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Month 6:29, Week 4:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:177 AM
TESHUVAH 29/39, 2Exodus 1/40
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 23 September 2014
Teshuvah 29
Alcohol, Discipleship & Character

    Continued from Part 28


    Shabbah shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua (Jesus Christ) be with you all on this last sabbath of the sixth month, the 29th day of teshuvah (repentance) and on the eve of Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets or Shouting. I hope those of you who were expecting the second part of the sermon I gave last sabbath today will forgive me for postponing it but I have received a clear instruction to talk to you about another subject today.

    The Mitzvah on Alcohol

    Our passage of study today is from the 10th chapter of the book of Leviticus, beginning at verse 8:

      "Then Yahweh spoke to Aaron, saying: 'Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Yahweh has spoken to them by the hand of Moses'" (Lev.10:8-11, NKJV).

    The Aaronic Priesthood and Strange Fire

    This was a instruction given by Yahweh to the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood for service in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle, you will recall, was the place where Yahweh manifested Himself to His appointed servants, the place of the most intimate kind of communion between man and His Elohim (God) and in particular between Elohim (God) and His intercessors, which is a function of the cohenim (priests). Under the former or 'old' B'rit (Covenant) the office of cohen (priest), along with access to the Temple, was restricted to a family line who were properly prepared. Earlier on in the same chapter Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, had "offered profane fire before Yahweh" (v.1), which is to say that they had performed a religious devotion that Yahweh had not commanded. The result of open disobedience was that "fire went out from Yahweh and devoured them, and they died before Yahweh" (v.2).

    How to Approach Elohim

    The atheistic heart is appalled by such an execution because it envisions Elohim (God) in human terms - imperfect and flawed. We would never, of course, except in a totalitarian society promoting myths about the infallibility or divine right of kings, as has sadly and not infrequently happened occurred in our own flawned human history, tolerate such behaviour, and it is certainly most offensive to modern liberal sesnsitivities. However, Elohim (God), the Creator, is not man, and just as it is foolish of a man to think he can lay his hand on a red hot stove without being burned, so it is foolish to suppose that a man can approach Yahweh without being adequately prepared. Yahweh gives His reason for the death of Aaron's two sons:

      "'By those who come near Me
      I must be regarded as qadosh (holy);
      And before all the people
      I must be glorified'"
      (Lev.10:3, NKJV).

    Arrogant or Loving Demands?

    This is not because our Maker is arrogant anymore than we would accuse the guardians of a hot stove of being arrogant because he disregarded the plain instruction to treat it with respect. A hot stove is what it is and only a stupid and rebellious person, adequately forewarned and instructed, goes ahead and puts his hand on it anyway. That's why modern cookers have child guards on them to prevent infants from injuring themselves. These are the guards around the mitzvot (commandments) which are for our protection, and they are there for no other reason.

    Aaron Holding His Peace

    Scripture records that "Aaron held his peace" (v.3b), not meaning that he was not devastated by the loss of his two boys, bur rather he understood that he had no complaint against Yahweh and that his sons, being disobedient in spite of being properly instructed, has chosen to disregard that instruction and invent their own religion. So quite early on we learn the critical importance of not following our own hearts in the pursuit of our relationship with Elohim (God), but rather to learn obedience or suffer the consequences. It is naïve and foolish to suppose that Yahweh is going to bend Cosmic Law, by which the whole of creation is held together, in order to appease some fallen human being's impulse to do things his way instead of Yahweh's. The liberal mind may think this is of no consequence but we are here served notice of the terrible consequences of disregarding Yahweh's own Torah (Law).

    Bewail the Burning

    Not only did Aaron hold his peace but Yahweh gave an instruction that reveals His true heart:

      "And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons (who removed the dead bodies), 'Do not unwind the turbans on your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Yahweh has kindled. You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of Yahweh is upon you.' And they did according to the word of Moses" (Lev.10:6-7, NKJV adapted).

    Yahweh Takes No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked

    Yahweh wanted the people to know that Yahweh was not insensitive to the deaths of Aaron's two sons - Yahweh never takes pleasure in the death of the wicked. As He spoke through His navi (prophet) Ezekiel:

      "'As surely as I live', declares Yahweh-Elohim, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezek 33:11, NIV).

    Every Word of Yahweh is Sure

    Yahweh cannot change the rules to suit our liberal sensitivities because to do so would mean his unthroning. Why? Because it would give Satan an occasion to accuse Him of breaking His own sacred Torah, which thing He cannot do. He would, in effect. have to deny Himself and that would result in the unravelling of the whole universe. Yahweh's Davar (Word) is binding in more ways than one, just as ours ought to be, which is why He has said:

      "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
      It shall not return to Me void,
      But it shall accomplish what I please,
      And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it"
      (Isa.55:11, NKJV).

    Trusting in the Word of Yah

    And even if Satan had not been there to accuse Him, how could we ever trust an Elohim (God) whose Davar (Word) was not reliable? How could we ever trust His promises to us, especially when we go through darkness, trial and tribulation? He cannot altar His laws and He cannot go back on His Davar (Word). That said, you have to understand that when it comes to Yahweh being forced to execute judgment on the wicked that it gives Him no pleasure whatsoever. And when Aaron's sons died, He commanded:

      "Let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Yahweh has kindled!"

    Maintaining Family Order and Discipline

    The word "bewail" translates the Hebrew bakah which means to weep and bemoan - this was a painful thing for Yahweh to do, and He hated it! Every parent has to learn this lesson in order to be trustworthy, maintain authority and order, and to earn respect - that there must be consequences to breaking family rules or else these is an immeasurable loss in so many things. It weakens a father's toqef or authority first and foremost. Yahweh is a strict disciplinatian BUT He is also full of ahavah (love) and compassion. It is only when fathers lack the ahavah (love) and compassion that brutality results. As in so many Besorah (Gospel) principles there are important balances to be learned, and one of them is learning how to balance justice with mercy.

    Submitting to Divine Tavnith

    The House of Israel bewailed the death of Nadab and Abibu, not because Yahweh was trying to kindle an unholy terror in them as a tyrant might, but because He wanted them to understand His true nature and to imitate it. But because this is so unlike what is taught today in humanist circles, adjusting to Yahweh's ways from a secular or pagan one can be very challenging as we learn to both trust and submit to divine tavnith (pattern).


    Which brings me to the subject of today's teaching, alcohol. It was necessary that you have this background, which is the context on the revelation on alcohol, so that you are under no delusions as to why this mitzvot (commandment) is important. Let's read that passage again and hopefully this time you will understand it with greater clarity:

      "Then Yahweh spoke to Aaron, saying: 'Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Yahweh has spoken to them by the hand of Moses'" (Lev.10:8-11, NKJV).

    Who Must Abstain?

    The first thing we observe is that failure on the part of the priesthood to abstain from alcohol while serving in the Tabernacle means the death penalty. This is no small thing! This does not apply to everyone but only those who fail to abstain from the consumption of alcohol who:

    • 1. Are cohenim (priests) who are
    • 2. On duty in the Taberbnacle/Temple

    Three Main Reasions for Abstention

    Please note that this statute or rule is le-olam-va-ed or forever "throughout your generations". It wasn't just for one occasion, or for the next few, or indeed for a particular dispensation only. It was for always. But why is being alcohol-free so important for these particular ministers? The reasons that are given for total alcohol abstention are most important as you consider what it is the cohenim (priests) are called to do in their service. Let us look carefully at the three reasons given:

    • 1. "That you may distinguish between holy and unholy";
    • 2. "That you may distinguish between...unclean and clean"; and
    • 3. "That you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Yahweh has spoken to them by the hand of Moses"

    Distinguishing and Descerning

    The first two reasons are that we maintain the ability to "distinguish", the word we use to translate the Hebrew badal which literally means to 'divide asunder' or 'separate'. The ability to discern between right and wrong, between true and false, between moral and immoral, between Yahweh and Satan, between the Ruach (Spirit) and the flesh, is the greatest challenge human beings face since this is a core of what it is to make teshuvah (repent). How can we make teshuvah (repent) if we cannot distinguish between these two opposites? Specifically, Yahweh says that a cohen (priest) must be able to distinguish between that which is qadosh (holy, set-apart) and that which is not; and between that which is unclean and that which is clean. Moreover, what man regards as qadosh and that which is unqadosh, and between that which is clean and unclean, is not what Yahweh regards as so.


    Thus another reason for being alcohol-free is the third reason given, namely, that the cohenim (priests) teach all of Yahweh's statutes. If he is to do that, he must not modify them to suit his own sense of 'religion' or 'righteousness', for our religion is of the flesh, and our own righteousness is too. Alcohol blurs the boundaries, lowers good inhibitions that cause us to maintain a proper guard over the mitzvot (commandments). For in the Hebrew mindset, obedience to Torah is also guarding or protecting it, as Aaron's two sons ought to have done, but did not, and paid the dearly for their disobedience.


    Christians and Messianics alike by and large ignore this mitzvot (commandment) today. They quote the many passages of Scripture in the Tanakh (Old Testament), and a few in the New, in which believers under both covenants are recorded as freely drinking alcohol. And it is perfectly true, believers who were not cohenim (preists) on duty in the Tabernacle or Temple were permitted to drink alcohol in moderation. The Scriptures abound with admonitions not to over-drink but nowhere do they say you cannot drink alcohol unless you are a minister on duty in the Taberbacle/Temple. The rationalisation goes that since the Old Covenant has been abolished, along with the Aaronic Priesthood and the Temple, that this statute is either no longer binding or that it is inapplicable until the Third Temple is rebuilt along with a functioning Priesthood.

    Problems With Modern Thinking

    There are several problem with this kind of thinking:

    • 1. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes if perfectly clear that the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, along with its ordinances, has fully and completely passed away and has been replaced by the restored Melchizedek Priesthood in its New Covenant setting;
    • 2. Since the original statute given through Moses is applicable "throughout your generations", that means it technically still applies to the descendants of Aaron. Thus many of those whose last name is 'Cohen', as well as many others who are of that Sephardic bloodline, are still technically bound by that oath and covenant not to drink alcohol during temple services; and
    • 3. Those Messianics who believe that the New Covenant is a 'Renewed' [Old] Covenant are likewise bound to continue observing this statute.

    Under the Royal Melchizedek Priesthood

    However, the former Priesthood with its Covenant is, as Paul taught, abolished because we are now under the Royal [Messianic] Melchizedek Priesthood of which it is written:

      "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a qadosh (holy, set-apart) nation, a people belonging to Elohim (God), that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9, NIV).

    All True Believers are Royal Priesthood

    What this means is that everyone who accepts King Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master, who is Himself after the Order of Melchizedek (meaning the 'King of Righteousness') and is born again, and who becomes a citizen of Messianic Israel by entering his covenants at Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') to obey New Covenant Torah, becomes a member of the Royal Melchizedek Priesthood. The whole nation consists of cohenim (priests)! But what do modern Christians and Messianics do? We read in the verse before:

      "They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for" (1 Peter 2:8, NIV).


      "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of Elohim (God); once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:10, NIV).

    The New Covenant Temple

    Everyone who believes in Messiah, has been born-again of the Ruach (Spirit) and assents to obey Torah is a Royal Melchizedek Priest or Priestess. But what of the Tabernacle or Temple? Since there is none, then surely the statute to not drink alcohol is not applicable, for it only concerns those on duty therein? However, that concerned only the [Old] Covenant that has passed away. What, today, is the Tabernacle or Temple? The apostle Paul tells us what it is:

      "Don't you know that you yourselves are Elohim's (God's) temple and that the Ruach Elohim (God's Spirit) lives in you? If anyone destroys Elohim's (God's) temple, Elohim (God) will destroy him; for Elohim (God's) temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1 Cor.3:16-17, NIV).

    We are All on Permanent Temple Duty

    You - all of you who have taken Bar- or Bat-mitzvah are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, day and night - are cohenim (priests) on permanent duty in the Temple of Yahweh-Elohim - you can't exactly not be without forfeiting your life or astrally-projecting! It's your physial body which is qodesh (set-apart, holy), so qodesh (holy, set-apart) that Yahweh says anyone who destroys it (murders you) will himself be destroyed (executed) in accordance with the Torah mitzvah (commandment), just as Aaron's two rebellious sons were, which will give no pleasure to Yahweh. Indeed, is this not evidence that the moral and ethical mitzvot (commandments) of Torah are still in effect today? The death penalty is still effectual for murderers.

    The Christian/Messianic Record

    Thus the mitzvah (commandment) that Aaron and his sons be alcohol-free in the temple in all generations is now transferred to all of us who believe and are Torah-obedient since we are all witnesses, we are all ministers, 24/7. We are to be totally alcohol-free so that we can be clear-headed, able to distinguish betweem emet (truth) and falsehood, so that we can distinguish between clean and unclean, and so that we can teach Yahweh's statutes. How many Christians and Messianics, in just this example, are able to distinguish or discern? How many of them are teetotal? How many of them even know what the difference is between clean and unclean is in the New Covenant? Most Christians don't, for example, attempt to distinguish between clean and unclean foods [1] or between clean and unclean sex in marriage? How many Christian men observe the Niddah law and abstain from sex during a wife's menstruation? And though Messianics tend to be better at this than most Christians, they are often the most promiscuous when it comes to alcohol. And the penalty for that, when they are administering the Besorah - teaching, evangelising, witnessing - is death! They are cut-off, separated from Yahweh. It is a part of Yahweh's Cosmic Law. Are we offended? Do we object? Then we are no different from Aaron's sons and have not made proper teshuvah (repented) and have not only violated the Shavu'ot Covenant but cannot enter the Sukkot Covenant either. SO QUIT ALCOHOL NOW!

    Testimony of the Rechabites

    There were, in Old Covenant times, a group of Israelites who were not cohenim (priests) and did not therefore serve in the Tabernacle or Temple, who entered a b'rit (covenant) never to drink alcohol and whom Yahweh hugely blessed. They were a prophetic type of the New Covenant believer. Decades ago I was led by the Ruach (Spirit) to enter this covenant with Yahweh, long before I knew about Torah, and have never drunk a drop of alcohol, and been enormously blessed as a result. I believe it has in large measure enabled me to discern and teach. We're going to read that account now so that you can understand why the Covenant of Rechab has always been a part of this ministry and why is it integrated to the New Covenant. Let's now read the 25th chapter of the Book of Jeremiah together:

      "The davar (word) which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, 'Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of Yahweh, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.' Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of Yahweh, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of Elohim (God), which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, 'Drink wine.' But they said, 'We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, 'You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.' Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, 'Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.' So we dwell at Jerusalem.'

      "Then came the Davar Yahweh (Word of the LORD) to Jeremiah, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the Elohim (God) of Israel: 'Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 'Will you not receive instruction to obey My devarim (words)?' says Yahweh. The devarim (words) of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father's mitzvah (commandment). But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me. I have also sent to you all My servants the nevi'im (prophets), rising up early and sending them, saying, 'Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers.' But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me. Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the mitzvah (commandment) of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me.'' Therefore thus says Yahweh-Elohim of hosts, the Elohim (God) of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered'. And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, 'Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the Elohim (God) of Israel: 'Because you have obeyed the mitzvahcommandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts, the Elohim (God) of Israel: 'Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever''" (Jer.35:1-18, NKJV).

    Yahweh Keeps His Word

    What a blessing! What a promise! - to be of such character as to be always standing before Yahweh le-olam-va-ed (forever). Yahweh keeps His Davar (Word) with those who keep emunah (faith). We can rely on that.


    May Yahweh bless you all with sobriety of body and spirit:

      "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Ruach (Spirit)" (Eph.5:18, NIV).

    Continued in Part 30


    [1] See Kosher

    Further Reading

    [1] Many articles on our Alcohol page

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