“eat the most holy things: even the grain offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering.” In the Millennial Kingdom, the Temple and its practices will be restored. There will again be a physical Temple with Jesus as High Priest, and there will be other priests and Levites, and sacrifices and offerings.
The exact reason for the restoration of the Temple system and the sacrifices that go with it is never explained in the Bible, but the text is clear that it is restored (cp. Ezek. 43:18-27; 44:15, 27; 45:17-25; 46:2-24; ). But since Jesus is the one-time offering for sin for all time (Heb. 7:26-27; 9:11-14, 22-28; 10:11-14), it is unclear why the offerings for sin are restored. There will be “natural people” in the Millennial Kingdom, and they will sin and need to be forgiven, but that happens today without Levitical priests and physical sacrifices, so why would those physical sacrifices be reestablished?
Scholars have set forth some theories, such as the sacrifices might be memorial offerings, and that might be the case if the offerings are correctly understood. Until the death and resurrection of Christ, when the Temple and sacrificial system were superseded by the work of Christ, animal sacrifices prefigured the work of Christ and provided a temporary covering for sin. However, it is important to understand that the offerings and sacrifices were never sufficient in and of themselves to take away sin. The sacrifices had to be offered in sincerity of heart and with trust in God to be accepted. That sincerity and trust were represented by the salt of the covenant, which was offered along with every offering (Lev. 2:13), and which was a way of proclaiming, “What I am saying and doing is true and sincere.” In the same way, therefore, it could possibly be in the Millennium that the sacrifices and sin offerings will be a way of demonstrating one’s trust in God that Jesus’ sacrifice could and did take away sin (although salt will be used on at least some of the Millennial sacrifices as well; Ezek. 43:24).
Another possible reason that God is going to restore the system of sacrifices and offerings is that it was the primary way that the priests and Levites had always lived and eaten. As we see in Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 44:29-31, the priests will eat of the offerings and sacrifices just as they had always done since the Mosaic Law had established the priestly system. So it seems that if God is going to reestablish the Temple, priests, and Levites, which the Bible says He is going to do, then He must either change the way the priests and Levites will be sustained and fed, or reestablish the system of offerings and sacrifices as it had always been. Verses such as Ezekiel 42:13 show us that God is going to reestablish the sacrificial system and that the priests will at least in part live off that system just as they have always done. Thus, the Bible lets us know that one function of the sacrificial system in the Millennial Kingdom will be to sustain the priests and Levites. The priests eating meat in the Millennial Kingdom will not be unusual. People will eat meat in the Millennial Kingdom (Isa. 25:6).
The fact is, however, that although we know that the priests and Levites will be at least sustained in part by the sacrificial system, that does not tell us why God reestablished it in the first place. We know that God says in a number of places, not just in Ezekiel, that there will be a physical Temple in the Millennial Kingdom and Jesus will be the High Priest (cp. Isa. 56:7; Zech. 6:12-15; Ps. 110:4), but since there is no Temple now and people are forgiven and saved, why reestablish the Temple system? The Bible does not tell us, so we can offer logical possibilities, but we do not know for sure.
[For more information about salt being offered with the sacrifices, see commentary on Lev. 2:13. For more information on the sacrifices of wicked people being of no value, see commentary on Amos 5:22. For more information about the natural people being in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Matt. 25:32, which is about the “Sheep and Goat Judgment”].