I have been asked a number of times by people who do not understand Torah, “Well if you think you can keep the law, then why aren’t you out there offering sacrifices?”
My first response is always, “There is no Temple. So, although Yeshua was the final sin sacrifice, there is no Temple at which to offer other offerings and such that were not for sin” (such as freewill offerings, thanksgiving offerings, peace offerings, etc.). However, once I was told, in response to this statement, “Well you don’t need the Temple, just a cornerstone and an altar. Then you can offer your sacrifices and/or offerings there, as long as it is built from stone and not brick.”
This kind of threw me for a loop. So, I had to look it up. Turns out, I was correct initially, that these things could only be offered at the Temple. However, before revealing what I discovered, let’s first look at a few times when things were NOT offered at the Temple.
Most people know of the first (mentioned) offering, that of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4 doesn’t really say much about it, but we DO know that Abel brought an offering from the flock, so that was an animal sacrifice. We also know from Genesis 8 that Noah built an altar and offered burnt offerings to YHWH. Abraham did likewise, and so did Jacob, and so on all down through Israel’s history. However, once the covenant was made at Sinai, there was a slight modification. I address the issue of “Torah before Sinai” in a different article here, but for now we’ll look at when the Torah was given through Moses at Sinai.
Deuteronomy 12 is where we can see the commandment being issued that offerings cannot be made just anywhere.
5“But you shall seek YHWH at the place which YHWH your Elohim will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. 6There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. 7There also you and your households shall eat before YHWH your Elohim, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which YHWH your Elohim has blessed you. 8“You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; 9for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which YHWH your Elohim is giving you. 10“When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which YHWH your Elohim is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, 11then it shall come about that the place in which YHWH your Elohim will choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to YHWH. 12“And you shall rejoice before YHWH your Elohim, you and your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. 13BE CAREFUL THAT YOU DO NOT OFFER YOUR BURNT OFFERINGS IN EVERY PLACE YOU SEE, 14but in the place which YHWH chooses in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you. 15However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of YHWH your Elohim which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. 16Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water. 17You are NOT allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. 18But you shall eat them before YHWH your Elohim in the place which YHWH your Elohim will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before YHWH your Elohim in all your undertakings. 19“Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land. 20“When YHWH your Elohim extends your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you desire to eat meat, then you may eat meat, whatever you desire. 21“If the place which YHWH your Elohim chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter of your herd and flock which YHWH your Elohim has given you, as I have commanded you; and you may eat within your gates whatever you desire. 22“Just as a gazelle or a deer is eaten, so you will eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. 23“Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. 24“You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. 25“You shall not eat it, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you, for you will be doing what is right in the sight of YHWH. 26“Only your holy things which you may have and your votive offerings, you shall take and go to the place which YHWH chooses. 27“And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of YHWH your Elohim; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of YHWH your Elohim, and you shall eat the flesh.” - Deuteronomy 12:5-27
I realize this is a really long section, so we’ll chop it into pieces. First, let me just point out that I bolded and underlined the verses that address what I’m talking about. If you read just those verses, you’ll see what I mean. YHWH said they were only allowed to offer their offerings and sacrifices “at the place where YHWH…chooses to make His name dwell.” That “place” is Jerusalem, at the Temple Mount. Notice also, verse 13, which VERY explicitly states that were are NOT to offer offerings in “every place” that we see. ONLY at the place where He chose to make His name dwell. Now, how do we know He chose Jerusalem as that “place”?
1 Kings 9:1-3, “1Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house [Temple] of YHWH, and the king’s house, and all that Solomon desired to do, 2that YHWH appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3YHWH said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have set apart this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”
There are also other verses which add to this, such as 2 Chronicles 6:6, 1 Chronicles 23:25, Ezra 6:12 and Nehemiah 1:9.
Next, let me mentioned two minor side-notes. The first is due to verse 13. In most translations it says, “every cultic place you see” with the word “cultic” in italics. That is because this word is not used. More than that, it is hardly implied by the rest of the sentence. It literally says (as any interlinear Tanakh will show) “every place you see.”
The second is regarding verses 15 and 22. Both of these seem almost like YHWH is telling them they may eat something unclean. However, it is NOT saying a person may eat of something unclean, it is saying the clean or unclean PERSON may eat of the meat. People became unclean all the time. Every time a woman menstruated or gave birth, any time someone touched a dead body (such as during war or even a funeral) they became unclean. This simply meant they were not allowed into the Temple until after they were cleansed. So again, it is not talking about unclean meat, it is talking about unclean people that were allowed to eat the meat.
We can even see evidence in the book of Joshua of a time when an altar built at a place other than the Tabernacle or Temple almost became a problem.
In Joshua 22 we find that the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh had begun constructing an altar on the east side of the Jordan. As a side note, these three groups were the first ones to inherit their land, as they took the land on the east of the Jordan, prior to the Israelites crossing the Jordan and coming into the greater area of Canaan, which they then began to conquer.
The rest of the Israelites took notice of this and so they sent Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (High Priest) along with the chief leaders from their tribes to meet these three groups and demand that they stop building the altar. They did this because they knew there was to no place to make offerings except at the Tabernacle (and after that the Temple). The Reubenites, Gadites and Manassites replied by saying (Joshua 22:26) that they did not build the altar to offer sacrifices and offerings on it. They inform their kinsmen that they built it as a memorial or a witness (verse 28) between them and the rest of Israel. They explain why in the chapter, but sum it up in the following paraphrased statement. “We built this altar to be a witness between your descendants and our descendants, so that yours won’t come over here and say to ours that since they are on the other side of the Jordan, that YHWH is not with them. If that were to happen, our descendants would lose faith.” Again, that’s a paraphrase, but it is essentially what they say. I strongly recommend reading the entire chapter for yourself.
So there you have it. Sacrifices are no longer made because there is no place to offer them. See also my article “The Millennial Kingdom” as I make brief mention of this. For further Scripture reading, check out Ezekiel 38-44, which shows the time during the Millennium when “David the Prince” makes sacrifices and offerings in the Temple. Now I do not believe it will literally be David, but rather “Mashiach ben David,” or Messiah son of David. These sacrifices are not meant to take away sin, and even the Jews believe sacrifices did not remove sin. Hosea prophesied in Hosea 14 that through the “bulls of our lips” (most translations read “fruit of our lips” but the literal word used is bull; this means 'the offering' or 'sacrifice') we may repent, and YHWH will be gracious and forgive us. However, sacrifices were still necessary, as they are to serve as a memorial.
Hebrews 10:3-4, “3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
The author of Hebrews knew how it was supposed to work. These sacrifices are to be a reminder, not an atonement. It was a physical lesson to teach the spiritual. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) so in order to get the picture, they had to kill animals. Imagine you yourself going out to slaughter an innocent little lamb every time you sinned. It would be tough, wouldn’t it? In that, they were to remind the people that if they sinned, something (or really, someone) would have to pay the price. Sin brings death. That is why (I believe and assert) sacrifices will continue throughout the Millennium, as there will still be people able to sin.
We know that Mary (Yeshua’s mother) offered the proper sacrifice after giving birth.
Luke 2:22-24, “22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to YHWH 23 (as it is written in the Law of YHWH, “every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to YHWH”), 24and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of YHWH, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
This particular law is given in Leviticus 12. We also see Paul being “purified” in the Temple with men completing a vow in Acts 21:15-26, and again he himself took a vow (and completed it by shaving his head) in Acts 18. So we see evidence that the Temple was still being used by the Apostles (Paul at the very least) even AFTER Yeshua had died and risen again.
Now I know at the beginning I mentioned Yeshua being the "final sin sacrifice." While I do believe that Yeshua is the final sin sacrifice, after conducting my study on this topic (as well as a general study on the sacrifices and offerings that I wrote as a separate article, available here), I came to understand things differently. Not that Yeshua isn't really the ultimate sin sacrifice, but whether or not sin offerings will need to continue in the Millennial Kingdom.
You see, in Hebrew, the word we usually translate as "sin offering" is חטאת (chatat). This describes the offering that is offered, as well as the sin itself. However, this study has led me to see that it is not offered only for sin, but rather or anything which causes separation. That is, anything that causes one to be separated from YHWH. The case of the Nazirite Vow is a good example. Once the vow is completed, the individual must shave his head and offer a chatat. Why? What sin has he committed? Another example is Leviticus 12, when a woman gives birth. After the child is born, she must offer a chatat. But how can bearing children really be a sin? Simply put, I do not believe it is. I believe it is offered in some cases where an individual has become separated from the Father. This is why "sin offering" is kind of a misnomer. It really should be "separation offering."
So while I wholeheartedly believe that only Yeshua's death can remove intentional sin permanently, the offerings that will take place during the Millennial reign will include the chatat, as most of mankind will still be allowed to not only sin, but also become "separated" from Elohim.
I pray this study has blessed you.
Be Berean. Shalom.