Over the past couple months, we’ve seen a number of incredible shadows of Christ in the Old Testament, and today I’d like to look at yet another one found in Genesis. As a side note, if you’ve never studied Genesis, I definitely encourage you to put it on your list. It is a book rich in doctrine and truths that set the stage for human history!
In Genesis 35, the Lord told Jacob to travel to Bethel, live there, and build an altar to God (Gen 35:1). The journey would take them through an area inhabited by enemies, but God sovereignly protected and covered Jacob and his family by instilling a “terror from God” into those that may have wanted to harm him (Gen 35:5). They safely arrived in Bethel and Jacob built the altar as God instructed.
It is here where God blessed Jacob and renames him to Israel, a continuation of the promise God made to his grandfather Abraham:
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. (Gen 35:10-14)
In response to this divine blessing, Jacob sets up a memorial stone and offers a drink offering on it (see Joshua 4 for more on the importance of a stone memorial). The Hebrew word for this offering is נָסַךְ (nasak) which means “to pour out”, and this is the first time we see such an offering in Scripture. The drink offering poured out was typically wine. So why did Jacob provide a drink offering here?
As we studied a few weeks ago, the sacrificed lamb of the Passover was a foreshadow of Christ, and this drink offering shares a similar thread. In Luke 22:20 we read of Christ, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Hours later, Jesus’s blood was literally poured out as an offering for our sins when the Roman soldier pierced His side: But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. (John 19:34)
Later, we read the apostle Paul relating his life’s service and death as being akin to a drink offering poured out for God:
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Phil 2:17) And, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (2 Timothy 4:6)
So here we have two fascinating points to take away from the drink offering. One is that it was yet another graphic shadow and prophetic pattern of Christ’s blood being poured out as a sacrifice. The other is that we are to pour out our lives as an offering to the Lord. Through the endurance of trials, the steadfast dedication of our work as though for God, and even in suffering during persecution, we are to give our lives as living sacrifices, poured out to God as a gift of thanksgiving and praise.
Every day we live we have a new opportunity to be a living sacrifice to God. Each interaction with others, or task completed at work, or word from our mouths that serves to further the Kingdom and bring honor to our Father’s name, is an offering of servitude to a most worthy Savior.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)