Subject: Ask the Rabbi Submission
ASK THE RABBI RESPONSE FROM WEBSITE Is this the "Stump the Rabbi" forum? Well I do have a question that bothers me. (Perhaps not new to you.) The prophet Ezekiel talks about a temple to be built. If this Temple is to be in the future, why does it mention daily blood sacrifices as offerings for cleansing of sin when Jesus has already been the sacrificial lamb for all sins for all time?
Thank you for your submission and question regarding the Third Temple and sacrificial offerings that appear in prophetic Biblical texts speaking of a future time. Your question is very common among believers, and even secular people also have interest in this subject.
The reason questions like this even exist is mostly due to the last 1900 years of Dispensational and Replacement theologies that permeate much of Christian doctrine. The answer requires a believer to think outside of the dispensational box and also think outside a 21st century individualistic mindset that is so pervasive today within American Christianity.
The answer also requires an open mind, a teachable heart and a willingness to study the Levitical Sacrificial System in greater detail to understand better what it is, and what it’s purpose was and will be in the future.
A short email answer from me cannot fully do it justice or completely satisfy your curiosity. In other words, for a satisfactory answer, I will make suggestions on some studies and books that you may want to consider on the subject. However, I will give you some “food for thought” that I hope may wet your appetite for more study on the subject. Ok? So here it goes…
The future Third Temple, and its rituals and sacrifices will serve the same purposes as both the Tabernacle of Moses in the Exodus, in Gilgal and later in Shiloh, and the Temple’s final resting place in the City of David on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. The key to reconciling the Sacrifice of the Messiah and those of the Levitical system is first understanding that everything in the Torah, including the Levitical sacrificial system… all of it points us to the Messiah and who He is.
Romans 10:4 For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. (CJB) (Greek for “goal” is “Telos” which means the goal rather than “end”, end of the law is like the “endzone” of a football field, therein is the “goal post” the goal is to get to the “endzone”. Therefore, the goal of the Torah/Law is to get everyone to the Messiah. This is what Paul is saying not that the Torah is “ended”.)
In other words, everything done in the Levitical system is all about the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and was designed to teach and point us all to Him, both Jew and non-Jew. The purpose of the Levitical system established before the Messiah came on earth points us to Him – and therefore, the Levitical system that will be reestablished will also point us all back to Him and what He has done. If you understand this principle, you will be able to digest the rest….
Most modern believers forget, discard or look over the fact that the Levitical System operated fully and completely AFTER THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS; for 40 years. The first disciples Never had a theology that did not include the Levitical system. Furthermore, they fully participated in the sacrificial system even after the death and resurrection of Jesus as good Jews always did. And the New Testament gives even more evidence that even the Priests (Cohanim) many, became believers in the Messiah, and yet they continued in their duties as Levitical priests daily making the required offerings.
Acts 6:7 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
7 The word of God kept on spreading, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem greatly multiplied; even a great number of the kohanim were becoming obedient to the faith.
One of the greatest examples of Messianic Jews participating in the Levitical sacrificial system “post-resurrection” of Messiah, is when Jacob (James), commands Shaul of Tarsus, to go and make a Nazarite vow, and also pay for the sacrifices of 4 other Jews, to show the world that the rumors of him teaching against the Law of Moses to Jews, was FALSE.
Acts 21: 18 On the next day, Paul went in with us to Jacob; all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he reported to them in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his service. 20 And when they heard, they began glorifying God.
They said, “You see, brother, how many myriads there are among the Jewish people who have believed—and they are all zealous for the Torah. 21 They have been told about you—that you teach all the Jewish people among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk according to the customs. 22 What’s to be done then? No doubt they will hear that you have come.
23 “So do what we tell you. We have four men who have a vow on themselves. 24 Take them, and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. That way, all will realize there is nothing to the things they have been told about you, but that you yourself walk in an orderly manner, keeping the Torah.
Most American Christians have no idea what “vow” Paul was commanded to take here in these verses, nor do they have much of a clue the detailed ritual that went into taking these vows or how financially costly it was for Paul to pay for himself and four others “out of his own pocket”; this was in order to fully establish without any doubt what the truth is regarding our theology towards the Law of Moses as “Messianic Jews”. To understand this I recommend you study the laws of the Nazarite Vow in Numbers Ch. 6.
Dr. David Stern give an excellent commentary on what was happening here with Shaul from a Jewish perspective:
Stern says: “The accusation against Sha'ul, then, was that he was a traitor to the Jewish people who taught Jews all over the Diaspora to cease functioning as Jews. Here are three points to refute the charges:
(1) Sha'ul himself did not violate the Torah but continued to keep it after coming to trust in Yeshua. He had Timothy circumcised (16:3). He kept numerous Jewish customs-taking a vow (18:18) observing festivals (20:16) paying for the vow-ending sacrifices of four men at the Temple (here in vs 23-27), evidently fasting on Yom-Kippur (27:9) He regularly attended synagogue services and was welcome to teach in them (17:2). As a Messianic Jew he remained a Pharisee (23:6), Thus he could say that he believed everything that accords with the Torah (24:14) that he had committed no offense against the Torah (25:8) and that he had a clear conscience in the sight of God and man (24:16) against his claims his accusers failed to make a case in court (26:31-32) At the end of his ministry he continued to assert exactly the opposite of what he is charged with here, saying, "I have done nothing against either our people or the traditions of our fathers" (28:17) more evidence at 13:9.
(2) Sha'ul's teaching not to circumcise (I Cor. 7:18, Ga. 5:2-6, 6:12-15) and not to observe Jewish laws and customs were never directed to Jews but invariably and only to Gentiles. Gentiles had to be reassured that they were saved and incorporated into the people of God by trusting God through the Messiah Yeshua, not by observing this or that set of Jewish practices or by converting to Judaism; for, although Judaism acknowledged that the righteous Gentile had a share in the world to come, there was in the first century a strong movement for Jewish proselytism (Matt. 23:15)
(3) Sha'ul did not need to instruct Diaspora Jews to observe the Law, for there was no shortage of rabbis and teachers to exhort them (Acts 15:21) Moreover, what in the Tanakh (O.T.) could be clearer than that Jews are expected to keep the Torah? The New Testament does not repeat truths already evident from the Tanakh; it assumes them. Sha'ul assumed them too.
It's important too to understand that Stern does not suggest Jews keep Torah to merit their “salvation”, that is legalism. Rather, Messianic Jews keep Torah as a “RESULT” of our Salvation. Israel was given the Sacrificial System and the Torah in order to be a light to the Gentiles, to teach the nations about Salvation. Everything in the Tabernacle is about Messiah and our Salvation. By living it and doing it, we are demonstrating to the world – THIS IS OUR GOD AND THIS IS HOW HE DEALS WITH SIN, AND HE EARNS OUR SALVATION. We (Messianic Jews) keep the Law as a result of our salvation, NOT AS A MEANS TO IT. We obey because we are saved already by Messiah’s work, and because this is the culture of our people that we remain a part of the nation of Israel as “Natural Branches”. (Ro. 11:21-24).
In summary, there are also many other examples in the New Testament of Messianic Jews participating in the Levitical system, such as
Acts 3:1 One afternoon at three o’clock, the hour of minchah prayers, as Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple…
Minchah was the “afternoon/evening sacrifice”, it always began at 3 p.m. in the Temple and the evening Tamid offering (see Leviticus 6) was offered. If the first Messianic Jews believed that Jesus did away with the sacrificial system it would make no sense for them to be going up to Temple at that hour and to participate in those prayers and sacrifices. Nor would it be appropriate for Paul of Tarsus to agree to obey Jacob and go and not only sacrifice his own offerings and shave his head and also pay for the offerings of four other Jews to perform the Nazarite vow – if he really believed that the Sacrifice of Jesus “did away” with the Levitical System! Furthermore, if he only did it to save face with the Jews in Jerusalem and the Messianic leadership (Jacob, Shimon Peter, & Yochanan John), as some teachers have suggested, then Paul is a “HYPOCRITE”, and everything he wrote (which is half of the New Testament), should be “THROWN OUT” because he says one thing (the law is done away with); yet his actions don’t line up with his words.
Of course this is not true. Paul is not a hypocrite, nor was he a traitor to the Jews, nor was he unfaithful to the Torah! His words have been misunderstood, misapplied, and the rumors that he taught against the Law back then are the same “rumors” that have continued to this day in the Church plagued by Dispensationalism and Replacement Theology.
The truth was, is and will be, that the Levitical system never took away sins in and of themselves. As it is written in
Hebrews 8:5 But what they are serving is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original; for when Moshe was about to erect the Tent, God warned him, “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.”
Moshe’s Tabernacle and the Levitical system itself is only a copy of, and a shadow of something that is more real that what is here on earth. Namely, the Heavenly Tabernacle that Yeshua entered by His Own Blood. As it is written:
Rev. 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
You see, God is not limited by time or space. Time and space is His Creation, but He transcends His Creation. Therefore, His Blood and Salvation was existing from BEFORE CREATION. The same blood that saved you and me, is the SAME BLOOD that saved Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And it was NOT blood of bulls and goats. Nor was it the purpose of bulls and goats to EVER TAKE AWAY SINS…
Hebrews 10:3 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
The purpose of blood of bulls and goats in the Levitical system was only a “picture lesson” they were always just “symbols” pointing us to the Real Blood that was already available from before the World was Created! The job of the Levitical system is to teach unbelievers about this Real Blood, and what God requires, that there must be a death for atonement.
And therein lies the mystery to understand the purposes of the future Third Temple that will eventually come. There will be unbelievers on the earth, and even during the Millennial Reign of Messiah, those sacrifices are just a picture of what Messiah has ALREADY DONE FOR US. The Book of Zechariah says any nation that refuses to observe Sukkot/Tabernacles will be punished at that time (i.e. during the Millennium). Zech. 14.
They still have much purpose and value, just as Yeshua taught us to pray: “ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN” What is in Heaven must be manifested here on the earth, which was why it was necessary for Yeshua to take on flesh and manifest what was already in Heaven, literally here on the earth when He was crucified. It was One single act, done for all time, but it accomplished atonement for all sins of the past, present and future (during the days of Adam to Abraham) as well as for ALL TIME.
There is actually much more to all this beyond just the Levitical System, even the structure of the Tabernacle itself has great significance of who the Messiah is and His Work! I highly recommend if you are locally in N.E. Ohio to register for my class coming up next year in 2019:
Instructor Name: Rabbi Eric David Lakatos Date_Jan. 27 - Apr 28, 2019
Course Name: THE MISHKAN/TABERNACLE (Its Structure, Sacred Vessels, Garments & Sacrifices) Semester & Year_Spring- 2019 @ BETHESDA COLLEGE – Akron Campus.
I can send you more details if you’re interested in the class. If you are not in our area or cannot take the class, there is a great book/study I recommend for you. “What About the Sacrifices”, by D. Thomas Lancaster. Published by First Fruits of Zion. FFOZ.org it is a fantastic resource and will greatly assist any believer to dig deeper into the purposes of the Levitical system and how it relates to the Brit Chadasha. New Covenant.
My answer may have caused more questions for you, as I said it was only to wet the appetite, and I suggest the class and/or the book resource mentioned.
Again, thank you for your submission, and may you draw closer to Him in your studies and be blessed.