In most African occasions and ceremonies, libation is a religious act that is enshrined in the culture of the people. With alacrity, they hope to conjure blessings from the ancestors on the organizers or the main subject of the occasion . The question is should libation be done? To whom should it be done? In this lesson, I will define the terms libation and oblation, show their origins and usage and then show their misuse. Perhaps the pouring of libation is at the very root of the African misery.
The word libation comes from the Greek word leibien meaning to pour. Though the act existed before, but its first known usage was around the 14th Century. The word per se does not exist in the Bible, but the act does. The Bible synonymously uses the expression drink offering. Libation (drink offering) was wine that was poured upon the altar or other objects during religious ceremonies (Num 15:5, 7, 10, 24; Num 28:7). It was done as a form of worship to God and not gods. However, later the heathen nations copied the practice and when Israel strayed from God; they took the ritual to heathen gods. Today, most African communities pour libation.
The practice is said to have begun in Israel when Jacob intended to appease God with a drink offering and oil (Gen 35:14). Although from Genesis 1-35 there is a mirror that captured the culture of the surrounding nations, there is no indication any of them performed the ritual before this time.
During the consecration of the priests, libation was performed to endorse their calling before God. During this ceremony, there was both oblation (food offering) and libation (drink offering -Ex 29:40-41; Lev 23:13; Num 6:17). That sacrifice was important in the vocation of the priests. That is why Paul metaphorically uses himself as an oblation (Phil 2:17) because in serving Christ, he has offered himself to God for the sake of the Philippians.
It raises clearly the purport of libation and oblation. In the Old Testament, it was to appease God and help the priest. Those who offered the libation and oblation were to be sinless, not harboring any malice against the priest. Can we say that those who are offering it today do wish peace for those whose sake the libation and oblation are offered?
As always, anything destined for the glory of God has always raised up phonies.
Immediately as Israel goes astray, it starts to append the same ceremonial custom to heathen gods; thereby committing idolatry. In the ceremonial requirements for worship, it was prohibited to offer sinful libation (Ex 30:9). That means; it must be with a clean heart. Sadly, today others have wished people evil than good during libations.
Apart from not offering it with a clean heart, they began offering it to gods; thus practicing idolatry (Is 57:6, Jer 7:18). In these words of Joel “The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD'S ministers, mourn.” (Joel 1:9)
Nowadays, many African communities do not offer it to gods, but they offer it to their ancestors (dead people). Whatever thing you do at this time, it a sign of waywardness (Is 66:3). Drifting away from God has nefarious consequences. Perhaps that is why most African countries entrenched in ancestral worship are backwards because they seem to invite more the wrath rather than the favor of God. From Africa to Asia, Latin America to Europe and North America to Central America, there is enough evidence that abandoning the ways of God will fetch us disaster now and hell fire in the world to come.
When this starts to happen, that libation is offered to the wrong person (ancestors or gods rather than God), the priests, preachers and ministers must lament and howl (Joel 1:13), so that the reprobate will repent, and God will leave a blessing for them. Isn’t it time for us to start seeking the blessings of God? Couldn’t it be due to libations that our communities are kaput? It is time to repent and come back to God for God to bless us. For thus says the Lord:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Until then, stop libations in our communities!
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk
“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).