Burning Questions answered
by Rev Colin Le Noury.
Q5. Will there be a return to the sacrificial system during the Millennium?
THIS question is one that I have been asked frequently and is probably one of the oldest objections used by our amillennialist friends to try and discredit our position. It does, however, deserve consideration and some explanation. To the first part of the question we can very quickly answer, 'Yes'. There are plenty of scriptures which point to the return of sacrifices in the millennial period. It would be good to examine some of these now:
Isaiah 56 v 6-8 says,'... their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on mine altar...'
Jeremiah 33 v 15-18, '.... neither shall the priests and the burnt offerings and to kindle meat offerings and to sacrifice continually'.
Ezekiel 20 v 40, 'For in mine holy mount, in the mountain of the height of Israel saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the Land, serve me, there will I accept them,and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations with all your holy things'.
Zechariah 14 v 16-21, 'And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the king, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of the tabernacles... Yea every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of Hosts; and all that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and see the therein; and in that day shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts'.
These, and other scriptures, affirm quite clearly the reintroduction of the sacrificial system at a future date. Perhaps the clearest and most detailed references to the same are in the closing chapters of Ezekiel. The seven chapters Ezekiel 40-46 - give us a description of the millennial temple with its dimensions and its practices, including the sacrifices and offerings which will take place.
One finds it difficult to think that anyone could do other than take these passages literally since they are so detailed in their contents. As no temple has ever matched the description presented we must come to the conclusion that this is prophetic of a future dispensation.
The argument that this refers to the tribulation period is unfounded since Ezekiel locates it on a different site from the original temple, which is to be the site of the rebuilt temple in the tribulation.
The other assertion, that Ezekiel's temple is for the perfect age is also without foundation since his description of the boundaries includes the sea, whereas Revelation 21 v.1 tells us that there will be no more sea in the perfect age. Thus if Ezekiel's prophecy of a temple with sacrificing priests is to be fulfilled, then it must find that fulfillment during the millennium.
The difficulty raised in the question is to how this relates to the finished work of Christ. To be fair to the question we must take account of some more scriptures:
'Who needeth not daily, as those 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'. (Hebrews 7 v.27)
'We are sanctified through the offering of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering sacrifices which can never take away sins; but this man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,sat down on the right hand of God'. (Hebrews10 v.10-12)
'...but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.' (Heb. 9 v 26,28)
This same truth is affirmed by Jesus' own words in John 19 v 30 when from the cross, in the supreme act of sacrifice, He cried out, 'It is finished'.
It also has to be said that many of our great hymns affirm these same truths, perhaps none more so than P. P. Bliss:
'Free from the law Oh happy condition,
Jesus hath bled and there is remission,
cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us,once for all'.
How then do we reconcile two seemingly contradictory positions? How can there be a return to the sacrificial system without taking away from the meritorious sacrifice of Christ?
This writer is of the opinion that the answer lies in the word EFFICACY. It is the essential purpose of millennial sacrifices which is important to our understanding. The problem is easily solved if we view them as being COMMEMORATIVE rather than EFFICACIOUS.
Just as the O.T. sacrifices pointed forward to, and found their fulfillment in the supreme efficacious sacrifice of Christ, so the millennial sacrifices will look back in commemorative fulfillment of the same. In other words the sacrifices will be symbols to the millennial populace of the one supreme sacrifice of Christ, as the Lord's supper is a symbol for the church of the same.
A further objection is raised in that the stated millennial offerings are of a distinctly Jewish nature, whereas the death of Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2 v 14-16).
In answer to this, it has to be said, firstly that Paul is teaching specifically about the nature of the church. But secondly, although the said sacrifices will come out of Jewish history and will be administered by Jews, their commemorative purpose will be embraced by Gentiles too, who will join in celebration of the millennial King. This is made clear in Zechariah 8 v 23, 'In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, We will go with you for we have heard that God is with you'.
So then, far from being contradictory, the millennial sacrificial system will be a glorious commemorative celebration of the completeness of the supreme and efficacious sacrifice of our only Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Colin Le Noury