What is wine? What is the wineskin? What is the vineyard? What is the result of this metaphoric reference when coupled with putting new cloth into an old garment?
The first point of Jesus concerns loss.
He says both the old wineskin and the old garment will be destroyed by the introduction of new wine or new cloth.
He points to the need to restore the old before involving it with the new. He concerns Himself with preserving the old as much as He concerns Himself with avoiding the loss or waste of the new.
He is not looking to patch things up but to introduce something fundamentally different from the existing processes and structures while preserving the old and new while doing so
The second point of the metaphor concerns preserving the new while it matures.
It is the maturing of the new that destroys the old. The new cannot be introduced at the expense of the existing, Jesus says.
Well, we certainly got that point backward, didn’t we? We are always speaking of new wine and old wineskins at the expense of the former. We think the old represents something to be trashed, not something to be preserved. We usually ignore the old garment and new cloth metaphor as if it doesn’t exist because the “old wineskin” metaphor is more attractive or popular.
Jesus says, “The old will not be destroyed by the new but brought to its fullness.”
We say, “Out with old. In with the new!” Then, we throw a pizza party.
Is This About Structures?
I keep hearing about the old wineskin in the context of “structures.” In a prophetic sense, we can reach further afield from the metaphor, I suppose, but we cannot do at the expense of the meaning of Jesus. We cannot correctly empty “old wineskin” of its exegetical context just because we wish to be prophetic, in other words. We can do so unexegetically as if Jesus never said anything at all, but we do so at the expense of the integrity of His message.
That is, when we take the liberty to borrow “old wineskin” as a metaphor of old structures and destroying or replacing them when Jesus means to speak of preserving the past as much as the new, we do a disservice to the message and meaning of Jesus. We are not wrong in borrowing the metaphor. We are wrong in diminishing His message when we act as if this prophetic application and His message are the same.
Jesus and Old Wineskins
The new is so powerful, it would destroy the old if the new were required to fit into the old.
See that? Jesus says, “If I put what’s coming into what has been, I am forcing the new into the old. I will not do that. I will restore the old to its authentic condition. Then I will preserve both old and new because the new will bring the old into its ultimate.
Jesus is very clear about the Old Covenant. So is every apostle after Him. No leader in the Bible destroys the old by using the new as a club or stick of dynamite. Paul speaks clearly about what passes away. Paul clarifies this by introducing a relational dynamic between the inheritors of the kingdom and the previous agreement between God and His people. Paul does not destroy the old. Paul preaches the Scriptures, tells Timothy to preach study and preach them, and makes the Old Testament his Bible while writing a portion of the New.
What is the Old Wineskin?
The old wineskin is the existing condition of the mind of individuals and the prevailing mindset of the kingdom culture when God is ready to reset the kingdom.
That is two very distinctive things, I know, but the metaphor applies to the whole vineyard and the individual garment. It is corporate and kingdom-wide as well as individual in measuring the condition of the spiritual mind.
He is calling leaders to reset the people to a change of mind through repentance to prepare the Lord a people ready to respond with the new season arrives. He is pointing out that His generation was unprepared to receive Him because they rejected John.
Here and Now
We are in this transitional time here and now. By 2020, the new wine will be flowing, and the new cloth will become garments for a New Era. As Israel entered Canaan for the grapes of Eschol, so large that the people thought the spies exaggerated, just as they are having a difficult time with the apostles and prophets resetting the foundations right now, the Roaring Twenties will arrive with a new vintage that requires a reset of the corporate and individual spiritual minds.
As Israel wore the same garments and shoes for forty years in the desert wanderings, crossing over will mean a new uniform or style for the Roaring Twenties in terms of what is appropriate as a lifestyle and culture for the individual and the entire kingdom of God.
The metaphor of wine and cloth does not ask for us to reject the old or waste the new. It demands that the old change and receive the latest so that both avoid destruction and waste. He also requires that the new change to honor the old because it is immature and ill-fitted. He wants a blending of old and new. He demands that the new include the fathers in the preparation and positioning process for what is coming next. He demands that the old honor the inheritors who will expand the existing estate without bankrupting it with prodigalism. (Prodigal means “waste.”)