Author: Ron Graham


Back to Shadows
—Mosaic temple worship in the Millennium?

Premillennialists say that in the Millennium the law of Moses will be instituted again and the Mosaic system of temple sacrifices and festivals will be the basis of worldwide religion.

There's a fundamental idea in the New Testament particularly in the letter to the Hebrews. The idea is this:  under the law of Moses, the tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifices, and festivals, were "shadows of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:16-17). What was foreshadowed by the things of Moses has all now been realised in the things of Christ. The real things have replaced the shadows.

This New Testament doctrine raises the obvious question: why return to the shadows for a thousand years?

1 Back to the Old Covenant?

Which is the better covenant? The old or the new? It is of course the new. Jesus is now the "mediator of a better covenant enacted on better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). The Mosaic covenant was but a shadow of this new and better covenant (Hebrews 10:1-2). Why then teach that we are going back to the old obsolete and inferior covenant? However it may be modified, it cannot improve, nor even come close to, the new covenant that superceded it. Hebrews chapter 9 is an excellent lesson on this.

The Hebrew writer says, "When he said, 'a new covenant', he has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." (Hebrews 8:13, Jeremiah 31:31-32). The Hebrew writer points out that, even as far back as the days of Jeremiah, the Mosaic covenant was becoming obsolete and was ready to disappear. Yet premillennialists tell us that it is coming back in the new world of the millennium.

When Christ died on the cross, that old covenant did disappear, in the sense that it was no longer recognised by God. God "nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14). Of course it was not literally nailed to the cross. Christ’s body was nailed to the cross, and the old covenant was "abolished in his flesh" (Ephesians 2:15). Figuratively speaking it was nailed with him to the cross. Why would Christ bring back into force something that he abolished by his sacrifice on the cross?

2 Back to the Old Tabernacle?

Which is the better tabernacle? The earthly or the heavenly? It is of course the heavenly. Why then teach that the earthly physical, mere copy is going to be rebuilt and that Jesus is going to leave the true, spiritual tabernacle in heaven and enter instead the old earthly temple?

Christ is now in heaven in the true tabernacle which is a more perfect and greater tabernacle. The earthly tabernacle and temple, beautiful as they were, are inferior.

Shall Christ leave the perfect temple in heaven for a mere shadow of it on earth? No, and where we read in the prophets about the physical temple we understand it symbolises the spiritual.

3 Back to the Old Priesthood?

Which is the better priesthood? The Levitical earthly priesthood or the more excellent spiritual priesthood of Christ? It is undoubtedly the spiritual priesthood. Why then teach that the earthly Levitical priesthood will be reverted to?

The Hebrew writer holds that the earthly priesthood, like the earthly tabernacle, was a copy and shadow of heavenly things. Christ has obtained "a more excellent ministry" than the earthly priesthood (Hebrews 7:22-28, Hebrews 8:1-6).

4 Back to the Old Feasts and Sacrifices?

Which is the better feast? The feasts and celebrations of the old covenant or the simple memorial supper which Jesus instituted at the Passover just before he died on the cross? (Luke 22:14-20). It is surely the Lord’s Supper. Why then believe that the old feasts will come back again?

Which is the better sacrifice? The animal sacrifices of old or the death of Christ on the cross which the Lord’s Supper commemorates? There is no question that Christ’s death is the perfect sacrifice, once and for all. What is the purpose, therefore, in bringing back the slaughter and bloodshed of animals? Animal sacrifices could never take away sins, but the blood of Jesus enabled sins to be taken away once and for all (Hebrews 10:9-18).