Animal sacrifices during the Millenium
The laws God gave to Israel through Moses included a requirement that they sacrifice animals as an atonement for their sins. These sacrifices didn’t actually take away sins but only served as a picture of what Christ would do when he died for sin. Hebrews 10:11-14 says,
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Now that Christ has come these sacrifices are no longer needed.
The last part of Ezekiel, from chapter 40 through the end, describes what life will be like in the Millenium. The land will be divided among the twelve tribes. A new temple will be built. And animals will once again be sacrificed in accordance with the Mosaic law. But if Christ has paid for sins what will be the purpose of these sacrifices?
Before his crucifixion Jesus established a new practice which was to take the place of the sacrifices.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
But there was to be a limit on how long this practice would be in effect. The next verse says,
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
After his return animal sacrifices will apparently be resumed to serve as a reminder of what he did. The purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices was to show what Christ was going to do; the purpose of the Millennial sacrifices will be to remind them of what he has done. The present age, in which the sacrifices aren’t offered at all, separates the two.
There is another possible reason for the resumption of animal sacrifices. The Bible’s descriptions of life in the millenium show that death will be extremely rare. It may be possible for those born during this time to go through their whole lives without any personal contact with death. But the salvation message will be the same, that Christ died for our sins. In this age we don’t have any problem understanding this because we see death all around us and know what happens when someone dies. But those who lack our personal knowledge of death will probably find it harder to understand the message. Perhaps one of the purposes of animal sacrifices will be to show them what death is like so they can understand better what Christ did.