The Cessation of Hebrew Daily Sacrifices
“Do you know when the offering of sacrifices was stopped? Did it stop when they were taken captive by Assyria, by Persia, when Jesus became our sacrifice on the cross or at some other time?” -from H.T.
A very good question! There are two aspects to the answer: first, when did sacrifices physically stop taking place; and second, when were physical Old Covenant sacrifices no longer required by God?
As background to the first aspect, let’s analyze popular teaching on this subject. Dispensationalist author, Milton B. Lundberg, in his book, “The Jew and Modern Israel” states, “Ask an intelligent Jew, “Why do not you Jews sacrifice the Passover today in the manner prescribed by Moses?” and usually he will reply, “Because the holy place [Beit haMikdash] is in the hands of the heathen.” (p.17) This argument may have sounded reasonable when Lundberg wrote it in 1930, but today Jerusalem has long been in the hands of the Jewish people without any sacrifices taking place.
Going back into history, sacrificial worship continued in exile lands during the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. For example, in Elephantine, Egypt a Judean temple existed dating from pre-Persian times (estimated date of 588 BC). Flinders Petrie, in his book, “Israel and Egypt,” page108, tells of his excavations at Tell el-Yehudiveh, Egypt (“Judah’s Hillock-Ruin”). He says that the Hebrew temple of Onias found there was “as close a copy as could be arranged of the Temple-Hill at Jerusalem, only on a smaller scale.” This temple was in existence for centuries in Egypt. Another Hebrew temple modeled after the temple of Jerusalem was constructed in southern Spain by Hebrew exiles shortly after the conquest by Nebuchadnezzar. Archaeologists have verified that sacrifices continued there until its destruction by the Romans in the third century, B.C. The video film, “The Heritage of Eber,” available at www.migrations.info tells the story of Israelite sea migrations with pictures of the area of the former Israelite temple in Spain.
The Roman conquest of Judea and destruction of the temple of Jerusalem ended sacrifices at that temple in 70 A.D. However, according to Professor W.A. Curtis in The Expositor Magazine, some early Egyptian Christians also offered sacrifices for an unknown time-period in the first century before that too ended.
It is also important to look at the sacrificial command, and its ceasing in God’s plan. Author Lundberg holds to the false assumption that Jerusalem was the only appointed place for worship and sacrifice, and that such worship anywhere else was a sin. Actually, there was NO central sanctuary specified in the Pentateuch. (Exodus 20:24)
Some Israelites had a place of worship at their own home. We see this in Micah’s family shrine in Judges 7, Gideon’s in his father’s house in Judges 6:24, Samuel’s altar at Ramah (1 Sam. 7:17), and Manoah’s on a rock in his field (Judges chapter 13). There was NO concentration of worship and sacrifice in Jerusalem until the time of Josiah, about 34 years before Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest. Until then, there were at least 10 holy sites outside Israel and 96 more in Israel outside Jerusalem, including Hebron, Dan, Shechem, Gerizim, Bethel, and Beersheba. Some scholars suggest that there was a central sanctuary in each tribe. The sanctuary of Dan, for example, was established by Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses. (Judg. 18:30)
The Old Covenant physical sacrifices were types and shadows of Christ’s sacrifice for sin. Yet we read that, “The law and the prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16), not until the Crucifixion. This is because Christ was sealed unto his work of redemption at the time of His Baptism by John the Baptist, and sacrifices were then replaced by faith in the Son of God. (This was in 29 AD, in the midst of the 70th week of Daniel, and half of a prophetic week before Christ’s sacrifice in 33 A.D. See the article, “The Seventy Weeks Of Daniel” at www.israelite.ca or write to CBIA-The Servant People for a copy of this printed tract.)