Animal Sacrifices: Past & Future
By John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.
Whitcomb Ministries, Inc., Orange Park, Florida
Though commanded by God, animal sacrifices in Israel could never remove spiritual guilt from the offerer: Hebrews
10.4,11. But it is equally erroneous to say the sacrifices were only teaching symbols given by God to prepare the nation for
Messiah and His infinite atonement. From God’s perspective, such teaching surely was a major purpose in the sacrificial
system; but it could not have been the exclusive purpose from the perspective of Mosaic covenant Israelites.
The Scriptures tell us something really did happen to the Israelite offerer when he came to the right altar with the
appropriate sacrifice and he was expected to know what would happen to him: Leviticus 1.4. What happened was temporal,
finite, external and legal; personally and immediately significant, not simply symbolic, nor prophetic.
Now what does all of this indicate with regard to animal sacrifices in the Millennial Temple for Israel under the new
covenant? It indicates future sacrifices will have nothing to do with eternal salvation which comes only through true
faith in God. It also indicates future animal sacrifices will be “effectual” and “expiatory” only in terms of the strict
provision for ceremonial and thus temporal forgiveness within the theocracy of Israel. Such sacrifices, then, will not be
memorial, like the bread and the cup in church communion services, any more than sacrifices in the age of the Mosaic
covenant were primarily prospective or prophetic in the understanding of the offerer.
The vast majority of people born during the Millennial Age will remain unbelievers, Revelation 20.7-9, needing the
protection from the immediate wrath of holy God, for which animal sacrifices will provide in accordance with divine
design and function in the Mosaic Law.
Ezekiel foresaw, by the Spirit of God, offerings would remain, Ezekiel 45.17, and God told Jeremiah the Levitical priests
would never "want (lack) a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to kindle grain offerings and to sacrifice continually,"
How can vital spiritual instruction be accomplished for citizens of the Millennial Kingdom through a system of animal
sacrifices? It will be possible for regenerated Israel to attain the divinely intended balance between form and content,
lip and heart, hand and soul, within the structures of the new covenant. It is not only possible, but prophetically certain
millennial animal sacrifices will be used in a God-honoring way; e.g., Psalm 51.15-19 and Hebrews 11.4, by a regenerated,
Before the heavens and the earth flee away from Him Who sits upon the Great White Throne, Revelation 20.11, God will
provide a final demonstration of the validity of animal sacrifices as an instructional and disciplinary instrument for Israel.
The entire world will see the true purpose of this system, one which never has and never will function on the level of
Calvary's cross, where infinite and eternal guilt was dealt with once and for all. But the sacrificial system did accomplish
some important instructional and disciplinary purposes for Israel under the Mosaic covenant, Galatians 4.1-7, and there is
good reason to believe it will yet again function on the level of purely temporal cleansing and forgiveness during the Millennium
under the new covenant: Hebrews 9.13.
From Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible - King James Version
Published by AMG Publishers, 2000. Used with permission.