Why will there be animal sacrifices in the future? Did not Christ abolish them when He died?


The Bible shows that at the beginning of the Millennium, after Gog’s armies were destroyed (compare Ezekiel 38 and 39), God will reinstitute animal sacrifices at a newly built temple in Jerusalem. It is possible that the Jews will build a third temple PRIOR to Christ’s return, which will survive the partial end-time destruction of the city of Jerusalem and which will be identical with the millennial temple, described in the book of Ezekiel (compare our Q&A http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/5352 , answering the question whether the Jews will build a temple in Jerusalem prior to Christ’s return. Compare also another Q&A on the same topic, http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/782 ).

Our free booklet, “The book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today”   http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/782, discusses at length the possibility of the existence of a third temple in Jerusalem, prior to Christ’s return. When explaining the ninth vision (Zechariah 6:9–15), and especially verse 13, we stated:

“It is also possible that the reference to a future temple, which will be built by the BRANCH, could relate to a physical temple still to be built in Jerusalem—just prior to the return of Christ. We know from Scripture that the Jews will bring sacrifices to Jerusalem. If there is a physical temple, then these sacrifices would be brought to that temple, until they are—temporarily—abolished by a European power… strong biblical evidence exists for the rebuilding of a temple in the modern Jewish nation of Israel. It would also be possible that it is THAT temple which will survive the partial end-time destruction of the city of Jerusalem, which is described as the millennial temple in the book of Ezekiel.”

It is very possible that the sacrifices will only be given during the remaining 3 ½ years of Christ’s public ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (compare our Q&A, “What will Jesus do after Satan has been banished?” http://www.eternalgod.org/qa/11294 ). Note that the millennial temple and the sacrifices are only mentioned in relationship with the house of Israel.

We read in Ezekiel 43:10: “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel…”

Ezekiel 44:6, 9 states: “Now say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “O house of Israel, let us have no more of all your abominations… No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary [the temple], including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel…”

When addressing the millennial sacrifices, Zechariah 14:21 adds: “In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts [the temple].”

It is important to understand why the people of Israel will give animal sacrifices for a while, and why they brought them in ancient times.

In regard to the millennial sacrifices, we state the following in our free booklet, “The Sacrificial System and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness”: 

  “… we read… in Ezekiel 43:18, 22, 27: ‘And He said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord God: ‘These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it… On the second day you shall offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering… When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priest shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar…’”’”

“Another passage that describes the time of the Millennium is Ezekiel 44:15, 29–30. It refers to the offering of fat and blood, as well as grain offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings. Describing the same time setting, Zechariah 14:21 says that ‘Everyone who sacrifices shall come’ to the LORD’S house—a new Temple in Jerusalem.

“From these Scriptures, we see clearly that burnt offerings, peace offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings will be given in the Millennium. We also understand that the Jews will give offerings again, for a while, just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. In Malachi 3:2–4, these offerings, which apparently may not be pleasing to God, are compared with the offerings that will be given in the Millennium, which WILL be pleasing to God.

“Yes, in the future, sacrifices will be reinstated—at least on a temporary basis—but GOD will NOT reinstate the Old Testament sacrificial SYSTEM. That is, the sacrifices that will be given before Christ’s return (Daniel 12:11), and those given in the Millennium (compare Ezekiel 40:38–43, which describes the preparation of burnt offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings during the Millennium), are not the same as those that were part of the old covenants with the nations of Israel and Judah. The New Testament tells us that the sacrifices—as part of the Old Testament system—are no longer valid. The Levites will still officiate over sacrifices, but these sacrifices will not be given pursuant to the same system that existed in the Old Testament, under Moses.

“The Bible also indicates that, at the beginning of the Millennium, new moons will be kept in conjunction with the bringing of sacrifices (Ezekiel 45:17, 46:1, 3, 6; Isaiah 66:20–23). However, there is no Biblical injunction for us today that would compel us to either celebrate new moons or bring sacrifices.

“It is important to understand that the millennial sacrifices will NOT be brought for the purpose of forgiveness of sin! Only Christ’s shed blood accomplished this—once and for all! But God introduced the sacrificial system to ancient Israel because Israel had sinned and the sacrifices served as a reminder of their sins. Apparently, for the same reason in the Millennium, sacrifices will be brought so that carnal, unconverted people can begin to appreciate the awesome purpose and meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice and how God looks at sin.

“Animal sacrifices, especially, illustrate what sin does to us and others, as well as what Christ did for us. They teach us one reason for the suffering of innocent and righteous people: Even Jesus Christ suffered, although He was totally innocent. The killing of innocent animals points at the suffering and ultimate death of Jesus Christ…”

It is very important to understand that animal sacrifices, which will be brought at the beginning of the Millennium, will not be brought for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of sins. Animal sacrifices—whether past or future—did not and will not have that goal in mind.

Notice what we wrote in our Q&A, asking the question whether animal sacrifices provided for forgiveness of sin. The same can be said for future animal sacrifices in the Millennium:

“We read in the New Testament that animal sacrifices did not forgive sin, nor did they clean or purify the ancient Israelites from an evil conscience. That was never the purpose of the animal sacrifices. Forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to inherit eternal life was only made possible through the supreme Sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 3:14-17).

“Hebrews 10:1-4 makes it very clear that animal sacrifices were just reminders of sins, but that they could not take away or forgive sin… Hebrews 9:9-10 confirms that the sacrificial system was only of a temporary nature, to be superseded by the death of Jesus Christ…

“Paul elaborates in the book of Galatians (Galatians 3:19, 24-25) that the sacrificial law was added because of transgression… but only until the Seed—Jesus Christ—would come…

“Animal sacrifices provided a means of permitting the ancient Israelite who had sinned unintentionally, to remain in the community of the nation, under God’s rule, and to be spared from physical punishment. In case of an unintentional sin by the entire congregation, animal sacrifices prevented that God would turn His back on them and forsake them. They did not provide spiritual forgiveness, and later, Israel misused and abused animal sacrifices in a terrible way, so that God had to remind them that He did not desire animal sacrifices, but an upright and humble heart.

“Animal sacrifices were a means of maintaining a relationship between God and man, by ‘forgiving’ the physical transgression and allowing the transgressor to remain within the community of Israel. They were never meant to provide spiritual ‘forgiveness’ of sin. They never abolished or superseded the spiritual penalty for sin, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23), nor did they make possible the means of inheriting eternal life. Only the Sacrifice of Christ can bring about such spiritual forgiveness and allow us to continue on our righteous path (1 John 1:8-9; Romans 8:3-4), to ultimately being given eternal life…”

To elaborate further on the issue of millennial sacrifices, we would like to quote a lengthy section from our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound…” discussing God’s covenant with Aaron and his descendants:

“At the time of Moses, God chose to make… [a] covenant with a part of the nation of Israel—Aaron, of the house of Levi, and his descendants (Numbers 18:19; Leviticus 24:5, 8–9; compare Numbers 25:11–13; Nehemiah 13:29–30)…

“God utters a very strict and stern warning in the prophetic book of Malachi, addressing specifically the failure of the Levites—both the physical descendants and the spiritual ministers of God—to stand strong for God’s law in the sight of adversity and compromise (Malachi 2:4–9). Beginning in verse 4, ‘Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue, Says the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; so he feared Me And was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, Says the LORD of hosts. Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law.’

“This prophecy for our day tells us, in verse 4, that God’s covenant with Levi will continue. This means that it is still in force and in effect today. We find this confirmed in the 33rd chapter of the book of Jeremiah where there is an unconditional promise for the perpetual validity of God’s covenant with Levi (Jeremiah 33:18–22): ‘…nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually… Thus says the LORD: If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken … with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply… the Levites who minister to Me.’

“These passages clearly tell us that God’s covenant with Levi was to continue—that it is therefore still in force and effect today—and that it will remain so in the future… as long as and whenever biblical sacrifices are being brought to God in Jerusalem, they will be brought through the descendants of Aaron and [ his son] Phinehas… at the beginning of the Millennium sacrifices will be brought again in Jerusalem. The 44th chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel explains this in great detail. Verses 15 and 29–30 tell us that ‘the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok,’ will bring and eat from the sacrifices…

“The millennial rule of Jesus Christ will be administered by spirit beings—those who are part of the first resurrection. Satan and his demonic followers will no longer be able to influence mankind. World government will emanate from Jerusalem. In addition, there will be an ongoing physical priesthood serving at that time. The physical sacrifices extant at that future time, which will be brought in Jerusalem at the temple, will be part of the new administration that God’s Kingdom will usher in.

“The covenant between God and Levi, then, does continue to exist, that is, the Levitical priests will continue to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem for carnal, unconverted people, both prior to and subsequent to the return of Christ. But as we read, Jesus Christ became the High Priest for converted people. Unless one accepts the sacrifice of Christ, one has no part of that priesthood. However, once we do accept Christ’s sacrifice, our High Priest will then live in us, intervene for us, and lead us to perfection. The Levitical priesthood was not given the function or responsibility to lead carnal people to spiritual perfection. Rather, they presided over the administration of the sacrificial system as a reminder of sin—not for the purpose of forgiving sin…”

In conclusion, Israelites will bring animal sacrifices at a new temple in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Millennium. These sacrifices will not be given for the purpose of obtaining spiritual forgiveness, but just to remind the people that they had sinned, and help them to focus on the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As it was the case in Old Testament times, these sacrifices will be temporary and administered by physical Levites to physical unconverted people, to allow the transgressor to remain within the community of Israel.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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