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Meditation 17*

Too Much Wine

Some... made fun of them and said,
“They have had too much wine.”
Acts 2:13

The deep fissure that entered human life already in Paradise can unfortunately not be healed as long as the Maranatha has not been fulfilled. Then, yes, when the Lord, who presently has His palace in Heaven and rules the world from there, returns on the clouds as the glorious King, and shows us His last act of grace by leaving Heaven and descend to this earth for the second time, then shall this terrible fissure come to its end, but not before that.

Then Paradise returns, and more than Paradise! Then the angels will not only sing “Peace on earth” to us as a prayer and as the beginning of fulfillment, but then there will be eternal peace on earth, never again a disrupted peace. This will be an endless rule of tender love under the sovereignty of the Prince of Peace, the heavenly Solomon! All the earth one city of peace, one immeasurable Jerusalem!

But we’re not there yet. The time is not yet ripe. When people try to establish such a regime of peace at this point, then that fissure is not really healed so much as merely covered up. When people are fooled into imagining that this eternal peace on earth has already been found, then the Lord God metes out terrible punishment for pushing aside His ordinances. Such efforts are nothing but attempts to take the work of establishing peace out of the hands of the King of Glory and implies a declaration that the return of the Lord is not necessary. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us” (Isaiah 26:12). This statement constitutes the prophetic song of praise with which the Church needs to await her Bridegroom. Woe unto us if we imagine that the establishment of this eternal peace requires anything less than His return on the clouds. That peace will not come before that!

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“Full of wine!” Do you hear in that burst of guffaw and mockery not a further tearing at that same fissure, but now on Pentecost?

The languishing human heart thirsts for a new life dynamic. Everything in you seeks a stimulus that will deliver you from the tepid and tired feeling of depression. You feel tingling in your blood, but in reality there is nothing but arid inertia. That’s why the human heart calls with a variety of voices for holier and higher zeal.

But you see, in His grace, the Compassionate One has already supplied you with such stimulus and enthusiasm. Long ago, a liberated people already sang the song of the redeemed on the shores of the Red Sea jubilantly! Waves of praise escaped from emotions of overwhelming gratitude (Exodus 15). That song of praise at the Red Sea was the resounding praise that accompanied Israel on all its pathways. God’s protection served as walls and ramparts to provide safety. The desert blossomed and roses spread their fragrance throughout the wilderness.

However, after the Red Sea, the highest, the most important event still tarried. It also tarried after the Bethlehem manger. After all, the glory of the angel choir in the fields of Ephrata faded at Gethsemane and comparatively disappeared at Golgotha.

But now with Pentecost it comes. Finally, finally the Spirit of the Father and of the Son Himself descends. Rich, mild and in an overwhelming cascade He flows out over the entire flock of the Lord. And now, there we have it, that most blessed stimulus. The most glorious dynamic has sprung into action in a language that spatters with fire and radiates a sparkling glow. There stand those Galilean fishermen, ready to proclaim the manifold praise of God in the Jerusalem temple! And what is the impression that most people in the city gain from this? Only that these Galileans had drunk too much strong wine! They are talking like drunks!

This was sin against the Holy Spirit!

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Appalling! And yet so natural! Think of it, that crowd in Jerusalem needed stimulus, animation and refreshment to overcome their tiredness just as much as you and, in fact, most people. That is the result of sin and thus holds true for everyone. But what is about the only thing that stimulates the people, whether in Jerusalem or in our own country? The answer is something that has always been there, is now and shall remain till the Lord’s return, namely wine and strong drink.

Wine has indeed the power of lifting up one’s spirit. God created the grapevine. The purpose and effect of wine is indeed to strengthen depressed powers and to animate tired spirits. And so, it should not surprise us that this crowd in Jerusalem, that itself had never known any other kind of stimulation and had never seen people’s mood elevated except through the effect of wine, would assume the same to be the case with the Apostles. Thus they called out, “You’re drunk!”

It is exactly this kind of reaction that reveals our deep sin and the depth to which we have sunk. Left to ourselves without higher light, we attribute the highest operation of the Spirit of grace to the operation of the spirit of satan! Only grace, divine mercy, protects us from such behavior.

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That’s the situation here. Wine can indeed strengthen and is a stimulant given by God (Proverbs 31:6) for the sad of heart, so that in his anguish he does not become prey to hopelessness. Nevertheless, there is also a devilish power that hides in wine. Wine has its boundaries. If you allow it to prickle you just enough for a moment, it will strengthen and animate you. But you go beyond that boundary just a bit and it won’t take long before it de-animates instead of animating you, and will release the demon residing deep in your blood and spirit that was under restraint only by your self-consciousness. That is why all drinks that stimulate are extremely dangerous. These drinks, as long as you use them to warm and get yourself a lift, are a precious fire, but they can also singe and scald you and burn you with terrible wounds. They can destroy you as soon as you go just a little beyond the boundary.

Drunkenness is from the devil; it is satan’s satyr 11   A sylvan character in Greek mythology having certain characteristics of a horse and goat, noted for riotousness and lasciviousness. that sneaks into the human soul and life. A person who is not animated, elevated and resounding with praise to the Lord, is poisoned in his innermost, made senseless and has become a slave to evil passion. That crowd in Jerusalem now equates that satanic, that terrible demonic that causes an explosion of evil within us, with the work of the Holy Spirit! Oh, what a sour and bitter fruit of evil!

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Marvelous! The human race is offered two stimulants. God created the grapevine to ease exhaustion of the body and, out of pure grace, gave us the Holy Spirit to relieve spiritual exhaustion and spiritual death.

Our evil heart says, “The prickle of the wine is enough!” and lets it stimulate our soul through the blood. Thus both soul and body are poisoned. But the Spirit wants it the other way around. He offers you stimulation of the soul, lifts you up out of your spiritual exhaustion and enervates you spiritually, while He simultaneously enervates your weakened physical prowess and provides support for your whole being.

But now these two work against each other. On the one side there is the unregenerate (not born again) world that seeks its excitement in the visible and can therefore not understand the Spirit. On the other side, there is the flock of the Lord that, saturated with the streams of the Spirit, despises those unholy stimulants. Thus, from both sides there arises tension between them, stronger stimulation, more powerful pushes, but both from completely opposite sources. That small flock animated by the Holy Spirit; that large crowd, by a torrent of indulgence and fun. They must collide. The only impression the world can leave with God’s children is that everything in it is all about its state of drunken stupor. The same with God’s child; as soon as he meets the world he can only leave them with the impression of being drunk. Hence their scornful, “You are full of wine!”

Provided the child of God has an intimate relationship with Him, the above situation produces in the believer a terribly fearful feeling of tenderness and compassion, while the child of the world, when he meets a Christian, can only react with scornful laughter of mockery and contempt. You need to be able to bear that scorn and laughter. You may not try to avoid it by following a different route. You even need to desire that laughter for Jesus’ sake. You must counter that scorn and laughter by calling out and announcing ever louder the great deeds of God.


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