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Question and Answer

Will sacrifices be restored when Christ returns?

Question:

Will sacrifices be restored when Christ returns?

Answer:

Reformed theology in general does not recognize a renewal of the Old Covenant sacrificial system, even in modified form. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the final sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 9:23-28). That sacrifice opens the way to God so that no further sacrifice is needed for salvation or to maintain fellowship with God (Hebrews 10:19-22). The sacrifices of thanksgiving and consecration are now rendered through the presentation of our bodies as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God…” (Romans 12:1).

Christians who hold to the renewed offering of sacrifices upon the return of Christ usually hold also the premillenial/dispensational view of eschatology. Briefly, this position interprets Scripture to mean that the nation Israel will be restored to earthly prominence at the Second Coming of Jesus and will reign with Him on earth for a thousand years (cf. Revelation 20). During this supposed reign daily sacrifices will be offered in the restored temple constructed along the lines revealed in Ezekiel, chapters 40-48. Israel is distinguished from the Church, which according to this view, will have been taken out of this world and will therefore not participate in these sacrifices.

The vast majority of the Reformed community, not to mention a majority of all Christians, does not hold the premillenial/dispensational position. In the Old Covenant context the offering of sacrifices is supposed to open a way to God (Leviticus 16:1-3). But those sacrifices and any earthly Jewish temple are merely pictures of Christ’s atoning death on the cross (Hebrews 8:4-5). To renew that Old Covenant practice, as would be the case if additional sacrifices would be made, would be to deny that Christ is the only true way to God (John 14:6).

Even if one accepts that there will be an earthly thousand year reign of Christ, there is no warrant for the reinstitution of a modified sacrificial system. In the (to me unlikely) eventuality of a millennial kingdom, no one will need more animal sacrifices in order to appreciate the death of Christ, and no one will need to offer flesh or grain on an altar in order to draw nearer to God.

Revelation 21:22 says specifically that there is to be no temple in Heaven. Why would God perpetuate that institution on earth? Ephesians 2:14-15 says that God has removed the distinction between Jew and Gentile and created “one new man,” the Christian person. Why would he again establish a uniquely Jewish form of worship that was always intended to show that even the most pious form of religion failed actually to bring one to God. The only hope of Jew or Gentile is Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. Romans 11 clearly indicates that we may expect a great turning of the Jews to Christ someday, but Scripture offers no thought of their worshipping the Lord in any respect other than in spirit and in truth along with all other Christians.

Jesus is all the sacrifice anyone needs, and the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are all the temple anyone needs (Revelation 21:22).


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