Updated: Apr 9, 2020
For the past few weeks the first thing on my mind when I wake, and the last thing before I sleep has been 'new wine, new wineskins'. Its constant, Holy Spirit on repeat, awakening my spirit to a mystery yet to be fully understood. It has preoccupied my mind space more than anything else between the seams of isolation and discovery.
The themes of new wine and new wineskins are far from an original revelation, many would agree right now we are primed for that very purpose. I feel the pressing of Holy Spirit, that now is the time to focus in on what this really means for the body, and for the world.
There is an abundance of belief, prophetic words and expectation about the next great move of God being upon us, but where I can see our gaps at times with this, is in our understanding and partnering with Him in its expression. While He does move sovereignly, I feel a sobering call for the bride's alignment individually and corporately in partnership with Him and what He is doing, rather than what we think we should be doing in His name.
Unprecedented, seems to be the word of the hour within this pandemic, something we have not seen before. And unprecedented, I believe, is what God is about to do - we have not seen it yet, and I wonder often if we the church are really ready for this? But ready or not, here He comes.
What is the new wine, and where does it come from, and for what purpose?
Many times in the bible where you find a reference to new wine, you will also find it alongside grain and (olive) oil. These three represent the promises and blessings of the Lord that come from covenant and communion with Him. The grain representative of personal harvest and the harvest of souls through Christ, our bread of life. The oil for anointing, anointing that Holy Spirit empowers to break the yokes of burden, bondage and grief, to empower with authority, glory and commissioning. The wine representing the blood of Christ's sacrifice for us to enter into new life, cleansed of sin, transformation, celebration, infilling and outpouring of Holy Spirit, intimacy and communion with God, harvest, and promised land/promises being fulfilled. In reference to the promised land, it is mentioned in Exodus 3:8 as a "land flowing with milk and honey", the honey in the verse was not likely the product from bees which we are familiar with. In fact it was more of a syrup made from the 'must', which is the juice of grapes, by boiling it down into a concentrate called debash.
In the case of all these three: grain, oil and wine - they must all go through a process of harvesting and separation or breaking apart. Wheat must be threshed to be able to gather the grain, olives must be crushed in an oil press to obtain the oil and remove the bitterness, and grapes must be trodden or crushed in the winepress to obtain the wine. All three a product that requires separation from their previous state.
I would suggest that in the case of new wine, not only should we be found attached to the true Vine (Jesus), but that personal and corporate crushing, separation or pressing takes place to produce that which remains of value. The pressing is not punishment, rather a submission to the weight of yielding to His glory and purposes. Often it's not until we are pressed that we find out fully what we are made of and what no longer serves us. And yet still following this there is the process of development, and maturing. We all know value is placed on a well aged vintage. Age doesn't guarantee quality, it's all about the specific process that that particular vintage went through and the quality of the grapes. Poor quality, poor process and you end up soon enough with a sour vinegar. Side note, some of the best wines have spent a lot of time in the dark being processed. I'd propose that rivers of new wine will flow from many who have been hidden in process for a lengthy time, developing deep and refined notes and flavours for such a time of revealing.
“And I will betroth you (Israel) to Me forever;Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,In lovingkindness and loyalty, and in compassion. I will betroth you to Me in stabilityandin faithfulness. Then you will know (recognize, appreciate) theLord[and respond with loving faithfulness].It will come about in that day that I will respond,” says the Lord. “I will respond to the heavens [which ask for rain to pour on the earth], and they will respond to the earth [which begs for the rain], And the earth shall respond to the grain and the new wine and the oil [which beg it to bring them forth], And they will respond to Jezreel [My Israel, who will now be restored]. “I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people,’ And they will say, ‘ You are my God!’” Hosea 2:19-23 AMP
I believe these verses of Hosea 2 are a prophetic promise which is upon us to embrace today. Let's break these verses down starting with verse 21. The Lord responds to heaven's cry for the rains to be poured over the earth. Has this not been the enduring cry of the betrothed, that the heavens would rain down an outpouring of the Spirit of God? And the earth shall 'anah' to the grain, new wine and oil. Anah can also mean to testify, witness, answer, sing, speak, hear and announce. So we could read this as 'the earth shall answer to, shall testify to, sing and speak of, witness and announce of the grain, the new wine and oil which are eager to come forth. His will is to sow or plant His betrothed Israel with the intent of producing fruit in her promised land. And the promise to those who have not known the Father, that in Him they shall find mercy and belonging.
What can we expect to see of a new wine vintage? Greater increase (I will use the word of the hour here, unprecedented) of personal and corporate levels of intimacy and communion with the Lord, miracles and workings of the Spirit through our lives, harvest of salvations, celebration which comes through knowing Him and the corresponding alignment to the will of the Father manifesting heaven on earth, promises fulfilled (especially long awaited ones), transformation of peoples, nations and cities, and abundance overflowing.
"This is what the Lord says, as the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing and benefit in it,"- Isaiah 65:8 AMP
One tiny grape alone cannot produce what is needed to make even a little wine. It must produce from amongst the clusters from the vine. No one person is able to lay claim to being the source of this new wine. Our source is the Vine, and what He produces through our lives requires the many, the great gathering of clusters all willing to be processed and poured out. A great outpouring, then requiring a great participation, a mighty yield. Many varieties of grape, but all grapes none the less, each with distinct attributes. There is the blessing and benefits of the Lord found in clusters.
We cannot steward the new wine with old ways, or even old ways 2.0 dressed up in another outfit. By now you would have heard "forget the former ways" at least a 100 times as the prophetic word of the Lord for this new age. The old ways and thinking that have any semblance of our proverbial Egypt have got to go. I'd also suggest that even the ways and thinking that are familiar to us are up for an overhaul.
In Matthew 9:9-17 we read about the account of Matthew (Levi) called to follow Jesus. The Pharisees and disciples of John didn't understand why Jesus would call a tax collector like Matthew, dine with him and with sinners including non-observant jews, and why the disciples of Jesus didn't fast. To them, it wasn't the way a Rabbi and his disciples were suppose to function, that wasn't the way things had been done. But we know Jesus came for a new covenant, to fulfil the word of the law and of the prophets (Romans 3:21) but to not to dress up the law with new pomp and stance which has no remedy for sin, but rather to become sin for our sakes. Jesus was the ultimate new wineskin. Nothing about His life really looked like what they were expecting, yet He was and is the Word, fulfilled completely, not the word done away with. It was in the context of these events of the calling of Matthew that Jesus says:
"Nor is new wine put into old wineskins[that have lost their elasticity];otherwise the wineskins burst, and the[fermenting]wine spills and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, so both are preserved.” - Matt 9:17 AMP
The new wine could not be carried within the old vessel of old religious thinking and precepts, it was too great for the old to be able to hold and understand, religious efforts to obtain righteousness burst under the weight of the greater glory of the wine of communion and new covenant with Christ.
So what could that mean for a new wineskin for today? The thing with an old wineskin is that it looses it's capacity to expand during the fermentation process of the new wine. Without our ability to be expansive and stretch with the Lord and what He is doing, we will burst under the pressure. I'd suggest that any thinking or function in our lives that lacks the ability to expand and stretch under the pressures of a supernatural overflow, that then tries to respond with control, diminish self or others and an unwillingness yield to renewal, needs a burial and resurrection into a greater glory. I'd suggest that a new wineskin requires heavenly strategies and blueprints that will not only lead the body but are capable of leading the world. I think those new strategies, creative ideas and blueprints will mean being able to let go of anything that may not have started as such but may have become more of religious practice than authentic communion and connection, thats not to say we do away with our core spiritual disciplines. I'd also suggest the new wineskin will look like a renewed simplicity in our expression of love for Christ and others. It's possible at times we over complicate and clutter up our worlds, I guess you would say our form of striving these days can easily become quantity over quality as our measure of success, and relevance to the demands of a lesser kingdom we were never called to serve. I think in knowing that we are on the very brink of experiencing something extremely powerful, we have the tendency to do two things: become passive spectators in the waiting or try to orchestrate a move ourselves. Our best response is to have ears to hear and eyes to see, hearing what is on the heart of the Father and seeing with the eyes and discernment of the Spirit. We need to be ok with having understanding, growing in maturity in wisdom, and still being willing to have the walls of our understanding blown apart in oder to expand. If we are continually asking "Father, how can I partner with your heart, what needs to surrender to your will?" we will do well. I'd also suggest that we would do well to be aware that the coming harvest into the kingdom, if history is anything to go by, may very well shake up our comfortable little church pews, and we should let it.
A prophetic picture I've had for a couple of friends for this season has been a blank white sheet of paper and an invitation to co-create with God on a completely brand new page. I think this is a picture that could apply for many of us right now. An invitation for a fresh, clean, new page to a new beginning where we enter with as little hang ups from the previous pages, with intention of co-creating something beautiful with God.
With the normal rhythms of life dramatically having shifted, we have seen many expressions take to social media to remain connected and current to their crews and extend their reach. The amount of creativity and hilarity people around the world are capable of in their little bubbles is a beautiful thing to behold.
We are however faced with a possible over saturation of content through our screens daily. But what if the primary focus of the church right now wasn't really about pouring into replicating a semblance of church as normal online, and leaders creating more content to keep people educated? I feel this strange tension of the airwaves, the need to fill it and in some cases compete for dominance in it. I say tension because it's not all bad. The church is trying to find her voice, to be louder than the world is. Where the prince of the air has held commentary too long, the church is saying I will rise up louder with hope and faith. But then there is a dynamic of exchanging one platform of significance for another to remain relevant, though we need the body to be bolstered up and infused with hope from leaders, especially at a time like this.
The over saturation of voices can potentially silence the individual voices. That is the voice I believe God is raising up in this hour. A individual encountering of Him and an rise of individual voice so that the entire cluster of the Vine are partakers together. The role of the offices of the five fold are to equip and raise up an apostolic, prophetic, teaching, pastoral, evangelical people. But how can we hear what people are saying if they are drowned out, or the significance of their voice is diminished because they don't feel the need to compete to be heard? I want to know what God has placed on their hearts. The maturity in the clusters won't come from an over dependant leadership model. We are primed for a time for Holy Spirit to encounter individuals and families in their own homes during this time, but we can actually rob them of that opportunity of having to press in for themselves to intimacy when someone else can do that for them.
I am also trying to listen to cry of the hearts in the world right now who don't have the assurances we have in Christ. They need our friendship, attention, love and voice right now too. We should not be ok if even one is hurting. Our 'chin up insert miss-contextualised scripture here ' messages we give to ourselves are not the messages they need. They need the authentic, living gospel message about how known they are by a God of infinite love towards them, the redemptive design for their lives and to see that love made manifest.