Tag Archives: offering

Bible Term: Drink Offering

A drink offering was a libation of wine poured over the alter or used with meat offerings as part of Jewish worship rituals. Instructions for its use occur over forty-five times in the Jewish law, with nineteen other references in the Old Testament.

During a time of war, there is a curious story of King David. He mentions he is thirsty for water from a specific well. Three of his mighty warriors break through enemy lines, draw water from that well, and return to David with it. However, instead of drinking it with gratitude, David pours it out on the ground as an offering to God. (1 Chronicles 11:17-19 and 2 Samuel 23:13-17). Apparently, he felt the risk the men took was so great that he was not worthy to taste the water, offering it to God instead.

Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament worship practices, it’s not surprising there are only two mentions of drink offerings in the New Testament. Both were made by Paul, referring to him willingly pouring out his life as a drink-offering to God. (Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6).

Contemplating Cain

The account of Cain is well-known. The Bible records his story as the world’s first murderer. It is out of jealousy — and possibly premeditated — that Cain kills his brother, Abel. But what are the events that lead up to this tragedy?

Cain and Abel each bring an offering to God. Abel’s is accepted but Cain’s isn’t. There is speculation as to why God disses Cain’s gift, but the reason is not recorded for us to know.

What’s disconcerting is wondering if God ever disses our gifts. It’s a shocking thought. I always assumed God is ecstatic over anything and everything I offer to him, be it money in the offering plate, alms, or acts of kindness offered in his honor.

I liken it to a small child showing Mommy and Daddy the picture he or she just drew. The parents are pleased, praising the child profusely, even though they may be clueless as to what the picture is. I expect God to act like that whenever I give him something.

But what if he doesn’t? After all, God is sovereign — and almighty. What if he doesn’t look at my offering with favor?

It’s a sobering thought. I certainly don’t want to be giving God a sorry little picture — thinking it is good and that he likes it — when he is expecting and desiring something so much more.

God, may my gifts and offerings be pleasing to you.

The World’s First Murder

Cain and his younger brother Abel both gave offerings to God.  This was well before the life of Moses and the laws that God gave to him, therefore, there was no requirement to give an offering.  In fact, there was not even a precedent for doing so.  Cain and Abel’s offerings were the first ones recorded in the Bible.

For reasons not fully explained, God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  One possible hint is that while Abel’s offering was a choice part of the best that he had, Cain’s gift was merely “some” of what he had.  Another hint is found in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, where Abel’s faith in giving a better offering is affirmed.  Implicitly, Cain’s faith was lacking.

Regardless, Cain reacted poorly to God’s snub, becoming jealous of Abel and angry, culminating in the premeditated murder of his brother — the world’s first.  However, even after this brutal act, God did not turn his back on Cain.  Although punishment was meted, God also provided Cain with protection.

Cain did an evil thing; however, he was not an evil man.  Despite Cain’s downfall, he was a man who had sought God, giving a gift that was not asked for or required.

[Genesis 4:1-16, Hebrews 11:4]

Pouring Out the Drink Offering

During a time of war, there is a curious story of King David.  He mentions that he is thirsty for water from a specific well.  Three of his mighty warriors break through enemy lines, draw water from that well, and return to David with it.  However, instead of drinking it with gratitude, David pours it out on the ground as an offering to God.  [1 Chronicles 11:17-19 and 2 Samuel 23:13-17]

Apparently, he felt that the risk the men took was so great that he was not worthy to taste the water, offering it to God instead.

This action may have parallels to the Old Testament instruction to give a “drink offering” to God.  The drink offering was a libation of wine that was poured over the alter or used with meat offerings as part of the Jewish worship rituals.  Instructions for its use occur over 45 times in the Jewish law, with 19 other references in the Old Testament.

Since Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament worship practices, it is not surprising for there to only be two mentions of drink offerings in the New Testament.  Both were made by Paul, referring to his willingly pouring out his life as a drink-offering to God.  [Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6]

It is important to understand that while the Old Testament believers presented their drink offerings ritualistically out of obligation and compulsion, Paul — being freed from the law by Jesus — willing and gladly presented his own life as a drink-offering to God.  It was his intentional act of sacrifice and service.