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Biblical Myths - Part 3

Scripture: Genesis 13:14-16, Romans 4:13, Proverbs 20:1
The Israel question centers around the belief that the promises to Abraham receiving a land primarily focused on a literal place in Israel. But the Scriptures point to a New Jerusalem, a place yet to come. The other myth this talk covers is the issue of drinking, alcoholism and wine in the Bible.
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Today we continue the fascinating study of popular myths or misconceptions that have been so widely held about biblical topics. Perhaps no question has stirred so much religious interest or caused so much speculative investigating of Bible prophecy as the Israel question.

There is a great deal being written and spoken today about the land grant to Abraham and the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and Palestine. There is such a thing as hearing something repeated over and over until we begin to believe it is just that way. This is all the more so if we have confidence in the sources which are repeating it. Today it is being heard again and again over the radio by the "futurist" teachers that God promised Abraham and his seed the land of Palestine and that the resettlement of the Jews and the organizing of the State of Israel is a fulfillment of these "promises." We believe it can be proven that these promises have no relationship whatever to the old blood-soaked land of Palestine and Jerusalem which are there today; that they have reference to the New Jerusalem which will be located here after this old earth has been burned off and made new.

Let us read the Lord's promise to Abraham: "And the Lord said unto Abraham after that Lot was separated from him, lift up thine eyes and look from the place where thou are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever." Genesis 13:14-16. There has been a lot of arguing and map-sketching trying to figure out just how much land was included in this "promise." But by turning to Romans 4:13 we find the answer, "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not made to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." This says the promise included, "the world." We will next prove that neither Abraham nor his seed received this land grant before they died; that it is yet future, beyond the second coming and the resurrection.

We turn to Acts 7:2-5, and read, "Men, brethren and fathers, hearken, the Lord of glory appeared unto our father Abraham and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and come into the land which I will show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran; and from thence when his father was dead he removed him to this land wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on, yet he promised that he would give it to him for an inheritance, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child." Since Abraham died without receiving the promise, we must admit if he ever does receive this land he must be raised from the dead and put there.

Let us next read Hebrews 11:8-13, "By faith, Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he would AFTER receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and went out not knowing whither he went." Note the words, "which he should after receive for an inheritance." Let us read on: "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him in the same promise." Verse 13 says, "These all died in faith not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth." Verse 10 tells us how "far off" they looked: "For he looked for a city which hath foundations who builder and maker is God." That certainly is not the old sin-infested city that is over there now.

But there is another Jerusalem, which in the plan of God is to be located here upon this earth after it has been burned off and made new. Paul speaks of "Jerusalem above which is free." Galatians 4:26. This city, whose builder and maker is God is some day coming down from heaven to this earth. Thus we read in Revelation 3:12, "The New Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from my God." John says he saw this city coming down: "And, I John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down from heaven adorned as a bride for her husband." Revelation 21:2. That is the city which Abraham looked ahead to. How tragic that false teachers are pointing their fingers to the old dilapidated city which is over there now and telling millions this is what God promised and that the Jews are now going back and receiving the promise. This can't be because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have not yet been raised from the dead. But the promise is "Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Behold, O my people I will open your graves and bring you up out of your graves and will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people and have brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it, saith the Lord." Ezekiel 37:12-14.

So the "promises" will not be fulfilled until the second coming and the resurrection. These promises have nothing to do with the purely economic and political problems which are trying to be solved over there today. His "seed" who are "heirs with him" does not include a single unbelieving Jew or Gentile. Because Paul says, "If ye be Christ's (whether Jew or Gentile) then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:29.

Let us "search the Scriptures" and not be misled about these important matters. In Romans 11:26 we read that "all Israel shall be saved," but along with this in Romans 9:6 we also find that "They are not all Israel which are of Israel" but "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Isaac was "born after the spirit" (Galatians 4:29), and only those who are "born of the spirit" are "counted for the seed." Romans 9:8. They ONLY constitute the "all Israel" which "shall be saved." Let us never forget that "they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." Galatians 3:7. And, "that they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." Galatians 3:9.

Now let's hasten on to consider briefly another myth that has created havoc for a multitude of Christians. Perhaps you have heard it, it goes something like this: There is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in moderation because the Bible says to take a little wine for your stomach's sake. Have you heard it, friends? Well, let's get the facts about this myth. Does the Bible advocate drinking wine, liquor and beer, or any other alcoholic beverage? Absolutely not. In fact, if it did, the Bible itself would be responsible for a certain number of those nine million plus alcoholics who struggle with their chains in the United States today. It is a scientific fact that a certain percentage of those who take their first drink go on inevitable to become alcoholics. Their metabolism or something cannot tolerate just a social drink, they have to keep it up until they are confirmed drunkards.

Let me ask you something, do you think the Bible recommends a drink like that? Now they have discovered at the University of South Carolina Medical School that every drink of alcohol destroys a certain number of brain cells, and the damage to the brain is permanent. I tell you, NO. This is a popular myth that has been circulated by church leaders and theologians. They have taken exactly the same position as the brewers themselves. They also recommend moderation.

But the Bible position is clear: not one drop of alcohol is condoned or recommended. Proverbs 20:1 tells us "wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Another text is even more explicit. Proverbs 23:31, "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder."

Now listen, if the New Testament approves the use of alcohol, we have a mammoth contradiction between the Old and New Testaments. But the New doesn't teach contrary to what we just read, friends. The problem comes over the use of the word "wine." It is translated from the Greek word "oihos" and it can mean either fermented or unfermented, according to the context. But since the Old Testament clearly condemns the use of fermented wine, the verses approving of wine in the New Testament are surely referring to unfermented juice of the grape. In fact, the scriptures spell out the kind of wine that is good for man to drink. It is in Isaiah 65:8. Now listen carefully to this text friends: "Thus saith the Lord, as the wine is found in the cluster, and one saith destroy it not, for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all." There it is! How plain it is that the wine which is blessed is in the cluster, that means, the fresh juice of the vine, unspoiled and unfermented. In fact, the Bible presents leaven or fermentation as a type of sin. This is why the unleavened bread was required in the symbolic services. And yet, some churches choose to drink alcoholic wine in the observance of the Lord's supper. That is hard to understand in the light of Bible symbolism, but it signifies how deep the modern apostasy has become.

I think there is time to consider just one more myth today and that relates to what Christ was doing during His three days in the grave. It has been preached that Jesus actually descended into the lower regions of the earth and preached to lost souls that were in prison in some purgatory or limbo. This doctrine has been somehow extracted from 1 Peter 3:18-20. Let's read it and see what it really teaches. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison: which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved."

Let's look at it closely now and get the real message of these verses. It says, "Christ hath once suffered for sin that He might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh. But quickened by the Spirit by which also He went and preached..." First of all notice how Christ preached to those spirits in prison. He did it by the Spirit, and that word is capitalized in your Bible. It actually refers to the Holy Spirit. So whatever Christ did in preaching during this period of time, He did it through or by the Holy Spirit.

With that in view, let's ask this, "When was the preaching done?" The answer is plainly given in verse 20: "when once the longsuffering God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." So the preaching was actually done while the ark was being built, during the preaching of Noah to that antediluvian world. Now, one more question: "To whom was the preaching done?" The text says here "to the spirits in prison." Throughout the Bible we find this terminology used in describing those who are bound in the prison house of sin. David prayed "Bring my soul out of prison." Psalms 142:7. Paul spoke of his experience in these words, "bringing me into captivity to the law of sin." What Peter is telling us here is simply that Christ through the Holy Spirit was present while Noah preached; Christ was there through the Holy Spirit to speak conviction to their hearts and appeal to them to come into the ark. There is absolutely nothing here which indicated that Jesus departed from the body during the time He was dead to go to any subterranean place to minister to wicked spirits. The three questions are clearly answered in the text itself, that He preached by the Holy Spirit, He did it while the ark was preparing, and He did it to the spirits in prison or to those individuals whose sinful lives were bound in the prison house of sin. The truth is that Jesus had died and He was in the grave for those three days.

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