It’s not a phrase which people hear very often, but it pops up every once in a while. People sometimes refer to the preacher’s favorite theme as his “hobbyhorse.” An “hobbyhorse” used to be a child’s toy. It was a stick with a wooden horse’s head attached. The little boy, or more often the little girl, would ride the stick, skipping around the yard pretending to be riding at a gallop. I don’t know how the term came to be applied to some pastors’ preaching, but there it is nevertheless. How often does the preacher have to refer to election, or to the sovereignty of God, before it can be said that he’s riding his hobbyhorse again? I’m not sure, but the more backslidden the observer, the quicker some Biblical themes reach that designation. Do three messages on the same subject within twelve months, qualify as riding a “hobbyhorse?” Since it was several years prior to last June that we addressed our theme for tonight, I sincerely doubt that this ranks as a hobbyhorse. The only exception of course, is if any of you are living under the indictment that I plan to lay before you.

When God’s hand appeared out of thin air and engraved the words “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” on the wall of Belshazzar’s banquet hall, nearly everyone in that room had been drinking. The thousand politicians were drinking, and so were all the wives and concubines. Were there two thousand people there that night or perhaps four thousand people drinking? Apparently, just as it is in America, the imbibing of a little wine or beer was considered to be sociable. There were no restrictions involved, except the pressure not to refuse. Perhaps even if some had initially preferred to drink something other than alcohol, once the king ordered that the vessels from Jehovah’s Temple be brought out and used, then not a person who had been given one could refuse to take whatever was poured into it.

As I was meditating on this morning’s message, I thought about pursuing the drunkenness angle. Then I noticed that John Gill, actually commented on this point. He said that the Jewish commentators say that after the king had become thoroughly drunk, he ordered that the vessels of the Temple be brought out. Gill suggests however, that he had only been “tasting” the wine, and that he was only “warmed” by it’s effects. What the honorable Brother Gill wanted to stress was that the king was in total control of his sinful decision-making abilities. Gill didn’t want the man to defend himself by say, “Oh, I was drunk when I did that.” But drunk or sober, warmed or stone cold, the nature of his sin would not have been changed. Sin does not become less sinful, because of the influence of alcohol or drugs, anger or insomnia. Please notice that not only is the drinking mentioned in the background information, but it is also mentioned in the condemnation at the end of the chapter.

And because of this, I believe that we have authority to look at this subject for a third time in less than a year. Once again, I’m going to make a quick review of many of the places in God’s word which exposes the sinfulness and the destructiveness of drugs like alcohol. And then to be different I plan to conclude by reading an old article, published by “The Preferred Risk Insurance Company.” And by the way, I am referring to wine, hard liquor, hard lemonade, beer and even light beer. Then we could add to this list all the chemical replacements for alcohol – marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD, oxycodone and all the rest.

There are a great many Bible references condemning alcohol and that kind of drinking.
Unlike our last message on this subject, I’ll not make many comments on the scriptures themselves. Genesis 9:19-21 – “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.” That sin was directly followed by sins in his sons. Genesis 19:30-28 – The daughters of Lot twice used wine to make their father drunk, and then followed their abominable sins. Genesis 27:25 – In order to help him deceive his father, Jacob used wine to dull the senses of Isaac. Leviticus 10:8-11 – “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” Numbers 6:1-3 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” Deuteronomy 29:1-6 – “These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.”

In Judges 13 Samson’s mother was commanded not to drink wine. In I Samuel 1 Hannah, Samuel’s mother, totally abstained from wine. A few months ago we learned about David, Abigail and her husband Nabal. Nabal was a drunk. That drinking cost him his life, but before that it cost him his wife. In a couple of weeks, we will learn that David tried to use alcohol to avoid his sins with Bathsheba And he used alcohol to lead Uriah into a trap. In II Samuel 13 one of David’s sons died in a drunken brawl. Incidentally, recently there was a murder of a man in Coeur d’Alene recently. Apparently someone put a gun to the back of his head and blew his brains out. I heard a short, tearful radio interview with the dead man’s mother, and I felt some sympathy for her. Then it was announced that there would be a party in the dead man’s honor at the Grail bar in Huetter. The Grail is one of the most violent and wicked drinking establishments in Kootenai county. Immediately I knew why that man died, and alcohol played a role in it. Perhaps even his mother bears some responsibility. In I Kings 16 and 20 two kings were murdered while “drinking themselves drunk.” The Book of Esther begins with the destruction of a marriage, as the husband spends a week in drinking and partying.

Proverbs 4 – “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Proverbs 21:17 – “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” Proverbs 23:19-21 – “Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty.” Proverbs 23:29-32 – “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Proverbs 31:4-5 – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” The writer of Ecclesiastes testified to trying wine and finding that it was worse than vanity.

Isaiah 5:11-12 – “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.” Verses 21-22 – “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.” Isaiah 28 – “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet.” They also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” Isaiah 56 – “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” Ezekiel 44:21 – “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.” Part of the degradation of Hosea’s wife was due to wine. “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Joel 1 – “Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine.” Habakkuk 2 – “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.” “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

Matthew 24:46-51 “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The great man John the Baptist was a man of total abstinence. In some of Jesus’ parables he condemns drinking and drunkenness. Luke 21:34 – “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Romans 13:11-14 – “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 14:21 – “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” I Corinthians 6:10 – “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

I’ve just given you some of the scriptures which deal with drinking beer, wine and drunkenness. And every one of these verses might be applied to the use of marijuana and other drugs. In them there is more than enough to reveal that God hates the misuse of such things. Furthermore the total abstinence from alcohol is highly praised.

Now let me conclude with an article which I pulled from my files, because it relates to our text so well.
It was not written from a religious point of view, and it wasn’t penned by a preacher. But the tone of it, causes me to believe that it was written by a Christian man.

“I’m a non-drinking member of a profession in which social drinking is demanded. I am a Washington newspaperman, covering a political and diplomatic beat. When I first came to the capital at 23, I was told I’d have to learn to drink, at least enough to be sociable. The cocktail party is Washington’s greatest social institution, and newsmen have to attend hundreds of them in the process of cultivating news contacts and making acquaintances among public officials.

Back in the old saloon days and during prohibition, drinking had a social stigma attached to it. Today the situation is reversed. The drinking of whiskey and gin cocktails is not only socially acceptable, it’s socially demanded. In some small towns the drinker may still be frowned on, but not here in the city. Drinking is considered smart.

How can a non-drinker justify his principles in a society where drinking has become so widely accepted? How can he resist social pressure? Let’s face it. It isn’t easy to refuse. I had lots of uncomfortable moments till I got my social bearings sufficiently to know how to cope with the problem.

I wish our churches would be franker with young people. I wish they would tell any young man entering a profession calling for social contacts that he’s going to face the problem, that many of his associates will drink and that drinking will be expected of him – unless he makes up his mind that he’s going to refuse flatly. I wish they’d tell the girl who’s going to marry a young man entering the business world that as the wife of an aspiring professional man she’s going to have to face the problem of liquor and help her husband meet it. I wish our pastors and youth counselors would deal with this problem more realistically, because unless we really let young people know what they’re going to face in the way of social pressure, and give them good, concrete reasons for resisting it, we’re going to leave our youth unprepared. I can understand well how many of our youth, who would really prefer not to drink, become convinced they must for social reasons. After 10 years of bucking the cocktail circuit in our nation’s capital and drinking ginger ale and cokes, maybe I can give some advice on how to refuse a drink when it’s pressed on you.

In the first place you have to decide whether you’re going to drink or not drink. I made up my mind rather strongly on that when I was going to college. I knew a couple guys who were expelled from a small church college for drunkenness. They didn’t look very good the night they tore up the library on what was supposed to be a hilarious spree. For one, it meant the ruin of what could have been a promising law career. He never went back to college.

While in graduate school at a Big Ten university I saw a lot more students drinking. It was more common on the big campus. I saw some coeds when they were so (drunk) that the way they behaved left me with no respect for them or the men they were with. They were paying a mighty high price for a good time.

I knew a congressman’s son, a brilliant boy, who first flunked law school, then was court-martialed as an army officer simply because he couldn’t stay away from beer. He caused his father terrible anguish and finally woke up to the fact that he was ruining his life. The ones who wake up, painful as the experience is and humiliated as they feel when they realize how they’ve behaved, are the lucky ones. Lots of young men and women don’t wake up until they’re too far down the road to alcoholism to stop. So, from what I could see in college, drinking didn’t look too smart. My parents were opposed to liquor, I heard many a sermon against it in church, and what I saw it doing to some of my young friends convinced me it was a good thing to avoid.

For awhile after graduation I was breaking my way into journalism as a general assignments reporter; and as city editor of a small Minnesota paper, I had to cover police court. There I really saw the cost to our society of letting beer and liquor become a controlling part of the American way. I would see not only those whose lives had been sacrificed on alcohol’s altar – the white-pallored, trembling stumblebums and floozy, unkempt women – but also those who travel in the more respectable circles of society. They’re the ones who never get their names in the papers because they’re too influential with the editor. They presented a pathetic sight as they paid fines for “speeding,” “disorderly conduct,” or some other minor charge a friendly prosecutor would agree to put on the books. But the police officers and reporters present knew what really happened – the drunken brawl, the wild orgy that went on until police were finally called to break it up. Hollow laughs couldn’t hide the sordid truth of what police had seen.

I remember seeing a man who had murdered his wife in a drunken rage, seeing him the morning after when he realized the gravity of the charge he faced and comprehended what he had done to the one who entrusted her life to him at the marriage altar. He was a shaken man.

There were girls from respectable families who’d been pulled in at 3 a.m. when police investigated a drinking and petting party in parked cars. I’d seen them when through the fog of morning-after hangover they’d meet their parents and realize the situation in which police had found them. It wasn’t pleasant to witness. The mother always had the same stunned look of disbelief. It haunts you.

Worst were the accident cases. They’d come in from the hospital in bandages and splints to be arraigned for drunken driving or manslaughter. You’d hear the widow of the man who’d been killed tell through puffed lips of that last terrible moment when the other car veered across center line. In the courtroom you’d see her young son and daughter, still mourning their father, straining forward to catch words of testimony. You’d try not to look at them, until suddenly there’d be a stir and the daughter would be carried out faint. And worst of all you ever see is the salesman who had run down two young boys on a bicycle . . . one dead, the other crippled by spinal injury . . . drunk-test positive . . . car off the road when it hit them . . . manslaughter . . . defendant pleads guilty, brokenly tells judge how sorry he is … judge stern … ten years in state penitentiary . . . the man sobs. And you aren’t surprised when he commits suicide at the pen six months later.

Not everyone gets indoctrination into the costs of alcohol via the public court, though our courts are open any morning you care to go and see the sordid story. It’s a good antidote to the “men of distinction” ads. No, not everyone who drinks is going to end up in police court, but none of them who do ever thought they were going to. The ironic fact that really becomes apparent after you have learned to refuse liquor at any and all occasions including White House dinners, is that you don’t have to drink to be sociable after all. You can, if pressed, explain with just enough obvious irritation to cause the host to drop the subject, that you simply don’t like to drink. Ask for ginger ale. They always have it – for chasers. Nobody shuns you. You don’t lose friends – and you definitely gain influence.

I don’t care what the drinker says to cover up. He has an inner respect for the man who doesn’t drink and won’t compromise on the issue. The man who won’t yield to pressure on that issue isn’t likely to yield to temptation or mob pressure on others, and people know it. The young professional or business man, no matter what field he’s in, can build respect and prestige faster by refusing to drink than through all the sociable cocktails he can possibly imbibe. And young wives when entertaining need make no apology for refusing to serve alcohol. You make a fatal mistake the minute you apologize for taking the abstinence stand.

The present deplorable trend in America toward more and more consumption of liquor will be halted only by those who refuse to be intimidated. I’ll never forget the day Premier Mendes-France of France raised his glass of milk in a toast at the National Press Club. It took nerve to do that, but he saw alcohol eating the heart out of his country. And he gained stature by his bold act of fighting it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to drink to be sociable. You don’t. You gain the right kind of friends and prestige and professional advancement lots faster drinking that ginger ale plain.

Signed – GLENN D. EVERETT, Washington Correspondent, Religious News Service.

Years ago, in the palace of the great Babylonian Empire, there was a feast and alcohol was served. One thing led to another and then to another. And that party, fueled by wine, ended in blood-shed, as have tens of thousands of other social parties, where wine and beer were served. Let the warning sink in.