A new year always brings with it 365 new challenges, new victories, new growth, and new chapters. Isaiah tells us that God will do a new thing, he will make streams in the desert. Many times, I have wandered around the dry and desert places, longing for a stream to appear. But what would happen if a stream rose in my desert place right now? The dryness of the ground would suck up all the water, and the water would be wasted. There must be some preparation first, a way to store the new things that God is getting ready to do.
Mark 2:22 says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”(NKJV)
Historically, when the grape harvest came, many of the grapes were turned into wine through a fermenting process. The fermenting process allowed the grape juice to transform, change, and expand into the wine. However, not any vessel was suitable to hold the wine. Winemakers had to find the correct vessel for the wine to go through the process of change. For example, wine couldn’t be put into a jar because the vessel was not pliable enough for the wine to go through the changes it needed. Wine needed to be put in something that could stretch and grow with the juice as it transformed, hence the wineskin.
Wineskins were made by an expert craftsman from the skin of either a goat or lamb. The skin had to go through a process to be prepared to use as a wineskin. It was dried and tanned with vegetable extracts. Then the wineskin was cut into the correct shape, tacked, and sewn. It was then sealed with resin from a juniper tree and left to harden. The craftsman had to prepare many wineskins before the harvest began so they were ready for the wine-making process. Reusing the old skins was not an option. Once the wine had gone through the fermenting process, the wineskin would become hard and brittle. If the winemakers tried to use the old wineskin, it would break, and it could not withstand the fermenting process a second time. Thus, both the wine and the wineskin would not be wasted.
After being stored in wait for the harvest, the new wineskin must be prepared to be used. The craftsman would use a hot rod and massage the wineskin over the heat. Once it had softened, the craftsman would blow into the opening, causing it to expand enough for the grape juice. This heating process also helps to jumpstart the fermentation process.
Many of us are not expert craftsmen or winemakers, so what’s the point? God is the master craftsman, we are the vessel (the wineskin), and the grape juice is the calling God has for us to do. As we allow the process of fermentation to occur, we will have wine to pour out to the world.
Our wineskin is supernaturally prepared and crafted by God. But there must be some steps to ensure that it is maintained and prepared for the Holy Spirit to breathe in us and cause us to be ready to receive the harvest. This means that we must keep ourselves on hot with the word of God. Keep the word of God alive in our hearts and lives to be ready for the new things God is going to do.
Wine needs a fermenting process, even if it wreaks. It is in this process that the wine gains its richness and flavor. If we want to give this world the richness and deep flavor of what God is developing within us, we must allow ourselves to go through the fermenting process, even if it is messy and unpleasant.
New wine is meant for new wineskins. We must not allow ourselves to be filled by the world’s grape juice. If we let ourselves be filled with others’ juice, it will cause our wineskin to be broken and unable to be used for God’s harvest.
Our wineskin is intended for the new wine that God is developing within us and nothing else.
Do not be afraid of the new and creative things that God is going to do within you. This world will put their wines in barrels, but God wants your wine in a wineskin designed and created by the master craftsman himself. There are times you may want to fit your calling into a barrel. In a wineskin, your wine can be put on display.
By preparing the vessel for the wine to grow and develop, we can find that we are ready and prepared for the new grape juice that is coming. The grape juice will be protected and given the space to grow and transform. In this new year, do not be afraid to let God prepare and grow the new wine; after all, he has designed you to be the new wineskin, and you are ready to hold it.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.