, "For I say unto you I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God shall come."
Why? Because, like the High Priest, He is serving in the Eternal's Temple, Leviticus 10:8-11.
Fermented Wine Represents Shed Blood of Our Savior
Wine was offered along with the daily sacrifice (morning and evening) as a drink offering, Exodus 29:38-40. Also Numbers 15:5, 7, 10, 28:14. (Note: 1 hin = 6 quarts, 1/4 hin would be about l l/2 quarts, or l liter.) Wine was also part of the wavesheaf offering, Leviticus 23:13. Notice the different quantities of wine offered with different animals.
The various offerings show in detail the many aspects of the sacrifice of our Savior. The living wine symbolizes the shed blood of our Savior, giving us the lesson that it was not by His death that we are saved, but by His life, Romans 5:9-10. The life is in the blood. Note: the Hebrew word used for wine in these references is yayin, which elsewhere is proved to be fermented wine.
Wine Is Fermented
Genesis 9:20-21, Noah planted a vineyard, drank of the wine, and was drunken.
Proverbs 20:1, Much wine makes you lose control of your mind; whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 23:20-21, Don't be an alcoholic, for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty.
Proverbs 31:4-5, Kings and those in authority should take special care not to imbibe too much wine lest they forget the law and pervert judgment.
There is a time when wine should be used by those of a heavy heart or who are ready to perish, Proverbs 31:6-7, and those with stomach problems, I Timothy 5:23.
Use of Wine During the Feasts
Wine is an important part of joyful observance of the Eternal's Feasts. Judges 9:13, wine cheers God and Man.
Tithes of wine are to be paid, Deuteronomy 14:22-27. The priest was to receive firstfruits of the wine, Deuteronomy 18:3-5, Exodus 22:29.
Deuteronomy 16:13-15, the Feast of Tabernacles is a time of rejoicing after you have gathered in your corn and wine. Zechariah 9:16-17, 10:7 also shows the use of wine.
We are warned against drinking to excess, Isaiah 5:20-25. Verse 12: "the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Eternal, neither consider the operation of His hands." Because some abuse wine, the Almighty says "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell your solemn assemblies," Amos 5:21. The Eternal doesn't want anything to do with a drunken orgy. To those who "drink bowls of wine," Amos 6:6, He says, "I will turn your feasts into mourning," Amos 8:10.
Wine in the Millennium
Amos 9:13-15 (Living Bible) "The time will come when there will be such abundance of crops, that the harvest time will scarcely end before the farmer starts again to sow another crop, and the terraces of grapes upon the hills of Israel will drip sweet wine! I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild their ruined cities, and live in them again, and they shall plant vineyards and gardens and eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there upon the land that I have given them; they shall not be pulled up again, says the Lord your God." See also Jeremiah 31:12-13.
Wine is the "Fruit of the Vine"
During the Savior's last Passover meal with His disciples, He instituted the New Testament Passover. He took the emblems of "bread" and "the cup" and made them represent His body and shed blood sacrificed for our sins. Contents of "the cup" are called the "fruit of the vine,"Matthew 26:17-30.
From an understanding of the Bible and history, we know that the "bread" was unleavened bread, which is used with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Exodus 12:1-20.
What was the "cup" containing the "fruit of the vine"? Although the laws describing the Old Testament Passover do not mention the commanded use of wine, we have seen how wine is a part of the joyful observance of the Eternal's Feasts. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread are joyful feasts, of which wine is an important part.
All reliable commentators agree that wine with the Passover meal was an established custom as early as Ezra's time. Here is what Peloubet's Bible Dictionary, article "wine," states:
The use of wine at the paschal feast [Passover] was not enjoined by the law, but had become an established custom, at all events in the post-Babylonian [500 BC] period. No unfermented wine is now known in Palestine, and there is no evidence of its use at any time. The fermentation of wine was not at all considered a similar substance to the leaven of bread, and was not at any time prohibited to the Jews[unless they were under a Nazarite vow]. Most probably the simple wines of antiquity were incomparably less deadly than the stupefying and ardent beverages of western nations . . . . A great attempt has been made to prove the wine drunk at the Lord's Supper was unfermented, by and for the sake of the temperance workers of our day and nation. Such attempts are apt to do more harm than good, among those familiar with eastern customs today, or the history of those nations.
At the Passover meal of the Jews, there were 3-4 cups of wine. It was one of these that the Messiah attached special significance to, in making it the symbol of His shed blood.
What Is the Cup of Blessing?
I Corinthians 10:16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? . . . ."
Psalms 116:13, "I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Eternal."
Luke 22:17-18, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God shall come."
Psalms 16:4-5, "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot."
The drink offerings of wine, which represented blood, were poured out on the burnt offering, and burnt along with it, Numbers 15:10, in the Holy Place, Numbers 28:7.
Isaiah 65:8 is closely related to I Corinthians 10:16. Protection is promised to those who drink the cup of blessing. "Thus saith the Eternal, As the new wine [Hebrew: tirosh] is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes that I may not destroy them all." Those who drink this cup of blessing have the Messiah in them and the Holy Spirit of life. They are promised protection and life, for wine represents the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:18.
Is Tirosh Grape Juice?
In a futile effort to prove that grape juice is to be used with the New Testament Passover, some have said that tirosh means grape juice, not fermented wine.
Yayin is the common Biblical Hebrew word for wine, used 138 times, of which 83 references positively are referring to fermented grape juice and the remainder may fairly be presumed to be likewise.
Shekar is used 23 times, and means "strong drink" made from substances other than grapes. It is more potent than grape wine.
Tirosh is used 38 times, and is translated either "wine" or "new wine." It is used in Judges 9:13 as cheering the heart of God and man. Psalms 104:15 states that "wine [yayin] maketh glad the heart of man." See also Zechariah 9:17, " . . . corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids." So tirosh does the same thing as yayin. Too much of it does the same as yayin, it intoxicates, Hosea 4:11, "wine [yayin] and new wine [tirosh] take away the understanding," (RSV). "New wine," is the wine that has fermented and been separated from the dregs, freshly bottled. Through further aging it becomes yayin. Some commentators say tirosh is the fermented product of the "must," the juice from the wine press that flows out by the weight of the grapes, before treading. Tirosh cheers the heart!
So the tirosh of Isaiah 65:8, the new wine of the cup of blessing, is intoxicating. We have shown this from the Bible.
Symbol of Unity, Holy Spirit, Sacrifice
In addition to typifying the shed blood of our Savior, the cup we drink symbolizes our sharing of His suffering and sacrifice. It is the means whereby we express our attachment to the Savior and to our fellow believers. It shows our union with Him and each other, because it represents the shed blood that makes this all possible, I Corinthians 10:16.
The Apostle Paul exhorted us to be a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1-2. He wrote that he was poured out like a drink offering for the sacrifice and service that he gladly performed for the brethren, Philippians 2:17. Toward the end of his life, he said that he was ready to be poured out like a drink offering, II Timothy 4:6. He was willing to sacrifice his whole being for the cause of the Messiah.
We are to do likewise. The Savior "poured out his soul unto death," Isaiah 53:12. He is our drink offering, our burnt offering, our Passover Lamb. Just as the wine was poured over sacrifices, and covered them, so the Holy Spirit (of which wine is a type, Ephesians 5:18) is bestowed upon those who have their sins covered by the blood of our Savior. Could the symbolism be any more powerful? Wine, pure fermented wine representing the living blood of the Messiah, is the "fruit of the vine." That is what Deuteronomy 32:14 means in the literal Hebrew, "of the blood of the grape, you shall drink wine." The word for "wine" here is chemer, or chamar regarded by Jewish scholars as equivalent with tirosh. It is the same word used in Daniel 5:1, 2, 4, 23 for the liquid drunk at Belshazzar's feast. Also the same word is used in Ezra 6:9 as part of the appointment of the priests, associated with the offerings.
A Last Argument Falls
One of the most powerful arguments given in support of the use of grape juice for the Memorial Supper (New Testament Passover) is the use of Leviticus 10:9, "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: . . . ." The priest, in performing service in the tabernacle, was not to drink wine (yayin) or strong drink (shekar). This principle is certainly valid today. An elder or minister, when delivering a sermon or study, or counseling people in spiritual matters, is not to consume alcoholic beverages.
However, some would extend this prohibition to the partaking of the cup of the fruit of the vine at the Memorial Supper. They say we are standing in the presence of the Eternal doing a religious service and should therefore use grape juice and not wine.
What do the scriptures say? Our Savior, in drinking that last cup before His death, said that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom comes, Luke 22:17-18. Why? Because He was to ascend to Heaven to be our High Priest, Hebrews 4:14. Leviticus 10:9 says that a priest, when officiating, cannot drink wine nor strong drink. So, until His return, our Savior will not drink wine. This absolutely proves that the Last Supper did have fermented wine, and not grape juice. Otherwise our Savior's statement in Luke 22:17-18 in not true. Rather than being a powerful argument in favor of grape juice, Leviticus 10:9 with our Messiah's own words proves wine is the proper emblem for the annual commemoration of His death.
The Cup of Wrath
There is the cup of blessing containing the blood of the grape, and there is an evil cup of the wine of fornication.
Babylon has a golden evil cup, and all nations are drunken with the "wine" of her false doctrines, Jeremiah 51:7, Revelation 17:1-4, 18:6. If we worship this beastly system, taking its mark, we shall drink the wine of the wrath of the Almighty, poured out with fury from "the cup of his indignation," Revelation 14:8-10. This evil city and it's system will fall, being given "the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath," Revelation 16:19.
What about us? Will we "drink of the wrath of the Almighty," Job 21:20, or the "wine of astonishment," Psalms 60:3, or the "cup of his fury," or "cup of trembling," Isaiah 51:17-23, or the "wine cup of this fury," Jeremiah 25:15-31? The wicked shall drink of this cup, Psalms 75:8, 11:6, Obadiah 15-16.
What will it be, the cup of wrath, or the cup of blessing? Let us drink the pure blood of the grape, in commemorating the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior.
Let us use fermented grape wine for the annual New Testament Passover, as the Bible clearly commands.
Proverbs 20:1 tells us that "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Some, even in the church, have had problems in the past with alcoholism, becoming addicted to alcoholic beverages. The physical and mental addiction to alcohol is a mighty strong temptation. If, through the help of the Almighty, one has overcome alcohol addiction, normally he must abstain completely from alcohol or he could lapse into his former habit. For a former addict, even one drink could possibly drag him back into alcoholism.
Should a former alcoholic be required to take fermented grape wine for the Christian Passover service? The Creator is more powerful than the most enslaving addiction.
According to the former alcoholic's faith should it be. If he has the faith, the Eternal can give him the strength to take the little wine for Passover, and not return to alcoholic addition. If he does not have the faith, he should consult the ministry, who in compassion should make available a non-alcoholic alternative. This in no way is a compromise with God's Truth. The ministry should help build up the members' faith, not destroy it! It is a shame that some Sabbath-keeping ministers have actually promoted alcoholism, by putting pressure on former alcoholics to drink wine. This should not be done.
However, this consideration should not lead us to create a "multiple choice" Passover service, with wine and grape juice regularly available as the members so desire. If one does not have a problem with alcoholism, there is no other valid consideration, since the Bible is abundantly clear that God intends us to use wine for Passover.