The Strong Wine of Self
Salvador Dali’s painting “Sacrament of the Last Supper”.
COMMUNION: Part 3
The Strong Wine of Self
by Doug Fortune
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Leviticus 24:8 goes on to instruct us, "Every SABBATH he shall set it in ORDER before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant." In previous studies we have found that "sabbath" speaks of being set apart and totally dedicated unto God, and it speaks of REST. We are to be a living, breathing, walking "sabbath", a people set apart and totally dedicated unto God, resting in the finished work of Christ. This is what brings ORDER in our lives- resting IN Him, understanding that we are before the Lord continually as His Shewbread people! "There remaineth therefore a REST to the people of God. For he that is entered into his REST, he also hath CEASED from his OWN WORKS, as God did from His." (Hebrews 4:9-10) A Shewbread people have ceased from our OWN works, and have entered into the REST of His finished work; "...the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Hebrews 4:3)
"And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall EAT IT in the HOLY PLACE: for it is MOST HOLY unto HIM of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute." (Leviticus 24:9) It is important to note that this "bread of the Presence" which speaks of our true IDENTITY in Christ is to be eaten in the Holy Place. In the symbolic parallel between the Old Covenant Tabernacle and our LIFE as a Tabernacle, the Outer Court speaks of our body, the Most Holy Place speaks of our spirit, and the Holy Place speaks of our SOUL- our mind, will and emotions. It is in the mind, will and emotions that our true IDENTITY in Christ is to be eaten! This is the RENEWING of the mind (Romans 12:2) as our true IDENTITY in Christ is ingested and assimilated into our very being as the "bread of the Presence" feeds us. We ARE what we EAT!
It is also interesting to note that in the Temple of Solomon the singers had the joy of preparing the Shewbread; "And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the SHEWBREAD, to prepare it every sabbath. And these are the SINGERS, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night." (1Chronicles 9:32-33) The singers were worshippers, dwelling in the Temple. What a picture for us! WE are to be continual worshippers dwelling IN Christ who is our Temple, bringing forth the song of the Lord, as the "song" of our very lives change the atmosphere.
There were several vessels used in connection with the Table of Shewbread; "And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before Me alway." (Exodus 25:29-30) The dishes were used for holding the bread. The spoons were hollow vessels of gold with incense in them. In the Septuagint version the bowls and covers are referred to as "flagons and chalices." In fact the very Hebrew word implies the thought of "cups." The bowls and covers contained strong WINE which was poured out in connection with this Table as a libation before the Lord. "And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an 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) This was the Drink Offering of outpoured wine. It was used only in connection with the Table of Shewbread, not with the Golden Altar or the Candlestick in the Holy Place; "Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon." (Exodus 30:9) The symbolism is very obvious, as in connection with the Table of Shewbread the Bread and Wine are brought together, pointing us to Christ.
To further this idea of communion being an expression of our identity exchange in Christ, I believe we have a poignant picture in this strong wine offering; "...in the HOLY PLACE shalt thou cause the STRONG WINE to be POURED unto the LORD for a drink offering." (Numbers 28:7) Once again, this is something that happens in the Holy Place, which speaks of the SOUL, as our mind is renewed to our true identity in Christ.
In an EXCHANGE, something is put off and something is taken in. Here we see that the STRONG WINE was to be POURED unto the Lord. The word translated as "strong wine" is shekar in Hebrew, and it means- an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor. Our English word "intoxicant" is from the Latin words "in toxicum," which means- in poison. The definitions of "intoxicant" include- poison; to excite or stupefy by alcohol or a drug especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished; to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy. Now remember that the New Testament declares, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;" (Ephesians 5:18), so in considering the strong wine offering we are looking at a SPIRITUAL principle, rather than literal strong wine.
I pose the question, What can be more intoxicating than the "strong wine" of SELF? It is poison that can make us drunk with indulgence, drunk with power. It makes us think we are much greater than we actually are, it makes us think we can do things that we are actually incapable of, it impairs our judgment, etc. This intoxicating strong wine of SELF must be POURED unto the Lord for a drink offering. In an EXCHANGE, something is put off and something is taken in. In our identity EXCHANGE in the Communion table, the intoxicating strong wine of SELF is POURED unto the Lord for a drink offering, and the New Wine of the Christ-Life is taken in.
Jesus spoke of this "strong wine" of SELF in Luke 17:33, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." In previous studies we have seen that the word translated as "life" in this verse is psuche in Greek, from which we get our English word psyche, referring to the soul life- the life originating from the mind, will and emotions. This is the "life" that had to die on the cross in Christ; "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His SOUL an offering for sin... because He hath poured out His SOUL unto death:" (Isaiah 53:10, 12) Perhaps this "strong wine" of SELF was the "vinegar" that Jesus took in His crucifixion; "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:30)
It seems reasonable, therefore it is somewhat easy to conceive that we must pour out the "strong wine" of SELF that is characterized by carnality, selfishness, and just plain meanness. However we must realize that this "strong wine" of self is ANYTHING that originates from self. Even my GOOD that originates from self must be poured out also. Religion is filled with GOOD that originates from the self-life! Granted, it has a better appearance than the bad stuff, but GOOD that originates from the "self-life" is still SELF! I must pour out even the best of MY good in order to be emptied of SELF.
Will I continue to drink the toxic "strong wine" of SELF that causes me to be intoxicated and stupefied to the point where my true identity is markedly diminished? Or will this "strong wine" be poured out unto the LORD for a drink offering? Am I willing to "lose" this "strong wine" of the psuche, the soul life? Jesus went on to say, "...and whosoever shall LOSE his life shall PRESERVE it." (Luke 17:33) The word translated as "preserve" is zoogoneo in Greek, and it means to engender alive, that is, to rescue from death. We must stop drinking poison! As I pour this toxic "strong wine" out unto Him, I am rescued from death. I must then drink deeply of the New Wine of the Christ-Life! I don't know about you, but I desire to be engendered ALIVE!
Jesus said in John chapter 6; "I AM the living BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever (engendered ALIVE!): and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world... Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye EAT the flesh of the Son of man, and DRINK His blood, ye have NO LIFE IN YOU. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:51, 53-54 my input in parenthesis) Christ IS LIFE!... everything else is temporal, fleeting, fading away. May everything in my life that is NOT Christ be poured out, poured away.
As we are studying all these beautiful spritual principles concerning the Table of the Lord, it would be possible to say that they are a spiritual picture of our communion with the Lord and with each other, a shadow, and therefore we don't need to actually partake of the literal elements of the Communion table. However I keep coming back to the verses where Jesus says something so definite, "DO this!" He does NOT say simply CONSIDER your spiritual union and communion, He says, "DO this!" "And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: THIS DO in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19) "And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: THIS DO in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: THIS DO YE, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." (1Corinthians 11:24) I say don't just think about it, just DO it!
In the light of our study here on Communion, I also find it fascinating that Jesus instructs us to pray, "Give us this day our DAILY bread." Christ IS our "Daily Bread," He is our very life, and one of the primary places He is to be found is in each other; "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27) The "you" in the wording "Christ in you" is plural and could read, Christ in you ALL. Or to put it in good ole Southern vernacular, Christ in y'all... after all, I do live in North Carolina now! And don't let the word "North" in North Carolina fool you, this is definitely the South! It is my personal belief that we should gather together often, and that we should partake of communion together often.
(Read more articles at http://www.inchristinternational.com/)
IN LOVING MEMORY
1987-November 15, 2010
Our baby girl, she came into our lives 23 years ago and touched our hearts where she will remain forever...
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