How is this not promoting the sins of lust and drinking?
KJV - 26 And 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.
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I checked a couple other translations and the original words (using eBible, of course). Lust in the KJV here simply means to desire greatly so it may not be the lust you are thinking about. The strong drink refers to fermented drink. That might be a hangup for some, but fermented drink is not prohibited, generally. Getting drunk is sin but drinking a fermented drink is not sin unless it's hurting a brother or sister (See 1 Cor 6-10). Also, the passage is not promoting the drink but simply saying you have freedom to rejoice in the Lord your God. The old covenant was a shadow of things to come for the Christian. So, maybe a lesson here is that Christians have freedom in Christ and we are not tied down by a bunch of do's and don'ts. We can avoid the legalism of the Pharisee. However, our behavior is constrained by love for others. If what I do causes someone to sin, then we shouldn't do it. And, we are accountable to God for our behavior.
Context is always key. If you back up just a few verses, you'll see that the verse in question is just one portion of a broader discourse regarding tithes: 22 "You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23 And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25 then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26 and spend the money for whatever you desire - oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you." In this passage, God is giving specific instructions regarding parameters for proper tithing. Personally, I find this passage very interesting because the practice of tithing here seems to center around thanksgiving and celebration rather than simply writing a check and placing it in the offering bucket when it passes by. The specific orders here are for the people to partake of their tithe before God at an appointed location with an attitude of gratefulness. The reason for the instructions in verse 26 to "buy strong drink and whatever your heart desires" is to ease the burden for those who would have to travel a long distance with their tithe to enjoy these items at the specified location. God, in His mercy and kindness, offers an alternate solution to those who would have to transport large amounts of grain and/or dozens of animals a long distance in order to partake of the prescribed celebrations: He tells those who fall into this category to exchange their grain, animals, and any other tithe items for money, to go to the specified place of celebration, and to buy what they desire in order to celebrate the goodness of God. This passage really has nothing to do with promoting lust, drunkenness or gluttony. Rather, it offers instructions to those who desire to obey God in the practice of celebrating the tithe.
Deuteronomy 14:26 never say that is okay to drink alcoholic beverages. Rather, is addressing tithing and how to transport offerings when traveling long distances. Moses was recommending they carry money with them rather than to haul the offerings of beasts, grain, and wine long distances. When they arrived they were to purchase whatever they needed for offerings. The animal sacrifices could be eaten but they were commanded to pour the drink offerings on the ground. “And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering” (Numbers 28:7). Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 14:26, the phrase “strong drink” is translated from the word "shekar." Shekar is condemned by Solomon as a “brawler” (Proverbs 20:1), while Isaiah pronounces a woe upon those who “run after strong drink (shekar)” (Isaiah 5:11). We should also note that priests and Nazarites were not allowed to consume “strong drink” (Leviticus 10:9-11; Numbers 6:2-4; Judges 13:3-5). It is very unlikely that God so clearly would condemn the use of “strong drink” in one place in the Bible, and yet approve of it in another. Like the word yayin, (“wine”), shekar is a generic term that could refer to either an alcoholic beverage, as noted above, or to a sweet, unfermented drink as is indicated in Isaiah 24:9. Shekar is also defined by the The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia as: “Sweet Wine or Syrup. Shechar, luscious, saccharin drink or sweet syrup, especially sugar or honey of dates or of the palm-tree” or “Date or Palm Wine in its fresh and unfermented state.” In fact, “sugar” and “cider” are derivatives from shekar. Therefore, since shekar could mean either a sweet unfermented drink or an intoxicating drink, we must interpret the word according to the context of the verse. Would God encourage the use of tithe money to purchase a beverage that causes intoxication, addiction, health problems and diminishing of moral capacities? The only reasonable conclusion is that this verse is referring to the sweet palm-wine beverage in its fresh and unfermented state.
Having been set free from the law, we really have a lot of freedom. But just because we are free to be able to do something, doesn't mean it's really something we should do as Christ followers. And sometimes it can be contextual. If I choose to have a beer in front of my brother struggling with alcoholism, that's probably not a very loving thing to do (for example). When we try to blend the burden of the Law with our new life in Christ, we tend to lose. Galatians is a good read on that. And I like to look at I John as well, because it's my handbook to the cults. Want to have a drink? There's no restriction. Want to drink to drunkenness, you may find you're living by the wrong spirit (hope you got my pun there).
Yes, it's crystal clear that from this verse and others in the Bible that fermented drink was permissible as far as the diet of the Israelis. But don't forget the Bible's warning vs. Drunkenness (Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18). Also, "moderation in all things" is a Biblical principle. So, although it is not a sin to drink alcohol, there are dangers. I know: both of my parents got carried away with it. "Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink [some or at least 1 version has "beer" here] arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1 NKJV). Note the underlined and emboldened key phrase. This is 1 of several passages in Proverbs that warn against "alcohol abuse." The drinker gets drunk and then becomes a brawler. While abstinence from alcohol is not commanded of everyone, my position on social drinking is that abstaining from it personally guarantees me that I will be avoiding the pitfalls of alcohol abuse.
This passage is the is the only passage that I have studied where God does not call drinking fermented wine and strong drink (v. 26) unwise. The best explanation that I have seen is that if the Israelite that could not eat the tithe offering in where God appointed, they had to buy a mature version of their offering with the money earned from selling the offering to signify they could not offer the first fruits for whatever reason. So if the Israelite was going to offer a lamb, he would have to purchase a mature sheep; or originally planning to offer new wine (unfermented) he would have to purchase mature wine (fermented), etc. And eat unto the LORD. It is a very interesting passage.
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