What have you got to say about temple sacrifices during the Millennium?

Email Received:

What have you got to say about temple sacrifices during the Millennium?

Ted's Response:

Many look at the temple, the priests, and the sacrifices and sin offerings in Ezekiel 40-46 and say that this must be the third temple built in Jerusalem prior to the return of Jesus, where many feel end-time sacrifices and offerings will take place. Some feel that this shows one of the prior temples and of the sacrifices and offerings that took place there. Others say that it is the millennial Temple, after Jesus returns, but that the sacrifices and sin offerings must be figurative or symbolic, since Jesus was the final sacrifice for our sins.

Ezekiel 40 and subsequent chapters follow chronologically after Ezekiel 38 & 39, which will take place near the end of the 70th Week (see The Final Battles).  So, very simply, I believe that Ezekiel 40-46 describes the millennial Temple and Holy Mountain and that sacrifices and sin offerings will take place in the Temple, just as they did in the first and second temples in ancient Jerusalem. There are several reasons why I believe this, but I will give you three:

1) The last enemy of God to be destroyed, which will occur at the end of the Millennium, will be death (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:14). Since the wage of sin is death (Romans 6:23), then there will be sin, committed by mortal people (not glorified saints), during the Millennium. Otherwise, Jesus and the glorified believers would not need to rule them with an "iron scepter" (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). Furthermore, multitudes of sinners will be deceived by Satan, after he is released from the Abyss, and will gather for a final battle against Jesus (Revelation 20:7-9).

Therefore, since sin will be present during that 1,000-year period, there will be animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of mortal people living during that time. Zechariah 14:20,21, which will take place after Jesus returns, specifies that there will be cooking pots in Jerusalem and Judah and in the Lord's house (millennial Temple). All who come to sacrifice will cook the slain animals in these pots.

2) Jesus did not come to abolish the Law/Torah of Moses or the Prophets; He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). That is, He was the ultimate embodiment and epitome of it. Furthermore, nothing from the Law/Torah and Prophets will disappear until the present heaven and earth will pass away (5:18) and a new heaven and earth appear, commencing the eternal realm, which will not be until the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11, 21:1) comes. The Torah was filled with specifications, requirements, and conditions for sacrifices (for instance, in Leviticus 23:12,19,37, Deuteronomy 12:6,11,27, and in numerous other places).

3) The ancient sacrificial laws, given by God to Moses, never were associated with salvation. That is, the priests of Israel did not perform sacrifices so that they or the people could attain eternal salvation; they were done to atone for sins, temporarily, until more sins were committed (Hebrews 5:1-3).

Jesus, the ultimate High Priest, sacrificed Himself once for all, allowing sinners who believe in Him to attain eternal salvation; however, His supreme sacrifice did not enable people to avoid punishment for their sins while still on this earth (Hebrews 7:23-28). During the Millennium, mortal people will continue to sin. Regular compensation will be necessary for those sins, so high priests will perform blood sacrifices of animals as a means of ongoing atonement.

The present heaven and earth will disappear at the end of the Millennium, when God will bring into existence a brand new Creation (see old and new Creations). Until then, when God's plan of the ages will be accomplished, every bit of the Law/Torah will continue to be in effect (Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17).

For mortal people, imputing righteousness and justification, along with eternal salvation, involves accepting and confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that He was raised from the dead (Romans 10:9,10). Many sinful, prideful mortals in the world during the Millennium will refuse to acknowledge that this Jesus—sitting on His throne in the millennial Temple in Jerusalem as the earth’s King (Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 14:9)—is their personal Lord and Savior or that He is the same Jesus who lived way back in the first century. They are the ones who will need to be ruled with an "iron scepter" (Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15), due to their disobedience and acts of transgression. If they fail to bow their knees and give their allegiance to Jesus before they die, they will experience the second death following the White Throne Judgment of God, at the end of the Millennium (20:11-15).

Multitudes of others will attain eternal salvation because they will embrace Jesus as Lord and will understand that He, obviously, has risen from the dead and is God. However, their day-to-day sins (which they will commit because they will not yet have been changed into glorified, incorruptible beings) will need to be atoned for by sacrifices, enabling them to live long, happy, productive and fulfilling lives for as long as they exist in their mortal bodies.

I understand very well that many Christians attempt to provide allegorical and symbollic explanations for the last few chapters of Ezekiel's glimpse into the future, which indicate that animal sacrifices and various offerings will take place after Jesus returns. Yet, look at the following passages:

In the portico of the gateway were two tables on each side, on which the burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings were slaughtered. ... So there were four tables on one side of the gateway and four on the other—eight tables in all—on which the sacrifices were slaughtered. There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high. On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices. (Ezekiel 40:39,41,42)

Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: These will be the regulations for sacrificing burnt offerings and sprinkling blood upon the altar when it is built: You are to give a young bull as a sin offering to the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok, who come near to minister before me, declares the Sovereign Lord. You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it. You are to take the bull for the sin offering and burn it in the designated part of the temple area outside the sanctuary. On the second day you are to offer a male goat without defect for a sin offering, and the altar is to be purified as it was purified with the bull. When you have finished purifying it, you are to offer a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. You are to offer them before the LORD, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the LORD. (Ezekiel 43:18-24)

But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 44:15)

He said to me, "This is the place where the priests are to cook the guilt offering and the sin offering and bake the grain offering, to avoid bringing them into the outer court and consecrating the people." Around the inside of each of the four courts was a ledge of stone, with places for fire built all around under the ledge. He said to me, "These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple will cook the sacrifices of the people." (Ezekiel 46:20,23,24)
These and similar passages are straightforward, literal passages describing animal sacrifices and burnt offerings made to the Lord in His Temple, during the Millennium. Therefore, I have a difficult time not believing that there will be such sacrifices and offerings at that time. The millennial Temple will be on God's Holy Mountain in Jerusalem, burnt offerings and sacrifices will take place within the Temple, and it will be a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7).

Furthermore, it seems evident to me that these sacrifices and offerings will continue until the end of the Millennium, at which time Matthew 5:18 will be fulfilled. Once the present heaven and earth pass away, the new heaven and earth will come into existence (see old and new Creations).  The new Creation will be a pristine realm, with no more sin or death; so there will be no further need for an animal sacrificial system, for all eternity.

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