Old Testament Priests Forbidden Under the Law


Leviticus 10:8 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying,

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: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:

10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;

11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.


Wisdom Warns Against Drinking


Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Also Hosea 4:11.)

Proverbs 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh.

29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.


Kings and Princes Forbidden


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


Woe Pronounced Against Drunkenness and Enabling Drunkenness


Isaiah 5:11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night till wine inflame them!

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


New Testament Warnings Against Drunkenness


Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

I Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (Also Galatians 5:21 and I Thessalonians 5:7.)

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Also Romans 13:13-14.)

Titus 1:7 For 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;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate.


MEMORY VERSE: All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. —I Corinthians 6:12


CENTRAL THOUGHT: The Bible contains many serious warnings against drunkenness, many instances of the effects and consequences of drinking alcohol, sound principles enjoining self-control and caution concerning taking liberties which give occasion to the flesh or which cause a brother to stumble.




Leviticus 10:9 and Proverbs 20:1 “Wine”: From an unused root meaning to effervesce; fermented juice of grapes. “Strong drink”: The word (shēchār) is the general name of intoxicating drinks, whether made of wheat, barley, millet, apples, dates (palm), honey, or other fruits (besides grapes).

Proverbs 20:1 “Is deceived”: errs, or staggers or reels (Revised Version).

Proverbs 23:30 “Mixed wine”: “Not wine mixed with water, as used commonly by temperate people in hot countries; but either mixed with spices, to make it more palatable, or with different sorts of wine, some very strong, and more heady and intoxicating (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible). (In today’s society, it would be called a cocktail.)

Luke 21:34 “Overcharged”: Be made heavy; weighed down; burdened or pressed down. “Surfeiting”: Drunken nausea; headache. “Excessive eating and drinking, so as to oppress the body; indulgence in the pleasures of the table. This word does not include ‘intoxication,’ but merely indulgence in food and drink, though the food and drink should be in themselves lawful” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). “Drunkenness”: intoxication. This word also occurs in Romans 13:13 and Galatians 5:21.

Titus 1:7 “Given to wine”: staying near wine; one who sits long at his wine; addicted.

I Corinthians 6:12 “All things are not expedient”: all things are not profitable. “It is a maxim of Christian liberty, which does not refer to matters which are absolutely wrong, and that even in its application to indifferent matters it must be limited, and guarded by other Christian principles” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).




It is an interesting study—the history of drinking alcohol and its relationship with religion; especially as it has to do with Christianity and its teachings from the time of the early church. In the Bible we can trace winemaking clear from the time of Noah. In Chinese ancient history, fermented beverages were an important part in religious life and ceremonies and in traditional medicine for thousands of years and in all segments of society. Evidences of alcoholic beverages can be found in historical records from ancient Egypt and other African nations, Babylon, and pre-Hispanic Mexico. Around the time of Christ, wine was part of the everyday diet of the Greeks and Romans, who generally drank it diluted in varying strengths— one part wine and one part water, to one part wine and four parts water.

By the Middle Ages, beer, often of very low strength, was part of the everyday European diet of all classes and ages of people. In the developing Americas, the native civilizations had developed alcohol by this time.

In many-to-most of these civilizations, alcohol was closely related to the worship of their gods. They worshipped wine gods and goddesses. In the cult of Dionysus, wine deity of the Greeks (who were otherwise observed to be the most temperate of ancient peoples), intoxication was believed to bring the worshippers closer to their god. The Roman name for this same deity was Bachhus, also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), who freed one from one’s normal self by madness, ecstasy, or wine. The worship of the native American Mayan deity, Acan, was connected with a fermented drink made from honey.

In the worship of Jehovah, as we can see from the scriptures in our lesson, the priests were forbidden to drink wine as they were performing their tasks about the sanctuary. As this prohibition came immediately after Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire before the Lord and were stricken dead by the Lord, it is believed they must have done so because they were drunk. Additionally, those who had taken a Nazarite vow, or who were chosen of the Lord to be Nazarites, such as Samson, Samuel or John the Baptist, were also to abstain from both grapes and fermented beverages. In Solomon’s writings, strong admonitions of temperance were emphasized, especially for kings or rulers. In the time of Jeremiah, the sons of Rechab, in several following generations, were found to be abstainers, in faithful obedience to the command given by their father; such obedience was commended by God. In all other instances, wine was used in the Old Testament as a relief from common ailments, as a tonic for the ill or dying, and, in moderation, during times of rejoicing and feasting.

In the New Testament, while John the Baptist abstained from wine, Jesus did eat and drink with the common people and performed his first miracle at a wedding in Cana, changing water into wine. Paul recommended for Timothy to use a little wine for his weak stomach. However, repeated warnings are given against drunkenness. Consider that the Gentiles were becoming followers of Christ, having been devotees at the pagan altars, where shameless immorality was normal, food and alcohol were offered to idols, and drinking was associated with communion with the deity. Those who rejoiced in their “liberty” had to be reminded that the weaker believer might stumble back into sin; therefore, followers of Christ were commanded to abstain from food OR drink which might make their brother come under condemnation.

Is there a clear-cut, general command to ABSTAIN from fermented beverages in any of Scripture, besides these particular examples which we have cited? One cannot find such a one. In studying the history of alcoholic drinking, I believe I see the wisdom of God in NOT giving a direct command, either in the ceremonial laws, in the ten commandments, in Jesus’ commands, or in the teachings set forth by the apostles. Let me explain: there have been times and places in history where, because of poor sanitation, the only beverage fit for drinking was fermented. One such example was Medieval Europe. The consumption of alcohol—small beer (which was generally 1% alcohol), ale or wine—was a way of avoiding diseases carried by contaminated water. The boiling of water for beer and growing of yeast killed the dangerous microorganisms, and the alcohol content allowed them to be stored for months or years, which was commonly done, especially on sailing vessels where they would be the only source of hydration for crews on long voyages.

Those who followed Christ and adhered to His Word were guided during these times by the clear command to be moderate and temperate, to abstain from that which would cause a brother to stumble, and to keep the flesh, with its affections and desires, CRUCIFIED and their appetites fully under control.

The process of distillation, which began crudely as far back as 800 BC, spread slowly through the centuries until the invention of a still which allowed for the effective distillation of alcohol in the 8th century A.D. Beginning usage was primarily scientific and medical, but by the 1600’s distilled alcohol became recreational, and the process evolved as it spread throughout Europe. By the 1700’s alcohol consumption peaked in England but by the end of the century dropped again, one of the numerous factors being the Great Awakening, a religious revival which spread throughout Europe and the Americas.

Since that time, because of the increased intoxication made possible by distillation, strong religious feelings against any use of alcohol gave rise to temperance societies, the era of Prohibition (1920-1933), and other efforts to curb the potential destructive elements and abuse of alcohol.

In the history of the Church of God of the evening light time, the use of alcohol has been strongly condemned, along with other addictive substances, including narcotic drugs, tobacco and caffeine.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Priests and Kings: Give your thoughts on why restrictions on drinking were put on those who held these positions. Would these point forward as a type fulfilled in a spiritual priesthood and kingdom?
  2. Guidelines for Temperance: Give scriptures which provide boundaries for God’s people.
  3. History: Have there been times where the rise of the abuse of alcohol created anapparent need for Christians to abstain? Explain.
  4. Apply: What is the expedient course for saved and sanctified people today?




This lesson was suggested by an older teen who related that the need was very great for teaching in this area. I, too, have had a growing awareness of the alcohol-themed society in which we live. In studying the history of alcohol, it is alarming to find the excesses to which our culture has gone. Indeed, the prophecy that the end time would be like Noah’s, in eating and drinking, is certainly being fulfilled in these days as drinking has moved “up-scale,” college binge-drinking is epidemic, and many churches are encouraging recreational drinking.

We have already mentioned that there is no “Thou shalt not” in the Bible about alcohol. But a strong case can certainly be made using the principles we have laid down in the first two lessons. To those who want to find “permission” to drink, would a definite commandment make a big difference anyway? Look, for instance, at the ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” And Paul’s command, “Lie not one to another.” Yet people constantly justify deceit, outright lying, little white lies, and cheating, all the while claiming to be children of God. Citing “there is no commandment” as a reason for drinking is, for the most part, merely an excuse.

We have already cited scriptures forbidding yielding to the lusts of the flesh. Wisdom, expedience and charity all warn against recreational drinking. The concept of “your body is God’s temple” brings great responsibility. The principle of not allowing anything to bring you under its power pounds the final stake into the barricade against drinking for pleasure.

Remember, what you allow into your home will be taken much farther by your children. Many who have decided that social drinking is okay “once in awhile” have children who are now addicts. It’s not worth the risk. Drunkenness is part of the darkness; the night of the world. We are now children of the day. We have been filled with the Spirit, Who cheers our hearts with heavenly joy so that we have no more need for earthly wine. Let us keep ourselves entirely pure.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




I can think of many reasons why a Christian should not drink. I have experienced many troubles due to alcohol and know many others who have as well. When answering this question, what stands out to me the most as a Christian is where the Bible says to “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). This scripture tells me that I can’t be drunk with wine and filled with the Spirit at the same time. I must choose between the two.

I, for one, would much rather be filled with the Spirit. I’ve been drunk and no matter how much I drank, it never satisfied. I was always left empty and had a longing for something alcohol could never satisfy.

When the Holy Spirit came I was sincerely filled, as the Word says, to overflowing. My soul was satisfied. The joy of salvation was pouring out of me. His Spirit satisfies like nothing else can. I have found nothing better than walking in the Spirit and conducting my life under the influence of God. There is no greater pleasure than to have God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The infilling of God’s Spirit has been my greatest joy. I can’t imagine trading the experience of God’s Spirit filling me for the emptiness alcohol provides.

—Bro. Marvin Moles, Tryon, OK