Hindsight is 20/20

“Thus says the Lord God: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. The people of the land shall bow down at the entrance of that gate before the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the new moons. The burnt offering that the prince offers to the Lord on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish and a ram without blemish. And the grain offering with the ram shall be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs shall be as much as he is able, together with a hin of oil to each ephah. On the day of the new moon he shall offer a bull from the herd without blemish, and six lambs and a ram, which shall be without blemish. As a grain offering he shall provide an ephah with the bull and an ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he is able, together with a hin of oil to each ephah. When the prince enters, he shall enter by the vestibule of the gate, and he shall go out by the same way.

“When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead. 10 When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.

11 “At the feasts and the appointed festivals, the grain offering with a young bull shall be an ephah, and with a ram an ephah, and with the lambs as much as one is able to give, together with a hin of oil to an ephah. 12 When the prince provides a freewill offering, either a burnt offering or peace offerings as a freewill offering to the Lord, the gate facing east shall be opened for him. And he shall offer his burnt offering or his peace offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out the gate shall be shut.

13 “You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord daily; morning by morning you shall provide it. 14 And you shall provide a grain offering with it morning by morning, one sixth of an ephah, and one third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour, as a grain offering to the Lord. This is a perpetual statute. 15 Thus the lamb and the meal offering and the oil shall be provided, morning by morning, for a regular burnt offering.

16 “Thus says the Lord God: If the prince makes a gift to any of his sons as his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons. It is their property by inheritance. 17 But if he makes a gift out of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty. Then it shall revert to the prince; surely it is his inheritance—it shall belong to his sons. 18 The prince shall not take any of the inheritance of the people, thrusting them out of their property. He shall give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people shall be scattered from his property.”

19 Then he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, to the north row of the holy chambers for the priests, and behold, a place was there at the extreme western end of them. 20 And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the guilt offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, in order not to bring them out into the outer court and so transmit holiness to the people.”

21 Then he brought me out to the outer court and led me around to the four corners of the court. And behold, in each corner of the court there was another court— 22 in the four corners of the court were small courts, forty cubits long and thirty broad; the four were of the same size. 23 On the inside, around each of the four courts was a row of masonry, with hearths made at the bottom of the rows all around. 24 Then he said to me, “These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.” Ezekiel 46:1-24 ESV

God is giving Ezekiel a tour of the new temple that will exist in the Millennial Kingdom. This is the period of 1,000 years after Christ’s return when He will rule and reign in the city of Jerusalem from the throne of David. During this time, God will have the temple rebuilt, the priesthood reestablished, and the sacrificial system reinstated. But that begs the question, “Why?”

If Christ died for sins once for all (1 Peter 3:18), then why would there be the need for a sacrificial system? If Christ’s death on the cross paid the price for our sins and fully satisfied the just demands of a holy God, there seems to be no purpose for having the sacrifices reinstated during the Millennial Kingdom.

But God is very specific when describing what He will expect during those days. He provides precise details concerning which sacrifices are to be offered and the method for doing so. So, God must have a purpose.

It’s interesting to note that the two feasts God seems to emphasize are the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Both of these events were associated with the Exodus and God’s deliverance of the people from their bondage in Egypt. The Passover was instituted as a memorial commemorating and celebrating God’s miraculous deliverance of the people of God from the Death Angel that visited the land of Egypt and struck down the firstborn male of every household. God spared the Israelites as long as they followed His instructions to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and put its blood on the doorways of their homes.

The Feast of Booths was meant to commemorate the time when the people had been forced to erect hastily-built shelters to protect them as they made their way through the wilderness on the way to the land of promise. All throughout their history, God had ordered them to reenact this event through this annual celebration. It was meant to remind them of the years they had spent wandering through the wilderness.

These festivals were to be symbols of God’s provision and protection during those difficult years as they made their way to the promised land. All of these sacrifices and celebrations were intended to serve as reminders of God’s grace, provision, and deliverance. They were all designed to point to God’s future provision and deliverance through Christ. They were representative of the future work of Christ.

In the Millennial Kingdom they will continue to be representative, but more by way of reminder. They will be looking BACK, not forward. These sacrifices, once symbolic of Christ’s coming and His future sacrifice on the cross, will be reminders of what Christ has DONE. He will be living among the people, reigning and ruling from the throne of David. They will be looking back, in retrospect, to Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. So in that sense, they will be memorials and will probably have nothing to do with forgiveness of sins.

But God is very clear with Ezekiel that these sacrifices will be a part of worship in the Millennial Kingdom and they must be done according to God’s exacting standards. It should remind us that God has a reason for everything that He does. The sacrificial system was not just a temporary requirement that lived out its usefulness and purpose. God has a reason behind all that He does and one day that same sacrificial system will be reinstated, completing its purpose of pointing men to Christ. The Lamb of God will sit on the throne in Jerusalem, and innocent, unblemished lambs will be sacrificed as a visual reminder of the redemptive work that Jesus did on the cross.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.