Tag Archive for Genesis

The goodness of wine

How did Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, think God thought about wine? 

Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, answers this question in the middle of his telling the story of Joseph. According to Josephus, Joseph told one of his fellow prisoners that: 

  • God gives wine to men to do good. 
  • The sharing of wine is a pledge of faithfulness and mutual confidence among people. 
  • Wine puts an end to quarrels. 
  • Wine takes passion and grief out of the minds of the drinkers. 
  • Wine makes people cheerful. 

This at least is what I make of the following paragraph in the writings of Josephus. “God bestows the fruit of the vine upon men for good; which wine is poured out to him, and is the pledge of fidelity and mutual confidence among men; and puts an end to their quarrels, takes away passion and grief out of the minds of them that use it, and makes them cheerful.” (ebook location 2569)

Apparently Joseph felt it necessary to tell the cupbearer this information before he interpreted the cupbearer’s dream. If you are familiar with the story in Genesis 40, the cupbearer would soon forget Joseph’s kindness, leaving him in prison for two years before Joseph would be brought before Pharaoh to interpret the king’s dream and then made ruler of Egypt. 

Today I want to encourage us to enjoy the good things God has given us and to always use them for good. Today and throughout this holiday season, may you enjoy an abundance of the good of the fruit of the vine and all other blessings which the earth produces!

In doing so, may we always keep in mind that Solomon warns us: 

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 NIV

Or in the version in which I first learned it: 

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1 KJV

(As a side note: I continue to make a choice to abstain from all alcoholic drink, yet I recognize that there are truly righteous uses for alcohol. My story is not your story. Nor is my calling yours. They are mine. You have your own. Live out your story and calling well.)

The book quoted is The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, which can be purchased on Amazon

You are not alone!

“The two of them walked together.” As I translated the passage in Genesis where Abraham is asked to offer his son Isaac, these words stood out to me. Twice they are repeated in the Hebrew. Once in Genesis 22:6 and again in verse 8.

As I proceeded through the passage at a painfully slow pace, using Bible software for the translation as the class assignment required, I saw Christ walking to the cross and the Father with Him. It struck me that Jesus was not alone in these moments. He felt alone. In His agony, He cried out to God, asking Him where He had gone. The night prior, He had begged, “If it is possible, take this cup from me! Yet not my will, but Yours be done!” (my paraphrase). 

Yet God the Father was with Him, watching His agony and reigning as sovereign over this most horrific event in history. 

I don’t know if you have ever felt alone in agony. I certainly have, and so did Jesus. Isaiah 63:3 says that He trod the winepress alone. This means that there was no one at the Cross to help Him bear the pain of God’s wrath against sin. Jesus bore it all for us. He took care of all our sin. 

Yet He wasn’t entirely alone. The Father, though unseen, was present. The two walked together. (It perhaps should be acknowledged that Abraham’s hand was the one that held the knife as it was about to kill Isaac. Another theological truth to be pondered.)

Today I want to encourage you that you are not alone. No matter how rough circumstances might seem, the unseen God is with you. His authority is sovereign in this situation. Nothing will happen that is out of His realm of control. The sacrifice of the ram caught in the bush, Jesus Christ, will save you from all your sin and bring you salvation. You need not work out any of it alone!

May you rest in His presence today! Though it seem like there is no way through this situation, may you know that there is! Jesus died, so we might live. He bore the weight of God’s wrath alone, so that God could be fully pleased with us. Praise God for His incredible gift! Because of Him, we never have to be alone again!