The following email brings up an important subject that is so misunderstand that I think you could ask 1,000 Christians to explain it and probably not get one who understands it correctly:
Something that has bothered me recently. What do Jews use now for a “sin offering?” Since there isn’t a temple or animal sacrifices and the bible makes it clear in the Old Testament that these offerings (sin, grain, guilt etc.) are to be observed as a permanent law for the People of Israel and it must be observed from generation to generation.
The subject this email brings up is what exactly was the purpose of the animal sacrifices commanded in the Torah to Ancient Israel? If you read the Torah itself, it gives you the idea that the sacrifices made atonement for ones sins in the same way that Jesus’ death on the cross did. Under this assumption, Christians see Christ’ death as the (Passover) Lamb of God as fulfilling all the sacrifices and bringing about their obsolescence. The destruction of the temple 40 years after Christ died on Passover, 30 AD seems to prove this. God didn’t want them doing it anymore. Christians even go so far as to state that any attempt to resurrect sacrifices would be an affront to Christ and his work on the cross.
Of course, it does not help that most Christians are not very familiar with the Old Testament. Because there we have some very clear prophecies of the coming Millennial Temple and the animal sacrifices that will be done there. Complete with the return of Levitical priests to administer them (didn’t Christ do away with that, too, when he became the high priest?). Just turn to Ezekiel 40-48 for endless details on the temple activities of the Millennium.
Ezekiel 40:42 (NIV2011) — There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high. On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices.
Jeremiah 33:15-18 also tells us that in the Millennium when Jesus “the Branch” is king, the Levites will make offerings again.
Jeremiah 33:15-18 (NIV2011) — 15 In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior. 17 For this is what the LORD says: David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.
All of this is literal as it makes sense literally fine.
So why does God bring the sacrifices back? The Book of Hebrews thankfully gives the answer. First, for what the sacrifices are not see the underlined verses:
Hebrews 10:1-2, 4 (HCSB) — 1 Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. 2 Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Hebrews plainly says the sacrifices never took away sin. That was not their purpose. What was their purpose then? Go to verse 3
Hebrews 10:3 — But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
The sacrifices were an object lesson. Ancient Israelites under the Torah had to regularly give up something of value, something that cost them, to comply with the law. To put it dumbly, sacrifices were a sacrifice. You learned the dear price of sin by seeing them done by the priests regularly and having to make some out of your own wealth yourself.
This then is the key to why the sacrifices can come back and are coming back when the Kingdom of Israel is restored again (Acts 1:6). In the Millennium, the people we glorified saints rule will still be in the flesh. They will be the same slow learning, forgetful, flawed people that we all are today; people in need of constant reminders and helpful object lessons. That’s what they will get again thanks to the restoration of the animal sacrifices. Because they typify the sacrifice that Jesus made, they actually glorify him, rather than denigrate or insult him.