“So, they went out into the fields and gathered grapes from their vineyards and tread them and held a festival. They went into the house of their gods and ate and drank and cursed Abimelek.”
Gee, is this really an ancient text or is it a description of a Super Bowl party? Sad, isn’t it? We like to think of ourselves as sophisticated and superior to the ancients, and though our technology is far more advanced, our behavior isn’t. Such were the revelries of our ancient ancestors and such are the revelries today. And the solution to our sin is also still the same: repent and believe.
And so, they produce new wine…pick and tread the grapes, add some yeast, and let it bubble and froth for a few days, only to be consumed by the people en masse as part of a festival to their pagan gods. And, as part of their festival, they uttered curses against Abimelek. This is probably more than drunken hate speech, but in the context of their worship (in the houses of their gods), these are probably ritual cursing much like that which Balak sought to hire Balaam to utter against the Israelites (Numbers 22:1-6).
I believe that it is safe to say that never in history did a wise decision come out of such drunken debaucheries. Yet, the people have walked this far down the pathway of self destruction, why not walk the rest of the way. Sadly, of course, these are supposed to be the people of God, set apart to be holy and not to be given to drink or idolatry. How depraved our nature can become when not restrained by the grace of God.
And while we may still think we are above such things in the church, to think that way would be a rather naive perspective on fallen man. How often I have seen people act without thought or restraint in the house of God. Sometimes I have seen people act so thoughtlessly toward one another that the nature of their true heart shows. Such is the reality of living in a fallen world and such is the reason why it is just as important today as it has always been to point people to Christ.