I was preparing my next installment on the Ekklesia when, 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. I keep up with the prophets and have an ear to hear what You are saying to the Church.” Yet, the words still hung heavily in my spirit. To say I was slightly offended would be an understatement! But when I got over myself, I turned to the scriptures to study wineskins further.
Luke 5:36 – 38 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
If we read this scripture in context, Jesus has been calling his disciples and displaying a different lifestyle to them. He is not behaving in the manner of John and his disciples. He is not behaving as the Pharisees. He is being Jesus – sitting with sinners, eating and drinking with them. He is healing the sick and forgiving sins – all way too radical for the Pharisees. Jesus is challenging the status quo. He is not submitting to the way that things ‘should’ be done. When he is questioned on this – he shares the above parable about the new garment and the new wineskin.
He is declaring a new way of life. Jesus came to announce a change in dispensations. A new way of living. And He is explaining to the disciples and the Pharisees that those who want to embrace this new way, cannot simply try and attach it to the old way of living. If they did, it would destroy everything.
I believe Jesus is imparting the same message to us today. We are aware that He is doing something new. We know we are in a new era, yet we are taking the new revelation He is giving us and trying to attach it to an old garment. We want the new things that God is doing, but we want them to fit into our old ways. We do not want to change or give up our old garment. The challenge is that the new does not match the old. That word match in the Greek is symphōnéō which means to ‘be in harmony or agreement’. Jesus is saying that the new and the old are not in agreement. They cannot abide in the same garment.
He reiterates this idea through the picture of the wineskin. When we try to force the new wine into an old vessel – both will be ruined. We cannot 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. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.Luke 5:38 The bottom line is that if we want new wine, we need to be come a new wineskin!
So where do we get a new wineskin? The encouraging thing is that Luke 5:38 explains that new wineskins can be made from old wineskins. The word new when referring to wine is neos which means ‘recently revealed or what was not there before.’ New wine has never been here before. The word new when talking about wineskins is kainos which means ‘new in quality (innovation), fresh in development or opportunity, not found exactly like this before.’ This word suggests that the wineskin can be renewed. An old wineskin can be repurposed through innovation. And THIS is what God is saying to me, and many of us, at this time.
We have cried out to God to use us and He wants to, but our vessels have to be renewed before he can pour new wine into us. This is a process that we need to embrace. Firstly, the old wine needs to be drained out of us. We need to be emptied. We need to come to an end of the good things that we were involved in during the last season. That looks like opportunities drying up or streams of income evaporating. In general, a dying or an ending of all that was before. As we are emptied, we quickly become dried out and inflexible. Just like an old wineskin.
When the drying up starts to happen, we really struggle with it. First, we start repenting thinking we have done something wrong, then we start binding the devil, and it just gets worse. I find that when we do not understand what God is doing, we become angry and bitter at God. Our hearts harden towards Him, but may I suggest that it is the hand of God steering us into a process of renewal. He wants us to understand that the ‘shape’ we are in is unsuitable for the new thing that he is pouring out. He needs us to change and so He will create the circumstances that cause us to change.
When we find ourselves in this place, we need to acknowledge that God wants to do a new thing and we are unprepared for it. Our wineskin is old. That means that our thinking is old. Our mindsets have hardened and set in a certain way. God wants to reshape our thinking so that it can be in harmony with the new ideas and ways that He is bringing with His new wine. Just as Jesus lived out a new lifestyle, we are called to live out a new lifestyle in the Kingdom. But our thinking, just like the Pharisees, has been shaped according to a preceding dispensation. Jesus had to create a new wineskin among his disciples to hold the new wine that was poured out during his life. The Pharisees were unable to hold the wine, it would have burst that wineskin and the wine would have been lost and the wineskin destroyed. Jesus knew this, so he called a group of people who were able to renew their wineskins.
Remember the disciples were Jewish. They too had been taught the law. They lived under the mindset and thinking of the Law, but they were able to go through the process of renewing their wineskin to hold a new wine. And God is challenging us today – will we go through the process to be able to hold a new wine?
Watch out for my next post where I discuss what this process looks like and how we can cooperate with God to become new wineskins!