Leviticus 10:8-11 “do not drink … that you may teach”

Lev. 10:8 Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying:

Lev. 10:9 “Do not drink wine or {shekhar} intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations,

Lev. 10:10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,

Lev. 10:11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

The Lord requires shepherds to remain sober – on duty during the exile

 The Lord said “forever” because he foresaw the rebels of future times: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3)

During the exile, Ezekiel again reminds the priests of this “Do not drink” requirement (Ezek. 44:21 like Lev. 10:9). Two verses later, Ezekiel again repeats the command from Lev. 10:11 because the Lord’s people still need to be taught the difference between the holy and unholy (Ezek. 44:23).

Notice: Lev. 10 does not say “moderate drinking” will suffice for shepherds. No verse says “Drink moderately” so that you may teach. Rather, it says plainly “Do not drink.” Paul says: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season….” (2 Tim. 4:2) The words “do not drink” in Leviticus and Ezekiel expressly mean to “be sober in all things” as Paul again says in the New Testament (2 Tim. 4:5).
The scattered sheep always need shepherds for Scriptural admonition, to so they will “return to the Lord with all their heart and soul.” (Deut. 30:10) Even after the scattered (exiled) Israelites are taken far from the Temple, the Lord still requires Aaron’s sons to be watchmen and shepherds for the people. Thus, the Lord’s zero-alcohol requirement remains relevant throughout all Aaron’s generations, for the “sheep” always need shepherds to admonish them.

The Lord’s watchmen shepherds still must remain sober to be able to teach all the Lord’s statutes, both “in season and out of season.”

Isaiah rebuked the “blind watchmen” – “the shepherds who can’t understand” (Isaiah 56:10-12) – for they fetched the wine which the Lord already prohibited in Leviticus 10. However Isaiah was perfectly aware that some types of “wine” are not at all alcoholic and he says so in Isaiah 16:10.

The hardship of Israel’s exile could have been avoided if they had listened carefully to all the Lord’s commands. Aaron’s family and all Israel should have listened carefully like the sober family of Rechabites listened to their father (Jer. 35). They said, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. (Jer. 35:6)

Even sheep must never “sleep”

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians a general letter (not a pastoral letter); it is addressed to laymen as we are reminded in 1 Thess. 5:12. Paul repeatedly says “be sober” – repeatedly when addressing laymen (1 Thess. 5:6,8) and repeatedly in his pastoral letters to Timothy and Titus.

1 Thess. 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be {nēphō} sober.

1 Thess. 5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

1 Thess. 5:8 But let us who are of the day be {nēphō} sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

1 Thess. 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…

1 Thess. 5:12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.

Conclusion: Christians are always on duty. Thus says the Lord: “be sober” and “be sober.”

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