Sunday, January 25, 2009


Australia Day Drinking Day?

Proverbs 23

One of our great Australian icons was Steve Irwin. He made his fame world wide by tracking through dense jungles, murky swamps, or rugged mountains in search of snakes. Performing wild contortions while holding the tail of a cobra, timber rattler, or some other viper. The whole time, we sit glued to our televisions to see him tangle with some of God’s most dangerous creatures. Most of us wouldn’t want that kind of wild life. It seems too risky. Dangerous to the extreme and life-threatening.  What Solomon shares with us is something just as risky and dangerous. It is certainly life-threatening. But there are countless wild-life novices who have taken the tail of a viper without understanding the danger.

The Viper’s Den

It’s interesting that Solomon would talk about the dangers of alcohol centuries before the temperance movement of the early 20th century. I mean, could it be that drinking is dangerous? So many have lingered over a drink after work or at a party. Even pastor and Christian author, Max Lucado, has confessed his love for a cold beer on a hot Summer’s day. Lucado confessed, “There’s something about sitting down and holding a beer that is an escape. It’s putting the rest of the world on hold for just a minute. There’s security in that beer.”

But lingering over a drink or a cold beer is dangerous. Solomon tells us that it causes woe, sorrow, arguments, complaints, wounds, and even red eyes. He wasn’t talking about a hang-over. He was talking about the danger of drinking. The danger of lingering over a snake’s pit and peering deep into the dark hole only to be mesmerized by the allure of an escape that leads to our misery.

Sadly one of those terrible quirks of history involves my family name.

The New South Wales Corps (aka The Rum Corps) was formed in England in 1789 as permanent regiment to relieve the marines who had accompanied the First Fleet. The regiment, led by Major Francis Grose, consisted of three companies. The first detachment, 100 strong and under the command of Captain Nicholas Nepean, was dispatched in the Second Fleet on January 1790, and arrived in Sydney in June 1790. The other officers to come in the 2nd Fleet were Captain Hill, Lieutenant Edward Abbott, and Lieutenant John Macarthur. Due to the remoteness and unpopularity of the posting they were composed of officers on half pay, troublemakers, soldiers paroled from military prisons and those with few prospects gambling to make a life for themselves in the new colony. The regiment began arriving as guards on the Second Fleet in 1790. Major Grose arrived in Sydney in 1792 to take command and assume role of Lieutenant-Governor of the colony. The European population of New South Wales when Grose took over was 4,221, of whom 3,099 were convicts. Grose immediately abandoned Phillip’s plans for governing the colony. A staunch military man, he established military rule and set out to secure the authority of the Corps. He abolished the civilian courts and transferred the magistrates to the authority of Captain Foveaux. After the poor crops of 1793 he cut the rations of the convicts but not those of the Corps overturning Phillip’s policy of equal rations for all.

To improve agricultural production, and make the colony more self-sufficient, Grose turned away from collective farming and made generous land grants to officers of the Corps. They were also provided with government fed and clothed convicts as labour to farm produce, which they would sell to the government store.

Grose had also relaxed Phillip's prohibition on trading of rum, usually from Bengal (sometimes a generic term for any form of spirit, usually made from wheat). The colony, like many British Territories at the time, was short of coin and rum soon became the medium of trade. The officers of the Corps were able to use their position and wealth to buy up all the imported rum and then exchange it for goods and labour at very favourable rates, thus earning the nickname The Rum Corps. By 1793 stills were being imported and distillation of rum was exacerbating the shortage of grain.

Governor Hunter attempted to use troops to guard imported rum and stop the officers from buying it up but this failed for the obvious reason. Attempts to stop the importation were also thwarted by the failure of other governments to co-operate and by the Corps's officers chartering of a Danish ship to bring in a large shipment of rum from India. Hunter also tried to start up a public store with goods from England to provide competition and stabilise the price of goods, but Hunter was not a good businessman and supplies were too erratic. Hunter requested greater control by authorities in England and an excise on rum. Hunter also issued an order restricting the amount of convict labour that officers could use, but again he had no means to enforce it. Hunter was opposed strongly by officers of Corps and pamphlets and letters against him were circulated. John Macarthur wrote a letter accusing Hunter of ineffectiveness and trading in rum. Hunter was forced to answer the charges by the Colonial Office, and soon after recalled for being ineffective. Back in England Hunter lobbied unsuccessfully for reform and the recall of the NSW Corps. Governor Bligh arrived determined to bring the Corps and especially John Macarthur, to heel and stamp their trading in rum. This led to the Rum Rebellion Bligh thought the Corps was so much "ingrafted" with former convicts, and that the improper association with convict women was so extensive that the only remedy was to effect a transfer of the entire NSW Corps.   This would have separated the senior officers from their land and pastoral holdings.  Crisis point was reached when Bligh's intention to have the Corps transferred to another country became known. The mutiny that followed in January 1808 is known as the Rum Rebellion.  It saw Bligh's removal from office as Governor and the eventual recall of the NSW Corps. Governor Lachlan Macquarie was able to better control the trade rum introducing and enforcing a licensing system. However, he was still forced to pay for public works projects in rum due to the lack of currency. The construction of Sydney Hospital was entirely funded by granting a monopoly on the import of rum to the contractors, and using troops to prohibit the landing of rum anywhere other that at the hospital dock. This was a Public-Private Partnership that increased the price of rum and was highly unpopular putting an end to such deals for some time.

Alcohol continues to be a problem in New South Wales, with 1 in 3 adults drinking to a dangerous level each week.

About half the alcohol related morbidity and mortality in Australia results from acute intoxication, and includes injury, road trauma and suicide. The remaining half results from chronic excessive consumption, and includes cirrhosis, stroke and other medical complications. A large proportion (39%) of the alcohol consumed in Australia is drunk at levels that confer moderate- to-high risk of chronic harm, while 51% of the alcohol

consumed poses short-term risks to the drinker. Mr Ken Moroney, NSW Commissioner of Police, stated that people intoxicated with alcohol and perpetrating domestic and other violence account for up to 75% of the workload of the NSW police. Furthermore, alcohol-related problems are very unevenly distributed. For example, the NSW town of Walgett, with a total population of 2000, has 10 liquor licences and one in three of the adult male population has had at least one conviction for alcohol-related violence.

Total federal, state and territory government revenue from alcohol exceeds $5 billion annually, not including income from the goods and services tax. Most of this revenue is generated by the federal government, and very little is directed towards preventing or alleviating the adverse effects of alcohol.

The most senior policeman in New South Wales wants pubs and clubs to close early, claiming Sydney's soaring rate of alcohol-fuelled violence is worse than Los Angeles. Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said he was fed up with seeing officers assaulted, and backed any cutback in licensing hours. There are more than 600 24-hour licensed premises in Australia and more than 400 of those are in NSW.

"Anything that makes our community safer, I'm for it," Mr Scipione said. "We've got to seriously look at that.

"This drink to get drunk culture must stop. LA doesn't have the problems we do. They close the doors at 2am. It's time to give the neighbourhood back and take the hoods out." Mr Scipione said there was a growing body of research linking extended trading hours with violence and that he, along with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, had commissioned a study from a leading researcher into alcohol-related crime.

"The link between crime and alcohol is as clear in my mind as the link between smoking and lung cancer," he said. "I'd be spinning you a yarn if I said we can arrest our way out of this problem. This issue is costing us millions in dollars as well as unspeakable damage on communities. "The growth in liquor stores, the impact of domestic violence we need a concentrated approach across all strands of government."

In May, The Mean Fiddler Hotel at Rouse Hill was identified as the most violent pub in the state.

Fifty-one assaults were recorded at the premises between January and September last year, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The Coogee Bay Hotel, The Commercial Hotel at Dubbo, The Steyne Hotel at Manly and the Campbelltown Catholic Club all recorded 28 or more assaults. Dr Chikritzhs said a study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found three out of four premises where 10 or more assaults were committed over a two-year period involved pubs or clubs holding 24-hour trading licenses.

The Viper’s Bite

The longer we linger over the pit, the more danger we invite into our lives. Solomon tells us that living the wild-life is like being bit by a poisonous snake. We begin to see things that aren’t there. We become paranoid and defensive with the people we love. Our heart becomes crooked and out of whack. We turn and twirl like a victim alone in the stormy sea. Our moral compass is broken. Our relationships suffer. And our lives become ship-wrecked. In the midst of the storm, the viper’s bite calls out to us for another drink. And as crazy as it sounds, we stagger toward its tail once again for another dance.

To drink is to dance with danger hoping that our lives will survive the thrill of an escape into misery. Eventually, Max Lucado recognized the danger of the viper’s bite. 

He said, “I come from a family of alcoholism. If there’s anything about this DNA stuff, I’ve got it.” He drank for more than 20 years of his life until one afternoon, while driving to speak at a men’s retreat, he began to plot how he could buy a beer and not be seen by anyone. He drove up to a convenience store, waited for everyone to leave, and then bought the beer. A grown man acting like a teenager on a Friday night. As he held the brew close to his side and hurried to his car, he was immediately overwhelmed with conviction. He threw the venom into the trash and asked God to forgive him. Listen to the rest of the story: “When I shared it with the elders, they just looked at me across the table and said, ‘Satan is determined to get you for this right now. We’re going to cover this with prayer, but you’ve got to get the alcohol out of your life.’ And I really took that as from God.”

Years ago, the famous evangelist Billy Sunday described the destructive nature of alcoholic beverages when he said: "If all the combined forces of hell should assemble in conclave and with them all the men on earth who hate and despise God, purity and virtue — if all the scum of the earth could mingle with the denizens of hell to try to think of the deadliest institution to home, church, and state, I tell you, the combined forces of hell could not conceive of or bring into being an institution that could touch the hem of the garment of the tavern to damn the home, mankind, womanhood, business, and everything good on earth."

Although Sunday's words would likely be dismissed by most today as the misguided remarks of a prohibitionist, they still prove true time and again.

Proverbs23: 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.

31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.

32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.

35 "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink."

The Sorrow Factor Prov 23:29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

The contention factor Who has strife? Who has complaining?

The Foolishness factor

The Mutilation Factor Who has wounds without cause?

The Mental Anguish factor Who has redness of eyes?

The Health Factor 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

The Immorality factor 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

The Insensibility factor34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.

The Insensitivity factor35 "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it.

The Addiction factor When shall I awake? I must have another drink."

John Freeman in his book Shadow Over America notes the influence of alcohol on history:

"Who can know how far alcoholic beverages have gone in undermining government and in changing the balance of power among the nations of the world? Every nation since earliest historical records has grown great while its population was primarily rural, hence had neither time nor money with which to pay the costs involved in drinking alcoholic beverages. As Greece decayed and finally collapsed because an urbanized population who had been demoralized by venial priests who exalted wine above all else in their worship and feasting, even so did Rome slowly degenerate. The glories of the Republic, the Conquests by Caesar, the far-spread empire with its vast system of roads, the great schools, libraries, theatres and colossal athletic events — these were gradually caught in the mesh of wine. Instead of statesman, puppets of a wicked king like Nero arose, and finally the invaders from the North caught them with no suitable defense or defenders. Out of the scattered wreckage of the Holy Roman Empire arose the feudal states of the medieval ages which now constitute the pawns in the modern military and economic games of the great, and whose citizens continue to enslave themselves by strong drink."

Interestingly, the first mention of alcohol in the Bible was a negative incident that affected events on the world stage. Noah became drunk, which resulted in an occasion for his son Ham's sin (Gen. 9:20-25). No doubt Ham committed a much worse crime than simply looking on his father's nakedness, but whatever happened set in motion events leading to the curse of Canaan, Ham's descendants. One also shivers at the thought of what Mel Gibson's drunken tirade of anti-Semitic remarks could have resulted in at a time when matters are so precarious for the Middle East.
A fallacy often leveled at any effort to control the sale of alcohol is that prohibition was a total failure. Yet the best of research reveals just the opposite. In fact, William J. Bennett, former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under former President George H.W. Bush, has written:

"One of the clear lessons of prohibition is that when we had laws against alcohol there was less consumption, less alcohol-related disease, fewer drunken brawls, and a lot less drunkenness. Contrary to myth, there is no evidence that prohibition caused any big increases in crime .... The real facts are these: As a result of prohibition, 180,000 saloons were shut down, and 1,800 breweries went out of business. In ten years of prohibition, the death rate due to alcohol decreased 42%, the death rate due to cirrhosis of the liver decreased by 70%, crime decreased by 54%, and insanity decreased by 66%."

There's a story of a woman who stood near the magistrate who was hearing a case against her husband. Somehow her sad look and disposition touched the heart of the judge, and he said to her, "Ma'am, I'm so very sorry, but I have no choice except to lock up your husband." Replied the woman: "Your honor, wouldn't it be better for me and the children if you locked up the local bars and let my husband go to work?"

The Viper’s Poison

So What’s Your Poison? There are particularly three types of wine mentioned in the bible. Basically fermented wine, heavily fermented wine and unfermented wine.

Alcoholic beverages are DEVELOPED to a stage of fermentation that is not recommended in the Bible!

They are NOT the wine that reminds us of the blessing of the Lord! Psalm 104:14-15 14 He causes grass to grow for the livestock and [provides]crops for man to cultivate, producing food from the earth,
15 wine that makes man’s heart glad— making his face shine with oil— and bread that sustains man’s heart.

; Ecclesiastes 9:7-8 Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works.

They are NOT the wine created by Jesus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee! John 2;9-10  Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained 20 or 30 gallons.7 “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. 8 Then He said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the chief servant.” And they did. 9 When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom 10 and told him, “Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.”

They are NOT the wine that relieves stomach problems! I Timothy 5:23 Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

They are NOT the wine used in the worship of the Lord! Deuteronomy 14:23 You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of the Lord your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the Lord your God.

(Hebrew word used is referring to wine less than 40 days old)

Alcoholic beverages are DESCRIBED as drinks that cause emotional, physical, and spiritual
problems! I Peter 4:1-5 Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same resolve—because the One who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin — 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will. 3 For there has already been enough time spent in doing the will of the pagans: carrying on in unrestrained behavior, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 In regard to this, they are surprised that you don’t plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation—and they slander you. 5 They will give an account to the One who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.

The Viper’s Victims

When I was 16, a 16 year old friend drowned because he had been drinking. His rescuer a closer friend of mine, got drunk and drove into a tree at Cessnock and killed himself. When I was 18 years old and a 17 year old friend died in a car accident because he had been drinking, the lesson was reinforced. But Lemuel’s mother took another path to teach Lemuel the lesson about booze.  As king, he possessed great power, but his mother told him to keep his mind unclouded. To dive into booze to escape the weight of his responsibility to judge rightly was not fit for a leader. It was his responsibility to take care of the needy, and he couldn’t fulfill his calling as leader if his mind was clouded by booze. Today, God gives us the ultimate calling to represent Him in our world. To share His grace, goodness, and love with a world consumed in hateful darkness. How can we show or speak God’s character to others when our minds are clouded by the elixir of intoxication? What kind of witness for Christ are you or I when our mind is mixed with booze.

The Viper’s destruction

Proverbs23: 20 Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine, or with those who gorge themselves on meat.

30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.

31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.

Come to know Christ.

Prov 30:5  Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6 Don’t add to His words,or He will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar.

Proverbs 23 Australia Day Drinking Day?

Proverbs23: 20Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine, or with those who gorge themselves on meat.

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.

31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup

and goes down smoothly.

32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.

35 "They struck me," you will say, "but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink."

Proverbs 31: 1 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: 2 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?

What are you doing, son of my vows? 3 Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

Alcoholic beverages are denied to certain people!

Priest – Leviticus 10:9 Nazarites – Numbers 6:3

Prophets – Isaiah 28:1, 7 Kings and princes – Prov 31:4-5

Elders/Overseers – I Timothy 3:2-3 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—

Titus 1:7For an overseer, as God’s manager, must be blameless, not arrogant, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money

Deacons – I Timothy 3:8  Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money,

Causing a person to stumble – Romans 14:21 It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble.

The Viper’s Den

The Viper’s Bite

The Viper’s Poison

The Viper’s Destruction

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