New wine must be poured into new wineskins (Luke 5:38)
The Lord has many ways to bring us to proper priorities. In my case, He simply removed my ministry. But since He removed it, I have been granted many opportunities to learn valuable lessons. One lesson suggested was ‘new wine.’ But why wine? I asked. I was confused because I don’t drink, so why would He want to teach me about ‘new wine.’ After some initial exploration of the subject I parked the lesson for a future time.
Recently, out of nowhere, I heard God say to me, “You are an old wineskin”. “I think you are mistaken”, I immediately responded. “I am moving in new revelation and have an ear to hear what You are saying to the Church.” Yet, the words still hung heavily in my spirit. When I got over myself, I knew it was time for the lesson of new wine to be learnt, to study wineskins further.
What Jesus was saying would have been common knowledge. When people in his time wanted to make wine, they would put grape juice into a carefully prepared animal skin. Then, when the fermenting wine expanded, the skins would stretch. Old wineskins, however, would already have been stretched. Thus, if one tried to make wine in an old skin, it would burst, and the wine would be lost.
But Jesus was not teaching a lesson of wine-making, rather, He was speaking about what it means to be open to the kingdom of God. The presence of the kingdom demands new expressions and new forms. The old ways and the old practices cannot accommodate the vitality of God’s reign. It is a newness that cannot continue in the old form.
This is just as true today as in the first century. If we are going to be truly open to God’s work in us, we must be prepared for something new, even for unexpected surprises. Too often, however, we cling to that which is familiar and comfortable, essentially rejecting the “new wine” of God’s kingdom.
Now I realized that I had a choice. Either I could take the Lord’s advice and be open to the new wine of God, or I could say “no” and close myself to the new thing God might be doing in my life. I knew I had to be open to the possibility of “new wineskins.” Thus, begins a conversation and process that I believe will lead me in a new direction and ministry for the next season.
What have I learnt and been what has been revealed regarding new wineskins?
New wine comes from pressure and crushing
Wine is produced under pressure! In the Hebrew, the words translated ‘new wine’ mean freshly pressed, squeezed, expelled, and trodden out. The grapes have come through the winepress, where they have been trodden underfoot.
I received this word from the Lord at the time ‘The new wine is crushed by the fingers of God so that we are refined, purified and prepared for the new season.’ If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed – you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed
I would add that sometimes being refined is hard. We don’t always see the end result and we feel like we are just going through hell for no reason.
Where there is new wine, there must be a new wineskin
When we try to force the new wine into an old vessel – both will be ruined. We can’t take the new revelation that God is releasing and try to place it in an old vessel. We will lose the new wine and destroy the old vessel. Instead we need a new vessel for the new wine. It provides the opportunity for an anointing of new wine into new wineskins. It is a powerful experience of new wineskins that are fully capable to carry and release the outpouring that God promised to us all along.
So where do we get a new wineskin?
The encouraging thing is that new wineskins can be made from old wineskins (see Luke 5:38-39). The Hebrew word for ‘new’ when referring to wine means ‘recently revealed or what was not there before.’ New wine has never been here before. The Hebrew word ‘new’ when talking about wineskins means ‘new in quality, fresh in development or opportunity, not found exactly like this before.’ This suggests that the wineskin can be renewed. An old wineskin can be repurposed. The wineskin needs to be submerged in water for a period of time. Then, it has oiled poured onto it and the oil is massaged into the leather to renew it and make it pliable again. I believe that God follows a similar process when renewing our ‘wineskin’. Through God’s transformation in our lives we become that new wineskin.
The bottom line is that if we want new wine, we need to become a new wineskin to receive it!