Drink Offering (2 Timothy 4)
- Order of Service: Matins
- Hymns: LSB #611, 745, 781, 660
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 race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have love His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Paul is being poured out as a drink offering. What is a drink offering? A drink offering is an addition to a sacrifice. The sacrifices were the main attractions in Israelite worship, but they were to be accompanied by grain and drink offerings. The drink offering was poured out on the altar as a sign of emptying one's self before God. You empty yourself so God can fill you up. This is King David's point in Psalm 23: “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” God only fills an already emptied cup.
St. Paul takes this image as the final image of his life in Christ. As he gives his last will and testament to Timothy, he explains the great wonder of the Christian faith. Hope, comfort and peace in the face of death. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” With these three statements, Paul summarizes the Christian life.
“I have fought the good fight.” Paul continues the fighting metaphor that has encapsulated his second epistle to Timothy. As he says, “I have fought the good fight,” he brings forward the hope of everlasting life. Paul encourages you to fight the good fight even when you are alone. “At my first defense no one came to stand by me.” Paul felt that he was all alone in his defenses before Felix and Agrippa and then before the Emperor. In this way, he felt very much like Elijah on Mount Horeb.
But you are never alone. Jesus is always with you. This is your hope in this life. Because Jesus has promised you, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” With this promise, you can say, “I trust when dark my road.” Your road is darkened because of your sin and the sin around the world. Sin surrounds you and clouds the Lord's sky because it “is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” However, your attempts to rule over your sin are humble. Sin is not fought with pride. Sin is fought with contrition and prayer. “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Your hope is fulfilled when you are exalted to take your rightful place in Heaven. A place that was bought with your Savior's blood. The once-for-all sacrifice upon which Paul's life and your life are being poured as drink offerings to God.
Having fought properly, at the end of your life you may say, “I have finished the race.” A word of great comfort as you face death. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has set out a race course for you to follow. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Jesus has both written down the Word for us to follow. He has finished the Word. Because He is the Word. And He will rescue you “from every evil deed.” You can see this because He has rescued you from your sin through His mercy. We have great comfort in this life because He is gracious and merciful to those who call upon His name.
Calling upon His name, being saved, you strive to keep the faith. Keeping the faith gives you peace in the face of every trouble. He has promised safe passage from death to life as He brings you across the heavenly Jordan River to be with Him forever. In peace we pray to the Lord. And the Lord has mercy upon us.
Peaceful prayer understands that sometimes God says “No” to prayers for recovery of health and longer life. We just had the funeral for Jim Jeans. Many prayers were sent heavenward for him to recover. But God said, “No.” We cannot understand the answer, but He gives us hope, comfort and peace to accept it. Eventually.
“If death my portion be, then death is gain to me and Christ my Life forever, from whom death cannot sever. Come when it may, He'll shield me, to Him I wholly yield me.” Peace can only come when God has regard for your offering. Your offering of prayer and praise is the sacrifice you prepare for the LORD in the morning. Being constant in your offering, you have peace in your heart. You can look at death without blinking your eyes because you are in Christ.
To everyone who is in Christ, He will give the crown of righteousness that has been laid up for them since the foundation of the world. With His hope, comfort and peace, you are able to offer yourself as a drink offering. The drink offering of a Christian who has fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. Jesus' sacrifice was once for all for you. Your drink offering is for those whose lives you've touched. Like St. Paul touched Timothy's life and the lives of all the congregations he planted. Amen.