Drink-Offerings.

1874 149 Drink-offerings, like burnt-offerings, were known amongst men before the giving of the law. At what period they were first introduced, or on what occasion a drink-offering was first poured out, are facts shrouded in obscurity; for we read not of them till the days of Jacob, and then not till his return to Bethel from Padan-aram, where God had on a former occasion spoken to him. There, on the stone he set up for a pillar, he poured out, as far as we know, his first and only drink-offering. In this action however there was method and perception. He knew evidently when to erect a pillar, and when to pour out a drink-offering thereon.

He set up pillars several times in his life — a favourite practice, it would seem, with him. He erected one by Galeed, east of Jordan, to stand as a witness of divine intervention on his behalf, and which served with the heap, raised by him and his brethren, to point out the boundary, across which neither he nor Laban were to pass to the injury of the one by the other. (Gen. xxxi. 2-1, 15, 52.) He set up another on Rachel's grave, in the way to Ephrath (Gen. xxxv. 20), an abiding memorial to point out the spot where the body of his beloved was laid. But neither at Galeed, nor at Rachel's grave, did he pour out a drink-offering. It was not the fitting time, nor were they the places for such an expressive action, and doubtless he understood that.

His action in erecting a pillar at Galeed betokened his sense of the propriety of having a monument pointing heavenwards, to remind all whom it might concern of that eventful passage in the history of Isaac's younger yet favoured son. The pillar on Rachel's grave, erected by her sorrowing husband, attested his deep concern in what had there taken place. Years however before he had thus left his mark at Galeed, a pillar had been erected by him at a place afterwards to be known by the name of Bethel, that is, God's house; a name which he on that occasion gave it, where God had just bestowed on the benighted traveller (Gen. xxviii. 11) promises of the land, of a numerous seed, and of divine protection. Here he did not content himself with raising up the stone for a pillar, but he anointed it likewise, owning thereby that to him it was holy and consecrated ground. Yet he did not then pour out a drink-offering thereon. Had he trusted God implicitly, he might have done that; but evidently, from the compact Jacob made with Him, to be fulfilled if He really brought him back to his father's house in peace. Rebekah's son manifested a want of trustfulness in the promises of God.

Galeed and Rachel's grave were places he over remembered; so was Bethel, but with this difference, not only was it henceforth to be connected with the fortunes and history of the patriarch, but he had learnt to look on it as God's house, where He had unexpectedly to Jacob discoursed with him. Years passed away before he re-visited that spot in Canaan. The sanctity of the place however was indelibly impressed on his mind. It was to Jacob like no other spot on the whole earth. His act of anointing the stone on the first occasion that be visited it makes clear what he thought of the place; and his command to his household, and to all that were with him, to put away the strange gods that were among them, and to be clean, and to change their garments, when he was about to re-visit it, showed that his thought about it had remained unchanged.

Arriving there he built an altar, which he had not done before, and during the night God appeared to him, and confirmed and even amplified in detail what He had on the former occasion promised him. So now, his heart being full, the patriarch sets up again a pillar; but this time, before anointing it, he poured out a drink-offering upon it. It was one thing to start forth on his journey from Bethel to visit lands to him unknown, with God's promises given, but as yet unfulfilled; and quite another thing to be there on his homeward journey with wives, children, and a plenitude of earthly possessions, such as one engaged in pastoral pursuits would most value. What then he did not do before that be does now. It was fitting to erect a stone for a memorial, of that he felt sure. It would be proper, too, to repeat his former act, and to anoint the pillar in token of the place being to him and his family a holy one.

But more than that was needed. God had confirmed promises made on the occasion of his first visit to Bethel, and the patriarch could see in his altered and improved outward circumstances proofs in a measure of the fulfilment of that which awaited its complete accomplishment. Hence in his eyes the time had come to pour out a drink-offering in token of his joy in that which God had so graciously bestowed on him. So be poured out his drink-offering on the stone, and that before he anointed it.

On his first visit to Bethel, the holy character of the place struck him — God was in it. On his second visit the grace and faithfulness of God were prominently before him; so his first action after again erecting the pillar was one expressive of the feelings of his heart, called forth by what God had just said to him.

Many years intervened between that visit to Bethel and Jacob's dying communication to his children in Egypt; but we never read of a similar act on his part to express the feelings of his heart. Halting on his journey to Egypt at Beersheba, he offered sacrifices there unto the God of his father Isaac (Gen. xlvi.); the number and the character of which are to us unknown. It is evident however that be sacrificed with no niggardly hand, for more than one animal must have been slaughtered by him that night; but, though blood flowed freely, no drink-offering, it would seem, was brought by the patriarch on that occasion. He sacrificed at Beersheba before God spake to him; he raised up the pillar at Bethel after God had appeared to him. A drink-offering with the sacrifices would have been, judging from the order at Bethel, an anachronism. For he poured it out, not to ask for a favour, but in token of his joy at receiving one.

Then too he had returned to the land, now he was about to leave it; so, though starting forth on his journey to Egypt by divine permission, with promises of divine protection and assurances of a return to the land given to him and to his seed, we can understand from the character of Jacob, as previously developed, that even after he had received God's gracious communication he was not in that condition of spirit which required for its manifestation, and to give itself vent, the pouring out a drink-offering, which told not less plainly what was in the heart, than the clearest enunciation of the human voice.

Turning over the pages of the word in chronological order, we read next of what Job was accustomed to do in the way of sacrifice for his children after their festal celebrations, each one of his day, and what God commanded his three friends to offer on their own behalf. (Job i., Job xli.) In neither chapter however are drink-offerings mentioned. Nor is this surprising; for as we learn from the ordinance about them, subsequently given to Israel, they were never commanded to be brought when men sacrificed on account of And it was on account of sin that burnt-sacrifices were provided by Job for his sons, and were offered up by his friends.

The patriarchal period ended, we next meet with sacrifices on the occasion of the visit of Moses' father-in-law to the camp of Israel at Sinai. That time Jethro officiated as priest (Ex. xviii. 12); but neither then nor subsequently when by the law-giver's command the young men offered burnt-offerings and sacrificed peace offerings under the hill, at the ratification of the covenant with the Lord by the congregation of Israel, have we any hint of the patriarch Jacob's example at Bethel having been followed by those encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. Certainly on the latter occasion, when the people had the blood of the covenant sprinkled on them in token of what they deserved and incurred if they failed in the performance of it, a drink-offering would have been quite out of place.

From the time of Jacob, then, till the erection of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons to minister at the altar, that simple but telling rite is never mentioned in the word. From the date however that the Aaronic priesthood was fully established, no day was to pass on which a drink-offering could be omitted. It was always in season in connection with the morning and evening burnt-offering (Ex. xxix. 40-42); for there was that in type offered up every day on the brazen altar, which was fitted to cheer the heart of everyone who understood anything about it. And now we are taught of what the drink-offering was to consist — strong wine, to be poured out unto the Lord (Num. xxviii. 7); and wine it is, as Jotham in his parable expresses it, "which cheereth God and man." (Judges ix. 13.) And surely there was that in type on the altar, which was eminently fitted to do this, the lamb of the burnt-offering, fore-shadowing the perfect surrender of the Lord Jesus Christ to do His Father's will.

Let us pause here a moment to contrast the action of Jacob with the injunction of the law. Jacob out of the fulness of his heart, of his own voluntary will, without any divine command, poured out his drink-offering on the stone. God on the other hand enjoined the drink-offering as an invariable accompaniment of the daily burnt-offerings. Jacob's action was dictated surely by what he felt at the communication made to him, and the favour he already enjoyed. But the drink-offering under the law, being commanded by God, could not be considered as the measure of the people's joy in the sacrifice on the altar. It did surely portray what those concerned in the sacrifice might feel; but their measure of apprehension, and their joy in that which the lamb prefigured, fell doubtless far short of the mark. And we must admit that our apprehension of the work of Christ, and the joy therefrom derived, falls far below that which God discerns and has found in the sacrifice of His Son. The measure of the offerer's joy did not then govern the measure of the drink-offerings; but the drink-offering expressed the full measure of joy, which could be found in that which the burnt-offering prefigured. But as none but God could fully estimate that, He it was who prescribed in the law how much wine was to be poured out each morning and each evening in connection with the daily burnt-sacrifices. Jacob's drink-offering was unconnected with a sacrifice. Under the law the drink-offering with a meat-offering was the invariable adjunct to the morning and evening oblation, and we never read of a drink-offering commanded apart from a sacrifice. Jacob then gave expression to what he felt, the drink-offering under the law typified what those concerned in the sacrifice on the altar aught feel.

Turning back to the law, we learn that, though at times we may concentrate our thoughts on the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in one or other of its aspects as set forth in the different sacrifices which typified it, yet to have a just estimate of its value, so as to share in the joy which flows front it, we must ever remember His life as manifested on earth before the cross. Of this the meat-offering, which accompanied the daily burnt-offering was a type. His death we should remember; but who it was who died, as evidenced by His life, must over be kept in view. When both are before us, His life and His death, the drink-offering finds its place.

But no drink-offering was commanded apart from the sacrifice. No drink-offering was enjoined in connection with the meat-offering by itself. No drink-offering would the sons of Aaron have poured out in connection only with the animal on the altar. A whole Christ, as it were, must be before the worshipper before a drink-offering would be in place. When that was before the eye and the heart, the drink-offering was not to be withheld; the wine which cheereth God and man could then be poured out in token that in the Lord Jesus Christ, who lived and died, there was that which gave joy to God, and in which those by whom it was offered could share. And as redemption by blood had in type been accomplished, God made known that men could have joy in common with Him, though only in connection with, and with reference to, that which the sacrifice on the altar prefigured. And this was to hold good for Israel, for those born in the land, and for the stranger which sojourned with them as well. (Num. xv. 13–15.) Yet, never, let it again be observed, was this offering commanded to be brought apart from the sacrifice on the altar, though Israel, it would seem, did separate the two in their idolatrous rites.

But not only was the drink-offering to accompany the daily oblation, for in Numbers xv. we are instructed that, after the children of Israel had entered their laud, as often as any one, whether of the race of Israel or not, brought a burnt-offering of the herd or of the flock, a sacrifice in performing a vow, or a free-will offering, and at Israel's solemn feasts, a meat-offering and a drink-offering were to be the accompaniment for every animal offered up. In Exodus xxix., where the daily burnt-offering was spoken of, the measure of the drink-offering was fixed at the fourth part of an hin of wine. In Numbers xv. however we learn that the measure of the wine varied with the size of the animal. But, though it varied with the size and character of the animal offered up in sacrifice, it always corresponded to the amount of oil appointed to be used in the accompanying meat-offering. The offerer knew that he had to increase his drink-offering the larger the animal he brought; but the measure of oil, appointed for the accompanying meat-offering, was the measure of wine, which he must provide for the drink-offering. From this rule we read not of any deviation, and its propriety we can surely discern. For if the wine was the expression of joy to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ in His life and in His death, the measure of joy derived therefrom corresponded to the measure of the Holy Ghost within Him, of which the oil in the meat-offering was typical.

Thus corn, wine, and oil, products of the earth, were all called into requisition with the slain animal, either to delineate what He was, or to express what was found in Him. In Christ, and in Him alone, of all who ever trod this earth, was there no failure. His life, His ways, His acts, fully corresponded to the Holy Ghost in Him. Hence joy in Christ was, and is, exactly proportionate to the Spirit which dwelt in Him. In His life, and in His death, He acted throughout only as led of the Holy Ghost.

Such then was the drink-offering under the law, foreshadowing the joy which God and man could find in the man Christ Jesus. A common subject of joy then there is between God and us, but its measure varies not with our apprehension of what there is in His Son to delight the heart. God has told us what the measure is which can be found in that perfect, spotless One, who was holy, harmless, and undefiled. What an idea of God's delight in His Son do the sacrifices of sweet savour bring before us! Noah was a perfect man in his generations. Job had none like him in all the earth. Abraham was called the friend of God, and on him, to order his house aright, God declared He could count. David was the man after God's own heart. But each of these, though thus described by God, fell short of answering perfectly to what a man on earth should be. The Lord alone has done that; and the measure of the drink-offering, varying, but always commensurate with the oil of the meat-offering, tells it us in type, as His life and His death afterwards exemplified and proved it. Thus what the Lord was, as made known by the New Testament, sheds a bright light on the types and shadows of the Old.

And now for a time all such offerings as the law enjoined have ceased, to be renewed however when God again takes up Israel as His earthly people. Then sacrifices will be offered up afresh on the altar, and drink-offerings of wine be poured out again to the Lord. (Ezek, xlv. 17.) And Israel surely will have understanding as to their meaning, and partake intelligently in God's joy in Christ, as derived from His life and from His death. And then too will they see, as we can now, how abhorrent it must have been to the Lord, when that action, which expressed joy in the Lord Jesus, was made use of in connection with idolatrous rites, of which Jeremiah so often complains. They burnt incense, he tells us, and poured out drink-offerings to the queen of heaven, and to the false gods. Incense spoke of the merits of Christ, drink-offerings (as we have seen) of the joy to be found in the life and death of the Lord Jesus; yet the people by the incense they burned to idols, and the wine they poured out (Jer. vii. 18; Jer. xix. 13; Jer. xxxii. 29; Jer. xliv. 17), professed by their action to have learned the merits attaching to false gods, and to have found joy in a rite which, little as they knew it, was really the worship of demons. (1 Cor. x. 20.) W hat an insult to God, and to Him who was represented in the sacrifice, it was for Israel to give drink-offerings to idols! We understand the heinous character of such a practice, when we learn what the offering, as appointed by God, really expressed. And we can enter into Joel's sorrow, when the meat-offering and drink-offering were withheld from the house of the Lord. It was true, as he exclaimed, "Joy and gladness are cut off from the house of our God." (Joel i. 16.) C. E. Stuart.