Poured out to God
George Ferrier, Ottawa, Canada
The drink offering, normally offered with the meal and burnt offerings, was celebrated by completely pouring out a quantity of wine at the base of the altar. None of it was to be consumed. Wine is symbolic of joy, Judg. 9. 13, and the act of pouring it out signified a deep sense of worship and thanksgiving. When the Lord judged Israel for their idolatry He rebuked them for pouring out their drink offerings to foreign gods, Jer. 7. 18. On the other hand, it was always a time of joy when poured out to God.
Jacob and Bethel - the joy of intimacy
The first mention of the drink offering is on Jacob’s return to Bethel. Fleeing from his brother, the Lord appeared to him in a dream, Gen. 28. 17, and Jacob named the place 'Bethel', house of God. Twenty years later, obeying the Lord, Jacob returned to Bethel and built an altar, Gen. 35. 7. He named the place 'El Bethel', the God of Bethel, demonstrating that he had come to know the God of Bethel both through experience and direct revelation, Gen. 31. 13. He now appreciated the Person more than the place. Later, after a time of close fellowship with the Lord, Jacob poured a drink offering onto a stone followed by some oil, Gen. 35. 14.
In this incident Jacob teaches us the joy of intimacy. Jacob knew God in a more intimate way than before and this resulted in worship. If we are to effectively serve the Lord, we must be worshippers, and to properly worship Him we must know Him. Seeing Christ’s holiness and his own sinfulness led Isaiah to worship and cry out, ‘send me’, Isa. 6. 8. The appearance of the risen glorified Lord on the way to Damascus turned Paul from an enemy of Christ into a worshipper. Only then was he ready to ask ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ Acts 9. 6. Seeing the Lord work in our lives through our experiences, and through an increased understanding of God’s word, will give us a greater appreciation of His person. This will create a desire within us to worship Him, and when we do so under the Holy Spirit’s direction, it brings immense joy to the Father. It will also bring joy to our own hearts and we will want to serve Him.
David in Adullam - the joy of surrender, answered prayer and giving
Another time we see the drink offering poured out is while David was dwelling at the cave in Adullam, 2 Sam. 23. 13- 17. One day he expressed a longing for a drink from the well at Bethlehem. From his days as a shepherd, he remembered how refreshing this water could taste. Even though there was a Philistine garrison stationed there, three of his men broke through and brought him back some of the water from the well. David was so overwhelmed by this act of devotion that he poured it out to the Lord.
These men demonstrate to us the joy of surrender. They were so devoted to David as a person and a king, they were willing to fulfill his heart’s longing. Are we similarly willing to fulfill the deepest desires of our Lord? For example He wants us to live holy lives, 1 Pet. 1. 16; love the brethren, John 13. 34-35; and forgive, Eph. 4. 32. He yearns for us to take the living water to the thirsty, Matt. 28. 19-20. He also has specific desires for each one of us and is longing to reveal them. Will we allow Him and are we willing to obey? Today it is common for believers to talk about their needs being met. Responding to the things that are tugging at the heart of God is a more appropriate occupation.
David‘s reaction illustrates the joy of answered prayer. Often we present our requests to the Lord and when they are answered we go on to our next request. We should cultivate an attitude of joyful thanksgiving as we witness His response. Let us joyfully pour ourselves out in worship to Him the next time He answers our prayer.
David also displayed the joy of giving. The burnt offering was an act of surrender and devotion, and it included a drink offering. David recognized the virtue of these men’s sacrifice as a burnt offering to God, and felt it was fitting that he pour out his drink offering at the base of this great sacrifice. Knowing that God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Cor. 9. 7, what do we do with our valuable assets? Do we constantly fall into idolatry like the Israelites, or do we pour our belongings out to God at the base of His great sacrifice for us?
The Lord Jesus in life - the joy of obedience
The Lord Jesus personified the drink offering more than any other. The prophet Isaiah said the Lord poured out His soul unto death, Isa. 53. 12. His blood was shed for us, Luke 22. 20. He was poured out like water, Ps. 22. 14, and He emptied Himself, Phil. 2. 7-8. The soldier pierced Him and out came blood and water, John 19. 34. The Lord Jesus demonstrated the joy of obedience in a way no other person ever could. It was not only a future joy awaiting Him in His glory, Heb. 12. 2, but it was a present joy in His suffering. He learned obedience by His suffering, Heb. 5. 8, and He delighted to do the Father’s will, Ps. 40. 8. In spite of the cruelty to which He was subjected, He knew that His offering was being accepted and that it would bring redemption to those who were His. He was God’s drink offering. Knowing this, He refused the wine offered to Him on the cross, Mark 15. 23. The drink offering was not to be consumed but to be poured out. We will experience the deepest joy in difficult times if we are in His will. It will give meaning to our circumstances and cause us to thank God for the hour He has given us. Like Christ we can have joy in our suffering as we obey Him, and wait for our future joy in glory, Rom. 8. 18.
Paul's approaching death - the joy in sacrifice
The apostle Paul viewed his approaching martyrdom as a drink offering to God. It was to be his joy in sacrifice and in doing so he anticipated the joy of His appearing, 2 Tim. 4. 6-8. He longed to be with his Saviour, Phil. 1. 23, and knew there was a crown awaiting him and all those who love His appearing. He was looking forward to that meeting, because he had fought hard and run the race well. Looking back on our lives, can we similarly look forward to His appearing with confidence and joy?
God's drink offering
What makes the heart of God sing? It is His people. After instituting the Lord’s Supper the Lord Jesus sang a hymn, Mark 14. 26. There was joy, as He thought about His obedience leading to the redemption of His own. He sings to the Father amidst those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, Heb. 2. 11-12. He will sing when Israel is restored to fellowship with Him, Zeph. 3. 17. He longs for the day when we will be with Him in glory, John 14. 3; 17. 24. As we look forward to the Lord’s return, let us daily pour out our drink offerings to Him, and we will experience the many joys that the God of Bethel can bring.