The drink offering foreshadowed the joy that God and man would find in the Lord Jesus Christ. A consideration of this delightful offering will reveal the infinite pleasure God found in His flawless life and His perfect devotion, even unto death – the complete presentation of His entire being to God.
The Drink Offering Viewed Comprehensively
Its First Mention (Gen 35:14)
“And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where God talked with him, a pillar of stone: and he poured out a drink offering thereon, and poured oil thereon.”
On Jacob’s first visit to Bethel (chapter 28), the holy nature of the place deeply impressed him – God was in it. Jacob explains how he felt: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. And he was afraid and said, ‘How dreadful (awesome) is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”
On his second visit to Bethel, the grace and faithfulness of God were uppermost on Jacob’s mind. He was so impressed by this that he raised a pillar of stone and poured out his drink offering upon it. This was not to ask a favor, but as a token of his joy at receiving divine favor.
It is important to observe that a drink offering was not offered when the sacrifice was made, because of sin. The drink offering was normally presented with the burnt and meal offerings, which were sweet savor offerings, not with the offerings of sin. It is also worth noting that Jacob’s drink offering did not appear to be connected with a sacrifice, whereas, in the Levitical system, a drink offering was never offered apart from a sacrifice.
Its Festive Inclusion (Num 28: 1-7)
No further reference is given to the drink offering until the erection of the tabernacle (Exo 25-27) and the consecration of the Aaronic priesthood (Exo 28-29). However, from the day that the Aaronic priesthood was fully established, no day was to pass without a drink offering being offered. “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar; two lambs a year old, day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other you shall offer at even (between the two evenings). And with one lamb the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mingled with a fourth part of a hin (3.5 litres) of beaten (pure) oil, and a fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering.” Similarly with the evening, a meal and drink offering of the same portions were required “for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” This was known as a “continual burnt offering” (Exo 29: 38-42). Numbers 28:7 confirms this practice.
Its Fateful Interruptions (Joel 1:16)
The decline and departure from God by His people was seen in the loss of sacrifices in the temple of Jehovah. Joel particularly pinpoints the meal and drink offerings.
He writes by divine inspiration “The Word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel” (v1).
He refers to a devastating invasion (v 4). In the first instance, it refers to an invasion of locusts or insects, but it is also descriptive of the invasion of the Assyrians (v 6): “For a nation is come upon My land, strong and without number.” He may also have had a future fulfilment in mind, when he mentions, “The day of the Lord” several times (v 15).
He underscores a discontinued injunction, “The meal offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn” (v 9). The scene of devastation was heartbreaking, but their inability to provide materials for the offerings was an even greater disaster.
The people were out of communion with God. The priests were dysfunctional. God was deprived of His portion and pleasure. “Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of God?” (v16). Instead of divine gladness being experienced by the nation, the threat of God’s impending judgment hangs over their heads. Hence, the prophet Joel appeals to them (Joel 2:12-14), “Yet even now, says Jehovah, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to Jehovah your God (Elohim), for He is gracious and merciful … Who knows but that He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him, even a meal offering and a drink offering to Jehovah your God.” The rending of clothes was usually an expression of grief and exceptional sorrow. But at other times, it indicated strong feelings of anger and emotion (1Sam 4:12: I Kings 21:27). The prophet was appealing for a far deeper effect. The rebellious heart was to be torn. There was to be full repentance and a real change of heart.
Its Future Resumption (Ez 44-46)
These chapters describe Ezekiel’s final vision (8) and have to do with:
a) the temple (40-43)
b) the temple worship (44-46)
c) the land (47-48)
The vision moves easily from the temple to its worship and then to the partitioning of the land among the restored tribes. “All the people of the land shall be obliged to give this offering unto the prince of Israel. It shall be the prince’s duty to furnish the burnt offerings, the meal offerings, and drink offerings at the feasts, the new moons and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel” (Eze 45:16,17).
Today, the necessity of such offerings has ceased. However, these will be renewed when God again takes up Israel as His earthly people. The drink offering will be poured out again to the Lord.The offerers will understand their meaning and participate intelligently in God’s joy in the Lord Jesus, their true Messiah, as derived from His life and death.