Worship During the Millennium


Dr. John Hoole – December 22, 2014




Over the past several weeks, we have investigated what the Bible teaches about the coming reign of Christ for 1,000 years.  We have searched out and discussed a number of related topics.


         •  Christ’s coming followed by setting up His reign on earth.

         •  Who are the inhabitants of earth during this time.

         •  Massive physical changes to the topography of the earth.

         •  Partial reversal of the curse in Genesis 3.

         •  Huge changes in the nature of animals

         •  The establishment by Christ of a new Temple in Jerusalem.


One thing we have only touched on briefly is the worship that will take place during the Millennium.  With Christ physically present on earth, He will dictate how worship will be observed.


A number of Old Testament prophets have documented what worship will be like in the reign of Christ.  Jesus will establish the worship as described in Ezekiel 40 – 48.  Believers from around the world will come to worship Christ directly and to bring him gifts.


Isaiah 60:2-4 NKJV


2          For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.

3          The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.

4          "Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you;


Certainly, those who have already been resurrected and come back from Heaven with Christ, and have been given positions of authority, will have an important part in all this.  You and I will certainly extol the greatness of our Lord wherever on earth we may be.


Psalms 145:10-13 NKJV


10        All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, And Your saints shall bless You.

11        They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power,

12        To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.

13        Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.


I believe the majority of Earth’s inhabitants will follow Christ, at least during most of the Millennium.


Isaiah 11:9 NKJV


9          They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.


                   A great percentage of the family on earth will cultivate Christianity within their families.


There are a number of questions we may have about the reign of Christ that remain unanswered.  For instance, will Christ ever leave the area of Jerusalem?  Would He ever visit various nations of the earth during His reign?  Perhaps the answer to that question is that He will never again allow non-Christians into His presence.  And, therefore, non-Christians would never see His face.  This might rule out such visits to the nations around the earth.


One very important concept not addressed is aside from worship services in every Gentile nation, how will individual mortal believers experience Christ?  In other words, will belief in Christ during the Millennium be different than during the church age.


I think it is safe to say that worship during the Millennium will center in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Much of the detail the Bible gives concerning worship during the Millennium, are mostly details of what happens at the Millennial Temple.


Let’s look at some of the details concerning worship during the reign of Christ.


The Priesthood


Let’s talk about the priesthood during the Millennial reign of Christ.  Some significant changes will occur from what we know from the Old Testament priestly practices.  It is interesting that God chose Ezekiel to write the prophecy concerning the priests.  Like the prophet Zechariah, Ezekiel is a priest.


This raises a couple of questions.  Who will be the priests.  From our Old Testament knowledge, we know that the priests will be from the tribe of Levi.  Since the priesthood was destroyed in A.D. 70, from where will the priests come who will lead in worship and offer sacrifices.  Even though Jewish people today do not know what tribe they belong to, God does.  He will identify who the true priests are.  Today it is believed that men with the last name of Levy are probably Levites.  And Jews with the last name of Cohen or Cone are also descendants from Aaron.  In Hebrew, “Kohane” means “priest.”


But as we look closer within Ezekiel – at chapters 40 – 48 – we get additional information as it relates the coming reign of Christ.  Unlike Old Testament times, the Tribe of Levi is given a parcel of land for their own.  But not all in the lineage of Levi will be allowed to perform functions in the Temple.  The priesthood will be restricted to a particular branch of the line of Aaron.


Ezekiel 40:46 NKJV


46     The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the Lord to minister to Him."


                   Only those in the line of Zadok will be allowed these duties.


Ezekiel 43:19 NKJV


19     You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,' says the Lord God.


                   Only those in the priestly family of Zadok will be assigned to be priests in the millennial temple.




Certainly Zadok was a Levite, but his family is a very small part of the entire lineage of Levi.  What would cause God to narrow those who minister before Christ to be from one family?


Notice what 1 Samuel 2:34-35  (NIV) says, concerning the sons of Eli, who desecrated the altar of the Lord and prostituting their priestly duties.


34     And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you-they will both die on the same day.

35     I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.


In these verses, God tells Eli He is going to personally select a specific priestly house to minister during the Millennium.


During the later years of his reign as king, David’s greatest political threats most often came from within his own family.  First, David’s son Absalom attempted a coup, forcing David to flee Jerusalem.


Upon seeing the legitimate king leaving the city, a pair of priests, Zadok and Abiathar attempted to accompany David with the Ark of the Covenant.  In effect, what they were doing was making David himself the political and religious capital.


David, after seeing what they were doing, instructed them to return the Ark to Jerusalem.  David placed his own life in the Lord’s hand, saying, “If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place, but if He says thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.” (2 Samuel 15:25-26).


After Absalom’s rebellion failed, David returned to Jerusalem.  But the lust for power among David’s other sons did not end with the death of Absalom.  Another son, Adonijah (the son of Haggith, one of David’s wives) attempted to usurp the throne.  This time, some of those that previously had remained loyal to David turned on him.  Zadok, however, remained loyal to the rightful royal line.  Because of Zadok’s unwavering faithfulness to King David, his descendants will have the privilege to minister before the Lord during his reign on earth.


This was followed by David calling Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and the military leader Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada (1 King 1:32).  King  David told Zadok and Nathan to hasten to anoint Solomon to be King.


For his faithfulness, Zadok receives a promise from the Lord.


Ezekiel 44:15-16 NIV


15     But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign LORD.

16     They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service.


Zadok had been faithful in his priestly duties, even when other desecrated the temple.  During the millennium, Christ will reward him and his line.  Here is a short lineage chart for Zadok.


There is a point, I believe, in what we read here that is important for us in the 21st century.  A spiritual principle is given to us in God’s dealings with Zadok.  God is saying that in the millennial reign, and I believe saying to us today, “Them that honor me, I will honor.”  You know the parable of the talents given by Christ.


Matthew 25:23 NKJV


23     His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'


How do you and I fare?  Just how faithful have we been in that to which our Lord has called us?


Sacrifices during the Millennium


Let me say before we enter the arena of sacrifices during the millennium, that I do not stand here and think that I have all the answer.  But I am giving to you today what I believe the Word of God teaches with regard to this part of worship.


One of the most controversial topics with regard to the millennial temple, is the subject of sacrifices.  Some see this as a symbolic rather than real sacrifices.  However, there is nothing in the context of the passages which speak of millennial sacrifices telling us that such sacrifices will not occur at this temple.


The blueprints of this temple, given in Ezekiel 40 – 43 is designed to facilitate animal sacrifices.  An altar for sacrifices is part of the plans.


There are a couple of changes in the Altar of Sacrifice during the millennium.  The Old Testament altar was approached from the south, using an inclined ramp.  The Millennial altar, however, will be approached from the east using steps.


Ezekiel is not the only prophet who spoke of sacrifices during the Millennium.  And some of the prophets speak of gentiles making a trip to Israel and offer sacrifices.


Isaiah 56 is a Messianic chapter: Isaiah 56:6-7 (NKJV) reads:


6          Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants —  Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant — 

7          Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations."


The prophet Jeremiah also speaks of millennial sacrifices.


Jeremiah 33:17-18 NKJV


17        For thus says the Lord: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;

18        nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.'


And then there is Zechariah 14:16, where we read of the requirement for all nations to send representatives to Jerusalem for the annual Feast of Tabernacles.  These are but a few of the references speaking of sacrifices during the reign of Christ.


The idea of sacrifices in the millennial seems unnecessary for some Christians.  The argument is that Christ abolished the Old Testament sacrificial system when He, the perfect and ultimate sacrifice, was offered for the sins of the world.


We know, from Hebrews 9:26-28, that sacrifices during the millennium will not be for the purpose of forgiveness of sins.


Hebrews 9:26-28 NKJV


26     He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

27     And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

28     so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.


According to this passage, Christ was sacrificed once for all to take away all sins, and will appear a second time, but not to bear our sins.  He did that once for all when He was here on the earth the first time.


We need to keep in mind that the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament never provided forgiveness of sin.


Hebrews 10:4 NIV


4.      Because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.


Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from our sins.  Sacrifices in the Old Testament was not for the purpose of dealing completely with sin.


Most of the curse that was given by God in Genesis 3, will be reversed, that is, the extension of life, good health, freedom from the influence of Satan, no war, no crime, etc.  Those born to the surviving Tribulation Saints will not have the understanding of the wicked nature and consequences of sin that is so clear to those presently living under the curse of sin.


The killing of animals and the shedding of blood, may be used of God as a vivid illustration of how vial the sin of humanity is and how much those born during the Millennium need a Savior, Jesus Christ.


There is a precedence for this understanding when we consider the sacrificial system of the Old Testament.  Never did these animal sacrifices take away the sins of the Old Testament saints.  The sacrifices at best provided a covering until Christ removed all sin with His death on the Cross.


This might best be illustrated by a person sweeping a floor with a broom.  As he completes his job he has accumulated a pile of dirt and has to make a decision as to what to do with it.  He finds he has no way of disposing of it at the moment, and makes a decision as to what to do with it, and so his only option is to raise the rug and sweep the dirt under it.


By doing so he temporarily covers the offending dirt until a way can be found to remove it.  In the meantime, he buys a vacuum cleaner.  Now instead of covering the dirt under the rug, he now is able to remove it completely from the room.


So it was under the Old Testament sacrificial system.  Sin was hid under the covering of animal sacrifices but it was never removed.  It stayed there until something better came along.  When Christ came, he was able to take all of these sins and remove them forever.


Hebrews 10:11-14 NKJV


11     And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12     But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

13     from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

14     For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.


The sacrificial system of the past had a second purpose.  It was to serve as a vivid teaching tool.  Man had to learn that sacrifices and law keeping could never purchase him a place in heaven.  This had to be a work of God and God only.  David understood this when he write Psalm 65.


Psalms 65:1-3 NKJV


1.      You, O God, in Zion; And to You the vow shall be performed.

2       O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.

3       Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.


It is clear that David understood that the sacrificial system of the Old Testament saints did not provide a complete atonement for his sins and that of all Old Testament people.


Well, since sacrifices during the millennium are not for sins, what is their purpose.  Since Jesus has fulfilled all the Old Testament sacrifices in Himself, why would God reinstate them in the future temple worship?


Today, we have two ordinance which we observe.


                   1.      Water Baptism.

                   2.      The Lord’s Supper (communion).


The observance of neither of these is for the remission of sins, but are a memorial, where we look back at what Christ has done for us.  The observance of each of these were commanded by Christ. It seems that these future sacrifices, like the Lord’s Supper today will be memorials of what Jesus did.  They will teach the Jews the meaning of their ancient religion in light of the Cross.


The Lord’s Supper is an illustration.  The contents of the cup represent His spilled blood, and the broken bread represents His tortured and bruised body.  Remember, the Lord’s Supper is only for the Church age.  1 Corinthians 11:26 tells us we will observe the Lord’s Supper until He comes back.  After His 2nd Coming, we will no long observe this ordinance.


It appears that the reinstitution of sacrifices during the Millennium will be used to teach those born into the Millennium of their need of the saving work of Jesus Christ.  They will need to learn that though they have been born into a near-perfect environment, they still have a fallen nature that will cause them to sin and place them on the road to eternal punishment.  They must turn to Christ for salvation if they are to inherit eternal life.


The sacrifices of animals during the millennium also will not be for forgiveness of sins, but a memorial, looking back and remembering what Christ did in dying for us.  God had originally designed sacrifices to look forward to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  During the millennium, it will look back to the cross.


During the millennium, a person’s salvation is in Christ’s finished work of atonement, just as it is today.  The majority of people will be saved, and a knowledge of and interest in the things of God will be “normal.”


People will worship out of sincere hearts as a daily experience.  Because Christ the King will rule out of Jerusalem, and because memorial sacrifices will be made in the Temple at Jerusalem, the natural desire will be to go there frequently for special occasions of worship.


Feasts during the Millennium


Some of the feasts that have been held by Jews in both the Old and New Testaments will again be celebrated during the Millennial reign of Christ.  We have spent some time in past lessons discovering the details in Ezekiel 40 – 48, that are given with regard to the Millennial Temple.  Those same chapters not only give great details of what the Temple will look like as well as it size.  But they also detail for us some of the worship that will go on during the reign of Christ.


Major annual feast days, like Passover and Tabernacles, will be observed.  Others, like Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year), and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) are not mentioned.at all.  While most of our study today will focus on the Feast of Tabernacles, let me make just a few comments about observance of Passover at that time.


The Passover, according the Leviticus 23, was to be celebrated on 14th day of the month of Nissan.  Nissan occurs in the spring and in 2013 began on 25th of March on our calendar.  In 2014, the celebration will begin on April 14th.


My brief comments about Passover has to do with what God told Moses when this feast day was initiated.  The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and God had called Moses to lead them out of bondage and to take them to a land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They were instructed to choose a lamb without blemish and sacrifice it.  They were to take some of the blood from the lamb and put it on the doorposts and lintels of their doors.


Exodus 12:13-14 NASU


13     The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14     Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.


This was to be a permanent ordinance for the Jews.  God wanted them to remember His deliverance and protection.  It is to be observed forever.


Feast of Tabernacles


We are given more details about the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium.  That is, more Old Testament prophets speak of it.  Whereas the Feast of Passover is the first of the 7 annual feast, the Feast of Tabernacles is the last, occurring in the 7th month of Tishrei.  In 2013, it began on September 18 – in 2014, it will begin on October 8.


The feast of Tabernacles commemorates the Exodus and the days and years in the wilderness.  According to natural laws, the Israelites should have perished, but were instead divinely protected by God.  It represents a temporary dwelling place.  It also speaks of God’s presence and protection of them in their wilderness journey.


The Hebrew word for tabernacle is sukkah.  It means “ a booth, a hut, a covering, or a tent.”  The Feast of Tabernacles is also called “Festival of Booths.”  The plural of the Hebrew, sukkah, is sukkot, and is the Hebrew word for this festival.  And, since this feast occurs at the end of the harvest time, it is also called “The Feast of Ingathering.”


Exodus 23:16 (NKJV) speaks of the three feast in the Fall, and with reference to this feast, says:


16     and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.


God specifically commands the people to rejoice during this feast.


Deuteronomy 16:13-15 NKJV


13     You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress.

14     And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.

15     Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.


Prophetically, the Feast of Tabernacles is the festival that teaches on the Messianic Kingdom and the joy of that Kingdom.  God, through Moses, said the booths or tents the Israelites lived in during their wilderness wandering, were temporary – not permanent – but one day they would settle the Promised Land.  They would one day live there permanently.  And, when that happens, God would “tabernacle” permanently with them.


Some changes of this feast do occur during the reign of Christ.  First, whereas in the Old Testament all males were required to travel to Jerusalem three times each year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, it appears that the Feast of Tabernacles is the only one with that requirement in the Millennium.


Second, the observance of this Holy Day was to be observed by both Jew and Gentile during the reign of Christ.  To see more of the details, we move to the Book of Zechariah.


Zechariah 14:9 NKJV


9       And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be —  "The Lord is one,"  And His name one.


The dominant theme of Zechariah 14 is the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  His return will be sudden, unexpected, visible, personal, powerful, glorious and triumphant.  When His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, it will split apart (Zech. 14:4) seriously altering the topography of Jerusalem and the surrounding area.  As Christ sets up His kingdom, peace will settle on the earth.


In the Kingdom of Christ, mortal Gentiles must keep the Feast of Tabernacles.


Zechariah 14:16 NKJV


16     And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.


Gentile nations must send representatives on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the world’s capital, once each year to “worship the King.”  They will worship Jesus Christ, the Lord of Hosts and King, whose throne is in the temple in Jerusalem.  The phrase, Lord of Hosts, is used to describe an all-powerful God who will accomplish what He decrees.  Although no nation will maintain an army during the Millennial Kingdom, each nation will, however, still maintain its identity.


Isaiah 2:4 NKJV


4       He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.


Again, nations that exist during the Millennium will be required to send representatives to Jerusalem to worship the Lord at the Feast of Tabernacles.


Zechariah 14:17-19 NKJV


17     And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.

18     If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

19     This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.


Nations that do not send representatives to Jerusalem will pay dearly for their disobedience.  Lack of rain will bring will bring great hardship.  The entire world will know that the country has disobeyed the Lord.


Why Egypt is specifically mentioned is not stated.  Egypt is not dependent on abundant rain to water its crops because it draws water from the Nile River.  Maybe Egypt might think it would escape judgment.  God has another judgment in store for nations like Egypt – “it shall receive the plague.”


As already mentioned, the Hebrew word for tabernacle is sukkah meaning “ a booth, a hut, a covering, or a tent.”  The plural of Sukkah is Sukkot and is the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Greek equivalent is Skene, which also means “a tent, hut, or habitation.”


Understanding the meaning of Booths or Tabernacles


1.  Jesus “tabernacle” among us.


         We see the Greek word, Skene, used in John 1:14.


14     And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


2.  Peter spoke about his body being a tabernacle (2 Peter 13-14).


Jesus dwelt among us temporarily in a temporary body.  One day He will “tabernacle” with us permanently.


3.  The apostle Paul told us that our earthly bodies were earthly houses or tabernacles (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)..


4.  The tabernacle of Moses was a tent of habitation (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 9:L2-8).


5.  The Bible speaks of a heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2; Revelation 13:6;.


                   This heavenly tabernacle will come to earth (Revelation 21:1-3).


6.  Jesus was the true tabernacle of God.


Hebrews 9:11 NKJV


11     But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.


Spiritually, a tabernacle is supposed to remind us that we are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  This for us is only a temporary place of residence (1 Peter 2:11).


As said earlier, the Feast of Tabernacles is called the Feast of Ingathering.  Jesus told us that the harvest represents the end of the age.  The harvest refers more specifically to people who choose Messiah into their hearts and lives.  One day, possibly very soon, we will be called home.  We will be gathered to forever be with our Lord.  For the Church, we wait for the Rapture.  For others, at His coming, Christ will send out angels to gather all the saints.


Matthew 24:31 NKJV


31     And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.