While Seventh-day Adventists have a health and temperance message to give to the world, God has been using His people in every church and age to spread this message. A while back, I visited the Congregational church in Litchfield, Connecticut, which was formed back in the 1700’s. When I got home, I googled the history of this church, and found that Lyman Beecher was the pastor of this church from 1810 to 1826. Thirty-four years before there was a Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Beecher was famous for preaching abstinence from alcohol, even while other pastors of his day were social drinkers.
Years ago, driving home from a Bible study in Fort Worth, Texas, I heard a local Baptist pastor on the radio talking about alcohol. He brought up a very interesting point I had never thought of. He quoted Leviticus 10:8-11 NLT
Then the Lord said to Aaron,“You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle. If you do, you will die. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation. You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common, between what is ceremonially unclean and what is clean. And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord has given them through Moses.”
He talked about how alcohol messes with the judgment center of the brain, and how Aaron’s descendants, the priests, were on a special mission and that alcohol was to have no interference with their mission. They held a position which set them apart. He drove home that point that while the Old Testament teaches all priests to stay away from alcohol, the New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers:
You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. 1 Peter 2:9 NLT
His conclusion was that no priest should ever touch alcohol. Every believer is a priest on a mission. Therefore all believers should commit to abstinence from alcohol so they can accomplish their gospel mission, and fulfill their role as priests.
I remembered listening to another pastor on the radio, years before, talking about why Jesus refused the wine offered to Him on the cross. (Mark 15:23)
I believe that the health message is not about living longer. It is about living closer to God. Jesus was going to die on the cross if He drank the wine or not. Jesus refused the wine because He was on a mission and did not need alcohol interfering with His brain and connection with God and focus on His mission. It is the same with the priests. Abstinence allowed them to distinguish between what is sacred and what is common. And it allows us to distinguish between good and evil.
While many people inside the Seventh-day Adventist Church debate abstinence and moderation in drinking alcohol, people in various Christian churches have abstained from all alcohol, based solely on the Scriptures which remind us of our priestly calling.
Are we willing to recognize our calling and and spread the Good News to all the world – a task that requires the very best our minds and bodies have to offer?