WEBPAGE ADMINISTRATOR: This (3 in 1) “Study” article contains vast information on the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth in the “Not too distance future”. It will be a wondrous time for those living on Earth, and those living in the New Jerusalem (Just above the Earth). It is a prelude to Eternity with God, and a time too look forward to as Christians. Remember our Eternity with Jesus Christ starts here after the Rapture, and After the 7 year Tribulation. We still have much work to do.
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
The recent re-posting of my article on Restoring Planet Earth has sparked some new interest in the Millennium. Many people find it hard to understand how such a seemingly perfect beginning could deteriorate into a massive rebellion at the end. The simple answer is “natural man” but let’s take a more comprehensive look.
First, a little background. The Bible mentions a total of seven different approaches God has made in an effort to maintain a relationship with the human race. Six of these are history and one is yet future to us.
In the early 1800’s John Nelson Darby, borrowing a term from Ephesians 3:2, named these seven approaches “dispensations” and explained how so far each one has ended in failure. Here’s a summary of each in the order of their occurrence.
1) Innocence … Between the Creation and the Fall of Man in the Garden (Genesis 3) God interacted freely and personally with Adam and Eve. Then they broke the only rule He had given them (Genesis 3:11-13) and were expelled from the Garden. Sin entered the world.
2) Conscience … Between the Fall and the Flood, God allowed man’s conscience to govern his behaviour without Divine interference. Because of the sin nature passed down from mankind’s first parents, the result was that
“the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
God pronounced judgment upon the world and destroyed all but 8 members of the human race in the Great Flood.
3) Human Government … from the Flood to Abraham. After the flood God told Noah to go forth and replenish the Earth (Genesis 9:7). Noah’s descendants disobeyed God’s commandment, setting about instead to build a great city and tower from which to study the stars (Genesis 11:4). God confused man’s language, causing them to stop building the tower, and scattered them through out the world (Genesis 11:8-9).
4) Promise … from Abraham to Moses. God promised Abraham a son for himself and Sarah (Genesis 15:4) and a homeland for his descendants (Genesis 15:18-19). But they grew tired of waiting and produced a son on their own, who they named Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-2,15). When God’s promised son Isaac was born, Ishmael was sent away (Genesis 21:8-13) causing enmity between the Jews (descendants of Isaac) and Arabs (descendants of Ishmael) that continues to this day. After Mohammed, a descendant of Ishmael’s, founded Islam this enmity took on religious significance and became even more intense.
5) Law … from Moses to Jesus. God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and promised the Jews a life of peace and plenty in a Kingdom of their own if they obeyed Him (Exodus 19:5, Exodus 20:1-17). After repeated periods of disobedience which included rejecting their Messiah King, God withdrew His offer of the Kingdom and expelled them from their land (Matt. 21:43, Luke 19:41-44).
6) Grace … from Pentecost to the Rapture, the Church Age. No longer requiring righteousness through works, God granted a righteousness through faith in the completed work of Christ to all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:21-24). Most will not believe and will be punished through eternity.
Note: It’s important to realize that Grace is unlike any of the other dispensations in that didn’t replace Law, it just interrupted it. Law has another 7 years to run, called Daniel’s 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27), which will take place between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming. During this time all the nations to which Israel has been scattered will be completely destroyed and Israel will be disciplined in preparation for receiving the Kingdom God has promised to give them (Jeremiah 30:4-11).
As you can see these six approaches either already have or are about to end in failure. Now for the seventh and our answer to the questions that prompted this study.
7) The Kingdom … the 1000 Year Reign of Christ also known as the Millennium. It begins with the 2nd Coming. This time Israel will accept the Kingdom offer (Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 14:8-9). Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:2), all unbelievers will be expelled from the planet (Matt. 25:41-46), and God will once again dwell in the midst of His people (Ezek. 43:6-7). You’d think with all these advantages mankind would finally be able to live in a manner pleasing to God. But it won’t happen. Eventually, with the exception of Israel, the world will rebel against God and His people in one last attempt to regain control of the planet. God will send fire from heaven to consume them all (Rev. 20:7-10).
WHAT WAS THE QUESTION?
Remember, the question was how such a seemingly perfect beginning could deteriorate into a massive rebellion at the end.
In a near perfect environment, with Satan bound, Jesus ruling in person and only believers left in the world it seems to us like the perfect opportunity for mankind to prove that given the right circumstances it is possible to live in peace and harmony with God. How could something that seems so right go so horribly wrong?
In Jeremiah 17:9 we’re told that our hearts are deceitful above all things and are beyond cure. This is why the Bible never mentions changing our heart. Instead it speaks of giving us a new one. Our natural heart has a built in failure mechanism that has eventually torpedoed every relationship God has proposed to have with us. It’s called sin and the summaries above demonstrate its deadly effect.
At the sheep and goat judgment, which follows the 2nd Coming, the Lord will separate surviving believers from surviving unbelievers. Believers will be welcomed into the Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 25:34) while unbelievers will be sent into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41) never to be seen on Earth again.
Jewish believers will live in Israel, while Gentile believers will populate the nations. The Earth, having been restored to its pre-flood grandeur, will be a remarkable place to live, and will cooperate with its inhabitants to produce a life of peace and plenty never before seen. I can imagine that the people, having just survived 7 years of the worst times humans have ever endured, will feel blessed beyond any measure.
It took 1656 years for pre-flood man to bring God’s perfect creation to a point where His only option was to destroy them all. This was probably due to the long life spans they enjoyed, where there were multiple generations of elders among them who retained the memories of Earth’s earliest days.
By contrast Judges 2:10-15 tells us that after the generation of Israelites who endured the time in the wilderness and conquered the Promised Land had died, the next generation neither knew the Lord nor what He had done for Israel. Before long they had descended into idolatry and brought judgment upon themselves. Life-spans had already become remarkably shorter and the memory of the Lord was lost as there were no longer the multiple overlapping generations of the past. This time it only took one generation to begin their downward spiral.
In the Millennium, life-spans will become longer again but eventually children will be born who will not have experienced the Great Tribulation and history will begin to repeat itself.
The Bible only hints of this so we don’t know how long it will take, but it seems likely that among each generation there will be substantially fewer believers than in previous ones.
It appears that this will only happen among the Gentile nations because there’s no mention of such a falling away in Israel. Therefore, when examining the millennium we have to look at Israel and the Gentile nations separately.
Isaiah 40:1-2 tells us that as of the 2nd Coming the Lord will speak comfort to Israel, and tenderness to Jerusalem, saying that her hard service is over and that her sin has been paid for, having received double from the Lord’s hand for all her sins. In Ezekiel 36:26-27 we read of God’s promise to give His people a new heart and put His Spirit in them to move them to follow His decrees and keep His laws.
They won’t be changed from mortal to immortal yet, so they will still sin. But the Temple rituals they will be required to practice, complete with daily sacrifices for their sin (Ezekiel 40-46), will serve as a constant reminder of the Lord’s death on their behalf. Also, He will extend peace to them that will flow like a river and the wealth of the nations will pour in like a flooding stream (Isaiah 66:12). The combination of these things will enable them to remain faithful to the Lord throughout.
We’ve had more to say about Israel’s Millennial Kingdom in previous studies, so for the balance of this one we’ll focus on the Gentiles because that’s where the long awaited time of peace and plenty will eventually deteriorate into a world wide rebellion and judgement.
The Lord will be a strict administrator of God’s law during the millennium, brooking no disobedience. Psalm 2:9 tells us He will rule with an iron scepter, which means He will be inflexible in His dealings with man. No more of the Sunday School Jesus patting little children on the head and telling everyone to turn the other cheek. In Psalm 2:10-11 the kings of the earth are warned to serve Him with fear and trembling because His wrath can flare up in a moment.
As it has been through out human history, children born in the millennium will have to mature and decide whether to accept or reject the Lord’s death on their behalf. As successive generations of children are born in the gentile nations, the sin nature they will have inherited will make it increasingly difficult for them to accept the Lord and His kind of rule, especially as memories of the Great Tribulation judgments fade. In each generation the number of those who reject the Lord will grow and their obedience to His rule will only be given reluctantly and with growing resentment.
GIVE US AN EXAMPLE
One example the Bible gives of this resistance concerns Egypt. In Isaiah 19:19-25 the prophet described a time when Egypt will come to know the Lord and worship Him with sacrifices and grain offerings. Then something will happen that causes the Lord to strike them with a plague, subsequently healing them after they turn back to Him. The chapter ends with the Lord calling Egypt “my people”. This prophecy has never been fulfilled.
In Zechariah 14:16-19 we learn that all the Gentile nations will have to be represented each year when Israel celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles. Failure to attend will bring consequences. In describing those consequences Zechariah described a plague of drought. He specifically mentioned that Egypt would suffer this plague but hinted that other nations would be afflicted for failing to attend as well. This prophecy is Millennial in its scope.
In Ezekiel 29:13-16 there’s a prophecy of a 40 year period when Egypt will be completely desolate, with its people dispersed among the other nations of the world. At the end of 40 years the Lord will bring them back. This is another prophecy that awaits future fulfilment.
I believe these three prophecies speak of the same thing; a 40 year judgement against Egypt for refusing to attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles. If so, it’s an indication of how intolerant the Lord will be of any violation of the rules and how severe the punishment for such will be. No wonder the growing number of unbelievers will start forming thoughts of rebellion.
We shouldn’t marvel that natural humans could be so wicked as to bring about the destruction of the very utopian existence mankind has dreamed about from time immemorial. Even a casual reading of the Old Testament shows us that on a smaller scale this very thing happened repeatedly in Israel’s history, even with God Himself living in their midst.
Also, a study of human nature will lead us to the conclusion that eventually the incredible blessings of millennial life will be taken for granted as more and more people are born who haven’t known anything different. Soon these blessings will be overshadowed by the inflexible requirements of the Lord’s rule.
As the end of the Millennium approaches the number of rebellious unbelievers will be as great as the sand on the seashore. When Satan is released they will be primed and ready for a leader behind whom they can unite. From all over the world they will march against the camp of God’s people, the city He loves, and in response He will send fire from heaven to devour them all. And then the devil who deceived them will be thrown into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night, forever (Rev. 20:7-10).
WHAT’S THE MEANING OF THIS?
At first glance, having a 1000 year interlude between the Age of Man and Eternity doesn’t make sense. But on reflection, I think that it may be natural man’s last, best, chance to prove himself to God.
Through out history we’ve had the evil workings of the devil to contend against, but all during the Millennium the devil will be imprisoned. Without him to tempt them can man behave in a manner pleasing to God?
We’ve also had the bad influence of unbelievers, but at the beginning of the Millennium all unbelievers will be taken away. Will that make it possible for man to please God?
For the last 2000 years the Lord has been absent from the planet. When He returns to become their King will His presence among them enable man to please Him?
Sadly, the answer to all these questions is a resounding no. Even with Satan bound, no more unbelievers, and the in person rule of the Lord Himself, there’s still enough sin in the hearts of natural man that as soon as Satan is freed, man will join him in a final rebellion against God. The Millennium is the seventh and final test, proving that there is no circumstance or condition in which natural man can behave in a manner acceptable to a Holy God.
If you haven’t done so lately, give thanks to God that you came into the world during the Age of Grace, where the righteousness of God has been imputed to you by faith (Romans 3:21-24) making you forever perfect in His sight (Hebrews 10:12-14). Your inheritance of eternal life has been guaranteed (Ephes. 1:13-14) as the example in ages yet to come of the incomparable riches of God’s Grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7), with no other requirement than to believe in the one He has sent (John 6:28-29). Such a thing has never happened before and will never happen again. 07-05-14
LIFE ON EARTH IN THE MILLENNIUM
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Hal Lindsey once speculated that at his judgment Satan hurled two accusations at God. “You’re not just and You have no love.” In past studies we have seen how God demonstrated His perfect justice through Israel and His perfect love through the Church. In this study, we’ll talk about a time in the future when both perfect justice and perfect love will govern the lives of people on Earth.
Israel lived under an absolutely just system of law. It was clear and concise, made no exceptions, and showed no favoritism. There was blessing for obedience and punishment for disobedience in an obvious cause and effect relationship. What they did determined what they got. God said to them,
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
The Church has showcased the incomparable riches of God’s grace. We’re the most blessed of any group of humanity and the only thing asked of us is that we accept by faith the free gift of salvation, purchased in advance for us with God’s own life. Yes, God is pleased if we live our lives in a manner that expresses our gratitude to Him, and rewards us for doing so, but the only thing He requires is that we believe in the one He has sent.
Then they asked Him, “What must we do to do the work God requires?” He answered, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent” (John 6:28-29).
In the Kingdom Age believers will be saved by faith, like the Church, but will be required to keep the Law as evidence of their belief, like Israel. I say this because it’s pretty clear that salvation by grace through faith alone will end with the rapture of the Church. Otherwise there would be no need for a temple in Israel during the Millennium, with all nations being required to make an annual pilgrimage to Israel to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16-19). Also, Isaiah 2:2-3 says all nations will stream to the Lord’s Temple. The Lord will teach them His ways and they will walk in His paths, and the Law (Torah) will go out from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Therefore, perfect justice and perfect love will be combined. This will be God’s final answer to Satan and His final attempt to dwell among His people in peace. Will it work, or like Israel and the Church before it, will the Kingdom Age end in failure?
We’ve only talked about Law and Grace but there were actually four other attempts at peaceful coexistence between God and man leading up to them. For a complete understanding of man’s history with his Creator, we’ll need to review these others as well. They’re called dispensations, or administrations, and all together there are seven of them.
THE 7 DISPENSATIONS
Throughout history God has dealt with His people in different ways as part of the process of revealing His character. Each of these dispensations has begun with an agreement between God and man that man subsequently violated, ending the relationship in failure and requiring a judgment from God.
1) INNOCENCE … Between the Creation and the Fall of Man God interacted freely and personally with man. Man was created immortal and while he had agency (the power of choice) he didn’t have a sin nature. God placed Adam and Eve in His garden and gave them only one restriction. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But they violated this restriction and were expelled from the Garden. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent were all judged, the Creation was cursed, and sin entered the world.
2) CONSCIENCE … Between the Fall of Man and the Great Flood God allowed man’s conscience to rule without Divine interference. Because of man’s newly acquired sin nature, the result of this was
“the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
After repeated warnings, God destroyed all but 8 members of the Human race in the Great Flood.
3) HUMAN GOVERNMENT … from Noah to the Tower of Babel. After the Flood, God allowed man to establish his first system of government. But the people disobeyed God’s commandment to go forth and replenish the Earth, setting about instead to build a great city and a tower to protect themselves from another flood. They also used the tower to study astrology, a corruption of the Gospel that God had written in the stars using the names of 12 constellations. So God gave each of the 70 families of man a unique language that other families weren’t able to understand. This caused confusion and distrust among the people and they drifted apart to be scattered through out the world, and God destroyed the tower.
4) PROMISE … God set Abraham’s descendants apart as His Chosen People and promised Abraham and Sarah a son through whom He said He would bless the world. But they grew tired of waiting for Him to keep His promise, and produced a son on their own, calling him Ishmael. Later, when God gave them Isaac, the son He had promised, Ishmael was sent away causing bad blood between Ishmael (Arabs) and Isaac (Jews) that continues to this day.
5) LAW … from Mt. Sinai to Pentecost. After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave Moses the 10 Commandments and offered the Israelites the land He had promised to Abraham along with a life of peace and plenty if they obeyed His Law. After 2000 years of vacillating between obedience and rebellion that resulted in them rejecting the Messiah, God finally had enough, expelled them from their land, and dispersed them throughout the world. (But not forever. The Dispensation of Law was interrupted seven years short of its allotted time. After the Rapture, during the final 7 years, also known as Daniel’s 70th Week, Israel will have one final chance to live in obedience to God and accept their Messiah.)
6) GRACE … The Church Age. No longer requiring that righteousness be earned through obedience to the Law, God imputed His own righteousness to man by grace through faith in the completed work of the Lord Jesus, promising eternal blessing and a place in His own house to all who accept. It was the most outrageously lavish gift ever bestowed, free for the asking. But by the end of the Age of Grace most of humanity will have rejected His gift, choosing instead to live on their own terms, betting that either God doesn’t exist, or if He does He’ll allow them into His kingdom anyway. After removing the relative few who have accepted His gift so they’ll be safe with Him, He’ll punish the rest through the most severe time of judgment ever visited on Earth.
7) KINGDOM … the 1000 Year Reign of the Lord, also known as the Millennium. At its outset Satan will be bound, all unbelievers will be expelled from the planet, the curse will be removed, and God will once again dwell in the midst of His people. You’d think that finally man could live in a manner pleasing to Him. Whether he will or not is the subject of our study.
WHO ARE YOU CALLING A FAILURE?
Some in the Church might question the view that the Age of Grace has been a failure, but that’s because we’re among the few who have accepted the Lord’s free gift of pardon and will therefore enjoy its benefits. Remember, God’s desire is to reconcile us to Himself (Colossians 1:19-20). He doesn’t want for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). And yet over the last 2,000 years most people have turned down His gift and gone their own way. After doing everything He could, short of violating man’s free will and forcing him to accept the pardon He offered, most of mankind will have rejected Him. Can you blame Him for being so angry as to unleash the full fury of His wrath against them?
Even in the Church, the response to God’s gift of eternal Life has been more apathy than adoration. When less than 10% of people who claim to be born again have adopted a Biblical world view, it’s clear that there’s been a serious disconnect between His gift and our gratitude. When compared to God’s desire the Age of Grace has been a failure.
This is no more of a surprise to God than the outcome of His previous attempts. He doesn’t do things so He can see how we’ll respond. He already knows that. He does things so we can see how we’ll respond. Paul said every thing that was written in the past was written to teach us. (Romans 15:4) So far the lesson has been that no matter what God has done to draw us near, man is untrustworthy and rebellious, pushing God away and bringing judgment upon himself as a result.
NOW FOR THE KINGDOM
Before we go on, let’s remind ourselves that the Church will be in the New Jerusalem during the Millennium and not on Earth. The people on earth will be Israel and surviving Gentiles from the Great tribulation, all believers, who will populate the nations. Still being in their natural state, they’ll soon be joined by the children they will bear.
OK, so what about the Kingdom Age, will it be a failure too? A study of the Kingdom Age shows that at the beginning, life will be as close to heaven on earth as one could imagine. There will be peace on Earth and goodwill toward men, just like the angel promised to the shepherds on the night of the Lord’s birth (Luke 2:14). The creation, freed from the bondage of the curse, will be responding eagerly to mankind’s husbandry, with harvests so plentiful that it will be time for planting a new crop before they can finish bringing the old crop in (Amos 9:13). Perfect weather and overflowing bounty will make work a joy instead of a burdensome toil. Long life spans will return as sickness and disease again become rare occurrences (Isaiah 65:20).
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there” (Zech. 8:4-5).
This will be true throughout the world because the Lord will settle all disputes between the nations. They will not take up arms against each other, nor will they even train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:4).
Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree and no one will make them afraid (Micah 4:4).
The Bible only mentions one Temple in the Millennium. It will be in Israel and daily sacrifices will again be the norm, administered by the Levitical priesthood. The Millennial Temple will be quite different from the historical Temples. There will be no incense altar, no menorah, no ark of the covenant, and no wash basin. The veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies will be replaced by a wooden screen, and the entire interior will be covered in wood rather than gold, as in former temples.
Of the Levitical feasts, they will celebrate only Passover (no lamb), Unleavened Bread, and Tabernacles, with world wide representation only required for Tabernacles (Ezekiel 40-46). Although the Bible doesn’t say this, I imagine the rest of the world will utilize some form of the synagogue system of worship, first developed by Ezekiel during the Babylonian captivity and still in use today.
We’re only given glimpses of the beginning and end of the Kingdom Age, but because of the shocking difference in the two, we can surmise that after a period of time things start going downhill fast. The Lord’s administration will be just but inflexible. He’ll rule them with a rod of iron and His punishment for disobedience will be harsh and swift. For example, nations who refuse to participate in the annual Feast of Tabernacles will not receive any rainfall (Zech. 14:16-19).
But natural man has a sin nature and will eventually rebel against the Lord’s rule. Psalm 2 tells the story.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-6)
Once again created beings will presume to free themselves from the rule of their Creator. But the King ruling the Earth was put there by God Himself, and that makes Him the King of their kings. Then He’ll remind them of their position in the hierarchy.
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD : He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
In an event that was later modeled in the Biblical adoption ceremony (Galatians 4:4-7), the Father formally named His Son heir of His estate and bequeathed His inheritance to Him. All the nations are His, and He has the authority to rule them as He pleases. Man’s choice will be to obey or suffer the consequences. Obedience will be rewarded with blessing, but rebellion will bring destruction.
We’re neither told how many will be saved during the Millennium, nor what their destiny will be. What we are told is at the end of the 1000 year Kingdom Age Satan will be freed and will have no trouble recruiting a large army from among the nations for one last attempt to regain his lost empire. He’ll find a ready audience for his deception and his army will soon be as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. From all over the world they’ll come to surround God’s people and His Holy City. But in one sudden burst of flame from Heaven they’ll be devoured and Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev. 20:7-10). Once again, man rebels, God judges and another Age ends in failure.
Then the end will come, when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet” (Psalm 8:6).
Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
At that point, God’s response to Satan’s accusations will be complete, and His judgment will be final. Heaven and Earth will be purified. Eternity will begin, and God will reign supreme. Hallelujah! 02-28-15
ANIMAL SACRIFICE IN THE MILLENNIUM
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Every time I answer a question on animal sacrifices in the Millennium, I get more questions about them. If Jesus died once for all time, the righteous for the unrighteous, they ask, then are we sure that animal sacrifices will again be a part of the daily routine, as they were in the Old Testament? And if so, why? Let’s find out.
We’ll take the easy one first. The most prominent feature of Millennial Israel will be its Temple, so in our search for an answer, let’s begin there. The Temple will have an outer court and an inner court. Each has gates facing East, North and South. Inside each inner gate is a room for preparing animal sacrifices (Ezek. 40:38-39), which will clearly be the order of the day during the Kingdom Age. There will be sacrifices for the year, the month, the week, and the day, in addition to those for the three remaining Levitical Feasts, Passover (bulls and goats but no lamb), Unleavened Bread, and Tabernacles. These are all discussed in detail in Ezekiel 45:13 – 46:15.
So now we know that animals will be sacrificed regularly through out the Millennium. They’ll be called sin offerings, guilt offerings and burnt offerings, just like in Leviticus. What Ezekiel didn’t discuss is why they’ll still be necessary. For that we have to look other places.
IT’S THE LAW
First, a little review. The Old Testament sacrifices, though required, were only of benefit to those who understood their symbolic purpose. In Psalm 51:16-17 David wrote,
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Unless they were presented with the proper attitude, animal sacrifices were not pleasing to God. Men who offered sacrifices had to admit their fallen nature and believe that the animals they were offering symbolized a coming Redeemer who would one day restore them.
But over time the motive was forgotten and just the motions remained. In Isaiah 29:13 God said,
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
And in Isaiah 66:2-3 He explained just how repulsive the sacrifices are without contrition and faith, the only proper motives.
“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a man, and whoever offers a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense, like one who worships an idol.”
From these examples, it’s clear that Old Testament believers were required to offer sacrifices both as an admission of their sinfulness and of their belief that a Redeemer was coming to save them. While the Law of the Lord is perfect (Psalm 19:7) natural man cannot keep it.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by keeping the Law. Rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20)
The Law was given to teach us that we can’t meet its requirements and need a Savior to redeem us from its penalty. We can’t do it ourselves.
THEN COMES GRACE
The Age of Grace began at Pentecost and will end at the Rapture. This makes sense when you consider that in Ephesians 2:7 Paul said that through the Church God wants to demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace in the ages yet to come. To accomplish this, He made our relationship with Him different than anyone else’s before or after. In Ephesians 3:8-10 Paul said that he was chosen by God to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. This was a mystery in the past, but God’s intent was that now, through the church, His manifold wisdom would be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm. That means angels, both faithful and fallen, learn something of God’s wisdom by studying the Church.
So both the angels in Heaven and future generations of men on Earth will see in the Church the perfection of God’s love. In Ephes. 2:10 Paul called the Church God’s workmanship. The Greek word means to make something from something else. It’s used only twice in the New Testament and both times it describes the work of God as our Creator.
In our case, He took something worthless and made it into something priceless. He forgave all of our sins in advance, (Col. 2:13-15) making His pardon free for the asking (Matt. 7:7-8). When we ask, He begins from that moment on to see us as if we’re as righteous as He is, (2 Cor. 5:17,21) and guarantees our inheritance. (Ephes. 1:13-14) At the Rapture He’ll transform us to become in fact that which we already are is His sight. (1 Cor. 15:51-53) Then He’ll reward us with a portion of His inheritance (Gal. 4:7), and a seat with His Son in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephes. 1:20-21 & 2:6).
In the coming age, men on Earth will look up into the sky and see the New Jerusalem, home of the Church, in orbit nearby. It will be their source of light and though they’ll never be able to visit it, descriptions of its beauty and majesty will stagger their imaginations. All of creation will stand in awe of this display of the incomparable riches of God’s grace.
This is why the Church is God’s workmanship, not ours, and why the Bible is so clear on the fact that we can do nothing to earn or keep our salvation. In order to be the ultimate example of His grace, our salvation has to be 100% dependent on Him. Anything we do in an effort to help ourselves diminishes His workmanship. No other group in the history of man has deserved so little and been given so much, and that’s just the way He intended it.
SAVED BY FAITH, OBEDIENT TO THE LAW
But that all comes to a crashing halt at the Rapture, because the Church Age didn’t end the Age of Law. It just interrupted it. Even during Daniel’s 70th Week (the last 7 years of the Age of Law) it’s clear that life on Earth will be a lot more like it was in the Old Testament than it is in the New. For example, the Jews only need to build a Temple in order to conduct animal sacrifice. Their worship system requires it. Remember, in the middle of the 70th week the Abomination of Desolation will cause an end to the sacrifice and offering (Daniel 9:27). That means sacrifices will have begun again with the construction of the Temple, because they aren’t being done now.
In an earlier study, The Nature Of Post Church Salvation, I made the case that post Church believers, whether Jew or Gentile, will not enjoy the seal of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of their inheritance. Eternal Security is a blessing for the Church alone and ends with the end of the Age of Grace at the Rapture. Two passages from Revelation illustrate this.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev. 14:12)
Speaking of the perilous times after the introduction of the Mark of the Beast, the Lord had John say that both obedience and faith will be required of Tribulation believers, whereas the Church is saved by grace through faith alone.
“Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Rev. 16:15)