19 April, 2024

Drinking Our Cup

by | 25 September, 2023 | 2 comments

By Doug Redford 

The Bible often pictures the judgment of God as a cup from which those individuals and nations who are being judged must drink. Psalm 75:8 offers one example: “In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.” Elsewhere, the prophet Jeremiah is pictured taking the cup of God’s wrath from God himself and forcing the nations of his world to drink it, including (and mentioned first) God’s own people in Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem (Jeremiah 25:15-29). 

The minor prophet Obadiah portrayed God’s judgment as coming upon the Edomites for their mocking of God’s people when judgment finally came upon Judah and Jerusalem. But he also pictured judgment as a cup from which all nations will drink. He wrote: “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. Just as you drank on my holy hill [perhaps referring to the Edomites drinking as part of their celebratory mocking], so all the nations will drink continually . . .” (Obadiah 15-16). 

Drinking a cup of judgment brings to mind the language Jesus used when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus proceeded to drink that cup, every last drop—not “good to the last drop,” as the old Maxwell House Coffee commercials used to proclaim; this was bad to the last drop. It was the totality of human sin, the foulest contents imaginable. 

Obadiah told the nations, “As you have done, it will be done to you”; in other words, “You will get what’s coming to you.” But the message of the cross is, “You don’t have to get what’s coming to you.” Jesus was the sinless Lamb of God, treated as he did not deserve so we could be treated as we do not deserve. 

We need to remember that timeless message of grace whenever we take Communion. The cup we take in remembrance of Jesus, “the cup of thanksgiving” as Paul called it (1 Corinthians 10:16), is ours to take because Jesus drank his cup of suffering and agony to the last drop. He took the bitter cup so that we could drink the better cup. 

Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Now retired, he continues to write and speak as opportunities come. 


  1. Andrew Zottola

    I like this, hope you don’t mind me using it for a communion meditation.

  2. Christian Standard

    NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Yes, Andrew, please use it. While many people read these meditations to remember our Lord’s sacrifice and draw nearer to him, I’ve always viewed them, first and foremost, as an aid for people who present meditations before their church.

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