Question: "Will there be animal sacrifices during the millennial kingdom?"
Answer: There are several passages in the Old Testament that clearly indicate animal sacrifice will be re-instituted during the millennial kingdom. Some passages mention it in passing as the topic of the millennial kingdom is discussed, passages like Isaiah 56:6-8; Zechariah 14:16; and Jeremiah 33:15-18.
The passage that is the most extensive, giving the greatest detail, is Ezekiel 43:18-46:24. It should be noted that this is part of a greater passage dealing with the millennial kingdom, a passage that begins with Ezekiel 40. In Ezekiel 40, the Lord begins to give details of the temple that will exist during the millennial kingdom, a temple that dwarfs all other temples previously built, even Herod’s temple that was quite large, which existed during the earthly ministry of Christ.
After giving details concerning the size and appearance of the temple and the altar, the Lord then begins to give detailed instruction as to the animal sacrifices that will be offered (Ezekiel 43:18-27). In chapter 44, the Lord gives instructions as to who will be offering sacrifices to the Lord. The Lord states that all of the Levites will not be offering blood and fat to the Lord due to previous sin; it will be those from the lineage of Zadok (verse 15). Chapters 45 and 46 continue to mention that animal sacrifices will be made.
The primary objection made to the idea of animal sacrifices returning during the millennial kingdom is that Christ has come and offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and there is therefore no need to sacrifice animals for sin. However, it must be remembered that animal sacrifice never removed the sin that spiritually separated a person from the Lord.
Hebrews 10:1-4 says, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (NASB).
It is incorrect to think that animal sacrifices took away sins in the Old Testament, and it is incorrect to think they will do so in the millennial kingdom. Animal sacrifices served as object lessons for the sinner, that sin was and is a horrible offense against God, and that the result of sin is death. Romans 3:20 says, “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Most premillennial scholars agree that the purpose of animal sacrifice during the millennial kingdom is memorial in nature. As the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the death of Christ to the Church today, animal sacrifices will be a reminder during the millennial kingdom. To those born during the millennial kingdom, animal sacrifices will again be an object lesson. During that future time, righteousness and holiness will prevail, but those with earthly bodies will still have a sin nature, and there will be a need to teach about how offensive sin is to a holy and righteous God. Animal sacrifices will serve that purpose, "but in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year" (Hebrews 10:3).
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