THE COMING OF ELIJAH

Jesus interpreted the scripture concerning the coming of Elijah as being fulfilled by John the Baptist. Jesus said this to his disciples during the descent from the Mount of Transfiguration after Moses and Elijah had appeared with Jesus in glory.

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. ~ Matthew 17:10-13 (See also Mark 9:11-13)

The scribes taught that Elijah would come before the Messiah and that is why the disciples asked “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?” The three disciples had just had an experience in which they had seen both Moses and Elijah with Jesus, and God himself confirmed that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

In view of all this they asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say Elijah must come first?” They asked this because things were not adding up. Jesus clears up the confusion when he says, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things, and he has already come.” That is why verse 13 says, “Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist.”

In the gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel had said the following to Zechariah concerning John the Baptist before his birth:

“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” ~ Luke 1:16-17 

According to the angel Gabriel, John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy from Malachi concerning Elijah, who would come and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. This does not mean that John the Baptist was personally Elijah, but rather, he was like Elijah in the effectiveness of his ministry. 

The the coming of Elijah was fulfilled in a person: John the Baptist. It was not fulfilled in a revival, or a movement. The coming of Elijah is not an “end-time” movement, as some may think.

Jesus did not teach that before his return there would be “days of Elijah.” Jesus interpreted the prophecy about the coming of Elijah as being John the Baptist, and so did the angel Gabriel.

The New Testament emphasizes that we are to look for the coming of Jesus, and not Elijah.

 

THE NEW COVENANT AND THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The author of Hebrews tells us that the Holy Ghost is a witness to us regarding the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus.

In chapter 8, he tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better testament, established on better promises (v.6). The better testament, or covenant, is the New Covenant God promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reason the New Covenant was promised is clearly stated: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… ~ Hebrews 8:7-8.

The fault that God found with them was that they “continued not” in his covenant, and this was the result of sin. Israel’s covenant with God had no power to end the dominance of sin over his people, therefore, God promised to make a new covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleAnd they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. ~Hebrews 8:10-12

Though Israel was given the Law, the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the atonement sacrifices, God was not pleased because there was no true cleansing from sins,

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. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

The sacrifices on which the Old Covenant was established, and which were offered for sins, were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and thus, there was no true reconciliation between God and his people.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing… ~ Hebrews 9:1-8

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of the first covenant, the author of Hebrews expounds on the new. He tells us, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us of the New Covenant, established in the blood of Jesus.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allAnd every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same 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; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:9-18

Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all references in the book of Hebrews, have to do with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement sacrifices under the Law. Because of Jesus, the New Covenant is superior to the Old.

Though the first covenant was ineffective in taking away sins, God gave it to Israel to prepare the people for something much greater. It would serve as a foreshadowing of Christ, who was yet to come.   

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

At best, the old covenant could only serve as a foreshadowing of the new. T
he first covenant, established with the blood of animal sacrifices, was insufficient for the cleansing of sins. Therefore, it had no power to reconcile man to God.

Through his blood, Jesus has reconciled us to God. As our Great High Priest, he has given us unhindered access into the presence of the Living God, because his blood cleanses us from all sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

This is the covenant, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts!

SANCTIFIED BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. ~  Peter 1:2 

Throughout the Old Testament, the sprinkling of the sacrificial blood had to do with that which was consecrated as holy to the Lord. For example, when God made covenant with the children of Israel, Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant to ratify the covenant and to consecrate the people to the Lord.

And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altarAnd he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words. ~ Exodus 24:6-8

A covenant is an agreement between two parties, Notice in the text above there was a “book of the covenant”. This book contained the terms and conditions of the covenant, and it was read to the people of Israel. In response, the people promised their obedience to all that the Lord had said. By pledging their obedience the children of Israel “entered” into covenant relationship with the Lord.

We who are saved through Jesus Christ serve the same God Israel served. Yet we serve under a different covenant. Israel served God under a covenant of Law, we serve God under the covenant of grace.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 

Though the blood of the covenant had already been shed at the altar, it was only after the people pledged their obedience to the Lord that there was an actual covenant between God and the people.

This covenant foreshadowed our covenant with God under grace which we have received through the Lord Jesus Christ. As with the children of Israel under the Law, the covenant we have received requires our obedience to the will of the Lord.

Many Christians have been taught that grace requires nothing of them, but this is not true. Grace requires our obedience to the Lord. Writing to the Romans, the apostle Paul says, “
By whom (Jesus) we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name…” ~ Romans 1:5

Later in the 6th chapter Paul writes, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” ~ v. 17 

Paul refers to conversion from sin as “obedience” to the faith and to the doctrine of God. God did not save us to go on sinning (habitually pursuing sin) after we are saved. On the contrary, God saved us to be obedient to his ways.

Paul continues in Romans 6 by saying, Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” ~ Romans 6:18-22

Consider also, the words of the apostle Peter:

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation (coming) of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (lifestyle) received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. ~ 1 Peter 1:13-20

Notice that in correlation to being redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, Peter speaks of obedience, living holy, and maintaining the fear of the Lord in our lives. 

Peter continues:

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. ~ 1 Peter 1:21-23

Notice that it is by obeying the truth through the Spirit that we purify our souls, and this obedience causes us to have a heart of love for our brethren in the Lord. This is the evidence that we are truly born again.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. ~ 1 John 5:1-2

The people of Israel who served under the law were sanctified by the blood of the covenant to be obedient to God. We who serve under grace are sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ to be obedient to God as well. Yet we have a great advantage over those who served under the first covenant. We have been given a new heart by the Spirit of the Lord who has also written the law of God in our heart. We should rejoice that we are not only called to obedience, but are empowered by grace to do so Peter tells us that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to God and sprinkled (or cleansed from our sins) by the blood of Jesus Christ. He then says, “Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

For the balance of his epistle, Peter expounds on sanctification and godliness and at the close of his letter he says the following: “I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.”

DON’T LIMIT GOD

How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. ~ Psalm 78:40-42

Did you know that it is possible to limit God? The text above says, “they limited the Holy One of Israel.”

This is a reference to Israel’s unbelief, and their stubbornness to trust God. Israel in the wilderness kept forgetting the things God had done for them.

Verse 11 tells us they “forgot his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.”

Psalms 106 says: “They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel” (v. 13). Verse 21 says, “They forgot God their Savior, which had done great things in Egypt…” 

Many times we rob ourselves of the blessings of God simply because we forget the wonderful things he has done for us.

When we forget what God has done, unbelief can unknowingly seep into our thinking and without even realizing it, we are limiting God.

James tells us the following:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:5-8

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6: Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 

The next time you pray for yourself, take a walk down memory lane and remind God of the things he has done for you in the past. Let him know that you haven’t forgotten them and let him know how thankful you still are for his wonderful goodness towards you.

Take the limits off, and remember what the Lord has done for you, and trust him for what you need him to do on your behalf.

THE MIRACLE NEVER LAID HOLD OF

Do you remember the man at the gate called beautiful in Acts 3, whom Peter and John healed? (Yes, I know God healed the man through them).

Anyway…

This man was over 40 years old, and the Bible says that he was carried and laid at the gate of the temple every day of his life.

Jesus had ministered at this temple many times. How many times do you suppose that Jesus walked past this man and he didn’t get healed?

Could he have been healed during the time of Jesus? Absolutely.

Why wasn’t he?

Most probably he never sough to be healed by Jesus, and only asked for money. He certainly didn’t ask Peter or John to heal him. He asked them for money.

If Peter had not turn to him and yielded to the power of God, there is a good chance that this man would have spent the rest of his life as a crippled beggar, even though the Son of God and his apostles had walked past him many times.

With his hand held out, asking for money, how many times did he miss his miracle?

What would have happened if like blind Bartimaeus, he had cried out “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!”

Alms are good, miracles are better: Don’t let your miracle pass you by simply because you won’t ask!

DID DAVID DANCE NAKED BEFORE THE LORD?

It is commonly taught that David danced naked before the Lord. Yet the Bible says, “David was girded with a linen ephod.” ~ 2 Samuel 6:14

The linen ephod was a priestly garment.

When David first attempted to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem, it was a disaster. David (as King) had chosen to bring the Ark of the Covenant home on a new cart. There was dancing and rejoicing while the Ark was in transport on the new cart.

And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. ~ 2 Samuel 6:5

Yet in this atmosphere, God’s judgement came, and Uzzah lost his life when he reached out to steady the Ark from falling off the cart.

And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. ~ 2 Samuel 6:6-7

David became afraid of the the Lord that day (2 Samuel 6:9; 1 Chronicles 13:12) and the Ark was placed in the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite for 3 months, and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. ~ 2 Samuel 6:11

In due time, it was revealed to David that he had handled the Ark of the Covenant inappropriately, and that only the priests were sanctioned to transport the Ark.

And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent. Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord unto his place, which he had prepared for it. ~ 1 Chronicles 15:1-3

After this, David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a line ephod a priestly garment. He rejoiced in the presence of God, while wearing this priestly garment as the Levites carried the Ark of the Covenant to the tent David had prepared for it.

The lesson here is not that David danced naked in some out of control manner, thus giving us a proof-text for when things get out of control in church services.

The lesson is that God is a God of order. As 2 Samuel 6:5 reveals, there was great rejoicing while the Ark was on a new cart, but it was out of order, and judgement fell.

Later there was great rejoicing “after the due order” and blessings followed.

For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. ~ 1 Chronicles 15:13

When David danced before the Lord in his Kings apparel with the Ark on a new cart, there as judgment. When he put on a priestly garment, and danced before the TRUE KING OF ISRAEL, after the due order, there was blessing.

When the Spirit of the Lord is moving, there is order and self control (a fruit of the Spirit), and a humbling of ourselves in the presence of the King.

David did not dance naked before the Lord, and we should not use this as a proof text for not doing all things decently and in order as Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 14:40.

 

REASONS WHY ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM IS PROBLEMATIC FOR CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE

There are some who teach that when Christ returns there will also be a return to the offering of animal sacrifices for a thousand years. This assumption is based predominantly on Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40 – 48). Advocates of this theological view interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal future temple from which Christ will reign.

However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23

Listed below are some objections to this theological view. 

1. A return to animal sacrifices would be apostate.

A return to animal sacrifices after coming to the knowledge of Christ was considered apostate at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, from which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

Why would God reinstate the very things from which the writer of Hebrews says the blood of Christ has cleansed us?

2. The sacrifices of animals were carnal ordinances administered by a priesthood which has been annulled. ~ Hebrews 7:16-19; 9:10

The author of Hebrews expounds on the ministry of Jesus as High Priest in contrast to the priests who served under the law. He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests (who serve in the earthly temple) offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood in the Heavenly tabernacle (in the presence of God in the Heavens) and not in an earthly tabernacle or temple with the blood of animal sacrifices.

Jesus has been appointed priest forever and is mediator of an everlasting covenant which was established by his blood.

3. The sacrifice of animals could not open the way into the true holiest of all. 

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing... ~ Hebrews 9:6-8

4. Animal sacrifices were imposed on the people until the time of reformation (until Christ came and secured our permanent redemption).

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscienceWhich stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. ~ Hebrews 9:9-10

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~Hebrews 7:19

5. Animals sacrifices served only as a shadow of good things which were yet to come and could not take away sins. ~ Hebrews 9:6-9; 10:1-4

The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with.

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. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

Notice that the author of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of animals “would not have ceased to be offered” if they could have taken away sins. However, it is not possible for the blood of animals to take away sin. 

6. Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses.  

A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that his vision was predicated on the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and in accordance with the instructions given in the Law regarding the service therein.

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands.

It is in this tabernacle in the Heavens that Christ is enthroned as King, and mediates as High Priest of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews tells us: For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~ Hebrews 7: 18-19

The commandment referenced here, which has been annulled, is the command regarding the priesthood by which animal sacrifices were offered. This includes all the details regarding the priests and the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision, for those priests were to be ordained “according to the Law.”

7. The priesthood of Jesus will never include animal sacrifices.

The author of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Jesus was made priest by the call of God and not by the Law. Animal sacrifices were offered by those priests who were ordained by the Law, but Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry by which he is the mediator of a better testament.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are.

Interpreting Ezekiel’s temple vision as a millennial temple is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament which reveals that Jesus has an eternal priesthood. The sons of Zadok, were of the tribe of Levi just as the sons of Aaron were, and in Ezekiel’s temple vision they are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. They also wear the same priestly garments instructed for the priests in the law of Moses. The sons of Zadok are required to follow the same regulations which were given to the sons of Aaron.

Again, it is important to emphasize that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this priesthood has been annulled!

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that believers in Christ Jesus are the holy priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:5, and are called a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Revelation 1:6, and 5:9 in the KJV says “kings and priests” but a more accurate rendering is a “kingdom of priests.” Those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus are the kingdom of priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God well pleasing through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:5-9

Also consider that those who reign with Christ for a thousand years, and are part of the first resurrection are “priests of God.”

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. ~ Revelations 20:4-6

Are these priests who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and overcame the beast by their faithfulness to Jesus coming back to offer animal sacrifices?  A thousand times, no!

9. God never desired animal sacrifices. ~ Isaiah 1:11-14; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; Micah 6:7-8; Psalm 51:18-19; Hebrews 4:10-9

Animal sacrifices gave God no pleasure because those sacrifices had no power to take away sins. On the contrary, they were a continual reminder of sin: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:3-4

The theology of a return to animal sacrifices would constitute a return to that which never truly pleased God and which God never truly desired. God’s desire is found in Jesus for Jesus fulfilled all the will of God by his perfect submission and obedience to God.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10

Jesus came as it was written of him in the volume of the book. The volume of the book is a reference to the testimony of Jesus within the scriptures. Ezekiel is a part of this witness. The temple which Ezekiel saw was given to provoke the generation of the Exiles to whom Ezekiel was a prophet and priest. It wasn’t something which was predicted some 2500 – 3000 years or more, into the future. The details in Ezekiel’s temple vision serve only as a type and shadow with regards to Christ. 

The theology of animal sacrifices in the millennium does not testify of Jesus. According to the actual details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there would be a building again of those things Christ destroyed if the priesthood according to the law with animal sacrifices were reinstated.

10. A temple that would have been but never was. 

Ezekiel was a priest by blood lineage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. ~ Ezekiel 43:10, 11

If Ezekiel’s temple would have been built it would have been a testament that Israel could overcome sin apart from the mediation of Jesus Christ, for it was the temple God would have given them to serve him forever! Israel would have served God, but in their own strength, because in this temple, they would have continued to be separated from the holy presence of God, of which the Jesus’s blood has now given us access.

And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the patternAnd if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-12

The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was because of the sins of Israel and their priests. Had Israel met the conditions which God set forth, the temple described in Ezekiel’s vision would have been forever, and not for a thousand years. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-10

11. God’s presence would be separated from his people. 

In Ezekiel’s temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins. According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18

12. Why?

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices would be offered in the millennium. Some proponents claim they will only be offered as a memorial, even though Ezekiel makes no such claim. In the temple vision given to Ezekiel, the sacrifices are offered for the same purpose for which they were given in the book of Leviticus: for sanctification, reconciliation, purity, and atonement for sins.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennium, we have a millennium without the cross of Christ, without the blood of Christ, without the intercessory ministry of Jesus our Great High Priest, and without the message of the gospel.

Remember, Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are. That one statement alone should end all debate on this topic!

One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium to protect God’s glory in the temple. Yet, the New Testament teaches us that God’s glory is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person. Paul tells us in Colossians that all the fullness of the Godhead is present in Jesus.

Some claim that the sacrifices will be reinstituted as object lessons to teach the people living in the millennium what Christ has done in his death.  This rationale fails miserably when we consider that for 2000 years the doctrine of God in the gospel of Christ has been sufficient for teaching sinners and leading them to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices to teach sinners of God’s saving grace?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is yet future and a literal temple, have actually read the details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision.

13. Physical circumcision would be a necessity for relationship with God. 

Ezekiel’s temple is one in which physical circumcision is required to approach God ~ Ezekiel 44:9.

This is problematic, because Paul tells us: in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love ~ Galatians 5:6.

Paul also says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction regarding Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female.

Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a future millennial temple, we will have a millennial in which women do not have the same covenant status as men.

According to the apostle Paul, the old covenant which employed the temple service, the Levitical priesthood, and animal sacrifices, has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction regarding covenant status has been annulled. In Christ all the children of God are ONE!

14. The middle wall of partition would be erected.

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles (the circumcision and the uncircumcision), is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this middle wall of partition. If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a literal temple pertaining to the future, we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ, and the middle wall of partition which Christ removed by his death has been erected.

If this is so, then the finished work of Christ will be invalidated in the millennium. Paul says in Galatians, “if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” A millennium with animal sacrifices would be a transgression against the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

15. Christ and his finished work would be undermined.

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium in which (1) the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. (2) The Levites bare the shame of their sin for a 1000 years, (3) God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. (4) Being accepted by the Lord will be dependent on the burnt offerings offered by the priests.(5) Being reconciled to God depends on animal sacrifices – thus the altar on which animal sacrifices would be offered becomes the source of reconciliation rather than the cross on which Christ died for our sins. (6) The Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sins.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The New Testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14

16. A rebuilt temple like the one Ezekiel saw would establish Old Covenant worship. 

The first testament, the Law, was dedicated by the blood of sacrificial animals, and the worship described in Ezekiel’s temple vision is based on the ceremonial rites of that testament.

In the New Testament, true worship is worship in spirit and in truth  ~ John 4:23-24.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” ~ John 4:23-24.

The true worship mentioned by Jesus, which is characteristic of the New Covenant, cannot be found in Ezekiel’s Temple vision. All worship in Ezekiel’s temple vision is associated with the ceremonial regulations prescribed in the Law of Moses. 

New Testament worship, in spirit and in truth, is the kind of worship which God seeks from his people. This worship is made possible only by the New Covenant established in the blood of Jesus, for through the blood of Jesus we have been purified from our sins, and have been given unhindered access to the Living God.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. ~ Philippians 3:3

17. God’s resting place is not in man made temples.

In scripture, the temple which Solomon built was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and Herod’s temple, which was the one standing in the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Both of these were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. Even though this is revealed in the scriptures, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, meaning it will be completely apostate before being indwelt by the presence of God. There is no precedent in the Word of God to support such theology.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the cornerstone which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man, but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones (1 Peter 2:5). These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament: John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone, of the true temple of God which is the body of Christ, and the New Testament is embedded with this truth.

All man-made structures (the tabernacle and the temples) in scripture, whether literally or in vision form, were only types and shadows of the true which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that while the first “man made” tabernacle was standing, the Holy Spirit was testifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.  Jesus has entered and consecrated the true holiest of all in the Heavens and we are invited to come boldly into the presence of God by his blood.

The permanent resting place for God’s presence among his people is not found in a man made structure, but in a circumcised heart. Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51
 
The scriptures tells us that after the new heavens and new earth come, new Jerusalem will descend from above and in the New Heavens and New Earth there shall be no temple: a reference to man made structures. 
 
There is no harmony with the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ and the ideology of another man-made temple with animal sacrifices. Jesus is the foundation stone of the true temple which God is building with living stones (believers in Jesus Christ) and it is this temple that God himself inhabits by his Holy Spirit.

18. Jesus is the final sacrifice for sins. 

As stated at the outset, the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23.

According to the New Testament, the sacrifice of Jesus is the final offering for sins, and there will never, ever, be another.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.  ~ Hebrews 10:16-18

19 The New Covenant and the witness of the Holy Spirit 

The author of Hebrews tells us that the Holy Ghost is a witness to us regarding the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus.

In chapter 8, he tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better testament, established on better promises (v.6). The better testament, or covenant, is the New Covenant God promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reason the new covenant was promised is clearly stated: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… ~ Hebrews 8:7-8.

The fault that God found with them was that they “continued not” in his covenant, and this was the result of sin. Israel’s covenant with God had no power to end the dominance of sin over his people, therefore, God promised to make a new covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleAnd they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. ~Hebrews 8:10-12

Though Israel was given the Law, the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the atonement sacrifices, God was not pleased because there was no true cleansing from sins,

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. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

The sacrifices on which the Old Covenant was established, and which were offered for sins, were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and thus, there was no true reconciliation between God and his people.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing… ~ Hebrews 9:1-8

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of the first covenant, the author of Hebrews expounds on the new. He tells us, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us of the New Covenant, established in the blood of Jesus.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allAnd every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same 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; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:9-18

Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all references in the book of Hebrews, have to do with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement sacrifices under the Law. Because of Jesus, the New Covenant is superior to the Old.

Though the first covenant was ineffective in taking away sins, God gave it to Israel to prepare the people for something much greater. It would serve as a foreshadowing of Christ, who was yet to come.   

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

At best, the old covenant could only serve as a foreshadowing of the new. T
he first covenant, established with the blood of animal sacrifices, was insufficient for the cleansing of sins. Therefore, it had no power to reconcile man to God.

Through his blood, Jesus has reconciled us to God. As our Great High Priest, he has given us unhindered access into the presence of the Living God, because his blood cleanses us from all sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

This is the covenant, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts!

 

 

 

WILL ANIMAL SACRIFICES BE REINSTATED IN THE MILLENNIUM?

There are some who teach that when Christ returns there will also be a return to the offering of animal sacrifices for a thousand years. This assumption is based predominantly on Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40 – 48). Advocates of this theological view interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal future temple from which Christ will reign.

However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23

Listed below are some objections to this theological view. 

1. A return to animal sacrifices would be apostate.

A return to animal sacrifices after coming to the knowledge of Christ was considered apostate at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, from which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

Why would God reinstate the very things from which the writer of Hebrews says the blood of Christ has cleansed us?

2. The sacrifices of animals were carnal ordinances administered by a priesthood which has been annulled. ~ Hebrews 7:16-19; 9:10

The author of Hebrews expounds on the ministry of Jesus as High Priest in contrast to the priests who served under the law. He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests (who serve in the earthly temple) offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood in the Heavenly tabernacle (in the presence of God in the Heavens) and not in an earthly tabernacle or temple with the blood of animal sacrifices.

Jesus has been appointed priest forever and is mediator of an everlasting covenant which was established by his blood.

3. The sacrifice of animals could not open the way into the true holiest of all. 

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing... ~ Hebrews 9:6-8

4. Animal sacrifices were imposed on the people until the time of reformation (until Christ came and secured our permanent redemption).

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscienceWhich stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. ~ Hebrews 9:9-10

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~Hebrews 7:19

5. Animals sacrifices served only as a shadow of good things which were yet to come and could not take away sins. ~ Hebrews 9:6-9; 10:1-4

The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with.

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. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

Notice that the author of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of animals “would not have ceased to be offered” if they could have taken away sins. However, it is not possible for the blood of animals to take away sin. 

6. Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses.  

A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that his vision was predicated on the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and in accordance with the instructions given in the Law regarding the service therein.

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands.

It is in this tabernacle in the Heavens that Christ is enthroned as King, and mediates as High Priest of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews tells us: For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~ Hebrews 7: 18-19

The commandment referenced here, which has been annulled, is the command regarding the priesthood by which animal sacrifices were offered. This includes all the details regarding the priests and the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision, for those priests were to be ordained “according to the Law.”

7. The priesthood of Jesus will never include animal sacrifices.

The author of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Jesus was made priest by the call of God and not by the Law. Animal sacrifices were offered by those priests who were ordained by the Law, but Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry by which he is the mediator of a better testament.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are.

Interpreting Ezekiel’s temple vision as a millennial temple is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament which reveals that Jesus has an eternal priesthood. The sons of Zadok, were of the tribe of Levi just as the sons of Aaron were, and in Ezekiel’s temple vision they are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. They also wear the same priestly garments instructed for the priests in the law of Moses. The sons of Zadok are required to follow the same regulations which were given to the sons of Aaron.

Again, it is important to emphasize that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this priesthood has been annulled!

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that believers in Christ Jesus are the holy priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:5, and are called a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Revelation 1:6, and 5:9 in the KJV says “kings and priests” but a more accurate rendering is a “kingdom of priests.” Those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus are the kingdom of priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God well pleasing through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:5-9

Also consider that those who reign with Christ for a thousand years, and are part of the first resurrection are “priests of God.”

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. ~ Revelations 20:4-6

Are these priests who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and overcame the beast by their faithfulness to Jesus coming back to offer animal sacrifices?  A thousand times, no!

9. God never desired animal sacrifices. ~ Isaiah 1:11-14; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; Micah 6:7-8; Psalm 51:18-19; Hebrews 4:10-9

Animal sacrifices gave God no pleasure because those sacrifices had no power to take away sins. On the contrary, they were a continual reminder of sin: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:3-4

The theology of a return to animal sacrifices would constitute a return to that which never truly pleased God and which God never truly desired. God’s desire is found in Jesus for Jesus fulfilled all the will of God by his perfect submission and obedience to God.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10

Jesus came as it was written of him in the volume of the book. The volume of the book is a reference to the testimony of Jesus within the scriptures. Ezekiel is a part of this witness. The temple which Ezekiel saw was given to provoke the generation of the Exiles to whom Ezekiel was a prophet and priest. It wasn’t something which was predicted some 2500 – 3000 years or more, into the future. The details in Ezekiel’s temple vision serve only as a type and shadow with regards to Christ. 

The theology of animal sacrifices in the millennium does not testify of Jesus. According to the actual details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there would be a building again of those things Christ destroyed if the priesthood according to the law with animal sacrifices were reinstated.

10. A temple that would have been but never was. 

Ezekiel was a priest by blood lineage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. ~ Ezekiel 43:10, 11

If Ezekiel’s temple would have been built it would have been a testament that Israel could overcome sin apart from the mediation of Jesus Christ, for it was the temple God would have given them to serve him forever! Israel would have served God, but in their own strength, because in this temple, they would have continued to be separated from the holy presence of God, of which the Jesus’s blood has now given us access.

And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquitiesand let them measure the patternAnd if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-12

The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was because of the sins of Israel and their priests. Had Israel met the conditions which God set forth, the temple described in Ezekiel’s vision would have been forever, and not for a thousand years. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-10

11. God’s presence would be separated from his people. 

In Ezekiel’s temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins. According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18

12. Why?

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices would be offered in the millennium. Some proponents claim they will only be offered as a memorial, even though Ezekiel makes no such claim. In the temple vision given to Ezekiel, the sacrifices are offered for the same purpose for which they were given in the book of Leviticus: for sanctification, reconciliation, purity, and atonement for sins.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennium, we have a millennium without the cross of Christ, without the blood of Christ, without the intercessory ministry of Jesus our Great High Priest, and without the message of the gospel.

Remember, Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are. That one statement alone should end all debate on this topic!

One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium to protect God’s glory in the temple. Yet, the New Testament teaches us that God’s glory is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person. Paul tells us in Colossians that all the fullness of the Godhead is present in Jesus.

Some claim that the sacrifices will be reinstituted as object lessons to teach the people living in the millennium what Christ has done in his death.  This rationale fails miserably when we consider that for 2000 years the doctrine of God in the gospel of Christ has been sufficient for teaching sinners and leading them to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices to teach sinners of God’s saving grace?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is yet future and a literal temple, have actually read the details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision.

13. Physical circumcision would be a necessity for relationship with God. 

Ezekiel’s temple is one in which physical circumcision is required to approach God ~ Ezekiel 44:9.

This is problematic, because Paul tells us: in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love ~ Galatians 5:6.

Paul also says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction regarding Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female.

Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a future millennial temple, we will have a millennial in which women do not have the same covenant status as men.

According to the apostle Paul, the old covenant which employed the temple service, the Levitical priesthood, and animal sacrifices, has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction regarding covenant status has been annulled. In Christ all the children of God are ONE!

14. The middle wall of partition would be erected.

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles (the circumcision and the uncircumcision), is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this middle wall of partition. If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a literal temple pertaining to the future, we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ, and the middle wall of partition which Christ removed by his death has been erected.

If this is so, then the finished work of Christ will be invalidated in the millennium. Paul says in Galatians, “if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” A millennium with animal sacrifices would be a transgression against the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

15. Christ and his finished work would be undermined.

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium in which (1) the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. (2) The Levites bare the shame of their sin for a 1000 years, (3) God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. (4) Being accepted by the Lord will be dependent on the burnt offerings offered by the priests.(5) Being reconciled to God depends on animal sacrifices – thus the altar on which animal sacrifices would be offered becomes the source of reconciliation rather than the cross on which Christ died for our sins. (6) The Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sins.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The New Testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14

16. A rebuilt temple like the one Ezekiel saw would establish Old Covenant worship. 

The first testament, the Law, was dedicated by the blood of sacrificial animals, and the worship described in Ezekiel’s temple vision is based on the ceremonial rites of that testament.

In the New Testament, true worship is worship in spirit and in truth  ~ John 4:23-24.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24.

The true worship mentioned by Jesus, which is characteristic of the New Covenant, cannot be found in Ezekiel’s Temple vision. All worship in Ezekiel’s temple vision is associated with the ceremonial regulations prescribed in the Law of Moses. 

New Testament worship, in spirit and in truth, is the kind of worship which God seeks from his people. This worship is made possible only by the New Covenant established in the blood of Jesus, for through the blood of Jesus we have been purified from our sins, and have been given unhindered access to the Living God.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. ~ Philippians 3:3

17. God’s resting place is not in man made temples.

In scripture, the temple which Solomon built was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and Herod’s temple, which was the one standing in the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Both of these were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. Even though this is revealed in the scriptures, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, meaning it will be completely apostate before being indwelt by the presence of God. There is no precedent in the Word of God to support such theology.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the cornerstone which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man, but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones (1 Peter 2:5). These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament: John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone, of the true temple of God which is the body of Christ, and the New Testament is embedded with this truth.

All man-made structures (the tabernacle and the temples) in scripture, whether literally or in vision form, were only types and shadows of the true which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that while the first “man made” tabernacle was standing, the Holy Spirit was testifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.  Jesus has entered and consecrated the true holiest of all in the Heavens and we are invited to come boldly into the presence of God by his blood.

The permanent resting place for God’s presence among his people is not found in a man made structure, but in a circumcised heart. Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51
 
The scriptures tells us that after the new heavens and new earth come, new Jerusalem will descend from above and in the New Heavens and New Earth there shall be no temple: a reference to man made structures. 
 
There is no harmony with the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ and the ideology of another man-made temple with animal sacrifices. Jesus is the foundation stone of the true temple which God is building with living stones (believers in Jesus Christ) and it is this temple that God himself inhabits by his Holy Spirit.

18. Jesus is the final sacrifice for sins. 

As stated at the outset, the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23.

According to the New Testament, the sacrifice of Jesus is the final offering for sins, and there will never, ever, be another.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.  ~ Hebrews 10:16-18

19 The New Covenant and the witness of the Holy Spirit 

The author of Hebrews tells us that the Holy Ghost is a witness to us regarding the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus.

In chapter 8, he tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better testament, established on better promises (v.6). The better testament, or covenant, is the New Covenant God promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reason the new covenant was promised is clearly stated: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… ~ Hebrews 8:7-8.

The fault that God found with them was that they “continued not” in his covenant, and this was the result of sin. Israel’s covenant with God had no power to end the dominance of sin over his people, therefore, God promised to make a new covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleAnd they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. ~Hebrews 8:10-12

Though Israel was given the Law, the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the atonement sacrifices, God was not pleased because there was no true cleansing from sins,

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. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

The sacrifices on which the Old Covenant was established, and which were offered for sins, were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and thus, there was no true reconciliation between God and his people.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing… ~ Hebrews 9:1-8

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of the first covenant, the author of Hebrews expounds on the new. He tells us, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us of the New Covenant, established in the blood of Jesus.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allAnd every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same 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; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:9-18

Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all references in the book of Hebrews, have to do with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement sacrifices under the Law. Because of Jesus, the New Covenant is superior to the Old.

Though the first covenant was ineffective in taking away sins, God gave it to Israel to prepare the people for something much greater. It would serve as a foreshadowing of Christ, who was yet to come.   

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

At best, the old covenant could only serve as a foreshadowing of the new. T
he first covenant, established with the blood of animal sacrifices, was insufficient for the cleansing of sins. Therefore, it had no power to reconcile man to God.

Through his blood, Jesus has reconciled us to God. As our Great High Priest, he has given us unhindered access into the presence of the Living God, because his blood cleanses us from all sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

This is the covenant, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts!

THE PROPER FOUNDATION FOR UNDERSTANDING THE CROSS

JESUS IS THE GIFT OF GOD

Jesus is the gift of God to us, as well as the gift to God for us, for he gave himself to God as a holy sacrifice when he offered his holy life on the altar of the cross as the offering for our sins.

Under the Old Testament, the sacrifices which were offered upon the altar were called “offerings” and “oblations” and they are so called some 40 times in the book of Leviticus alone.

These two words come from the same Hebrew word, kor-bawn, meaning a sacrificial present brought near to the altar. The sacrifices which were brought to the altar, were to be presented as “sacrificial presents” or “gifts.”

In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews uses the word, gift, on multiple occasions to refer to these.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins… ~ Hebrews 5:1

For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. ~ Hebrews 8:3

In Hebrews 11:4, the author of Hebrews refers to the more excellent sacrifice offered by Abel as a “gift.”

After God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, he commanded Moses to build a tabernacle so that he could live among his people (Exodus 25:8). Upon the completion of the building of the tabernacle, both the priests and the tabernacle, were consecrated to the Lord for service.

At the inauguration of the service of the tabernacle, God demonstrated his acceptanceof the offerings (the gifts) which foreshadowed Christ by consuming the sacrifices by fire from his holy presence.

And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED unto all the people. AND THERE CAME A FIRE OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD, and CONSUMED upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. ~ Leviticus 9:22-24

This fire which consumed the sacrifices came from the presence of God from within the inner most section of the tabernacle: the holiest of all. This demonstration of God’s glory was repeated at the dedication of the Temple which Solomon built, except this time the fire came down from Heaven.

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, THE FIRE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN,and CONSUMED the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE HOUSE. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because THE GLORY OF THE LORD HAD FILLED THE LORD’S HOUSE. And when all the children of Israel saw how THE FIRE came down, and THE GLORY OF THE LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

In both cases, in the Tabernacle of Moses and in the Temple of Solomon, God’s glory was manifested as he accepted as gifts, the sacrifices which foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.

A SWEET SAVOR

Throughout the Old Testament the sacrifices which were types of Christ, and offered as gifts to God, were offered as a sweet fragrance, and accepted by God. They were never rejected by God.

These sacrifices were holy and they were accepted on the behalf of the people (Leviticus 22:20, 21, 25, 27). By virtue of these offerings, the people were sanctified and made holy in the sight of the Lord.

In Philippians 4,  Paul draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he speaks of the gift of support which the Philippians sent to his aid: But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.~ Philippians 4:18

In 2 Corinthians, Paul again draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he says the following: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest THE SAVOR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE by us in every place. For we are unto God A SWEET SAVOR OF CHRIST, in them that are saved, and in them that perish… ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

In both cases (Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2) Paul appeals to the language of found in the Old Testament which described the atonement sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ.

No one reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would think the expression “sweet savor” had any other meaning than that which is pleasing to God. In fact, Paul uses the words “well pleasing” in his Philippians 4 description.

When Christ died on the cross, he paid the ransom for us with his holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave himself was a sweet savor offering: well pleasing to God!

This is why holy communion is so important and powerful. It is a memorial of the death of our Lord, for through Jesus’s sacrifice we are consecrated to God and made holy.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God FOR CHRIST’S SAKE hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God FOR A SWEET-SMELLING SAVOR. ~ Ephesians 4:32- 5-2

God accepts us because he accepted, not rejected, Jesus, when he died on the cross for our sins.

REJECTED SACRIFICES DID NOT MAKE ATONEMENT

Had God rejected Jesus on the cross, we would still be in our sins!

Throughout the Old Testament the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were acceptedto make atonement. Those offerings which were rejected did not make atonement.

And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. ~ Leviticus 1:4

And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.  ~ Leviticus 7:18 

Rejected sacrifices and offerings did not make atonement. Those which were accepted as a sweet savor did!

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. ~ Ephesians 5:2

CHRIST OUR SIN OFFERING

What about 2 Corinthians 5:21?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Doesn’t this text teach that Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness and thereby rejected by God in our place?

Not exactly.

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament concept of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were holy sacrifices and were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word chattath, which is translated as sin offering 118 times, and as sin 168 times.

In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews speaks of sacrifices for sin. The words “sacrifices for” were added by the translators of the King James Version for clarity. Literally, Hebrews 10:6 says: In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.

However, we know that the author of Hebrews is not referring to sin but to the sin offerings instead. We know this because of the context and we know this because Hebrews 10:6 is a quote from Psalm 40:6 which says the following:

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

The same Greek word “hamartia” used throughout the New Testament for sin is used in Hebrews 10:6 to reference the sin offerings, and this is exactly how Paul employs the same word in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

It should also be of importance to us that the apostle Paul was a Jew who had come to know Christ. The things which Paul taught about Jesus were rooted in his scholarly understanding of scripture. Paul most assuredly would have thought through the scriptures as a Jewish scholar and would have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in view of the scriptures.

Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

3 I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES…~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Paul certainly understood Christ’s death in view of the Old Testament scriptures and did not teach contrary to the Old Testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul spoke of Christ’s death in view of the precedent set forth within the sacrificial system because those sacrifices foreshadowed Christ. Jesus is our Redeemer, and he died for our sins as one who was pure and holy.

The belief that Christ was made sin with our sinfulness is common within the teachings that Christ was rejected and condemned by God as a sinner dying under the wrath of God. If Christ had been made sin with our sinfulness, if he became the object of God’s wrath, and was rejected by God in our place as some teach, how then was he a holy offering? How was accepted as a sweet savor well pleasing to God? How was God in Christ reconciling the world (2 Corinthians 5:19) if God indeed separated himself from Christ because he was made sin with our sinfulness?

JESUS WAS HOLY WHEN HE DIED

There is no precedent in Old Testament with regards to the sin offerings, which supports the theology that Jesus became sinful when he died on the cross.

The offerings for sin, which foreshadowed Jesus’ death, were not made sinful with the sins of the people, and consequently rejected by God. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy gifts to the Lord and they were accepted by God as a sweet fragrance.

Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord: it is Most Holy. ~ Leviticus 6:25

The sin offering was to be killed as a Most Holy offering.

This was a foreshadowing of Jesus, who died, not as one who had been made sin with our sinfulness, but made a sin offering instead: a Most Holy offering to the Lord.

When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Christ was made to be sin for us,” he is not teaching that Christ metamorphosed into something unholy. Rather, he is echoing the truth of scripture: Christ was made a sin offering for us. The teaching of the Bible is that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus as of a lamb without spot or blemish. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-19

Jesus is, was, and always will be holy, pure, and just. The apostle Peter declared that he is the holy and just One which the people rejected (Acts 3:14). Peter also declared that he is the prince of life and that the grave could not hold him because God would not allow HIS HOLY ONE to see corruption. ~ Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15

Jesus redeemed us to God by his own blood when he gave himself (his holy life) as a gift to God to make atonement or reconciliation for our sins.
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The teaching above is an excerpt from a much larger study: THE CROSS OF CHRIST.  https://michaelbattle65.wordpress.com/bible-studies/