Literally Described in the Old Testament Scriptures
The drink offering (libation) was poured out before the Lord in the holy place (Num 28:7). It was normally presented with burnt and meal offerings. Its various occurrences are seen at: a) the morning and evening sacrifice when, each day, a year old lamb was offered along with the meal offering (Ex 29:40-41; Num 28:7); b) the pouring out at the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits (Lev 23:13); c) the feast of Pentecost (Lev 23:18); and d) among the offerings presented by the Nazarite at the completion of his vow (Num 6:15-17).
When presented with a burnt offering, the amount of wine offered varied in proportion to the value of the offering. Half a hin (3.5 litres) of wine was poured out with a bullock, a third of a hin with a ram, and a quarter of a hin with a lamb. This suggests that the joy of heart varies in direct proportion to the appreciation of the worth and value of the offering. The amount of wine always corresponds to the amount of oil presented with the accompanying meal offering. Similarly, the New Testament speaks of “joy in the Holy Spirit” (1Thes 1:16).
Typically Defined in the Savior
The drink offering, typically speaks of that “which cheereth God and man,”according to Jotham (Jud 9:13). The lamb of the burnt offering, with its meal and drink offerings, foreshadowed the perfect surrender of the Lord Jesus to His Father’s will. The drink offering was presented with the morning and evening sacrifice. Typically, there was continual joy and rejoicing in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. The presentation of the libation, with the burnt and meal offerings, symbolizes the worshiper’s joy in the perfections and glories of Christ. As the believer enters into and appreciates something of the infinite worth and excellence of the Lord Jesus and, in some measure, apprehends the delight and satisfaction of God in that precious offering, a deep spiritual joy fills the soul.
In regard to the Levitical system, the measure of the offerer’s apprehension and joy in that which the lamb prefigures, would have fallen short of the mark. The measure of the offerer’s joy did not determine the measure of the drink offering, but the drink offering expressed the full measure of joy found in that which the burnt offering prefigured. Since God alone could fully estimate that, He prescribed in the law how much wine was to be poured out, each morning and evening, in connection with the daily burnt offering.
The five primary offerings underscore the importance of the death of the Lord Jesus, but it is equally significant to observe that the meal offering accompanied the daily burnt offering. We share in God’s holy joy when we appreciate the value of the death of the Lord Jesus and the infinite worth of the One Who offered Himself. His life and death cannot be separated in this sense. In this, we learn the immensity of what He did and the greatness of the One Who died. A whole Christ, as it were, must be before the worshiper for a drink offering to be in place.
Just as the amount of wine offered varied in proportion to the size and value of the offering (bullock, ram, lamb – half, third, and quarter of a hin, respectively), so too the joy of heart varies in direct proportion to the appreciation of the worth and value of the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ. The amount of wine always corresponds with the amount of oil that was to accompany the meal offering. True joy in the Lord Jesus is always proportionate to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He also acted in perfect accord with the leading of the Spirit and, in this way, the Father found fullness of joy in Him. Likewise, the Holy Spirit within the believer operates to provide a capacity to find in the Lord Jesus the true source of joy.
Spiritually Displayed in the Saints
The Christian antitype of the drink offering is found in the attitude of Paul the apostle. In Romans 12:1 he wrote, “I beseech you … that you present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The ideal of spiritual self-sacrifice as a whole burnt offering which Paul had set before the Roman believers had been attained by the Philippian assembly. He carried his striking metaphor still further. Because of his joy at their spiritual attainment, Paul wrote: “If I am offered (poured out as a libation or drink offering) upon the sacrifice (burnt offering) and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all” (Phil 2:17). This was the expression of complete joy and appreciation, and at the same time, the culmination of the sacrifice. Paul considered the service and sacrifice of the Philippians as the greater offering – the burnt offering, and his life and service as the smaller offering – the drink offering that was poured out.
In the end of Paul’s life, he wrote to Timothy stating, “For I am now ready to be offered (for I am already being poured out as a drink offering) and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course (race), I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give (award) me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who love His appearing” (2Tim 4:6-8 RV).
We too are able to find joy and delight in the devotion of our fellow believers. But in a higher sense, the libation must ever present the thought of the believer’s joy in the devotion of the Lord Jesus Christ. His was the perfect sacrifice and in Him alone we may find our complete joy.