Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
November 20, 2016
BIBLICAL WINEMAKING 404
Let me begin with a warning. This is not a feel-good blog. This is a blog of conviction--at least for me. This is a revelation of who I am and how I live.
Once I began to grasp the intricacy of vine grafting simply for a vine to even survive, the investment of time, patience, waiting and faith before ever seeing the first usable harvest, and the difficulty, vigilance and effort in regular pruning to produce the best fruit possible, I eventually came to look at a bottle of wine with different eyes.
This isn't about whether drinking wine is right or wrong or whether wine today is different from wine in Biblical times. It is about the fact that when I see a bottle of wine on a shelf now, I UNDERSTAND the blood, sweat, time and difficulty that went into producing that bottle. And it is that very understanding that brought me to my knees in reverence before God.
You see, I vary up my personal Bible study and jump around in Scripture, but every so often I decide to read completely through God's Word once again. It has to be a concentrated effort, because let's admit, some of the books like Leviticus, Numbers, 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles are not really that thrilling to read. But it was in reading Numbers a few years ago that my heart was cut to the core. Like the Hebrews writer says, "For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 HCSB)
As I got to Numbers 28, the Israelites were nearing the end of their 40-year punishment of wandering in the desert for their disobedience and rebellion toward God. At this point the Lord reminded the people of the offerings that were expected to be given in sacrifice to Him.
DAILY, the people as a nation were to present a burnt offering to the Lord that consisted of a food offering of a year-old male lamb without defect, a grain offering of about 2 quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of olive oil, and a drink offering consisting of a quart of fermented drink (wine). This was to be given BOTH in the morning AND at twilight EVERY SINGLE DAY. (Numbers 28:1-8)
Each Sabbath, they were to double the regular burnt offering portions to give as a WEEKLY offering. "This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, IN ADDITION to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering." (Numbers 28:10 NIV emphasis mine)
At the beginning of every MONTH, the burnt offering was to be two bulls, one ram and seven one-year-old male lambs, along with 7 1/2 gallons of fine flour mixed with oil, as well as almost 3 gallons of wine. (Numbers 28:11-14)
There are several other offerings listed in Numbers that were for specific celebrations and festivals. But these offerings were all IN ADDITION to the regular daily, weekly and monthly offerings. This means that at a minimum, the people were to offer AT LEAST 2 bulls, 1 ram, 75 lambs, 41 gallons of fine flour with oil and 20 gallons of wine EVERY SINGLE MONTH.
While that is a large number of animals and a huge amount of flour and oil, know this: only portions of all of that were actually burned before the Lord. God delegated in Leviticus that meat and grain from the offering was to be given to the priests and their families. I liken this to how in the church today a portion of the offering goes to pay the salary of the ministers.
But the drink offering was different. EVERY SINGLE DROP of it was poured out before the Lord. It ALL belonged to Him.
Why? The only true and justifiable reason is because He. Is. God.
Why was Moses to remove his sandals when standing at the burning bush? Because the very presence of God made the ground holy. (Exodus 3:1-6). Why did God have to cover Moses in the cleft of the rock and only allow him to see a glimpse of His back? Because the glory of God's face was more than man could experience and live. (Exodus 33:18-23)
I looked at the offering amount required and I thought, 20 gallons of wine? That's a HUGE amount to just pour out. That's years of waiting, bleeding fingers from grafting, and countless snips of the pruning shears. And then no one even gets to enjoy the fruit of all that labor?
But then I looked at the One who it was being poured out before, and I dropped my head in shame. How very little do I offer to the One who gives me breath each day? What pitiful sacrifices do I make with my time and energy? I look at the incredible blessings in my life and I am sickened with how measly I give back.
I give to God like the food and grain offerings, giving Him some of my life, but keeping portions back for myself. But this is not what He deserves or requires.
Some might say, "but we don't live in Old Testament times. We are under the New Covenant of Christ." Yes, but these offerings in Numbers 28 are NOT the sin offering that Jesus came to be the final Lamb for. These are offerings that belong to God simply because HE IS. And the offerings are to live on today in our very lives.
Most of us know Paul's famous words that are often etched in tombstones..."I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV) But do you know what he said only a breath before that? And I believe it was the reason why he COULD even say it.
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near." (2 Timothy 4:6 NIV)
As we come into this week of Thanksgiving, let us not only look at WHAT we are thankful for, but let us also examine HOW we live out that thankfulness, and begin today to pour ourselves out as an offering before the One more than worthy of all that we are.