Wine (yayin) shows up repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible. It was used in parables and poems, prophetic metaphors and historic accounts. Wine and bread, paired together, were sometimes synonymous with feast and abundance. The often quoted groom’s “banquet hall,” in the Song of Solomon, was literally his house of wine:
Song of Solomon 2:3-5
“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to his
banquet hall house of wine [bet ha-yayin] and his banner over me is love.
Refresh me with raisin cakes, sustain me with apples, because I am lovesick.”
If you consider this metaphorically, God was the generous and welcoming groom inviting us into His house of wine, filled with bountiful goodness. Under His roof, everything was love. We ought to be overwhelmed with love and desire, and ache to sit at His table.
In God’s Presence wine is good and nourishing. But when we turn our backs on YHWH, and reject His offering of goodness, wine turns bitter:
The new wine mourns, the vine decays, all the joyful-hearted sigh.
The joy of tambourines ceases, the noise of revelers stops, the joy of the harp ceases. They do not drink wine [yayin] with song; intoxicating drink is bitter to those who drink it.
The city of chaos is broken down; every house is shut up so that no one may enter. There is an outcry in the streets concerning the wine [ha-yayin]; all joy turns to gloom. The joy of the earth is banished.
The result of rejecting YHWH was bitterness. The wine-filled feast turned into mourning, and joy turned to gloom.
Life was not going well for humanity. According to Proverbs, the evil ones eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine [w-y’yen] of violence (Proverbs 4:17).
Although many rejected YHWH, it was Babylon that became the archetype of God-rejecters:
Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of YHWH, intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine [mi-yey’nah]; therefore the nations are going insane.
Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail over her! Bring balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed; abandon her and let’s each go to his own country, for her judgment has reached to heaven and it rises to the clouds.
Part of the punishment for rejecting YHWH was to have their formally abundant wine taken from them. The harvest was destroyed, the wine vats dried up, and there was nothing to celebrate:
“…Upon your summer fruits and your grape harvest the destroyer has fallen. So joy and rejoicing are removed from the fruitful field, and from the land of Moab.
And I have eliminated the wine [w-yayin] from the wine presses; no one will tread them with shouting, the shouting will not be shouts of joy.”
But the harvest would not be destroyed forever. Babylon intoxicated the nations with the bitter wine of power and self-reliance, but their dominance would not last. YHWH’s plan to save us was to send His Anointed One, His Son, to be a sacrifice for us. He would remove the punishment, renew the harvest, and fill the banquet hall. To do this, He bore our sins and He drank the bitter wine that we had been consuming all our lives. He would drink the bitter wine that stole our happiness, in order to return our joy to us:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
Yeshua (Jesus) finished the task He was sent out to do… He saved us. And now we, as the precious children of God can drink good wine and be joy-filled in God’s Kingdom. His wine house is full and ready for consumption:
“Behold, days are coming,” declares YHWH, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper, and the one who treads grapes will overtake him who sows the seed; when the mountains will drip grape juice, and all the hills will come apart.
I will also restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the desolated cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine [et yeynam], and make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will also plant them on their land, and they will not be uprooted again from their land which I have given them,” says YHWH your God.
We were uprooted from the Garden of Eden, just like those in Judah were uprooted out of Jerusalem and taken as captives to Babylon. But our time of captivity, away from the Presence of YHWH, will come to an end. YHWH’s Banquet Hall/Wine House is waiting! Raise your glass, because there’s a party coming!
Next week: NIGHT