Jesus told a parable using the concepts of wine and wineskins to illustrate different ways of thinking and the fact that it can be hard to adopt a new way of thinking; that we are usually more comfortable thinking in ways we are used to.
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
I think this can be applied on many different levels, but I also think there is a "Big Picture" application that is very important. That's what I want to explore in the next few posts.
To start, let's look at the history presented in the Old Testament (OT). I did some searches online for OT timelines and had little success finding one that I liked. Then I started searching for OT timelines for children. And that's when I found an absolutely awesome OT timeline at We Wilsons. This was created by Laura Wilson.
You can download a PDF copy of this timeline, in black & white and in color from the We Wilsons website. I suggest you go ahead and get a copy to review. I'm going to touch on points in the timeline. It's not necessary, just a nice visual.
In the book of Genesis, there is an account of God making a promise to a man named Abram, who was later known as Abraham.
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Abram, or Abraham, had a son; Issac. Issac had a son; Jacob, who is also Israel. Jacob's family grew into the tribes of the nation of Israel. Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, and after several hundred years became a nation of many people. They were enslaved by Egypt so God delivered them with incredible wonders and miracles. He led them to a "promised land," a land he had shown Abraham, a land where they could prosper.
So we now have a nation that started as a family, a family-nation. They are living in a land they see as being promised to them by God. For a while, they are lead by Judges but at some point, they decide they want a King so they can be like other nations. God says the people are rejecting Him but tells the Prophet Samual to appoint a King anyway, telling the people what they will be giving up by having a King. And then he says that He will use the King to bring deliverance to His people, which I think is amazing.
As you look through the timeline you will see an incredible history of God working with people, performing miracles, bringing deliverance. The people of Israel had every reason to believe this word:
7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
And then, as if to really cement this word/promise, God said this to King Solomon after he had built and dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 12b-16
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
Even when Israel was taken into captivity into Babylon, and Jerusalem fell to Babylon, God was still with his people. He did great miracles in the sight of all through Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah And in time God brought Israel back home, and Jerusalem was rebuilt because God gave his people favor and covered them with great mercy.
All thought the timeline you can see God's hand on his people. They didn't make any of this up, all of God's words, his laws, decrees, and promises, and the way he worked with and delivered his people, all of this was a type of wine that he gave them to drink. And it was a very amazing and tasty wine.
And then the Romans came.
Like the Babylonians, the Romans completely conquered Israel. But they didn't drag them off or destroy them (at first). They let them live in their cities, put Roman leadership and law over them, taxed them, etc. But make no mistake, they were completely conquered. The timeline above ends with the Slaughter of the Innocents, where King Herod had all males 2 years and under killed in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Herod could do this, and Israel couldn't do anything about it, because they were conquered.
I think I can safely say that the Jewish people would have been claiming every promise of God, and God had given them many promises. People would have been begging God for a restoration of the Jewish nation, of what they considered to be God's Kingdom. And yet in all of this the entire nation had no idea what God was about to do. He was going to keep all of his promises, but with a very different wine. One that has a terrible taste.
Let me give an example.
12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
This is a tasty promise, a tasty wine if you will. Being the head is a good thing. And later in the same passage of scripture, God tells them that if they disobey his commands then they will fall under a curse and be the tail. Being the tail is a bad thing.
But the new wine speaks this way; I know I'm the head but I choose to be the tail. Or to put it in a scriptural reference:
Philippians 2 5-8
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
This is a new wine. It's a very different way of thinking. I'll explore it more in the next post on this topic.