This is a post about discerning what anybody tells you about unfulfilled prophecy in general, the example below being specific to many in the Hebrew Roots Movement who assert that “We’re all going to be keeping the Law in the Millennium anyway, so we better start practicing now!”. Most go on to say how we’ll also be offering sacrifices in the rebuilt Millennial Temple. Not to dump on HRMers exclusively, as there are many others in different streams of thought in the Body of Christ who also believe that animal sacrifices will again occur according to Millennial prophecies found in Scripture.
Well, I have a BIG problem with that assertion. Why would redeemed, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb believers be making animal sacrifices for any reason?!
Hebrews 10 is very clear on the issue that Jesus Christ was the FINAL sacrifice. Not only that, but He is purifying us as well, so purification sacrifices are no longer needed either. The only sacrificing going on for those in Christ is described here:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
God wants living sacrifices, not dead ones! The Temple, Priests, sacrificial system and other edicts and regulations that God set in place in the Old Covenant were to point to Christ while allowing for atonement for Israel both corporately and individually (temporary atonement that it was), as well as preserving Israel as a nation so that Messiah would be recognized when He came. The thing about being a living sacrifice is that the atonement is a permanently done deal; those in Christ are redeemed and cleansed by THE Blood of THE Lamb – no further cleansing/purifying required!
Why does God want living sacrifices?
God wants living sacrifices not to preserve a people, but to GROW a people! Living sacrifices can go out and fulfill the Great Commission, going out to preach the Good News of Christ to every tongue, tribe, and nation, regardless of cultural differences. Living sacrifices make themselves available to God – renewing their minds, testing God’s will for them. Living sacrifices go out as the Body of Christ, as His Hands and Feet, to serve and love people into the Kingdom.
Let us sacrifice thus:
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
And what about the ‘Temple’?
Jesus begins to change the concept of the dwelling place of God from that of a Temple of stone to the Body of Christ here:
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
And the concept of God’s dwelling place further shifts from a physical Temple to the spiritual Body of Christ in the writings to the Body of Christ after Pentecost:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
1 Peter 2:4-5
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
So I look at all that, and then I look at a teaching that states sacrifices will be offered in a physical temple during the Millennium, and it just doesn’t add up for me. As I’ve done research about this issue, I’ve found that a broad sampling of streams of thought agree with a literal Millennial Temple, along with literal animal sacrifices being re-instituted, citing God’s ‘final dealing with Israel’ during that time and other such theories. A simple Google search will provide you with a lifetime’s supply of reading material on the subject. I’ve not been able to pin down exactly who might be sacrificing and why beyond a possible memorial to Christ’s work.
But Christ Himself instituted a memorial to His work – commanding us to remember Him in the Bread and the Wine (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), what is called the Last Supper or Communion. So the angle of re-instituting the actual slaughter and offering of animals on an altar as a memorial when a memorial is already in place rings hollow to me.
What I do get are lot of references to Ezekiel 40-48 and Zechariah 14 (with condescending statements about how it’s just so obvious what they are talking about) that are far from conclusive and do not prove the point. My take on Zechariah 14 can be read here. I see two flaws in the Ezekiel 40-48 argument, starting with one found in Ezekiel 43:
10 “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, 11 and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.
The whole rest of the passage that those advocating for Millennial sacrifices becomes moot in light of the condition laid out in Ezekiel 43:10-11. God says,“Let them consider the plan and if you are ashamed of all you have done, then . . . “ and has Ezekiel write down in great detail what God would have had in store for Israel, i.e. the new Temple with modified features and protocols, had Israel done the “If”. Another issue comes up in the Ezekiel 40-48 passage is that some think that the ‘prince’ referred to in Ezekiel 45 is the Messiah, who will preside over the sacrifices offered in the Millennial Temple. Let’s take a look:
21 “‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast. 22 On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land.'”
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is without sin, so the prince mentioned in the above passage cannot refer to Messiah. Some surmise that the prince is David upon his promised throne over Israel – yet the Blood of THE Lamb has been shed, once for all, and from that reality I must base any interpretation of future events.
Questions that come up for me when considering such a view follow these axiomatic statements:
- Based on what we know about Christ’s finished work of the Cross, no more animal sacrifices are required, only the living sacrifices referred to above.
- Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.
- Who does that leave?
- Will there be a literal Millennium?
- Who will populate it if there is?
- If we reign with Christ as priests and kings, will we
- be administering Mosaic Covenant Law?
- overseeing sacrifices? Do you actually know what that entails?
- The Temple was a virtual slaughterhouse. Is there ANY Scripture where we EVER see that as a possibility after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70?
- Does the Blood of Christ come to no effect once the anticipated Millennial Reign commences?
- Will He not still have performed the final sacrifice for mankind?
- Will He not still be Resurrected?
- Will those things mean nothing at a certain point on the timeline? If you think so, what Scripture do you (speaking collectively to all readers here) have to back up the assertion that the work of Christ ceases to have power at a certain point in history?
- Will God demand more than the shed Blood of Christ at any point in history after the work of the Cross?
This bears repeating: Based on what we know about who we are in Christ, it is certain that believers in Christ will NOT be making sacrifices, so that interpretation is OUT.
So what’s with all the different views?
How do teachers/interpreters of prophecy come up with so many different views in the first place? I think it has a lot to do with what lens we look through and a great desire and/or a perceived need to have everything ‘all figured out’.
There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.
Revealed Truth always supersedes unrevealed truth – that is, with prophecy, much of it is a mystery until it occurs, and as it occurs, it often looks very different than we thought it would.
I recently heard a funny example about how we can get stuff oh-so-wrong simply because we do not have the whole picture, are ignorant (not in a bad way, just in a not-having-all-the-knowledge about something way), and/or are seeing what we want to see:
A redneck family went to the city and went to one of those really big malls. The father and the son noticed a big metal wall. The wall would open up and people would walk into the hole and then it would close up and the people would disappear. They kept looking at this wall and noticed that up above where the wall was there were numbers that would light up and they’d see the count go up: 1, 2, 3. Then they’d keep watching and the numbers would come back down: 3, 2, 1. The wall would open up, and different people would walk out of the hole. This wall – this wall was something incredible!
Then they saw a little old lady. She went up to the wall and she pushed a button . . . the wall opened up and she walked into the hole. The hole closed and she too, disappeared. They saw the numbers count up to three and then count back down to one. And when the wall opened up, a beautiful young woman walked out of the hole! And the father leaned over to his son and said, “Son, go get your mama.”
Nothing against rednecks here . . . trust me, in some ways I are one! But we can see from this story that how that father and son interpreted what they were seeing had no basis in reality. They were interpreting what they saw based on the information and experiences that they had, along with a sizeable pinch of wishful thinking. There were concepts and mechanical workings completely out of their view. The concept of an elevator had nothing to do with their world. Yet they would no doubt fully understand what they had witnessed when looking at the whole picture, instead of seeing the limited view that they had at the time, having interpreted it with the limited knowledge they possessed at the time.
The same can be said for interpreting prophecy. Layer on top of the limited information and experiences that influence our interpretations our individual pet theologies and biases, and you can end up with numbers of different interpretations for the same passages of Scripture. Let me repeat: There are prophecies that some have extrapolated to mean certain things, but we must always place the unrevealed truths of those interpreted prophecies within the context of revealed Truth – that being the completed work of Christ.
Those who were the most learned in the Scriptures completely missed or outright rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah. They thought they had it all figured out. They had the culture, the language, the history, the education, the Scriptures – yet they still missed Jesus. They were expecting the Messiah to manifest in ways far different than He actually did.
God’s manifestation, fulfillment, and reality of what He foretold did not match what they thought that fulfillment should look like. Beyond the fulfillment in the incarnation of Christ was the work of the Cross and what that would mean for those who would choose to put their faith and trust in Him. There were many looking for a conquering Messiah – they did not count on Him conquering as the sacrificial Lamb of God. That paradoxical reality really messed with their expectations.
We need to be mindful of the above examples when looking at prophecies yet unfulfilled. We also need to recognize that NONE of the end-times doctrines or interpretations out there constitute core issues of the Christian faith beyond the fact that Jesus IS coming back and there WILL be judgement for both the redeemed and the unredeemed. Much of what is beyond that is speculation on our parts and anyone who tells you they have it all figured out beyond a doubt is fibbing.
All that said, I’m completely comfortable stating that I don’t have the end-times timeline and events all figured out. As of this writing, I’m a “Pan-Tribber” and “Pan-Millennialist” with Pre-Trib leanings and an open mind that understands that what I think or don’t think about it is not going to change God’s timetable. That is, I figure God has it all worked out and knows what He’s doing and it will all pan out in the end. My job is to be faithful to that which He has called me in this lifetime, whatever that may bring, all the while keeping in sight the completed work of Christ at the Cross and measuring everything through that lens.
Related to the subjects of Millennial Sacrifices and Theological Perspectives:
- Free Audio – The Wonder of our Great High Priest – Highly Recommended. When we have a full understanding of the significance of Christ’s Perfect High Priesthood, not only are so many End Times views challenged, but we can also find wonderful rest in Christ and a deeper understanding and security about who we are in Him.
- The Hope of Israel by Philip Mauro, Chapter 12
- Forum threads with reasonably civil discussion regarding Millennial sacrifices:
- Those Millennial Sacrifices
- The Millennial Reign of Christ
- Ezekiel’s Temple
- MP3 series on Jesus our High Priest and the Temple from Aaron Budjen:
- JGIG’s Take on Zechariah 14 – A response to a commenter. I’m not an expert on prophecy – this is just the way I see it.
- Dispensational Theology, Covenant Theology, and Christocentric Theology – Excerpt: ”We must not revere theological systems. The systematization of ideologies into well-defined theologies produces additional “isms” which capture men’s imaginations and cause them to interpret Scripture and their relationship with God through a colored lens, an imperfect “grid.” Ideological reasonings must not become idolatrous objects of reverence. Theological constructions must not become deified as “gods” to be worshipped and defended with vitriolic vehemency. Those who have received the risen and living Lord Jesus Christ by faith can and must remain one in the “unity of love” despite different theological reasonings. This can be accomplished by allowing Jesus Christ to be the center of our thinking, our theology and our lives.” Highly Recommended.
Other articles of interest:
- Tzit Tzit For the Believer In Christ?
- 12 Undeniable Truths That Drive Law ‘Keepers’ Crazy
- Old Testament Believers and New Testament Christians – From the Articles Page – Addresses the issue of how OT saints were ‘saved’ vs. how NT saints are saved, i.e. what salvation meant and how it was obtained before and after the actual work of Christ on the timeline. It clarifies several points that we see Law keepers bring up in debate over and over again as they misapply the phrase from Scripture, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” and couple that with the claim that the Church (ekklesia, Body of Christ) also existed in the Old Testament. It did not, and this article clarifies the difference between OT believers and NT Christians. Excellent study. Highly recommended.
- Testimonies Page – Read the stories of those who had bound themselves to the Law and then been freed as they began to understand who they are in Christ!
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