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.

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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 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 2 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 sacrifice 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 offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not 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

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 

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. 

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

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 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 of animal sacrifices in the millennium 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, and purity.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennial, 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 gospel of Christ has been sufficient for leading men to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is a yet future and a literal temple, 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.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul 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

Paul says there is no bond or free, nor male or female, in the same line of thought as neither Jew nor Greek. The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction with regards to all of these. 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 remove 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 to 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. 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 scripture, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, then occupied by the glory of God at the coming of Jesus.

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. 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 the 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 – this is 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, which also would include atonement 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 Spirit. 

Listed below are some of the important truths taught by scripture regarding the remission of our sins in contrast to the old testament atonement.

  • It was impossible for the blood of animals which were offered under the law to cleanse man’s conscience from sin and guilt. ~ Hebrews 9:9; 10:1-5, 11
  • The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from guilt.  ~ 1 John 1:7,9; Hebrews 7:19; 9:9, 13-14, 22;  10:1-2, 14, 19-22;  12:23
  • The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with. ~ Hebrews 10:1-6
  • Jesus does not need to offer himself for our sins over and over again. Jesus’ one sacrifice provides cleansing for sins forever.  ~ Hebrews 7:25-28; 10: 5-22
  • The priests, under the Law, who offered the sacrifices on the behalf of the people could not abide continually in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:6-8), neither could they continue in their priestly ministry indefinitely because they were subject to death. Therefore there were many priests who succeeded one another (Hebrews 7:19-23). Under that system of worship, man was separated from God because the way into God’s presence was not yet opened (Hebrews 9:6-10). The Law could only give a foreshadowing of good things to come – an illustration of something better that itself.  ~ Hebrews 10:1-5
  • Christ is our great high priest. In and through him, the good things which the law could only foreshadow have become reality. Unlike the entrance of the priests under the Old Testament who served in a temporary tabernacle,  Jesus has entered a greater and more perfect tabernacle. Christ entered the tabernacle of God in Heaven (Hebrews 9:12).  Jesus did not enter the Heavenly tabernacle with the blood of animals, but with his own blood, securing our permanent redemption.  ~ Hebrews 9:12-14, 24-28; 10:10-14
  • Under the law, the offerings of sacrificial animals could only provide ceremonial cleansing from impurity.  However, the Blood of Jesus Christ purifies our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  ~ Hebrews 9:6-14
  • Under the Old Covenant, the priests stood and ministered before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, and those sacrifices could never take away sins. Jesus Christ, our high priest, offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, forever. He then sat down at the right hand of God, reigning as King till all his enemies are made his footstool. His one offering is the perfect sacrifice for all people forever. Now we can enter boldly into the Most Holy Place (the presence of God) because of the blood of Jesus. Jesus has consecrated this new and living way to God for us. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we now can draw near to God 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 chapters 7-10

WILL ANIMAL SACRIFICES BE REINSTATED IN THE MILLENNIUM?

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 in contrast to the one God instructed Moses to build.

At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the temple service was still functioning. We can conclude this based on the indicators within the epistle. The writer of Hebrews makes reference to the temple service, the priests, and the sacrifices in the present tense and draws a clear distinction between these and the superior ministry of Jesus the heavens.

He 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. Even though the priesthood which had been ordained by the law was still functioning in the then presently standing temple, it had been made completely ineffective by Christ’s work on earth at the cross, and by his ministry in the heavens as our high priest.

The temple service was soon to cease functioning entirely when Jerusalem was besieged and the temple destroyed by the Romans in 67-70 A.D.

The book of Hebrews gives us undeniable clarity regarding the distinction between the old and the new. Yet there are some who persist in teaching that there will be a return to animal sacrifices during the millennial reign of Christ, even though such actions would have been considered apostate at the time of the writing of Hebrews, and are referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, and according to Hebrews 9:14, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from dead works.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ~ Hebrews 9:14

The dead works mentioned in Hebrews 9:14 is not a reference to such things as helping the poor, taking care of the elderly, showing brotherly kindness, etc. These are good works and demonstrations of godly character. The dead works, are contextually, a reference to those things which pertain to the old system (the tabernacle/temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifices).

These observances had all been made ineffective at the time the writing of the book of Hebrews, and  a return to these, after being sanctified through Christ, would be have constituted being an apostate.

Because of persecution, the temptation was present to abandon the true faith in Christ and revert back to the temple worship, which was now a dead religion. Though once ordained by God to serve the purpose of foreshadowing Christ, that system of worship under the Old Testament had now given way to a new and better covenant established by the blood of Jesus.

Through the Blood of Jesus, sin has been completely dealt with and there is no longer any need for those things which had no power to take away sin. The carnal ordinances administered by the old priesthood with animal sacrifices in a earthly sanctuary could not purify man’s conscience in the sight of God. They were only a shadow for a set time until Christ came and brought eternal redemption through his blood.

Jesus, our Great High Priest in the Heavens is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High and through his blood we are liberated to serve the Living God without any of the carnal ordinances which were imposed on those who were under the first testament.

The carnal ordinances which were imposed on them were a constant reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and that the way into the holy presence of God had not yet been manifested. Therefore there was no boldness to enter God’s presence with a pure conscience by those the things which are now said to be dead works. The Old Covenant and it’s rites have been made obsolete.

Through the Blood of Jesus Christ we are cleansed from such dead works so that we may now serve the Living God, in the Spirit of Christ, and with a pure conscience. Notice the context to which the mention of the dead works belongs:

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: 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 conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 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. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

The author of Hebrews tells us that the system of worship which employed animal sacrifices was only a copy until the time of reformation. The old has faded away and Christ has been appointed high priest forever over the true tabernacle of God in the heavens.

Jesus is coming again, but not to oversee animal sacrifices as some are teaching. 

Those who teach that Jesus will return to bring back a defunct system which once existed when there was a Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices under the Law, claim that this is taught in Ezekiel 40 – 48, aka Ezekiel’s temple vision.

However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such interpretive claims, nor does Ezekiel’s’ temple vision support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin offering and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also Ezekiel 42:13 and 45:23

Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses which was only a type and a shadow. A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that this vision was predicated on the instructions given in the Law which Israel was commanded to follow. This is important to remember because 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.

Those who teach that Jesus will oversee animal sacrifices in the millennium advocate a theology which can not be supported with Biblical doctrine. Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

Therefore, Ezekiel’s vision cannot refer to literal animal sacrifices in the Kingdom of Christ now that Christ has fulfilled that which was foreshadowed by those sacrifices.

The sacrificial system which employed animal sacrifices foreshadowed Christ’s death on the cross until he came and fulfilled all that was written of him.

Those who teach a reinstatement of animal sacrifices in the millennial Kingdom of Christ insert their “end time theology” into Ezekiel’s vision rather than holding their “theology” accountable to the whole counsel of scripture.

Because of such carelessness in handling the Word of God, there is a plethora of teachings attempting to explain “why” there supposedly will be animal sacrifices in the millennium. None of them are supported by the sound teachings of scripture. 

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices will be offered in the millennium. One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that the sacrifices will be offered 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 gospel of Christ has been sufficient for leading men to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices?

Bad theology leads to more bad theology when we do not stay true to the whole counsel of scripture.

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 were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation, just as the tabernacle was during the days of Eli because of corruption and apostasy. Even though this is revealed in the scripture, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, then occupied by the glory of God at the coming of Jesus.

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. 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 (i.e. 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 the 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, which also would include atonement 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 Spirit. 

The Bible teaches that animal sacrifices were never desired by God and they never brought him any pleasure. They were only types and shadows of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns in all of his glory we will not be living in a Kingdom with types and shadows. We will be living in a Kingdom where the fullness of the light of the glory of God abounds. 

When Jesus returns, he will come in all of his majesty, honor, and glory. The coming of Jesus is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior. We will see him face to face, and we will be like him for we will see him as he is. The scriptures also tell us we will appear with him in glory. ~ 1 John 3:1-3, Phil 3:21, 1 Cor 13, Colossians 3:4

Why would anyone be compelled to think that the glorious return of Christ will usher in a reinstatement of an obsolete system of worship which employed the offering of animal sacrifices, which failed to take away sins? It is because of the lack of revelation of the person and finished work of Jesus Christ in God’s eternal plan. 

It is never a good idea to interpret scripture which was visionary in nature under the Old Testament with interpretive claims that are contrary to the New Testament revelation and doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament writers are the authoritative interpreters of the Old Testament scriptures as they pertain to Jesus Christ. The ideology of a return to that which was only a foreshadowing of Christ now that Christ has come is a contrary to New Testament doctrine.

Many of the old testament prophecies are symbolic of a greater truth. We have an example of this in Acts 15 when James says the following:

And to this agree the words of the prophets; AS IT IS WRITTEN. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

If James had not said this, someone could build a doctrine that the literal tent in which David placed the Ark of the Covenant would be rebuilt and we will worship the Lord there, or the literal Kingdom of David would be restored. Instead, James applies this Old Testament prophecy to the salvation of the Gentiles.

It is so important to interpret the Old Testament scriptures in view of the revelation of Jesus Christ given to us by the New Testament writers.

The Old Testament sacrifices were only types and shadows pointing to a greater truth. The greater truth has been revealed and we are not going back to the shadow. We are not going back to animal sacrifices which never truly pleased God. It is Christ in whom God is pleased. He alone is the sacrifice for sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-14

PROPERLY UNDERSTANDING EZEKIEL’S VISION

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.

Ezekiel was a priest by blood linage 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). In this 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).

Is a temple in which the presence of God cannot be approached consistent with the finished work of Jesus Christ? Certainly not! Yet, this is exactly the temple you have in Ezekiel – a temple which erects a separating barrier between God and his people.

In Ezekiel’s temple vision, the Levite priests bear the shame of their sins for leading the people of Israel into iniquity. They are still appointed to serve, but cannot approach God’s presence in the temple. Only the descendants of Zadok will be able to come near to the Lord.

Does physical linage matter in the kingdom of God? According to Jesus it doesn’t (see John 3). Yet, those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple is a millennial temple advocate a return to the importance of physical linage even though Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” ~ John 3:5-7

While proponents of “animal sacrifices in the millennium” claim they will only be offered as a memorial, the book of Ezekiel says differently. 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: sanctification, reconciliation, and for purity.

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

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

The sons of Zadok, of the tribe of Levi, are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his descendants were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8, and 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.

The author of Hebrews, however, refers to the Law’s instructions for appointing priests as, the law of a carnal commandment, and tells us that this command has been annulled because it was weak and unprofitable (Hebrews 7:18). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the changing of the priesthood has necessitated a change of the Law as well (Hebrews 7:12) .

The command given by the Law with regards to its priests required a continuous succession of priests who succeeded one another because those priests were all subject to death. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “the Law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope did, through which we draw near to God.”  (Hebrews 7:19-23)

The priesthood which was ordained by the Law could not make anything perfect and therefore it had no power to bring men near to God. Those who served as priests under that administration were men with infirmities, meaning, they were all under the power of sin and subject to death like everyone else.

They were appointed by a carnal commandment (Hebrews 7:16), which employed carnal ordinances (Hebrews 9:10), and as long as that priesthood was in force, the true Holiest of all was not yet open (Hebrews 9:8).

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

If people would actually pay attention to the details, that they claim is literal, they would have to accept that physical circumcision will be required to approach God in the millennium: Thus saith the Lord God; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. ~ 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

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles, is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this the middle wall of partition: meaning that we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ! 

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium where (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. Therefore the altar on which animal sacrifices will to 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).

ANIMAL SACRIFICES WILL NOT BE REINSTATED 

  1. The finished work of Jesus Christ has made those sacrifices obsolete.
  2. Animal sacrifices could not take away sin or open the way into the holiest of all.
  3. Animal sacrifices were a continual reminder of sin.
  4. God never desired animal sacrifices.
  5. Animal sacrifices are called dead works in Hebrews.
  6. Returning to animal sacrifices is apostasy.

Listed below are some of the important truths taught by scripture regarding the remission of our sins in contrast to the old testament atonement.

  • It was impossible for the blood of animals which were offered under the law to cleanse man’s conscience from sin and guilt. ~ Hebrews 9:9; 10:1-5, 11
  • The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from guilt.  ~ 1 John 1:7,9; Hebrews 7:19; 9:9, 13-14, 22;  10:1-2, 14, 19-22;  12:23
  • The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with. ~ Hebrews 10:1-6
  • Jesus does not need to offer himself for our sins over and over again. Jesus’ one sacrifice provides cleansing for sins forever.  ~ Hebrews 7:25-28; 10: 5-22
  • The priests, under the Law, who offered the sacrifices on the behalf of the people could not abide continually in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:6-8), neither could they continue in their priestly ministry indefinitely because they were subject to death. Therefore there were many priests who succeeded one another (Hebrews 7:19-23). Under that system of worship, man was separated from God because the way into God’s presence was not yet opened (Hebrews 9:6-10). The Law could only give a foreshadowing of good things to come – an illustration of something better that itself.  ~ Hebrews 10:1-5
  • Christ is our great high priest. In and through him, the good things which the law could only foreshadow have become reality. Unlike the entrance of the priests under the old testament who served in a temporary tabernacle,  Jesus has entered a greater and more perfect tabernacle. Christ entered the tabernacle of God in Heaven (Hebrews 9:12).  Jesus did not enter this tabernacle with the blood of animals, but with his own blood, securing our permanent redemption.  ~ Hebrews 9:12-14, 24-28; 10:10-14
  • Under the law, the offerings of sacrificial animals could only provide ceremonial cleansing from impurity.  However, the Blood of Jesus Christ purifies our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  ~ Hebrews 9:6-14
  • Under the old covenant, the priests stood and ministered before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, and those sacrifices could never take away sins. Jesus Christ, our high priest, offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, forever. He then sat down at the right hand of God, reigning as King till all his enemies are made his footstool. His one offering is the perfect sacrifice for all people forever. Now we can enter boldly into the Most Holy Place (the presence of God) because of the blood of Jesus. Jesus has consecrated this new and living way to God for us. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we now can draw near to God 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 chapters 7-10

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/