As the Feast of Tabernacles was approaching recently, I pondered upon the various sacrifices and offerings of the feasts God told us to keep and the “Drink Offering” came to mind. A drink offering is poured out and I recalled where Paul tells us in Philippians 2:17-18 (NASB) “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.” Another verse that immediately came to mind was Romans 12:1 (CJB) “I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical "Temple worship" for you.”
There were a few words that stood out to me –“sacrifice, living and set apart for God”, “poured out as a drink offering”, and “you, rejoice in the same way.” It truly is a good thing this speaks spiritually because to think of being poured out as a drink offering physically probably isn’t something I would be real quick to choose to do. But since we know that the pouring out of a drink offering is a metaphor for the blood Jesus spilled on the cross and that Jesus spoke to this directly in Luke 22:20 (NASB) when He said, “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood”. It seemed obvious that there is a response required on my part – some sort of responsibility – so, I had to look into this further.
The word “sacrifice” is understood as meaning to give up something that one would prefer not to part with and in the religious aspect, that something one gives up is meant to appease the receiver (a god), thereby gaining something in return, such as rain or a bountiful harvest...or possibly…forgiveness. God requires no appeasement in exchange for forgiveness or atonement. He wants only a pure heart. So many times we can read in His Word that sacrifices are meaningless without a genuine, heartfelt motive. The physical sacrifice is meant to be an act indicating what is in the heart.
A genuine, heartfelt motive is not difficult to understand but to actually possess it – to really have this character - is a much different story. James 1:22-24 (AENT) “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only; and do not deceive yourselves. For if any man will be a hearer of the Word and not a doer of it, he will be like the one who sees his face in a mirror: for he sees himself and passes on and forgets what a man he was.”
Honest self-examination is contrary to human nature. Decades ago I read a magazine article that explained that we see ourselves as better looking than we really are. Granted, that was a physical, carnal observation but we have all seen the same thing manifested in “the church”, where spiritual insight is supposed to be taught/preached apart from the oh-so-rampant false piety, like the Pharisees are famous for. But back to the drink offering.
First, what is a “drink offering” besides something quite foreign to 21st century American culture? Not much has been written about it in comparison to the other Levitical offerings, but God included enough information so that we can get the idea. A drink offering is strong wine according to Numbers 28:7 (KJV) “And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.” It is interesting to note that a daily continual burnt offering was required by God, and that a burnt offering represented dedication to God, and that it required a drink offering along with it.
It all started coming together when I read from the Jewish Virtual Library that “the wine is, as always, a symbol of joy” and according to Paul, this is supposed to be ajoyful endeavor. “Rejoice in the same way” sounds something like “rejoice on demand”… something I am not good at. But I don’t believe it is meant that way. Most of us realize that “joy” and “rejoice” are not referring to giddy giggles and belly laughs here, rather being as Strong’s Concordance says, “calmly happy”. This calm joy comes from living close to God, having the “mind of Christ” so there is no need to drum it up on demand, and of course does not mean we will never have times of discouragement or bad days. It’s that thing in us that is supposed to cause unbelievers to want what we have.
Paul endured prison, among other terrible sufferings – he allowed this. He didn’t refuse to go where God wanted to send him – he poured himself out as a drink offering. 2 Corinthians 11:25-28 (NASB)
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
Paul was definitely qualified to teach and preach this concept, so even if he sounds a bit arrogant, I have to overlook that when we read what he said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB) “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” We probably wouldn’t be asked to endure such things today but the principle of being willing – truly willing – is the same…and rare.
Putting these things together we can see that God expects us to joyfully be dedicated to Him, rejoicing, as we daily pour ourselves out as a drink offering. Many profess Christianity but Matthew 7:22-23 (NASB) proves there is a quality of sincerity missing from some. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' These people have not poured themselves out as a drink offering.
We all know people like that – I have been one – by the grace of and with the help of God, I’m learning and becoming more willingly pliable in His hands. The idea Paul’s words made clear to me is that to be able to “pour” ourselves out as a drink offering is a great honor and a way to express our joy at being a child of God holding the privilege of serving Him with our whole heart. I guess I can overlook the arrogance I perceived in Paul’s words and embrace the joy.