The Night Before Christmas*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and strange as it seems;

I wasn’t indulging in covetous dreams.

But reading my Bible, I searched for a clue;

Why Christians take part in this holiday too.

Word of God I plainly could see that it carried His name;

But the spirit behind it just wasn’t the same.

The songs spoke of wise men, of virgin and child;

Of shepherds, of God, and all men reconciled.

But nothing was said of the blood and the cross;

Of repentance, and faith, and of counting the cost.

They sang of the babe, His miraculous birth;

But not of the day when He’ll judge the whole earth.

Christmas tree My Bible said nothing of Santa, or toys;

Of Frosty the Snowman, and small drummer boys.

A reference to Rudolph not once did I see;

But it seems Jeremiah did mention the tree.

I sat and I pondered this curious matter;

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter.

That I knew in a moment he soon would be here;

So I prayed in the Spirit and stood without fear.

Santa Claus a.k.a. Satan Claws He slipped down the chimney, quick as a flash;

And stepped from the fireplace all covered with ash.

There stood St. Nick with his bag and his beard;

He looked at the Bible I held, and he sneered,

“Another fanatical Christian, I see;

No stockings, no holly, no pictures of me.”

I asked him if Jesus was God in the flesh;

He said that was something he couldn’t confess.

Krampus and St Nicholas He said, “I am Santa, I come from afar”;

I stood in the truth – “The Devil you are.

That suit and that beard doesn’t fool me one bit;

Your jolly deception is straight from the pit.”

“Beneath all your Ho Ho Ho’s, Lucifer lurks;

With your all-seeing eyes and your gospel of works.

Like a thief in the night you impersonate Christ;

Returning to judge the naughty and nice.”

Isis & Horus / Mary and "child" pagan worship “So call Christmas pagan,” he said, “That’s Okay.

‘Cause that’s what my sons at the Watchtower say.”

“You’ll look like a pagan or like a deceiver;

But none will suspect you to be a believer.”

I said, “I don’t care what your servants will say;

My loyalty lies with the Ancient of Days.”

“No matter how many abuses are hurled;

My Bible says be not conformed to this world.”

“You have no power, and no part of me;

So I stand on God’s Word, and command you to flee.”

Santa sleigh He squealed like a pig that was stuck with a knife;

He ran to the chimney and climbed for his life.

And I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight;

“Merry Xmas to all, and a long, dark night.”

~ Unknown ~Soli Deo Gloria

_____________________________

Footnote:

* The blog post “The Night Before Christmas” first appearing at this blog on 24 December 2016. The upgraded version with pictures subsequently first appeared on 27 November 2018.

The Day of The Vow

The Day of the Vow (a.k.a. The Day of the Covenant) was instituted on 16th December 1838 at the Battle of Blood River. Here is an article that appeared at this blog on 16 December 2011 titled 16th December The Day of the Vow.

THE DAY of THE COVENANT

By Dr. Peter Hammond

Sarel Cilliers statue To view this presentation with pictures as a PowerPoint on Slideshare, click here.

To listen to an audio presentation, as given at the Reformation Society, click here.

To view the video on our Vimeo page, as presented at the Reformation Society, click here.

An abbreviated translation of this message in Afrikaans is also available, click here.

9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; ~ Deuteronomy 7:9

The Battle of Blood River

For over a century and a half, throughout South Africa, 16 December has been observed as The Day of the Covenant. Marking the decisive Battle of Blood River, the Day of the Covenant has been recognised by many, not only as a victory for the Voortrekkers, but as a triumph for Western civilization and Christianity in Africa.

Spiritual Warfare

It should be noted that before the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, there were no known Christians amongst the Zulu nation. Despite the dedicated spiritual labours of British and American missionaries amongst the Zulus for 18 years previously, so great was the hold of superstition, the reign of terror of the Zulu kings, and fear of the witchdoctors, that no Zulus were known to have responded to the preaching of the Gospel before the defeat of Dingaan’s Impis at Blood River.

Christianity vs. Witchcraft

One could similarly note that despite the strenuous labours of famous British missionary Robert Moffatt, and others, amongst the Matabele, in what became Rhodesia, there were no baptised Matabele converts to Christianity before the defeat of Lobengula’s Impis in the Matabele War of 1893. 

The Spiritual Liberation of the Zulu

Observing the significance of The Day of the Covenant is not in any sense anti-Zulu. I have many precious friends amongst the Zulu. Having read extensively on their history, and visited many of the strategic battle sites and museums in Zululand, I have to regard the Covenant made by the Boers, and The Battle of Blood River, as the beginning of the spiritual liberation of Zululand. Only after The Battle of Blood River did hundreds, and then thousands, of Zulus come to Christ. 

Love in Action

It needs to be noted that after their victory over Dingaan’s forces the Afrikaans Christians built a magnificent mission station and church at Mgundgundlovu (Dingaanstad) within sight of the massacre of the Trek leader Piet Retief and his 100 followers who were brutally tortured and massacred. The Afrikaans missionaries built a school for the blind, an evangelists training college, and many other expressions of Christian love for their former enemies. 

Zululand for Christ

After the final defeat of the Zulu military, in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, Zulus came to Christ by the hundreds of thousands. Today there are millions of Zulu Christians. 

Vikings for Christ

As a descendant of the Vikings, I look to our former enemy, King Alfred the Great, as one of my Spiritual forefathers. Although the original Hammonds would have been among the Viking invaders of England, I recognise that the conversion and discipling of the once brutal Vikings began with the military victory of King Alfred the Great and his Saxon armies over the Vikings. Similarly, I believe that our Zulu brothers and sisters in Christ can rejoice in the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu nation that began with the original Day of the Covenant.

Shaka and the Mfekane

Shaka had built the Zulu into a great warlike nation. He unleashed waves of destruction impi ebomvu (total war) that left enormous stretches of country uninhabited by people. The Mfekane unleashed by Shaka had led to the annihilation of literally hundreds of tribes. Known as "the Black Napoleon", Shaka had soaked Southern Africa in blood, devastating countless kraals, particularly between 1820 and 1824. Shaka was described as tall, handsome and a military genius. He moulded the previously insignificant Zulu tribe into a mighty war machine. He introduced new systems of fighting, abandoning the long throwing spears, and introducing the far more lethal short handled broad-bladed assegai. He compelled his men to throw away their sandals and to harden their feet. His regiments (Impis) would be compelled to dance on thorns and if anyone showed pain they were immediately executed. Instead of standing at a distance singing, and taunting the enemy, and ineffectually throwing their spears, Shaka trained his men to fight as a cohesive unit, in the shape of cattle horns. The most experienced troops were at the head to gore, and the younger warriors were put on the horns to encircle the enemy. The Zulu were trained to rush straight in for the kill. They overwhelmed every tribe they came across and annihilated them. Many of the young women and young boys from these defeated tribes were amalgamated into the Zulu tribe, but the older people and warriors were exterminated.

Mzilikazi’s Path of Blood

One of Shaka’s most effective generals, Mzilikazi, was a dynamic, and ambitious, man. (Mzilikazi was born in 1790, making him slightly the junior of Shaka who was born in 1787.) Mzilikazi was 34 when he fled Zululand with his Impi and founded Matebele nation. To avoid retribution at the hands of his king, Shaka, Mzilikazi led his men on a devastating path of blood through the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Botswana, later settling in what became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi spared the most promising of the vanquished tribes to be incorporated into his army and tribe. He moulded his heterogeneous horde into a great nation using the best of Zulu military tactics. His path through the interior of Southern Africa was as devastating as a veld fire, as he slaughtered, captured, plundered and left destruction in his wake. Until his defeat at the hands of the Boers at Vegkop, the Matabele were operating out of Western Transvaal. Their defeat at the hands of Hendrik Potgieter’s trekkers led Mzilikazi’s men to flee across the Limpopo River to settle in Matabeleland (in what later became Rhodesia, and ultimately Zimbabwe).

Dingaan’s Treachery

On 22 September 1828, Shaka, the founder and King of the Zulus, was stabbed to death by his half-brothers, Princes Dingaan and Mhlangana. Missionaries and English traders who visited Zululand described Dingaan as "astute", "sly", "cruel", "temperamental", "brutal", "charming", "diplomatic" and "treacherous". Shortly after murdering his half-brother, Dingaan quickly arranged the assassination of his co-conspirator Mhlangana, and then systematically executed all aristocratic rivals and anyone else who could possibly be a danger to him, including the commander-in-chief of Shaka’s army, Ndlaka, who he had strangled.

Corrupt and Cruel

Dingaan was about 30 years old when he seized power. He began to build himself a new capital in Mgungundlovu (the place of the great elephant). Dingaan quickly accumulated over 300 wives and concubines. Traders and missionaries described Dingaan’s appetite as "voracious, sexually and otherwise" and he soon became extremely obese. Unlike his brother Shaka, Dingaan preferred to stay at his palace. He was not a warrior like Shaka. Instead of leading military campaigns, he sent out his Impis and remained at Mgungundlovu surrounded by a continual programme of feasting and dancing.

The Gullibility of Piet Retief

When the Trek leader Piet Retief came to Dingaan to negotiate the right for the Voortrekkers to settle in the depopulated territory between the Tugela and the Bushmans River (present day Natal) he was warned by the missionaries that one of the principle objectives of Shaka had been to totally depopulate all the surrounding territory as far as his soldiers could penetrate so that his followers, over whom he held such despotic sway, might have no asylum or refuge if they attempted to escape his murderous rule. Retief was also warned that the defeat of the renegade Zulu general Mzilikazi at the hands of the Boers in the Transvaal had sent shockwaves through Zululand. As Dingaan’s military expeditions against Mzilikazi had all been indecisive, he feared the power of the Boers. Yet, Piet Retief seemed supremely self-confident and brushed aside every warning about the danger of the dictator with whom he was attempting to negotiate.

Mgundgundlovu

Dingaan’s capital, Mgungundlovu, was described as an efficient military camp entirely fenced in with thorn bushes. The king’s quarters dominated the high ground, overlooking the two thousand huts to the sides of the main entrance and open arena. Each hut accommodated twenty warriors. Within the lines of the military huts were four strongly fenced in cattle kraals. Dingaan’s own quarters consisted of hundreds of beehive huts including huts for his enormous harem, and his counsel house and reception hall, both some 20 feet in height, with the roof supported by 22 pillars entirely covered in bead work. The floors were made of mud and dung, polished with blood and fat until they shone like a mirror. Mgungundlovu as a whole was arranged in ovals, circles and semi-circles, with thousands of beehive huts appearing like beads in a necklace. Facing the capital, on the other side of the stream below was the hill of execution (KwaMatiwane).

In the Presence of Dingaan

Dingaan required his subjects to throw themselves to the ground and crawl forward in the dust for about two hundred metres before coming to a halt a good distance from his throne. Piet Retief and the other white visitors refused to succumb to such an indignity, and stood in the presence of the king. They noted that Dingaan was entirely hairless. He was shaved every day and was described as having an abhorrence of human hair. He wore many ornaments on his head and his body was rubbed daily with fat to make him appear like polished ebony.

Warnings from the Missionaries

Acting as the king’s secretary was Rev. Francis Owen of the Church Missionary Society. Most of what we know concerning the meetings of Piet Retief with Dingaan come from Owen’s diary. Piet Retief first reached Mgundgundlovu on 5 November 1837. The king entertained him with war dances by thousands of his warriors. Owen warned him of the countless cruelties, tortures and executions that he had been forced to witness. However, Piet Retief seemed most impressed with the "sincerity", "graciousness", "intelligence", and "goodwill" of Dingaan.

After seeking to impress Retief for two days with parades of his regiments and herds, Dingaan informed Retief that he was willing to grant the Trekkers the territory his armies had depopulated across the Tugela, and around Port Natal – on condition that Piet Retief should return the cattle, which had been taken by Sikonyela and his Batlokoa people. As they had come on horseback and dressed in clothes, Sikonyela’s people had been assumed to be Boers. To prove that the trekkers were not in any way responsible for Sikonyela’s cattle raid, he required them to deal with this chief.

The CMS missionary, Francis Owen, warned Piet Retief that he was wasting his time, for Dingaan was utterly inconsistent and had already granted the desired territory to the English government through John Gardiner. However, Piet Retief regarded the expedition against Sikonyela as necessary for the vindication of their honour. Owen questioned how a man of Retief’s intelligence could attach any value to any promise made by a tyrant like Dingaan.

When Piet Retief later gave an enthusiastic account of the splendours of Dingaan, his kindness and boundless hospitality, American missionary Rev. George Champion declared: "I have known Dingaan for two years Mr Retief, and I know full well what a dangerous character he is. I can only see disaster should you visit him again." Rev. Kirkwood also warned Retief of Dingaan’s intention to have him put to death as "a wizard." But Retief brushed all their warnings aside declaring: "Have no apprehension on my account!"

Sikonyela and the Batlokoa

Chief Sikonyela was described as a man who always caused trouble. He was the son of a famous warrior queen Ma Ntatisa. He had done his share of devastating the country along the Caledon River. The remnants of the devastated tribes he moulded into the Batlokoa. Cattle raids were part of the African way of life and both Sikonyela and many of the trekkers questioned Retief’s actions as contrary to his own code of behaviour by interfering in inter-tribal affairs. However, Retief felt himself justified in taking action, if these people had indeed posed as Boers. Retief managed to avoid bloodshed by using a pair of handcuffs to restrain Sikonyela and then declaring that he was "under arrest" and they would only take the handcuffs off if he returned the stolen cattle. Sikonyela was kept prisoner for three days while the seven hundred cattle were rounded up and identified by the accompanying Zulus.

Failing to Heed Advice

A passing trader warned Piet Retief of Dingaan’s planned treachery against him upon his return. Fellow trek leader Gert Maritz repeatedly warned Piet Retief not to return to Dingaan declaring: “I do not trust Dingaan!” But, every attempt to dissuade Piet Retief was brushed aside. Maritz reminded him of the murder of Anders Stockenstrom in 1811 while having friendly talks with a band of Xhosas.

Gullible’s Travels

Piet Retief, with almost a hundred followers, arrived at Mgundgundlovu on Saturday 3 February. He was rebuked by Dingaan for having released Sikonyela unharmed. Dingaan was shocked that Retief had not executed him, or at least brought him to the Zulu capital for execution.

He then requested the Boers to make a demonstration of their war dances on their horses. The trekkers staged an impromptu charge on horseback in the royal arena, making the air resound with the sound of their muskets. Dingaan and his subjects had never seen anything like it and were plainly shocked at the speed and agility of the Boers on horseback and the deafening sound of their muskets. The missionary warned Retief that his display was entrenching the fear of Dingaan that he was a wizard and a threat that must be eradicated.

However, when Dingaan agreed to sign the document drawn up by Retief to cede the territory between the Tugela and Umzimvubu Rivers to the trekkers, Retief felt that all of his trust in the word of Dingaan was fulfilled. This document was placed in his leather briefcase with great relief.

However, the CMS missionary, Rev. Owen, was most disturbed that Retief and his followers had missed the Sunday morning church service on 4 February, for these formalities for the king. Retief later said that he had forgotten what day of the week it was.
On Monday the trekkers were treated to an endless display of war dances and military manoeuvres by Dingaan’s Impis. Dingaan was described as "a master showman" with his entertainment the most spectacular ever seen in the sub-continent. Dingaan again asked for a display of the Boers war tactics on horseback. The Zulus sat stunned at the speed and perfect control of the men with their rifles on horseback.

Defenceless Before Dingaan

Dingane_-_'Bulalani_abathakathi'_-_1897 On Tuesday morning William Wood, a young English trader fluent in Zulu, who was visiting the Owens, warned Retief that "your entire party will be massacred before the day is out." As the Retief party struck camp and were preparing to leave, they were invited to a final farewell display. For this they were requested to leave their firearms, bandoleers and powder horns outside the gates of the kraal. Incredibly, they acceded to this demand. Leaving their firearms outside the kraal, they walked defenceless into the arena of Dingaan’s kraal. After ominous war dances which increased in volume and intensity, Dingaan stood up and shouted "Babulaleni abathakathi!" ("kill the wizards!").

Cold Blooded Murder

From across the stream on the opposite hillside, Francis Owen was reading the New Testament when a messenger rushed up to inform him that Dingaan had decided to kill the Boers but he was not to be concerned. Owen looked with horror as he saw an immense multitude, "about nine or ten Zulus to each Boer were dragging the helpless unarmed victims to the fatal spot" on the hill of execution. Many of the Boers were impaled on assegais, and they were all clubbed to death. Piet Retief’s young son was killed before his eyes. Amongst the dead was their interpreter, Thomas Halstead, the only Englishman of the party. The various missionaries and traders who had warned Piet Retief repeatedly questioned how such an intelligent and experienced man as Piet Retief could have been so thoroughly deceived, even mesmerized, by the tyrant Dingaan. Soon, the sky above the hill of execution was black with vultures. The heart and liver of Piet Retief was brought to Dingaan, but the rest of the corpses were left out in the open on the hill of execution to later be discovered along with Retief’s blood-stained leather case containing the signed treaty with Dingaan. It was almost ten years since Dingaan had murdered his half-brother Shaka to assume the chieftainship.

Massacre at Midnight

About noon on that fateful Tuesday, 6 February, Rev. Owen saw Dingaan send out a huge army in the direction from where the Boers had come. There was no doubt that even worse was to come. In the early hours of 17 February, ten thousand Zulu warriors attacked the sleeping Voortrekkers between the Bushman’s the Blaauwkrants Rivers. There was no moon that night and it was pitch dark. Trekkers awoke to the sounds of their dogs barking. Wave after wave of Zulu warriors were stabbing men, women and children, wiping out whole families.

Fighting for their Lives

The followers of Gert Maritz were more cautiously laagered and better prepared to defend themselves. However, the followers of Piet Retief were spread out and most vulnerable. Sarel Cilliers and Gert Maritz led charges to rescue fleeing trekkers. Women and children, even as young as ten years old, fought tenaciously, selling their lives dearly. Marthinus Oosthuizen charged through the mass of Zulus to a wagon for ammunition and then back again to re-supply the beleaguered Van Rensburgs surrounded on a hill.

Devastation

Fighting continue until the afternoon of the 17th when the Zulu army retreated, taking over 25,000 cattle, and many horses and sheep, with them. Many hundreds of the Zulu attackers had been killed in the fierce fighting. As the Voortrekkers began to count up their own dead, they grieved over the loss of 185 of their children murdered. Of the women 56 were dead – this included even grandmothers – many with multiple assegai wounds. The murdered men numbered 40. Incredibly, some women who had been horribly stabbed were found alive amongst the piles of dead. Johanna van der Merwe and Margarita Prinsloo had each survived despite 20 assegai wounds, and Klasina Le Roux with 17 stab wounds.

Weenen

As Gert Maritz organized a mass burial of the slain trekkers, the sky was full of circling vultures and the sounds of weeping could be heard throughout the area. The Boers later founded a town at the site of the massacre which was named Weenen (The Place of Weeping).

Ambushed at the Buffalo River

On 6 April a counter-attack by a Boer commander led by the two rival leaders Piet Uys and Andries Potgieter was ambushed across the Buffalo River at Italeni. A British expedition from Port Natal rushed to assist the beleaguered trekkers, but ten of the Commando were killed, including Piet Uys and his brave son Dirkie who kept fighting by his father’s side to the very end. As this commando retreated it became known as the Vlugcommando (the fleeing commando).

Disaster

It was the darkest time of despair for the Voortrekkers. Death, disaster and dissention seemed to doom their ambitious enterprise.

Andries Pretorius Comes from the Transvaal

With the arrival of Andries Pretorius from the Transvaal, there was fresh hope. The widow of Piet Retief declared of Andries Pretorius: "This man has been sent by God. He will help us obtain justice." Andries Pretorius was a dynamic pistol packing farmer from Graaf Reinet. He was described as a tall, imposing figure in a well cut suit, with a pistol and a cutlass at his belt. He also came with 60 Transvaal volunteers for the Wencommando that he intended to organize. At an assembly of the Volksraad, Pretorius was elected Commandant General.

The Wencommando

Within a couple of days, he was heading out with 464 men, and 64 wagons, to engage the Zulus. Pretorius adopted the motto Eendragt Maakt Magt (unity is strength). (These words were to become the motto of the Transvaal Republic.) All in the Wencommando (The Victory Commando) were lectured on discipline, Christian conduct, decency, integrity, compassion and courage. As God’s soldiers their conduct had to be of a high standard. The chaplain, Sarel Cilliers, who was widely respected as a man of God, and who had proved himself in battle at Vegkop, ensured strict religious observance with daily devotions and prayer times where the men were required to kneel.

On the move the 64 wagons travelled in four rows so as not to make the column too long for the vanguards and rear guards to protect from ambush. Every night their laager was drawn up, sentries posted, inspections held, and defensive drills practiced. Scouting patrols were sent out every day to ascertain the whereabouts of the Zulu army, and to identify any potential threats.

The Covenant

As the Tugela River was flood, the Wencommando crossed near Spioenkop. At Waschbank, on Sunday 9 December, Sarel Cilliers stood on a gun carriage before the men had who assembled for worship and he proposed a solemn vow: "My brethren and fellow countrymen, at this moment we stand before the Holy God of Heaven and earth to make a promise. If He will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we may observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of Thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in His honour; and that we shall enjoin our children that they must take part with us in this, for remembrance even for our posterity; and if anyone sees a difficulty in this, let them return from this place. For the honour of His Name shall be joyfully exalted, and to Him the fame and the honour of the victory must be given."

All the English volunteers joined with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers in taking this Vow. From 9th December the Vow was repeated every evening, up until the night of the 15th, during evening services when Psalms were sung and prayers were offered.

Confronting the Zulu

There was a calm deliberation amongst the men of the Wencommando. They knew that they were going up against the most formidable force in Africa at that time. Up to that point, the Zulu Impis had never been beaten. They knew that Dingaan had over 20,000 warriors that he could throw at them. They were only 464, and this being 1838, they only had smooth ball muskets, which required 30 to 40 seconds to reload. And they knew charging Zulu warriors could cover a lot of ground in that time.

To the Ncome River

On Saturday the 15th of December the Commando crossed the Buffalo River and outspanned between the Buffalo River and the Ncome River. Two scouts reported that they had seen a huge Zulu army only half an hour ride away. Pretorius inspected the terrain for a suitable laager site and he sensed God’s guidance for there was a perfect spot on the other side of the Ncome. On its western bank there was a deep hippopotamus pool and a large donga, or gully. The laager was set up making use of these natural defensive features on two sides. The 64 wagons were firmly lashed together with two battle gates secured at the two openings where the canon were placed. The back of the D-formation was set against the donga, and the semi-circle faced towards the open plain. Candles were set out everywhere and lanterns suspended over the wagons on the long whip handles, to prevent the Zulus from approaching the laager unseen in the night. As Sarel Cilliers led the Commando in repeating the Vow for the last time, and then in singing the Psalms, the Zulus had moved within earshot and could hear their strange singing and see the eerily lit laager.

To Beat the Unbeatable Foe

It was a suspenseful moonless night. Two hours before dawn the trekkers were at their posts. A veil of mist lifted and a perfect day broke. There was not a cloud in the vivid blue sky and there was no wind. It was a day of crystal clarity. As the mist lifted the Boers saw the entire Zulu army seated facing them with their shields in front. The front row of the Zulus was only 40 paces away from the half-moon of wagons. Row after row of Zulu regiments were grouped according to the colour of their shields. There were between 12,000 and 15,000 Zulu’s surrounding the laager.

Fear God Alone

"Do not fear their numbers, we can deal with them", shouted Pretorius. As warriors were moving into position to attack from the donga in the rear, Commandant Pretorius decided to seize the initiative and he ordered his men to open fire immediately. Before the Zulus could even begin their intimidating war dances the roar of gunfire shattered the early morning peace. The day began in furious battle with Zulus yelling, hissing, smashing their assegais against their shields, thunderously stamping the ground with their feet, charging the laager at full speed. The two little canon cut swathes through the Zulu ranks, and the deadly aim of the Boer Commandos took their toll. As a mass of Zulus tried to scale the donga and assault the rear of the laager, Sarel Cilliers led his men to cut them down.

Taunting the Enemy
As the Zulus retreated out of range to about 500 metres, Pretorius sent out his brother and an interpreter to taunt the Zulus: "What are you doing, men of Dingaan? We have come to fight men, not women and children! Why don’t you attack?"

Facing the Zulu Tidal Wave

The Zulus leapt up to attack, drumming their shields, yelling, whistling, hissing and swept in a black wave down upon the wagons. This was the longest charge of the two-hour battle. Muzzles were becoming dangerously hot, wagons bristled with assegais, but the strategic positioning of the laager was frustrating the assaults of the Zulus. The closer they got to the wagons, the more they were funnelled and compressed by the river and the donga until they were tripping into one another and stumbling over their earlier casualties. Their losses were becoming enormous, yet without achieving anything. Never in the experience of their warrior nation had anything like this happened to them before.

Charging the Enemy

Andries Pretorius sensed a change in the tempo of the battle and ordered a charge form the laager. He had the two canon dragged out and fired from the front. Then he led a charge into the middle of the Zulu Impi. For the first time in history a Zulu Impi broke and fled. The cohesion on which the Zulu Impis was based was shattered. The Zulus began to flee across the Ncome River, many drowning in the process. As Pretorius fired on one Zulu his horse reared and threw him off. A Zulu lunged at him and Pretorius managed to ward off the assegai with his rifle. As the Zulu struck again Pretorius was thrust through his left hand. He pinned the Zulu to the ground and grappled hand to hand until the warrior was stabbed with his own assegai.

Pursuing the Enemy

On the other side Sarel Cilliers led a commando charge that put to flight the other section of the Zulu army. The mounted Boers pursued the fleeing Zulus, shooting at them as long as their bullets lasted, and firing pebbles when all their bullets were exhausted. Over 3,000 Zulu dead were counted around the laager. Yet not one Voortrekker had been killed, although several were wounded.

Thanksgiving

As the sun set the exhausted Commando members returned for a service of Thanksgiving and for their first meal of the day. Then they had to clean their muskets and cast bullets for the final push to track down Dingaan at Mgundgundlovu.

The Remains of Retief

By the 20th December the Zulu capital was sighted. It was ablaze from one end to the other. Dingaan had fled and set fire to his own capital. When the grizzly remains of Piet Retief and his 100 followers was discovered on KwaMatiwane they saw the legs and arms still tied with thongs, the impaling sticks still visible. Next to the remains of Piet Retief lay his water bottle and leather satchel which still contained Dingaan’s signed and witnessed agreement for the cession of Natal. On Christmas Day the remains of these victims were all gathered and buried in a communal grave at the foot of the koppie.

Reaping the Whirlwind

The Zulu kingdom fell into a civil war and Dingaan was overthrown by his half-brother Mpande.

Loving their Enemies

It is remarkable that, despite the treachery that the Boers had endured at the hands of the Zulu, and the massacres of so many unsuspecting women and children on the banks of the Blaauwkrans River, that no atrocities were committed by the Boers in retaliation. Instead, the Biblical injunction to love their enemies was fulfilled by the vigorous missionary work which was established by the Reformed Church in Zululand, establishing schools, hospitals, churches and orphanages, even within sight of where Piet Retief and his followers were so brutally murdered. In the century and a half since that original Day of the Covenant, many millions of Zulus have come to Christ and Zululand has been blessed by Revival. In a very real sense all of that began with the Covenant proposed by Sarel Cilliers, and enthusiastically adopted by the Wencommando.

Set Free to Serve Christ

Just as the descendants of the Vikings can look back to their one-time enemy King Alfred the Great as their Spiritual father who brought the first Vikings to the Lord after defeating them in battle, so the Zulus and the Afrikaners and English, with whom they had once been locked in deadly battle, are now united in Christ. With the defeat of Dingaan, and later Ceteswayo, the power of the witchdoctors was also broken and the Spiritual liberation of the Zulu people began. As the Lord promised in Genesis 22:17: "…thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies…" Jesus Christ is building His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Blessed in Order to be a Blessing

God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled to this day:

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 
3  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. ~ Genesis 12:2,3

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:
mission@frontline.org.za
Website: www.FrontlineMissionSA.org 
 
Sources:
The Voortrekkers, by Johannes Meintjes, 1973, Corgi Books.
The Great Trek, by C. Venter, 1985, Nelson.
The Voortrekkers of South Africa, by M. Nathan, 1937, London.
Andries Pretorius in Natal, by B.J. Liebenberg, 1977, Pretoria.
The Washing of the Spears, by Donald Morris, 1966, Jonathan Cape.

This article has been adapted from a chapter in Sketches from South African History (now also available in Afrikaans: Sketse uit Die Suid Afrikaanse Geskiedenis) available from Christian Liberty Books, P.O. Box 358, Howard Place, 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490,

Email: admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za,

Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

This message was presented by Dr. Peter Hammond to The Reformation Society. The audio CD and PowerPoint are available from Christian Liberty Books.

Soli Deo Gloria_________________________________

The Retief Massacre of 6 February 1838 revisited – events that lead to the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838.

Mitsuo Fuchida ~ From Pearl Harbour to Calvary

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour (1941-2018). Here is an article worth reading written . . .

By Dr. Peter Hammond. This Article is available as a PowerPoint with pictures, viewable here.

Download this article as a printable A3 tract here.

Mitsuo Fuchida (1902-1976) is best known for leading the devastating air attack on Pearl Harbour, 7 December 1941. After Mitsuo Fuchidathe war, Fuchida became a Christian Evangelist, who conducted Evangelistic outreaches throughout Japan, the United States and Europe.

Japanese Naval Aviator

Fuchida was the son of the Master of the Primary School in Kashihara. His grandfather was a Samurai. Mitsuo Fuchida entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1921, graduated as a mid-shipman in 1924, was promoted to Ensign in 1925, and sub-Lieutenant in 1927. He specialised in horizontal bombing and gained combat experience during the Sino-Japanese War, when he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, Kaga, in 1929. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1936, he was accepted into the Naval Staff College and joined the aircraft carrier Akagi in 1939, as Commander of the Air Group.

Attack on Pearl Harbour

Take of to Shokaku In October 1941, Fuchida was made Commander. Under the command of Vice Admiral Nagumo, with 6 aircraft carriers, and 423 aircraft, Commander Fuchida was responsible for the co-ordination of the aerial attack on the US Pacific Fleet. He was in the first wave of 183 dive-bombers, torpedo-bombers, level-bombers and fighters, which took off from carriers 370 km North of Oahu and targeted the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour. At 07:40 (Hawaiian Standard Time), Fuchida ordered "Tenkai!" ("Take attack position!"), slid back the canopy of his Nakajima Kate torpedo bomber and fired a green flare to signal attack. He then instructed his radio operator to send the coded signal "To, to, to" ("strike!").

Tora! Tora! Tora!

At 7:53, Fuchida sent the code words "Tora!

Tora! Tora!" back to the carrier Akagi, the flagship, to report that complete surprise had been achieved. Tora was the acronym for Tosugeki Raigeki (torpedo attack) and in Japanese Tora means Tiger.

Attack at Dawn

Japan attack When the attack on Pearl Harbour hit, at 7:55am, many American sailors, or soldiers, were on leave, or sleeping late. 7 Battleships were lined up on battleship row. The Oklahoma capsized. The West Virginia and California was sunk. The Nevada was damaged and beached near the mouth of Pearl Harbour. Tennessee, Maryland and Pennsylvania were damaged. 10 Other ships were sunk or seriously damaged. The Arizona sank with 2,000 sailors on board, after a stupendous explosion of its forward magazine. (Just 8 days earlier, the Americans had published a picture of the Arizona with the words: "It is significant that despite the claims of air enthusiasts, no battleship has yet been sunk by bombs." Pride goes before a fall.)

Attack on Pearl Harbour 7 December 1941 As the first wave returned to the carriers, Fuchida remained over the target to access damage and to observe the second wave attack. He returned to his carrier only after the secnd wave had completed its mission. 21 large flack holes were found in his aircraft, the main control wires were barely holding together and it is incredible that he survived so many hits to his aircraft. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft in the attack on Pearl Harbour. The US Pacific Fleet lost 21 ships including almost every battleship – 188 aircraft destroyed, another 159 damaged and 2,403 lives lost. In Fuchida’s Memoirs, he remarks being upset by the Admiral’s cancelling of the third wave attack, which would have destroyed Pearl Harbour’s fuel tanks and dry dock facilities. "I was upset and thought, ‘What stupidity!’ But the decision belonged to the Commander. It would not do any good if I complained.". Years later, Fuchida said that while he mourned those who died aboard the USS Arizona and other ships, he did not regret his role in the Pearl Harbour attack. It was war, he said. After the successful Pearl Harbour attack, Fuchida was granted an audience with the Emperor.

Wounded at Midway

Pearl Harbour bombing On 19 February 1942, Fuchida led the first of two waves of 188 aircraft in an air raid on Darwin, Australia. On 5 April, he led another series of air attacks against the Royal Navy bases in Ceylon. In June 1942, Fuchida was recovering from an emergency shipboard appendectomy, when he was wounded at the Battle of Midway. He was on the ship’s bridge during the morning attacks by US aircraft. As Akagi was hit, a chain reaction from the burning fuel and live bombs began the destruction of the ship. An explosion threw him to the deck and he broke his ankle.

A Hand of Protection

Captain Fuchida After recuperation Fuchida spent the rest of the war as a staff officer. Two weeks before the American invasion of Guam, Fuchida was ordered to Tokyo. When the Japanese failed to repel the invasion, Vice Admiral Kakuta and his staff chose Seppuku, the Samurai suicide ritual of disembowelment. "Again the sword of death had missed me only by inches." Fuchida declared. "What did it mean?"

Hiroshima Bombing

The day before the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he was in that city to attend a conference. A long distance call from naval headquarters required him to return to Tokyo. As he ate breakfast in Yamato, 200km away, Fuchida learned that everyone he had been working with in Hiroshima had perished in the atomic explosion. The day after the atomic bombing, he returned to Hiroshima to access the damage. All of the members of Fuchida’s party died of radiation poisoning, but Fuchida exhibited no symptoms. Each of the Officers who had accompanied Fuchida, to investigate the devastation in Hiroshima, showed strange signs of illness. One by one they died through radiation poisoning. As Fuchida returned to Kashirhara, to help his wife raise their children, he was depressed: "Life had no taste, or meaning I had missed death so many times and for what. What did it all mean?"

War Crimes Trials

After the war, Fuchida was called to testify at the trials of Japanese military leaders. When General Douglas McArthur summoned Fuchida to testify in the Tokyo War Crimes trials, Captain Fuchida was disgusted and declared that everyone should know that "War was war" and that cruel acts occurred on both sides. The petty vindictiveness of the Allies infuriated him and he denounced the "victor’s justice."

Love For One’s Enemies

In 1947, he met his former flight engineer, Kazuo Kanegasaki, who he thought had died in the Battle of Midway. However Kanegasaki reported that a young Christian woman, Peggy Covell, had cared for them, in the prison camps, despite her Missionary parents having been killed by Japanese soldiers on the Island of Panay, in the Philippines. Peggy Covell’s parents were Missionary teachers in Japan until 1939. They then relocated to the Philippines. The Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1941. They beheaded both of Peggy’s parents on Sunday morning, 19 December 1943. To Fuchida, this love for one’s enemies was inexplicable as the Bushido code required revenge against the murder of one’s parents to restore honour. He became obsessed with trying to understand why anyone would treat their enemies with kindness and forgiveness.

Inspiring Example

The extraordinary example of Peggy Covell inspired Fuchida to know more about the God of the Christians. When Japanese Prisoners of War asked the young 18-year old Peggy Covell why she volunteered to help them, her reply was: "Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents." When Peggy considered her parent’s sacrificial service for the Kingdom of God, and their love for the Japanese people, she was convinced that she must continue their Mission, reaching Japanese for Christ. As Fuchida researched from every source in the Philippines that knew the Covells, he learned that they had been forced to their knees by their captors and they had prayed together as they were about to be beheaded. They had prayed for the Japanese!

Literature Evangelism

In 1948, as Fuchida was passing by the bronze statue of Hachiko at the Shibuya station, he was handed a pamphlet about the life of Jacob De Shazer, a member of the Doolittle Raid, who was captured when his B-25 bomber ran out of fuel in occupied China. In the pamphlet: "I was a Prisoner of Japan", De Shazer, a former US Army Air Force staff sergeant and bombardier, related his testimony of imprisonment, torture and awakening to God.

Doolittle Raid Bombers

Doolittle Jacob De Shazer was the bombardier of B-25 No.16. After taking off from USS Hornet and dropping bombs on Nagoya, Japan, they flew to China, but ran out of fuel over Japanese controlled China. They were captured after parachuting to the ground. De Shazer was imprisoned for 40 months, 34 of these months in solitary confinement. He was beaten, malnourished and 3 of his crew were executed by firing squad. The fourth member, Lt. Bob Meder died of starvation. After 25 months of hating his captives, a Bible came into his hands, for only three weeks, but it changed his life completely. He began to learn Japanese and to treat his captives with respect. He resolved to bring the Message of Christ to Japan. After returning to the USA, De Shazer attended Seattle Pacific College and returned to Japan to preach the Gospel. He established a church in Nagoya, the very city he had bombed years before. Fuchida became intrigued with the Christian Faith. The shocking examples of Christians able to forgive their enemies staggered Fuchida. "That’s when I met Jesus. Looking back I can see now that the Lord had laid His hand upon me so that I might serve Him."

The Power of the Printed Page

Fuchida read the tract on the spot and on the train he saw an advertisement for a book with the same title. When he disembarked, he headed for a book store and purchased it. De Shazer’s story engrossed Fuchida. Determined to understand what had motivated De Shazer, Fuchida bought a Bible from a Japanese man on the street. When he read "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:24), Fuchida realised that this was what the Covells had been praying before their execution.

Faith Comes From Hearing the Word of God

In 1949, Fuchida purchased a Bible at the same Shibuyu station where he had received a pamphlet. As he read the Gospels he came to understand the reason for the life of forgiveness and mercy that motivated Peggy and Jacob. It was the crucifixion of Jesus and His Words in the Gospel: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." On 14th April 1950, he surrendered to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

The Power of God

By the time he had completed reading the Gospel of Luke, Fuchida had become a Christian. He knew no Christians, but now he began to declare himself to be a Christian. As Christianity was considered the "occupation religion" in Japan, this brought him much reproach from his former friends and family. Pietsch and Glenn Wagner, of the Pocket Testament League of Japan met with Fuchida and encouraged him to join them in open air outreach.

Open Air Preaching

Open air preaching In the business section of Osaka, as the Americans stood to speak, fewer than 40 Japanese would stop to listen. But when Fuchida, Hero of Pearl Harbour, was introduced, the crowd swelled rapidly. Rush hour traffic stopped. Hundreds gathered, even the police listened in.

Japan for Christ

This was the beginning of Fuchida’s new career as an Evangelist. Soon he filled an auditorium in Osaka, 500 Japanese came forward at that rally. Almost every newspaper in Japan reported on it: He described his conversion as "It was like having the sun rise." He preached against Japanese-egocentrism and xenophobia. Like Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34), he used Japanese cultural examples to communicate the Gospel of Christ. Captain Fuchida went from being a vital part of Japan’s military attack on the United States, to being a vital part of God’s Missionary offensive into the hearts, minds and souls of Japanese, and later Americans and Europeans too.

Fuchida and De Shazer

Fuchida and De Shazer In May 1950, Fuchida and De Shazer met for the first time. In May he visited De Shazer, knocked on his door and said: "I have desired to meet you, Mr De Shazer. My name is Mitsuo Fuchida." De Shazer recognised the name and said: "Come in! Come in!" The former enemies embraced as brothers in Christ.

War Author

Midway In 1951, Fuchida published an account of the Battle of Midway and in 1952 he toured the United States as a member of the Worldwide Christian Missionary Army of Sky Pilots. In February 1954, Readers Digest published Fuchida’sCaptain Fuchida story of the attack on Pearl Harbour. Fuchida wrote – From Pearl Harbour to Golgotha (later renamed – From Pearl Harbour to Calvary) and a 1955 expansion of his book: Midway The Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy Story. His autobiography – For That One Day, The Memoirs of Mitsuo Fuchida, Commander of the Attack on Pearl Harbour, was published in Japan 2007 and translated into English and published in 2011.

The Turning Point

In Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan, Fuchida wrote: "Five minutes! Who would have believed that the tide of battle would shift in that brief interval of time? … We have been caught flat-footed in the most vulnerable position possible, decks loaded with planes armed and fuelled for attack."

Courage and Self-Sacrifice

Fuchida turned down an offer from the Japanese government to organise their new Air Force, he faced down an angry pilot who pulled a knife and threatened to kill him. This man later came to Christ. Fuchida ministered in prisons and led people to Christ, even in the cells of condemned murderers. He formed Calvary Clubs in prisons.

The Blood of the Martyrs

The Covells Mitsuo Fuchida related the testimony of Peggy Covell and her brave parents all over Japan. He quoted her testimony: "But the Holy Spirit has washed away my hatred and has replaced it with love." The Covells had gone to their death singing hymns joyfully and praying for the conversion of their enemies. The Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. Mitsuo Fuchida was one of the fruit of their Faith.

Fuchida spent the rest of his life as an Evangelist, taking the Gospel of Christ throughout Japan, the United States of America and Europe.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480,

Email: mission@frontline.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.ReformationSA.org

See Also:

Pray for Japan

Was the Use of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Militarily and Morally Justified?

Soli Deo Gloria

Jesus Turned Water Into Wine, But He is Not a Glorified Bartender! Tract

JESUS

TURNED WATER INTO

WINE, BUT HE IS NOT A

GLORIFIED BARTENDER!

~ With Compliments ~

Repent and Believe South Africa

Gary Stephen Crous

Cell: +27 (0) 72 221 1233

E-mail: luke9.23evangelism@gmail.com

Website: http://www.luke923evangelism.wordpress.com

Introduction

When it comes to the issue surrounding whether a Christian may or may not drink alcohol, or whether a Christian can exercise his/her “Christian liberty” in drinking alcoholic beverages, the parties who are pro to alcohol consumption go instantaneously to the scripture where the Lord Jesus Christ was attending a wedding in Cana and He turns “water into wine”. This is one of two of the most referenced scriptures in the entire Bible; the other being “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) or the simple exclamation: “JUDGE NOT!” Even unbelievers know these two scriptures, but whether Christian or unbeliever, whenever these scriptures are referenced to argue their point, 99.9% of the time the verses are taken out of their true context, the other 0.1% also! To bring this issue into its proper context, let us read the account as recorded in God’s Holy Word in the Gospel according to Saint John, for it is written,

1  And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 
2  And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 
3  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 
4  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. 
5  His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 
6  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 
7  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 
8  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 
9  When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10  And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. ~ John 2:1-11

Now according to these verses and especially where reference is made that the water was made into wine, but not just any wine, but “good wine”; this is used as their argument: “You see, Jesus turned water into wine! So we can drink alcohol!” Firstly, we must establish who is making the reference to “Jesus turning water into wine” – believer? or unbeliever? Secondly, if it is a ‘Christian’, why would a Christian want to partake of the “pleasures of this world”, when Jesus’ half-brother James says, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4)? And thirdly, why would someone who has been delivered from his/her sinful pleasures, that they readily indulged in prior to the Lord’s salvation and regeneration of their soul, would want to continue in the pleasures of old when the apostle Paul tells us that in Christ we are new, as we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And lastly, we know that if an unbeliever makes that statement, “But Jesus turned water into wine”, we can assuredly know that they wish to continue in their sin for their point of argument is: “It is alright to drink alcohol as your God even makes it okay to do so!” However, the unbeliever misses the mark in their lost state for this explains their present situation devoid of wisdom and understanding: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16).

Explaining the miracle

From the portion of scripture under discussion in John 2:1-11, what must be remembered are the reasons behind Jesus providing the wine at the wedding and what it ultimately accomplished? We know that those attending the wedding “wanted wine” (verse 3). It would also appear from the text that Jesus and His disciples were initially not at the wedding, but “was called” (verse 2), and His mother Mary was present at the wedding (verse 1) and said to Jesus that, “They have no wine” (verse 3) – in other words, “Do something about it.” Jesus makes it very clear to His mother, even censoring her, but not out of disrespect, when He says, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (verse 4). Jesus used the same word “Woman” when speaking to her with affection from the cross, “Woman, behold thy son!” (See John 19:26).

We read on and see that Jesus instructs the servants to fill the “six waterpots of stone, . . . containing two or three firkins apiece” (verse 6) “with water” (verse 7). In order to work out how much is “two or three firkins apiece”, according to Smith’s Bible Dictionary: “The value of the Attic metrétés was 8,6696 gallons, and consequently the amount of liquid in six stone jars, containing on the average 2½ metrétæ each, would exceed 110 gallons.” This would equate to about 416.395 litres of water to be turned into wine! That is a lot of wine!

What we need to bear in mind is that whilst the Holy Bible does not outright ban the consumption of alcoholic wine, there is however severe warnings and restrictions placed on the consumption of intoxicating wine and strong drink. Hereunder are the Hebrew and Greek words that explain “wine” which also have a deeper and more expansive meaning and explanation (that will not allow for space here) than the English equivalent of the word “wine”:

H3196 יין yayin yah’-yin From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].

H4469 ממסך mamsâk mam-sawk’ From H4537; mixture, that is, (specifically) wine mixed (with water or spices): – drink-offering, mixed wine.

H6071 עסיס ‛âsı̂ys aw-sees’ From H6072; must or fresh grape juice (as just trodden out): – juice, new (sweet) wine.

H7941 שׁכר shêkâr shay-kawr’ From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.

H8492 תּירשׁ תּירושׁ tı̂yrôsh tı̂yrôsh tee-roshe’, tee-roshe’ From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.

G1098 γλεῦκος gleukos glyoo’-kos Akin to G1099; sweet wine, that is, (properly) must (fresh juice), but used of the more saccharine (and therefore highly inebriating) fermented wine: – new wine.

G3631 οἶνος oinos oy’-nos A primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin [H3196]); “wine” (literally or figuratively): – wine.

We should also bear in mind that the common wine that was commonly drunk in Palestine was the pure juice of the grape, the fruit of the vine. Jesus says in Matthew 26:29, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (See also Mark 14:25 & Luke 22:18). “It was not brandied wine, nor drugged wine, nor wine compounded of various substances, such as we drink in this land today. We use the word “wine” now to denote the kind of liquid which passes under that name in this country – always containing a considerable portion of alcohol not only the alcohol produced by fermentation, but alcohol “added” to keep it or make it stronger.” (Barnes). If Jesus turned the water into wine of the fermented intoxicating kind, Jesus, Who is God manifest in human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), would be violating His Own Word by encouraging the intoxication and drunkenness of the Cana marriage couple, their guests, even including His own mother Mary and His disciples. We read in Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

Therefore, if people try arguing the point that the wine was fermented and alcoholic in nature, then Jesus, the Son of God, was encouraging a violation of making His neighbour drunk! We are told to love our neighbour, not to cause his downfall! We are also instructed by God’s Word, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18). This scripture to the church at Ephesus warns: Be not drunk, but be sober in the Holy Spirit. Also in Proverbs 23:29-35 we read about the conditions of a person partaking in alcoholic drink that leads to drunkenness,

29  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 
30  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 
31  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 
32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 
33  Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 
34  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 
35  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again. ~ Proverbs 23:29-35

1  Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. ~ Proverbs 20:1

Did Jesus drink intoxicating wine?

We see from these scriptures that God warns against taking fermented wine and strong drink, yet there are many Biblical theologians who allude to Jesus drinking intoxicating wine, where they cite Matthew 11:18,19, for it is written, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” However, those scholars err in that the aforementioned verses are not making the distinction between John and Jesus as to one not drinking alcoholic wine and the other was drinking alcoholic wine, respectively. No, writer agrees with Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Vol. V. pp.154-155) where he comments, quote:

“In the explanation of the parable is set forth the different temper of John’s ministry and of Christ’s, who were the two great lights of that generation.

(1). On the one hand, John came mourning to them, neither eating nor drinking; not conversing familiarly with people, nor ordinarily eating in company, but alone, in his cell in the wilderness, where his meat was locusts and wild honey. . . .

(2). On the other hand, the Son of man came eating and drinking, and so he piped unto them. Christ conversed familiarly with all sorts of people, not affecting any peculiar strictness or austerity; he was affable and easy of access, not shy of any company, was often at feasts, both with Pharisees and publicans, to try if this would win upon those who were not wrought upon by John’s reservedness: . . . “[Unquote]

No, the Lord Jesus Christ was not a “glutton” and a “winebibber” as those statements were wicked accusations brought against the Son of man Jesus Christ by the religious order of the day, for they were always trying to discredit Jesus. We know this, for Jesus says, “. . . and they say . . .”

So then, what was the significance of the miracle of turning water into wine? The miracle was Jesus the Messiah (Christ) exercising His authority over His creation. Here Jesus also showed that by filling the waterpots of stone with water, He could turn the water into wine without going through the process of making wine – that would be by going to the vineyard to pick the grapes, by taking the grapes to the winepress, by getting into the winefat and treading the grapes for hours on end extracting the juices, then cleaning out the skins and twigs and other debris, by bottling the grape juice, and by bringing it to the wedding without first passing through a distributor and shopkeeper.

These processes could also have taken days, weeks or even months, but Jesus performed the miracle in a matter of minutes! We are told, “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:11). The disciples believed Jesus to be the God-sent Messiah. And so is it with us. Jesus can change us from sinners into saints in an instant. It is more than just Jesus turning water into wine.

God’s warnings and man’s conduct

In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary in respect of John 2:10, he writes, quote:

“Those that expect Christ’s favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ’s methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses’ miracles was turning water into blood, Exodus 7:20; the beginning of Christ’s miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ’s works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ’s works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Luke 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.”[Unquote] [i.e. DO NOT let Jesus be offended by your conduct!]

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, we read,

9  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 
10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

These afore verses reveal that, among others, no “drunkards” will inherit the kingdom of God. All drunkards are headed for Hell, but the Word tells us in verse 11 thereof, “And such were some of you . . .” implying a change in nature having been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. A new creature has come into existence. A new creature is one who is set apart from the norm, as we read:

3  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 
4  Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: ~ 1 Peter 4:3,4

Do you find yourself different to what people expect? Or do you want to fit in with the crowd, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly (Proverbs 26:11). These warnings are given to keep the disciple of Jesus Christ perfect in thought, word and deed. In Hebrews, we are warned, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:4). Does your conduct meet the holiness requirement that God requires?

Earlier, reference was made to Matthew 7:1, “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.” Persons often stop the verse there which is out of context, for if one continues reading then the full context will be known. You cannot judge a brother or sister of doing something unless you have examined yourself, and if you are right before God in a matter, you can now see the speck in your brother’s eye because the beam has been removed from your own eye! You see Jesus says that if you judge you must judge righteously, for we read, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And to judge righteous judgment is to use His Holy Scriptures (See 2 Timothy 3:16,17). For we read, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

By way of writer’s testimony, before, when I was a slave to alcohol, I could not make righteous judgments, but when God delivered me from my bondage he made me free that I can testify of His goodness in setting me free. If I was still drinking alcohol, going into bottle-stores, shebeens, nightclubs, etc, and living a life of a drunkard (one who gets drunk) then how can I show a brother the error of his ways if I am doing likewise. That would leave the sinner justifiably calling the “preacher” a Hypocrite! And Jesus has a lot to say about hypocrites that will perish in hell and ultimately the lake of fire, for we read in Matthew 7:21-23,

21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
~ Matthew 7:21-23

Conclusion

It is no secret that alcohol consumption causes major health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and injuries in automobile accidents. These are not the only risks posed by drinking for researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases. 12 of the more severe conditions are: Anemia, Cancer, Cadiovascular disease, Cirrhosis, Dementia, Depression, Seizures, Gout, High blood pressure, Infectious disease, Nerve damage, and Pancreatitis. Alcohol is also the tool of the Devil that has destroyed many families, with abuse of children and spouses an evil scourge, in some cases leading to murder!

Three times a year, at Easter, at Christmas and at New Year, these celebrations make the Pharisees’ accusations against the Lord Jesus Christ a reality in the lives of those revelling (i.e. to feast in a noisy manner). By way of an examination of your behaviour: Are you gluttonous and a winebibber? “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The apostle Paul exhorts true Christians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So let us take heed what Paul says about walking in charity (love):

13  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 
14  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 
15  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 
16  Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 
17  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. ~ Romans 14:13-17

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Footnotes:

* All Scripture is from the Authorised Version (King James Bible, 1611)

* Smith’s Bible Dictionary, by William Smith L.L.D. (1986 Thomas Nelson)

* Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible (e-Sword)

* Strong’s Complete Word Study Concordance, Expanded Edition

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. V (Marshall, Morgan & Scott)

* Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (e-Sword)

* http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/12-health-risks-of-chronic-heavy-drinking

Published by Repent and Believe South Africa

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2 December 2018

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