Jeremiah (Part 7), Judgment or Cruel Taunt?

 “Say to them: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.’ And if they say to you, ‘Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?’ then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem.  I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.’”

  • Jeremiah 13:12-14



Again, this symbolic proclamation has an immediate message, but more can be learned by looking deeper.


First, the easy lesson:  This is God’s proclamation of the coming doom of Judah.  The wine could easily represent their sin.  They are filled to the point of bursting.  They are then smashed together among themselves.  God’s anger is at such a fever pitch that He will not allow pity, mercy, or compassion.


First, let’s look at Matthew Henry’s view of this passage.  The interpretation of his day is that of wine bottles instead of wineskins.  Bottles are more easily broken when you smash them.  As far as the drunkenness of the men, Matthew Henry writes, “A drunken man is fitly compared to a bottle or cask full of wine; for, when the wine is in, the wit, and wisdom, and virtue, and all that is good for anything, are out.”


Some may say that this does not apply to wit.  They point out the encounter between Bessie Braddock and Winston Churchill.  Bessie Braddock MP: “Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more you are disgustingly drunk.”  Winston Churchill: “Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly.  But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.”  It has been said by a trusted aide that Churchill had just left the House of Commons.  He was tired and he stumbled. Knowing his reputation, Ms. Braddock assumed that he was drunk, and Sir Winston couldn’t resist his comment.  So, maybe Matthew Henry was still correct.


Other scholars seem to think that the ‘drunkenness’ only pertains to confusion due to the many factions in Judah not having clear leadership.  Remember that each town had its own town god.  People had rejected the true God, and ignored God’s warnings.


Yet, when I read this passage, I got an odd feeling that God was taunting the people of Judah.  He was going to make them drunk, because that would be the only way to numb the pain that would be inflicted on them.  God’s wrath is great.  They had everything going for them, and then they forgot God, who had made them great.


Is God saying, “Drink up, get drunk, and when you are sober, you’ll be a slave in Babylon?”


Our nation is no different.  Although some of our founding fathers were more deist than Christian, many were very strong Christians.  The Christians far outweighed the deists, and all believed in God.  The Bill of Rights has been so badly misinterpreted that it is as if the United States has adopted atheism as its national religion and all others must not be mentioned.  Some religions have established themselves as ‘cultural’ rather than religious, just to be mentioned in public.


Also, our attitude to alcohol consumption is not what it was a hundred years ago.  Yes, the prohibition movement led to organized crime and lawlessness, but some of that may have been the result of the Depression.  The two occurred at the same time.  I’m not calling for a second attempt at prohibition, but we need a heathier attitude toward drinking and getting drunk.  Company parties, entertaining clients, holiday festivities, and other occasions lead to photographs of someone wearing a lampshade.


Oddly enough, I worked at an engineering company for nearly twenty years.  One of the factors that cemented me getting the job was that I drank a glass of Chardonnay during the meal the night that the bosses took me out for dinner during the interview process (a classic interview mistake on my part, or so I thought).  They saw the bold move as an indicator that I would fit into their alcohol culture, drinking each other under the table after a hard day in a steel mill.  But, I drank the glass of Chardonnay, because I had become so disgusted by everything that they had shown me and told me to that point that I wanted to ruin the interview.  It is the only time that I drank alcohol at a company event, and it is the only time that I ever drank alcohol on an interview.  But God had other plans.  I accepted their job offer reluctantly when nothing else came along, and I worked there for about half of my ‘working’ life.


When I thought of the idea of “Get drunk.  You won’t like what is coming if you are sober,” I was thinking of all of the “Nanny Nanny Boo Boos” when I was growing up.  When we first got married, my wife would say that in the typical sing-song way to taunt me.  It worked.  I would lose my cool, while she would suddenly become dignified and laugh at how I could so easily be manipulated.  My reaction probably stems from being teased in early childhood.  There was probably a lot of that, but I cannot think of a single instance.  My wife quit doing that when the children came along.  She didn’t want to give them any ideas.


For us to avoid getting God so angry that He wants to smash us against each other, we have to repent.  We have to pray.  And we have to make wise decisions.

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