Why Animal Sacrifices? (Not For What Christians Think)

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:

Tim,

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.

Thanks, Gail

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.

18 thoughts on “Why Animal Sacrifices? (Not For What Christians Think)”

  1. Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    in other words…

    Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin nature (that which generates sin).

    Lev 16:30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

    Yes, the guilt of sins was forgiven (God’s wrath appeased and mankind made right with God; temporarily) with the daily, weekly, monthly and annual sacrifices. However, the root of sin creating (sinful nature – flesh nature) was not removed (until Yeshua’s propitiation – atoning sacrifice) and all people returned to creating more offences, more guilt on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Yeshua wiped away all past, present and future guilt through His blood and satisfied God’s wrath against us as our substitute once and for all.

    By this we are justified in His righteousness to enter Heaven – we claim Him in humility of a broken heart and contrite spirit. Upon belief in Him, He sanctifies our minds (conscience) by purging out the sinful nature. Until we are sinless in a resurrected body, we will sin, but sanctification blesses us to sin less and live more in the image of Christ.

    1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    1Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

    Not all people in the Millennium have eternal life (saved in Yeshua’s blood). There are still sinful people outside the Kingdom who’ve yet inherit an incorruptible body (Though Satan is cast away and His sinfluence is nil for nearly 1,000 years)

  2. Tim, thank you for another good article. btw I love the active scripture links that by hovering the mouse I can get a quick snapshot of references without losing focus. You paint an accurate picture and I am relieved to hear the voice of reason along my path. To be sure I was not taught critical thinking skills so must acquire them on the way. I love to consider the position people take presently and what will be in the Millennium. It’s actually orderly and understandable. Keep up the efforts…it’s appreciated.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for the blog, it is always nice to read your interpretations, they are a blessing to many people.

    Regarding your post, I noticed that you missed answering part of the question “What do Jews use now for a “sin” offering?”… and the answer is “Kapparot”, among other practices.

    Hasidic (orthodox) jews kill hens during this celebration (which you can buy in US for about $5. In Israel, even pigeons, lambs… and other animals during this day, which is still celebrated nowadays.

    In any case, the point is to not repeat the sins, which all of us, inevitably commit.

    Regards!

  4. Wow. This topic has been a stumbling block for me for a few years. Trying to understand how a sacrifice of an animal could atone for sin. Trying to extrapolate how the shedding of blood of any certain animal could somehow nullify wrongdoing. I read the old testament, I read the new testament, I thought I was thorough. I am glad to have come across your writings previously and now visiting again to find this troubling puzzle solved. 🙂 Thanks for your diligent and vigilant work.

  5. Hello Tim, I’ve tried the other avenues to ask a question with worrisome no luck. I sincerely need your opinion and/or advice on the troubling subject that the Bible is used to tar people as evil & identify only fellow ‘believers’ as good and it only heighten, fester’s that line between social classes instead of promoting a unified society. I don’t understand these sort of comments. I am confused why people feel this way. Thank you Tim for your on going promotion of truth and good will!

    • Peter, one thing you missed is that Christians don’t just judge non-believers as evil, but their own fellow believers. They judge all using the Bible.

      So why? I’ve observed over the years that we all have this built-in tendency to judge using ourselves as the standard of right/correct. “I would never do that! How can they do that?! How can they not know…” are common examples of thought. We think everyone is like us, can do what we do, knows what we know and has our standards of thought and behavior. Until we get much older (and for some never) do we realize how different others can be on things we thought we had “right.” We find it hard to stop making them wrong for being, thinking and doing different(ly).

      So when you give a Christian a Bible with all kinds of new standards that they think they understand, watch out world. They become the most belligerent judgmental well-intentioned fools you can find. Even when Christ said ‘judge not’ they simply have not grown up enough or learned how not to. I think secular people are much less judgmental than Xians for this reason (even though they inherently judge, too.)

      P.S. First email/comment I have from you, Peter

  6. The problem with the notion that animal sacrifices will be brought back in the millennium arises when we look at Isaiah 11:9, which reads:

    They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.

    Why on earth would God set up a new system wherein carnivores turn into herbivores so that man and beast may all live in harmony, but where men are required to keep slaughtering animals? That defies logic.

    Furthermore, we clearly see in Revelation that food will come from trees.

    I challenge you to rethink this one.

    • Jennifer, there is no problem with the two verses. Isaiah 11:9’s “no hurt or destroy” refers to man’s actions against each other and the world thanks to God’s word and knowledge. However God’s word itself plainly talks about animal sacrifices including Passover resuming in the Millennium at the temple. If one of the purposes of animals is food and offering to God, then it’s not hurtful or destructive or against its purpose to sacrifice them.

      Revelation 22:2 speaking about the twelve fruits of the tree of life healing the nations is long after the Millennium. It’s when everyone is spiritual bodied, no more flesh. A clue there is it also says there will no longer be any night because God will shine as light to us.

      I challenge YOU to rethink this one. Are you an animal lover?

      • Luke 24:39
        See My hands and My feet, that I am He. Touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see Me having.

        Our glorified spiritual bodies being the heavenly dwelling He went to prepare for us are of flesh and bone (but not flesh and blood as such cannot enter the new Jerusalem) and not just our immaterial self just as Jesus’ spiritual body when He resurrected physically unto immortality.

        He assured His Apostles that He was not a spirit but flesh and bone.

        If by the flesh you meant mortal, then please clarify for future readers. But if you meant that the spiritual glorified body has no flesh but is strictly Immaterial, you would be wrong in your statement that the spiritual body is without flesh.

        • Joseph, by “no flesh” I only meant there will be no “flesh-only”/physical people like today. Certainly you didn’t think I missed that both angels and glorified Jesus manifested convincing flesh around flesh people?

  7. I have a question about marriage and childbirth. I know Jesus says plainly that there will be no marriage after death. Is that just heaven? It sounds like some will be multiplying during the millennium? Why where we then created male and female? I always imagined (I know, a dangerous approach to Biblical studies) that heaven would be like Eden. In Eden, God told Eve her conception would be increased. God commanded Adam and Eve, and all other life, to multiply. Marriage was instituted in Eden? Why would it be so different after death?

    This is just something that has always bugged me. I know it is rather off topic too.

    Thanks.

  8. Tim, I must respectfully disagree with the return of animal sacrifices. The verses you mention do address those sacrifice’s, but they say nothing specifically about them returning. In my humble opinion, He would have been extremely clear about that if it were the case.

    It is our walking upright in Yeshua’s name that pleases the Almighty and through this faith and grace we are absolved of sins. There is no reason for us to remember our sins because it is His blood that washes away our sins.

    John 3:16 and Matthew 3:17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Almighty’s pleasure comes not from continuing the sacrifice of innocents, which is why He sent His son, it is through our covenant with Yeshua.

    Thank you for your commitment.

    • John, I don’t think you read the referenced verses. I’ve updated the post to quote them in the text so you can’t miss them. It’s undeniable sacrifices are coming back in the Millennium, and God is going to be pleased with King/Priest Jesus overseeing them and the people under him doing them!

      People in the flesh will still be imperfect and tempted and sinning. The reminder of sins will be helpful to them just as it was for ancient Israel who first had this as part of their culture.

  9. Thank you Tim! My suggestion to you is that if what you are saying is correct, then from your learning, what was Yeshua’s purpose?

    • Simple: He was “the lamb who takes away the sin of the world” according to John TB. That was one of his purposes in coming.

      Now, according to Christianity his purpose was to end the animal sacrifices and Torah. However that’s not in the Bible and further Bible prophecy says these things will be kept again in the Millennium as reminders of sin.

  10. Hi Tim,
    I have read most of the articles. I thank God for the wisdom that you are sharing.

    Was not animal sacrifices for atoning the sins?

    Could you please share more information on the importance of Yahshua’s sacrifice?
    Also, I have read in few websites that Yahshua’s sacrifice is likened to the red heifer sacrifice. Is this true? Please share more information on this.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you. The sacrifices were part of the Law of Moses given to ancient Israel as part of the deal for them living in the Promised Land. When they broke that they were evicted from the land. Just like if you don’t pay your rent you are evicted. Not doing the sacrifices did not mean their sins were not forgiven. It meant there was atonement lacking for staying in the land. Their sins were taken care of by Jesus’ (future) sacrifice, the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). Whether anyone, Israel or otherwise knew about this sacrifice, it was the way their sins were atoned as Abraham’s righteous life exampled (Gen 15:6)

      Most of the sacrifices point to Yeshua. The passover and the red heifer, but in different ways.

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