Question: I've been reading a lot about eschatology lately and find that I have trouble relating a lot of what I read to scripture. For example, I am not sure about things that the current generation of prophecy teachers teach. Particularly, I have trouble with the idea of a pre-trib rapture, which I think is escapist and not really scriptural. I also have trouble believing that their will be memorial animal sacrifices in a rebuilt temple during the millennium. Why would a system abolished by Christ's once for all sacrifice be re-instituted? And sometimes I find myself more in agreement with amillennial interpreters. But after, on the suggestion of a friend, reading Nathaniel West's The Thousand Reign of Christ and chapters 60-66 in Isaiah many times, I am beginning to accept a pre-mil orientation. However, I am not sure how much of the dispensational model I believe to be correct. This perhaps doesn't matter as far as my calling of being an adult Sunday school teacher and not a pastor nor a professor at a seminary, but I feel that I need to know to make my understanding of many things fit.
Response: Glad to help in any way - and I think that it is very important for every Christian to know as much about the Bible, and, specifically, about the truths it teaches, as possible. I started out in a very strongly pre-mill rapture milieu and was later convinced otherwise by scripture (see Peter lesson #27 under "Tribulational Security". I think that you are absolutely right to make the Bible your standard (it is the only sure one). This, of course, applies to what the Bible has to say about the Millennium as well (especially Ezek.40-48). You are not the first to find the idea of resumed sacrifice "an oddity" at first blush, but it might be helpful to remember that Christ will be returning as King and Chief Priest of a restored Jewish state (in which, historically, animal sacrifice always played a role). These sacrifices are often explained as memorials of His work on the cross (in contrast to anticipatory vivid portrayals of His future death). For as Hebrews 10:18 tells us, following the reality of Christ's work in dying for us on the cross "there is no longer any sacrifice for sin". In other words, these millennial sacrifices would not be the means of atonement but instead they would be serving as a kind of group "communion" to teach and remind of what Jesus has done for us. Personally, I am happy with whatever God decides/decided - so we are back to diligently digging into whatever the Bible has to say on this as on all subjects. One last thing to keep in mind is that these memorial sacrifices will only take place during the Millennium - in the New Jerusalem, where we shall live with Him forever, there won't even be a temple (Rev.21:22).
There is a great deal written both on the topic of memorial millennial sacrifice and on the Millennium in general at the following link:
The Millennium and New Jerusalem
The Millennial Temple Rites
Animal Sacrifices at the Millennial Temple
Keep up the good work!
Yours in Jesus Christ,