“Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant men in mixing strong drink.” (Isaiah 5:22)
In Isaiah 5, the prophet details many of the sins of God’s people for which He is calling a foreign nation to punish them. Among the transgressions we find in :22 “those who are heroes in drinking wine.” One application probably springs to mind — but this verse may actually condemn more of us than one might initially think:
Here the Lord pronounces woe upon this people because they were were “heroes in drinkng wine”, so a person might think that it was their wine-drinking which was their sin. And to some extent, it evidently was. “Heroes in drinking wine” means they evidently did a lot of it, and the Bible repeatedly condemns drunkenness, and warns us about the dangers of consuming alcohol. But there is another application we would do well not to overlook.
The passage says that the men of the land were “heroes” in drinking wine; “valiant” in mixing strong drink. They were “heroic” and “valiant” — these are actually good qualities. What is regrettable is that they were “heroic” and “valiant” in the wrong things! They should have been heroes at war, defending their nation. They should have been valiant in taking up the cause of the defenseless of the land, the widow and the orphan. But instead they spent their energies being “heroes” in drinking wine. Their priorities were sadly skewed.
This angle of the text applies to many more of us, not only those who drink too much, but each of us who spends great time and energy on inconsequential things. Are you dedicated? Conscientious? Detailed? Diligent? Courageous? Energetic? Faithful? Those are good qualities indeed. But we would do well to ask ourselves if we are applying those qualities to the most important arenas of life. Are you using them to accumulate material possessions which will soon perish? Are you basically wasting them on trivial things which won’t have eternal consequences? Or are you applying the best of yourself to God’s Kingdom’s work, which will matter for eternity?
It’s a sobering thought that each of us should consider: am I being heroic in the wrong things?