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Why does Ezekiel speak about animal sacrifice in the Millennial Kingdom?
By Jeff Unsworth 

 

Eze 43:18  And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. 

19  And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering. 

20  And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it. 

21  Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary. 

22  And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. 

23  When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. 

24  And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 

25  Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. 

26  Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves. 

27  And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD. 
.............................................................................
This is also referred to in Jeremiah.

 

Jeremiah 33:15–18 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 
16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 
18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

 

Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel, known as “Brothers of the Book”, were all contemporaries, whose writings overlapped.
All of these Prophets prophesied for their own time, the time of the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ.

 

Ezekiel is a very difficult book to understand for most Christians, especially if you are not a Bible scholar.
It is filled with imagery and phraseology that most “ordinary” Christians find difficult, much like the book of Revelation.

When one comes up against questions such as, "why does Ezekiel refer to animal sacrifice in the Millennium"?, the first thing one tends to do is forget it, or put it to one side with the intention of returning to it at a later date.
Christians very often say this kind of teaching is for the Bible scholars and Theologians.

However there are Bible teachers out there that can shed light on such things, in a way that “ordinary” Christians can understand, it just takes a bit more patience.

Of course, the answer to such a question depends on your standpoint concerning the Millennium.
For instance if you are someone who is an A Millennialist, (no 1000 year reign) you would have a different view than someone who is a Chilliast/Millenarian (one who believes that there will be a 1000 year reign).

I approach this question from a Millenarian standpoint.
I believe that when Jesus Christ returns, He will set up a Millennial Kingdom that will last for 1000 years.
I believe that any allegory, hint or deeper spiritual meaning to a text, should never rob it of its literal meaning.

Revelation speaks of a literal 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Even though the Millennium is not mentioned, the fact that in Revelation the term 1000 years, (which is a Millennium), is mentioned five times.


Revelation 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
 

Revelation reveals that there are those who take part in the Rapture and those are martyred for Christ during the Great Tribulation, that will reign with Christ in the Millennial kingdom.
 

Revelation 20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
 

Rev 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 

Rev 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 

2Ti 2:12  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 

1 Corinthians 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?


Micah tells us what will happen during this 1000 year reign.

Micah 4:1-3 And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths " For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war.

Daniel tells us about the kingdoms from Nebuchanezzer, Medo Persia, Greece and Rome. Then the feet of iron and clay. Then Daniel tells us about the Kingdom that shall be set up.

Daniel 2:34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.

Daniel 2:44 "In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.


I believe that we, the believers that are Raptured at the coming of Christ in the clouds, will reign with Christ in a Millennium Kingdom. We will be given a new body, a glorified body, fit for eternity with Christ.

“and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years”.

Phil 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

I also believe that at the end of the Great Tribulation, there will be those that will recognise Christ at His second coming to the earth, when His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives.

Zech 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

Zech 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications:
and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

There will be those that will enter into the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies. They will live in a kingdom that will be akin to the time when Adam and Eve were created.
Man will live longer, like in the pre flood times.


Isaiah 65:19-20 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and be filled with joy for My people. The sound of weeping and the cry of distress will no longer be heard in her. No longer will there be there any infant that perishes in his youth, nor any old man who fails to live out his days in full. For a man will be accounted but a youth should he die at a hundred, even the sinner a hundred year old who suffers this curse.

Some have taken this to mean that no one will die of natural causes in the Millennium, but that goes a bit farther than what these verses actually suggest. Millennial believers will still be "of the earth". Even in the pre-flood days, people did die, even if their life-spans were generally much longer than today. 

Quote from Anastasia Filat (Answers from the Bible).

The 1000 Year Millennium Kingdom will be very different from what we have on this Earth now. I think few believers really think about this period of time about which the Bible speaks a lot, though the term of the “1000 Year Millennium Kingdom” is found only one time in the Bible in Revelation 20. If a believer studied the book of Revelation in a serious way, he will easily recognize the texts of the Old Testament that describe this period of time. The 1000 Year Millennium Kingdom will be on the Earth, but it will be very different from the modern society. It will be a combination of the heavenly and earthly. It will be a time when Lord Jesus and the overcomers will rule the nations with an iron rod so that all the promises of God come true: End of Quote.

So, why animal sacrifice in the Millennium?

We know that salvation is not brought about through the sacrifice of goats and bulls. That Christ’s atonement for sin was once for all.


Rom 6:10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
 

Heb 7:27  Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 


Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Heb 9:13,14  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


We know that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

We know that Jesus Christ was the spotless Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

We know that there is salvation in none other than Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
 

So why would sacrifice be re introduced in the Millennium?

Let us also consider a related question, i.e. why did Israel offer animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law? As we know, it is only the blood of Christ that covers the sins of believers. It seems that God had determined that Israel was to offer daily sacrifices in Old Testament times as a shadow of the one true Sacrifice.

For the Jew (Judaism) the Day of Atonement is a remembrance of the deliverance out of the bondage in Egypt, when the blood of a sacrifice was painted over the door lintels. The Jews were to do this until the coming of Messiah.
The New Testament teaching of the Lord’s table is a remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, “the Lamb of God” at Calvary.

This also is to be done until the Second Coming of Christ.


1 Cor 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (proclaim) the Lord's death till he come.
What does it mean to proclaim the Lords death till He comes.?

 

Proclaim , /prəˈkleɪm/ announce officially or publicly. Indicate clearly.
synonyms:  demonstrate, indicate, show, signify, reveal, testify to, manifest, betray
Greek —kataggellō kat-ang-gel'-lo (to proclaim, promulgate: - declare, preach, shew, speak of, teach.

 

So! what exactly are we proclaiming when we take communion?
Well! we are proclaiming, exactly what it says, the Lord’s death till He comes.

These blood sacrifices in the Millennial will be just the same. A proclamation of the death of the perfect sacrifice which is Christ Jesus.
There will be children born in the Millennial reign of Christ that will still have the sinful nature. Even though there will be no Satan to contend with, (for he is bound in chains until the end of the 1000 years).


Rev 20:1 – 3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 
3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.


Also, the world will be a different place, so they will not be contending against the world. However they will still be in the flesh and will need to be saved.
In this time now, we contend against the world, the flesh and the devil.
In the Millennium man will still contend with the flesh. People will still be saved through faith and belief in the Messiah Jesus Christ.
So there will be a proclamation of the Gospel.

These sacrifices did not take away sin in the Old Testament, but were done in obedience to the Lord in repentance of sin.
In a similar way, future animal sacrifices during the millennial kingdom will not take away sin, but will serve as a reminder or memorial to the Lord.

 

Heb 10:3  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 


This is not unlike the way Christians take the Lord's Supper during this current time period (or church age) as a reminder of Jesus' death and resurrection.
 

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

1 Cor 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

 

Though the thought of animal sacrifices during the millennial kingdom may sound strange to today's Christians, the sacrifices will be a fulfilment of God's prophecies and serve as an act of worship to the Lord. Christ Himself will reign during this time, offering a new meaning to these offerings as they are presented in the kingdom as Jesus reigns as Messiah and King.

The Conclusion of Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum and  Dr. Randall Price

In the Hebrew Scriptures, animal sacrifices served as object lessons, showing the gravity of sin and the necessary consequence of death. For those born in the millennial kingdom, the sacrificial system will once again remind people of what it cost the Messiah to bring salvation, since in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year.
Heb 10:3  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 


Ezekiel himself believed [the Temple] was a reality and the future home of Messiah. Then, it becomes not heresy to believe that a Temple and sacrifices will exist; rather, it is almost a heresy to not believe this, especially because it is a part of God’s infallible word.
The burden on us is to determine how it fits—not its reality. Furthermore, we need to remember that the foundational rationale of the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law, which was instituted after the descent of the Shechinah glory, was the presence of God. This presence had to be protected against man’s sinfulness and uncleanness.
When Yeshua resides in the Millennial Temple, sacrificial blood will become necessary once more in order to protect the divine from the unclean.

 

Conclusion
 

There are two views on this subject.

The first view:

1. That the sacrifices will be as a remembrance only, just as the Lords Table is a remembrance of the sacrifice at Calvary.
Looking back to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. A means of proclamation of the Gospel during the Millennium.

This view teaches that the sacrifices will play for Israel a similar role that communion plays for the Church. Since the Mosaic sacrifices looked forward to the sacrifice of the Messiah, why could not the Kingdom sacrifices look back and commemorate the sacrifices on the cross?
The Church has been asked to do something very physical, to partake of the bread and the cup, to remember the Body and the Blood of the Messiah. This ceremony is to be terminated with the Second Coming.

 

1Co 11:26  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 
 

What will be used to remember the Lord’s death by Israel in the Messianic Kingdom?
The blood sacrifices of the Kingdom will also be a physical ceremony to serve for Israel what communion serves for the Church: to remember the Body and Blood of the Messiah.

It should be kept in mind that the Mosaic sacrifices never took away sin and were not the means of salvation for the Old Testament saint Christ's Sacrifice Once for All.

 

Heb 10:1  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 

Heb 10:2  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 

Heb 10:3  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 

Heb 10:4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 
 

The Old Testament saint was saved by grace through faith. The blood sacrifices were the means of restoring fellowship of the Mosaic saint that sinned.
In this age, fellowship for the believer is restored by confession.


John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness..


The Millennial sacrifices will not take away sin either, but they will be the means of restoring fellowship for the Millennial saint that sins.

Answer given by John MacArthur to the question: (Bible Questions and Answers, Part 51 Nov 18, 2001)

Question: In light of Hebrews 9, what is the purpose of the sacrificial system in Ezekiel?

Answer: In the time of the millennium, you have the picture of the millennial kingdom of Christ in Ezekiel 40 or 48, that when we get into the millennial kingdom after the Lord comes and establishes His kingdom, there’s going to be a sacrificial system of some kind going on in that millennial kingdom. In the light of Hebrews 9, what He means by that is since Christ is the one offering who satisfied all requirements and the sacrificial system has ended, why does God bring back the sacrificial system in the millennial kingdom?

 The answer to the question is simply this: The same reason we have the Lord’s Table today. We have the Lord’s Table in which we take the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we go back to that in the picture, in the drama that’s played out on the Lord’s Table as a memorial and a testimony to that. And I believe that the sacrificial system as designed by God and revealed through Ezekiel will be in the millennial kingdom for the Jews a memorial feast with the same kind of idea as the communion is for us.

 They will then, every time they offer those sacrifices, be seeing the One whom God sent to be the final sacrifice. So since their connection is to the Old Testament, God will reinstitute those as a drama, as a memorial drama to demonstrate and dramatize that Christ is the true Lamb pictured in all those sacrifices, just like every time we have communion, some people say, “Don’t you just repeat the dying of Jesus?” Well, not really, we just continually memorialize and remember the One sacrificed.

 We, in the communion service, look back at it. They, at that time, will carry on the sacrifices that in the Old Testament look forward to it.

Second question to John MacArthur:

Will the Gentiles take place in the ceremonies as well?

Answer: Well, I think so. Because I think you have the word of the prophets that the Jews are going to be bringing the Gentiles to Jerusalem. You know, ten Gentiles hanging on the robe of every Jew, and they’ll be taking us to that place, and I think there will be participation in those things.

 

The second view:

2. That the sacrifices will be for atonement. Not a sacrifice for salvation but for cleansing.
God will be present amongst a sinful people. His glory shall be in the Temple.
To be able to come into the Holy Place, there will have to be the sacrifices for cleansing.

Since the Shechinah Glory will be within the Holy of Holies of the Millennial Temple, it would be impossible to approach the Temple compound in a state of ritual impurity and therefore the sacrifices will be for the cleansing of ceremonial uncleanness. 

Quote from Thomas Ice. Executive Director of The Pre-Trib Research Center:

Critics of future millennial sacrifices seem to assume that all sacrifices, past and future, always depict Christ’s final sacrifice for sin. They do not! There were various purposes for sacrifices in the Bible. An overwhelming majority of sacrifices under the Mosaic system were for purification of the priests and objects used in various rites. This is why atonement can be said in the past to be effective, yet still need Christ’s future sacrifice, because many of the sacrifices did atone ceremonially, cleansing participants and objects in Temple ritual. Just as we never finish the task of washing clothes, ceremonial cleansing was an ongoing need. The same is clearly the case in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 43:20 and 26, the atonement is specifically directed at cleansing the altar in order to make it ritually fit for sacrifice. The only other uses of atonement also refer to cleansing objects so that ritual purity may be maintained for proper function of further worship (Ezekiel 45:151720)…Since all the sacrifices of Ezekiel relate to purification of the priests for Temple service, they do not specifically depict or represent Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The presence and purpose of sacrifices neither diminishes the finished work of Christ nor violates the normal and “literal” interpretation of the prophetic passages. Nothing in Ezekiel 40-48 conflicts with the death of Christ or New Testament teaching at any point. The supposed contradictions between a literal understanding of Ezekiel and New Testament doctrine evaporate when examined specifically. End of quote.
 

Jerry Hullinger (Professor at Piedmont University) also reaches the same conclusion:
 

a solution that maintains dispensational distinctives, deals honestly with the text of Ezekiel, and in no way demeans the work Christ did on the cross. This study suggests that animal sacrifices during the Millennium will serve primarily to remove ceremonial uncleanness and prevent defilement from polluting the temple envisioned by Ezekiel. This will be necessary because the glorious presence of Yahweh will once again be dwelling on earth in the midst of a sinful and unclean people…Because of God’s promise to dwell on earth during the Millennium (as stated in the New Covenant), it is necessary that He protect His presence through sacrifice… It should further be added that this sacrificial system will be a temporary one in that the Millennium (with its partial population of unglorified humanity) will last only one thousand years. During the eternal state all inhabitants of the New Jerusalem will be glorified and will therefore not be a source of contagious impurities to defile the holiness of Yahweh. 

 

Whether it be for a remembrance and a pointer to the perfect sacrifice made by Jesus at Calvary or whether it be for a ritual cleansing, it seems quite clear that there will be a Millennial Temple of God and that there will be a reinstitution of blood sacrifice.

 

 


 

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