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Posts Tagged ‘offerings’

Painting by Titian, 16 Cent.

I’m pretty sure everything started out fairly normal for the brothers, Cain and Abel. Raised by the same parents, they got the same instruction, the same opportunities, the same attention; much like most siblings of today. So, what went wrong? And why is it a warning for me?

Jude 1:10-11a
Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain . . .

Things must have started going downhill long before the big moment in Genesis 4:3-5, when both boys brought an offering to God, Cain (the eldest) from his farm produce and Abel from his herds. The produce offering was rejected while the animal offering was accepted. Cain thought his offering was fine, the way to go. Maybe it didn’t occur to him to find out what would be better, or that something “could” be better. Maybe Abel just lucked out when he brought a blood sacrifice. We’ll never know.

But what we do know is that the Cain/Abel dynamic was already in place and Cain, instead of changing up to another offering or trying another way, resented his brother’s good fortune. I doubt he took any time at all to analyze his situation or consider some alternatives. He “went with his gut” and confronted his brother. Sometimes, I think people assume that Abel was Mr. Goody-2-Shoes and had the inside track on offering styles of the day. But, what if Abel was doing a little victory dance in the end zone? I’m just sayin.’

But here’s the point. I must be more cautionary in my actions, more circumspect. I may “think” I know what is going on, but then again, I may not. How easy it is to over-react. The “Way of Cain” is thoughtless, emotional, and brash. Cain’s way burns bridges and changes lives forever. Even if there is forgiveness for Cain, the damage is done.

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I did a quick study of “drink offering” and two things stand out: the drink offering is always given along with something else (usually the meal offering); it is wine and represents the blood. It is often followed by oil which symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:17-18
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

He is saying that his death is poured out over their “sacrifice and service” and as such, will be additionally blessed. And later, Paul asks that his followers rejoice in this, rejoice in his offering, rejoice in the implications of their offerings, both his and theirs. It will be followed by the Holy Spirit who will give back life to their planted seeds. The seed must “die” to bring forth a plant [John 12:24].

But what is in this for me? I am not in the drink offering business. At least, not yet.

Perhaps I need to be aware of the sacrifices that others have made for me though. Do I appreciate the pouring out of my mother, let’s say, who gave everything for her children, even her emigration to the United States for our sakes, to have a better chance. She worked, she saved, she spent, she did the best she could with the resources she had.

I think about David in II Samuel 23:16, when three mighty warriors broke through Philistine lines just to get him a “drink of water” from the well near Bethlehem. Some find it odd that once the warriors brought the water, he would not drink it, but poured it out on the ground. In essence, I believe he was acknowledging it as a type of drink offering. It was holy and symbolized sacrifice for the cause.

To what have I sacrificed? Where is my drink offering? This offering is unlike the offerings described in the early chapters of Leviticus. I believe this offering is not mandated, it’s extra, it’s a choice.

Oh Lord, give me courage and desire to identify and pour out my offering when the time comes.

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