Video available here: http://youtu.be/JnNBbGatYVw
The idea of teetotalism in the church was growing popular during Branham’s early ministry. Having just come out of Prohibition, some of the larger groups of denominational Christians considered the movement to be a type of reformation in the Church.
It was not new to William Branham. In fact, teetotalism dates back to 1833. The word “teetotaler” comes from a speech from Dicky Turner, member of the Preston Temperance Society. He said, “"I’ll be reet down out-and-out t-t-total for ever and ever". (the stuttering ‘T’s were a hit! People began to call themselves “t-totalers”)
But the origin of this belief goes back way farther than 1833. As the early church was growing, Gnostics started to incorporate pagan worship into their belief system. Though Jesus Christ drank wine – even at the “Last Supper” – and though Jesus Christ died for their sins, they wanted to ‘earn’ their salvation by abstaining from meats and drinks.
Even today, many false religions or religious cults try to ‘earn’ their salvation through works-righteous faith. Islam, Buddhism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventist Church, Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Conservative Mennonites, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and more abstain from alcohol.
This is strikingly odd, when you consider the use of wine and strong drink all throughout the Bible. Jesus was called a ‘winebibber,’ and drank wine at the Last Supper with His disciples. King David would tell his army of thousands to ‘sober up’ a week before battle. Even though it got them into trouble when they over-indulged, many men in the Bible drank strong drink. For this reason, Paul instructed the church to avoid drunkenness – everything must be done in moderation.
It is also ironic that there were those in the Old Testament that abstained from strong drink – even though God told them to do it! They thought they would create a better way of righteousness through the commandment that was given by their ancestors. God used this as an example to show how evil the people were.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “Go to the house of the Rechabites and speak with them and bring them to the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers; then offer them wine to drink.”
Think of this! God told Jeremiah … as “Thus Saith The Lord” to tell the people to drink wine! And He sent His prophet to offer it to them!
So I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah and his brothers and all his sons and the whole house of the Rechabites. I brought them to the house of the Lord into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, the man of God, which was near the chamber of the officials, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold. Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, “Drink wine.” But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever.
God told Jeremiah to offer the Rechabites wine to drink. Jeremiah filled pitchers, poured them into cups, and told them to drink it! And they told the prophet of God: NO! They said their father told them to abstain from not only wine, but from anything to do with wine. Rechab had told them:
You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’ We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us.
But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Syrians.’ So we are living in Jerusalem.”
God was very angry with Judah and Jerusalem. They had taken the words of a man, Jonadab, over the Word of God for their righteousness. Jonadab was well respected, but the words of God were not obeyed! Like today, people were obeying the words of a man over the Words of God!
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Go and say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Will you not receive instruction and listen to my words? declares the Lord. The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to ME.
Works-righteous faith has always been evil. Before Christ, there was the sacrifice, through the blood of the lamb, that atoned for sins. Man could not add laws to the Old Covenant to ‘earn’ their way into righteousness – only through the blood of the lamb. The same goes for today. Only through the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, can we be righteous.
I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed ME. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, because I have spoken to them and they have not listened, I have called to them and they have not answered.”
Think of it! God turned his wrath upon them, His own people. Because they did not obey God, He said that they would be severely punished!
The Rechabites obeyed their father, in the children of Israel SHOULD have obeyed their Heavenly Father, Yahweh. Before the prophet, and in the temple, of the Lord, they were found to be a faithful example.
Therefore, as God used them as an example for obedience to the children of Israel, God also used them as an example of mercy. God showed by example that those who obey The Father over the words of some other man will be spared from the judgment:
But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
As Christians, we should ask ourselves: Are we like Judah, serving the rules given by man for our holiness? Or are we doing what this example is telling us: focusing our means to salvation on Our Heavenly Father?
Do we really think that the rules given by man – that are not even in the bible – will save us from hell fires? And do we place this man’s ideas of holiness equal to the Word of God? Why else do they call it the “Voice of God?” …or the “Spoken Word?”
Is God pleased that we have focused on a man after He loved us enough to send His Only Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation? How many of you would care enough for this world to send your son, let him be beaten and abused, murdered in the worst possible way to save a lost and dying world? Where does your obedience lie?