Leviticus 23 and Numbers 15 are the two primary passages that make reference to the drink offering. The Old Covenant system of offerings is extensive and can be a bit confusing to the modern New Covenant believer but we can see them as foreshadowing some of the critical themes brought to fruition as a result of Christ’s ultimate offering on the cross (see Hebrews chapters 8-9).
Paul’s most famous teaching, in which he referenced this sacrificial system from the perspective of the New Covenant, is in Romans 12:1, where he instructs believers in this way: “in view of God’s mercy…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
In the context of Philippians 2:17, Paul described his hope that his labor in the ministry of the gospel amongst the Philippian believers would not be “in vain.” They could assuage this fear by cooperating with the transformative work of God in their lives, which would make them “children of God,” shining “stars in the sky.” His labor amongst them is described as a “drink offering.” He instructs the Philippians to rejoice over his investment in their fledgling faith.
Why would he ask them to rejoice with him in his “drink offering”? The drink offering in the Old Testament was associated with a “first fruit” offering. These offerings were meant to be a recognition of God’s blessing on His obedient covenant people, in which they returned a portion of His provision (of food and drink from the land he had given them) back to Him. Could it be that Paul was calling the Philippian believers to rejoice with him because he had already been blessed to see a spiritual harvest in their lives as a result of his ministry amongst them? To do so is not haughty on Paul’s part but rather an affirmation from this Apostle whom God sent into their lives.
We, too, should experience such joy, whether we are the ones receiving ministry or dispensing ministry, as we see God bringing salvation into the world through our lives, poured out to Him as a drink offering. How are you pouring out your life to strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Who is doing the same in your life? Take a moment to identify the fruit you have experienced from both and praise God for this spiritual harvest.