To be quite honest with you, I’m not a big fan of wine. This isn’t meant to be a judgment against anyone who likes it. I have a past with alcohol that makes it dangerous for me, but beyond that I’ve just never enjoyed the taste.
I’ve recently started a personal study into how wine is used in the Bible. I’ve come to believe wine symbolizes God’s justice; and here’s why:
1. Wine is bitter – I recognize bitterness is subjective. What is bitter to me, may be sweet to you. But that is the nature of God’s justice. When someone who has hurt me gets justice it feels quite sweet. But when I am the recipient of God’s justice it seems quite bitter. And let’s face it: at any point we are both asking for God’s justice, and the cause of someone else asking for God’s justice. The point is, the sweetness depends on your location.
2. Wine is blush – By this I mean wine is red. Obviously, white wines are all over the market; but in the time of Scripture, red wine was the predominant cocktail. The Hebrew word used for wine in Deuteronomy 32:14 is chemer. It’s a word referring to the color of wine: blood red. It’s redness is associated with inflammation. We typically view God’s justice as the result of His holy inflammation (the flood, Sodom and Gomorra, etc).
3. Wine is boiling – The word chemer mentioned above is from the root chamar which means to boil up. During the fermentation process yeast encounters sugars in the grape which produces CO2 as a byproduct. It looks like a boiling cauldron. God’s justice is traditionally viewed as hot, volcanic and destructive.
The bitterness, the blush and the boiling all point not to God’s anger, but His justice.
So why does this matter? God uses the Bible to tell us about Himself, but He uses more than words. They simply don’t capture His depth–if doing so is even possible. God is an artist constantly painting self-portraits. He uses the mundane to describe the majestic. If we’ll pause to ponder, His beauty will emerge.
I’ll use future posts to describe how God uses the imagery of wine to satisfy His justice through the law and then how that same wine foreshadows the New Testament Messiah and the gift of grace.
What are some other ways you see God’s justice being portrayed through wine?