A Look at the Millennial Temple

Although some scholars question the reality of a literal, future Temple, the prophet Ezekiel described it in great detail. He provided its dimensions (Ezek. 40—43) and spoke of a future priesthood (chap. 44), future worship (chap. 45), and future manner of worship (chap. 46). Three times he declared that God will establish His sanctuary in the midst of Israel forever (37:26–28).

What will worship be like in the Millennial Temple? It will be similar to Old Testament Levitical worship, yet different. This Temple will be filled with God’s glory (43:1–5), as in the day of Solomon’s Temple. Only priests from the sons of Zadok will minister there, oversee worship, and serve at the Lord’s table (44:15–16).

Both Jewish people and Gentiles will be required to sacrifice animals at the Temple (Isa. 56:7; 66:20–23; Jer. 33:18; Ezek. 45:13–17; Mal. 3:3–4). The Lord will appoint a prince to receive the gifts and oversee the sacrifices used “to make atonement” for the house of Israel (Ezek. 45:15, 17, 20).

Presented will be burnt, sin, trespass (40:39), grain (45:24), and peace offerings (46:2). The prince will offer sacrifices at “the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel” (45:17; 46:1). Only morning sacrifices will be offered daily (46:13).

The feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread will be kept to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (45:21–24). All nations will appear in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles; those failing to obey will be denied rain or receive a plague, as in Egypt’s case (Zech. 14:16–18). The “year of liberty” (Jubilee, cf. Lev. 25) will be observed at its proper time (Ezek. 46:17). However, the feasts of Pentecost, Trumpets, and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) will not be kept in the Millennium.

The question most people ask when reading Ezekiel 43—46 is, “If Jesus’ sacrifice is the only efficacious, once-for-all sacrifice to expiate sin (Heb. 9:12), why will animal sacrifices that could never take away sin (10:4) be offered when Christ reigns?” We know the Millennial sacrifices will not remove sin, just as the Levitical ones could not.

Some scholars believe the offerings during the Millennium will be memorials, similar to keeping the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Christ’s death. They reason that, because Millennial saints will live in an ideal setting where the awfulness of sin is glossed over, the blood sacrifices will visibly remind people that only Christ’s blood can take away sin. Two problems mar this interpretation: (1) Nothing in the text indicates the sacrifices are memorial in nature, and (2) the prophet Ezekiel said the sacrifices are to make atonement.

Consequently, the offerings must be much more than memorials. The word atonement (Hebrew, kippur; Ezek. 45:15, 17, 20) means to “cover” or “propitiate.” Under the Levitical system, God required sacrifices to atone for sin and to cleanse buildings, the altar (43:20–27), the Levites (44:25–27), and the sanctuary (45:18). Blood sacrifices covered the worshiper’s sins (Lev. 17:11) and propitiated, or satisfied, God under the Mosaic Law.

Animal sacrifices at the future Temple will not be efficacious, but they will be needed to cover the worshipers’ ceremonial uncleanness. Why?Because God will be dwelling on Earth in the midst of sinful people who live in their natural bodies. The sacrifices will ensure that impure people will not defile God’s holy Temple when coming to worship Him.

Sacrifices in the Millennium will not be a substitute for God’s plan of salvation or change the way a person is redeemed. Salvation will be through faith in Christ and His shed blood on the cross. Nor will these sacrifices diminish Christ’s work on the cross (Heb. 10:10). It was Christ’s death, not the Levitical system, that made it possible for sins to be removed permanently.

6 thoughts on “A Look at the Millennial Temple

  1. The writer of the Hebrews would p
    probably disagree with you as his argument sustains the blood of Christ as efficacious as well as the order of the priesthood like that of Melchesidechian and of Aaron’s. Ezekiel somehow fits into the millennium and that is a dilemma for me

  2. The sacrificial animals are not killed, they are forgiven and released. (no death on my holy mountain) This is a fitting memorial to the grace of God.

    1. See Ezekiel 40 where the slaughter of sacrifices is described.
      Your thought is nice, but it’s not what the Scripture says.
      God will do away with all death in the New Earth. The Millennium is only a partial restoration of the perfect.

  3. Since Jesus said not a jot or a tittle of the law would disappear until the destruction of the heavens and earth (Matt. 5:18), and since heaven and earth will be replaced with a new heaven and earth after the millennial kingdom (Rev. 21:1), has anyone ever considered that the entire mosaic law will govern during the millennium?

  4. I’d suggest that the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the sacrifice of God’s only Son, and the millennial sacrifices will look back and solemnly honor the sacrifice of God’s only Son.

    Resurrected believers that enter the millennium will of course not die, but IMO there will be mortal believers who enter the millennial kingdom, who have mortal children, who will not necessarily become believers. This is born out by the attack on Jerusalem that occurs at the end of the Millennium:

    20.7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison. 20.8 And
    he will go forth to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather
    them together unto battle, whose number is as the sands of the sea. 20.9 And they went up
    across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
    And fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 20.10 And the Devil who deceived them
    was cast into the lake of fire and sulfur, where also are the beast and false prophet; and they will
    be tormented day and night, ages and ages.

    Of course, in the new heavens and earth everyone will be regenerate:

    “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” (Rev 21:1)
    .

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