Deuteronomy 14:26 – The Christian and his liquor

There is a problem with using Deuteronomy 14:23-26 as a justification for the use of alcohol. Without even going into the various words for wine that would indicate whether they are grape juice, fermented grape juice, vines, or even how juice comes out of a wine press, there is a higher standard that we should examine.

Deut 14:23-26
23And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
25Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
26And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

It appears that strong drink is endorsed by God. But, so also was divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1

Deut 24:1
1When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Jesus indicated that the only reason for the bill of divorcement was not that it had God’s approval or even permission. It was only because of the hardness of their hearts.

Matt 19:7-8
7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Deuteronomy 14:6 should be used just as strongly to permit alcohol as Deuteronomy 24:1 to permit divorce. A weak verse should not be used to overpower a strong verse. A loophole can easily become a noose instead.

The weight of many strong verses should be considered first. In this case, this is the exception that proves the rule: exceptions are excepted because of exceptional circumstances, which proves that the rule still stands.

Prov 20:1
1Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Prov 23:31-32
31Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
32At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Hos 4:11
11Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Mic 2:11
11If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Amos 2:12
12But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.

Hab 2:15
15Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

In Proverbs 31:4-7 there is a use of alcohol as a palliative, but it is for those who about to die or by some similar dire circumstance. This palliative use is set in stark contrast to its condemnation for those who are ruling in life. From the typical Hebrew poetical style of comparison and contrast, we are to have the understanding that there is no sense of instruction for the gradation of permission for alcohol. Being of heavy heart is associated with perishing, and both are in contrast to the ideal situation of a king. The use of alcohol as a palliative in dire circumstances does not give license to the recreational or casual use of alcohol or any other drug.

Prov 31:4-7
4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
5Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
6Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
7Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Alcohol is spoken of as a problem regularly in the Old Testament. However, there is a special prohibition for alcohol for Nazarites, Priests, and Kings.

Ezek 44:21
21Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.

Lev 10:9
9Do 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:

Luke 1:13-15
13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Prov 31:4
4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

Isa 28:7
7But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

1Pet 2:5-9
5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

We are a royal priesthood. As kings and priests we should not touch alcohol. We must keep in mind that being under grace is more demanding, not more permissive! Divorce, taking people to law, multiple wives, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, were all accommodated under the law. Christians must live by a higher, more original, standard.

Acts 17:30-31
30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Our elders set the example of sobriety for us to follow.

Titus 1:7
7For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

1Tim 3:1-3
1This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1Tim 3:8
8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

For a pastor, the words given to wine are from one word made up of two parts para, beside or near, and oinos, wine. His life is to be marked by sobriety.

For a deacon, the word given is different, indicating being under the power of. It is not that he should be avoiding too much wine. The word too is not there. The quanitity of wine is not in question. The power of wine is what is significant here. In fact, the word likewise makes the comportment of deacons the same as the pastors. They are not to be near wine and then further more, they should not have an addiction problem. They are to be pursuing sobriety.

To suggest that not being addicted to wine permits some use of it makes as much sense to say that someone could use some heroin or some other depressant as long as he was not addicted to it.

We are not condemned by the law any longer. We are free from the penalty of the law. However, we are not to use that fact as a occasion to give in to the flesh.

Gal 5:13-14
13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Is it loving to provide an addictive substance to your neighbour? Don’t use your liberty as an opportunity for the flesh to be brought under the influence of alcohol.

Don’t do your part to keep the use of alcohol common in our society. We must do our part to not treat alcohol as something normal knowing that as a norm it is so destructive. We must even abstain even from all appearance of evil.

1Thess 5:20-23
20Despise not prophesyings.
21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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15 Responses to Deuteronomy 14:26 – The Christian and his liquor

  1. Pingback: New post in Pastor’s blog on Alcohol «

  2. Michael Heath says:

    Pastor,
    The word liquor in older translations (Tyndale, Bishop’s Bible and Wycliffe) show the word moist instead of liquor. Strong’s concordance also notes liquor means tears (figuratively juice). I don’t believe it refers to strong drink, at all.

    LORD Bless

    • Alan says:

      I’m sorry but you need to check the Bible again. God wasn’t referring to tears regarding the scripture Deut. 14:26.

      • Paul Zeron says:

        I think you might be missing Michael Heath’s point here. I think he is trying to just bring out a suggested connotation from the etymology of the word for liquor.

  3. Jerry says:

    While I do agree with the Pastor’s sentiments here, I believe the portion regarding 1 Timothy 3:8 is in gross error. The Greek for the term “given to wine’ is identical in both verse 3:3 and 3:8 and is the only two times the word paroynos is used. The addition of the word ‘much’ is the ‘too’ that was claimed to be missing but is in fact there. An exploration of the Greek will point that out.

    • Paul Zeron says:

      The word for given in verse 8 that I am looking at in the Textus Receptus is προσεχοντας (prosechontas), in verse 3 it is παροινον (paroinon). In verse 8 πολλω (pollo) is used to indicate much; this should be compared to 1 Pet 4:3 where “too much” is indicated by οινοφλυγιαις (oinophlugiais), “excess of wine.”

      Thank you for your input. Other private comments had trouble with the word “too” also. What I find amazing is that this post has more hits than anything else I have written. I have not tried to have the most thorough discussion of alcohol but it looks like this is a hot topic for Christians. I try to limit myself to analysis of Scripture to provide some kind of commentary, but I will be thinking about dealing with the topic of alcohol as a post on my “peeves.”

  4. I’ve yet to read of anyone even considering the possibility that moderation was expected when intoxicating drinks were in use.

  5. Wayne mcardle says:

    Hmm so let us assume you are correct about strong drink, would you please now go back to deauteronomy 14:26 and explain what it does mean.

    • Paul Zeron says:

      Sorry, this blog entry was more about faulty reasoning by those who want to ignore the bulk of the Scriptures concerning the use of alcohol. Reading Bible Wines should help with that.

      However, the etymology of “strong drink” should be looked at. The word shekar for “strong drink” is the basis for “sugar” in its historical eastern context even down to our English word sugar. Whereas wine is a reference to a grape product, strong drink is the juice that comes from other sources. Just as wine is a generic word for anything from the fruit of the vine and is equally used for fermented wine as unfermented, the same will be true of strong drink.

      Look at Numbers 6:3-4

      Num 6:3-4
      3He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.4All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.

      Here wine and strong drink, unprocessed, are turned into vinegar by fermentation that introduces oxygen in the process. Someone might argue that vinegar is made from alcoholic wine and that wine and strong drink are referring to alcohol. However, looking at the context, grape juice and other sugary drinks are not mentioned at all — unless, of course, wine and strong drink are the juice form.

  6. SHEKHAR: unfermented sweet cider, or else fermented. Certain types of shekhar (sakar) were permitted amongst the Arabs, and other types of it were not, because of alcohol. The breadth of meaning is apparent throughout the Vulgate and NKJV translations.
    See:
    http://www.nodrinking.com/deuteronomy-14-26-shekhar-meaning-sweet-drink-or-strong-drink-bible/

    “it is unjustifiable to claim that shekar must essentially be an intoxicating drink.”
    Stephen M. Reynolds, 2003, The Biblical Approach to Alcohol, p. 31.

  7. Pingback: The Christian and Their Liquor | Independentbaptist.com

  8. Pingback: God Hates Alcohol! | Truth Seeking

  9. Pingback: New post in Pastor’s blog on Alcohol |

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