Sacrifice & Oblation in Prophecy
What is Sacrifice & Oblation?
A sacrifice is an act of offering something precious to one's deity, especially when presented on the altar of one's temple. Oblation has similar meaning, but in a religious sense, to oblate carries the added meaning of emptying oneself, as in confession, so as to create a space that The Creator will then fill with its spirit, its inspiration.
In ancient times, the Israelites were instructed to bring animals to sacrifice. Not just any animals, but the best of what they possessed. When food was involved in sacrifice, they also had to bring the best. This concept of "the best" of all one receives is called the firstfruits. So they would bring the best from among their food and livestock to offer as sacrifices in the temple. Since they depended upon these for their survival, they were indeed precious gifts. When using the historical reference to determine the meaning of sacrifice and oblation to our time, one should not get hung up on the image of animal sacrifices but remember the underlying concept of bringing the best and most precious to the altar.
In modern times, money has come to be accepted as an expression of the firstfruits of our labor. All over the world, in all kinds of temples, people come to oblate themselves and offer some kind of sacrifice on the altar of their choice. In the present, as in the past, the degree to which one receives depends upon how heartfelt the sacrifice and oblation.
Sacrifice & One's relationship with The Creator
The practice of sacrifice and oblation enhances and develops one's relationship with God and the world, for all of spirituality is about a relationship with The Creator and the creation. We are not the Source, but through free will we direct the power that flows through us. The joy of living comes when we use that power to create expression of our inner desires. The matching of our talents to the needs of the world is an expression of that relationship with The Creator.
Consider the following aspects of the acts of sacrifice and oblation that lead to an understanding of this relationship:
The teaching of the ritual of sacrifice is that there is a continual flow between The Creator and the creation. Our life, vitality and joy lie in keeping that flow wide open. When we hang onto grudges and offenses, instead of confessing and letting them go, they only become stones that weigh us down and impede the flow of the river of life, the spiritual force that powers us.
Biblical Prophecy says Sacrifice & Oblation will be stopped.
How might this happen?
How has this occurred in the past?
Joel describes a time when locusts ravage and destroy the entire harvest. Because there is no crop, there are no firstfruits to bring before the Lord and also no oil (made from grain) to light the lamp in the temple. Due to this economic disaster the sacrifice and offering cease in the temple because the people have nothing to bring. Joel also compares the conditions of his time to the day of the Lord, which means it has application to that time.
Daniel describes the Babylonian captivity in chapter 3, a time when the Israelites owned nothing nor had a temple. There was no way for them to offer sacrifice and oblation in the traditional way, but Daniel asked that their contrite heart, humble spirit and obedience be received. Daniel is the prophet who describes the sacrifice and offering being made to cease in the end time. This is the one place in his book where he gives an example of how that might happen. It was a time in which the Israelites were placed in subjugation and faced having to worship a system they did not believe in. Babylon is also an important image of the end time, one that represents false or misleading spirituality.
Antiochus IV, Epiphanes was a type of the Antichrist to come. He was prophesied by Daniel and fulfillment came at the end of the Greek rule of the land of Palestine, where Israel had been a nation. He caused the sacrifice and offering to cease by outlawing Judaism and mandating his own belief. He defiled the sanctuary by placing an idol to one of his gods upon the altar. This is a model or type of what the Antichrist will do in the end times.
A perspective of these images with a glimpse ahead:
Hitler was a tyrant who almost became world dictator. He rose to power on the heals on economic ruin. I believe that the only way we would ever see a world dictator come on the scene would be if the current world economic system collapsed. This is one way in which everyone would not be able to offer sacrifice and oblation at the same time. No one would have anything to bring to the temple. This is the aspect of prophecy to which Joel seems to be referring.
If world economic ruin is followed by the appearance of a new system to supply your needs, one that you are forced to join, and if it includes a religion to boot, then this would include the aspects of subjugation and imposition of a religion that we see in Daniel's reference to Babylon and in Antiochus' fulfillment.
What specifically does the Bible say will happen?
From the book of Daniel: The abolition of sacrifice and oblation
is tied to the establishment of the horrible abomination. This pair of
concepts is associated with the 3½ year reign of the Antichrist.
The reference to the removal of sacrifice is not specific, so it can apply
to any temple.
[Note: "Horrible abomination" is the NAB version. The KJV is "desolating abomination", which is a better translation.]
7:25 "He shall speak against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High, thinking to change the feast days and the law. They shall be handed over to him for a year, two years, and a half-year."
9:27 "For one week he shall make a firm compact with the many;
Half the week he shall abolish sacrifice and oblation; On the temple
wing shall be the horrible abomination until the ruin that is decreed
is poured out upon the horror."
[Note: the word for week in Hebrew translates to 7 years; half a week = 3½ years.]
11:30-31: "... Then he shall direct his rage and energy against the holy covenant; those who forsake it he shall once more single out. Armed forces shall move at his command and defile the sanctuary stronghold, abolishing the daily sacrifice and setting up the horrible abomination.
12:7 "... it should be for a year, two years, a half-year; and that, when the power of the destroyer of the holy people was brought to an end, all these things should end."
12:11-12 "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and
the horrible abomination is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred
and ninety days. Blessed is the man who has patience and perseveres until
the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days."
[Note: 1290 days is also 3½ years.]
From the book of Revelation: The reign of the Antichrist comes with the forced mark (image) of the beast.
13:5 "The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies,
and it was given authority to act for forty-two months."
[Note: 42 months = 3½ years.]
13:7-8 "It was also allowed to wage war against the holy ones and conquer them, and it was granted authority over every tribe, people, tongue, and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, ..."
13:16-17 "It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beastís name or the number that stood for its name."
From the book of 2 Thessalonians: We see that the Antichrist will affect all temples.
2:1-5 "We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken ... or ... alarmed ... either by a 'spirit,' or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god - do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things?
What does this all mean? Here's one view.
The place to start is Daniel, as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, "When you see the desolating abomination spoken of through Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),". The desolating abomination is described in Daniel 9:27, 11:30-31 and 12:11-12. These descriptions associate the desolating abomination with the abolition of sacrifice and oblation for a time period of 3½ years. The combined view can be summarized as follows:
Abominations are sins, transgressions. One way to define them are as actions done by the worshiper that are a break in faith or a violation of any covenant or agreement made, either with The Creator or someone else (Ezk 16:59, 17:20, Mal 2:11). An action is a sin when it results in your breaking your word. We do abominations all the time. Its part of life. If these transgressions accumulate without being confessed and atoned for through sacrifice and oblation, either to God or to the other person involved, they become stones that weigh down our vessel. Without the purifying rituals of sacrifice and oblation, these actions become desolating abominations and will result in the temple becoming desolate of God's spirit.
This applies in any lifetime. In the end times, this issue will be forced upon everyone at the same time by the Antichrist. Whenever we face this issue, either personally during one's lifetime or all together in the end times, once we stop sacrifice and oblation then the abominations that we always do will eventually make us desolate.
The effect of sin accumulates. If it is not addressed, the cumulative effect will be one's ruin, in one form or another. The need for continual cleansing was demonstrated by the ancient ritual sacrifices performed in the temple of Jerusalem under the law of Moses. Even though the ritual sacrifices are no longer needed to atone for sin, the ritual did teach an important lesson about our relationship to sin. The sin offering called for the person to confess their sins over a lamb. This transferred the sins to the lamb. The person then sacrificed the lamb and the priest brought the blood to the altar. This transferred the sins to the altar. And there they would accumulate for the whole congregation as each person brought their sin offering, until the Day of Atonement when once a year the sanctuary would be cleansed. The High Priest only, would enter the holy of holies and use the blood of a lamb to transfer the sins from the altar to a scapegoat. This goat was taken outside the camp, removing the sins from the congregation altogether. The cleansing once a year points to the cleansing that will come at the end of the age, but it also shows that dealing with sin is an ongoing process. Its effect accumulates. The way to cleanse it is to confess it.
These references to the temple raise the question as to which temple is Daniel referring?
Since the prophecy of the 70 weeks of years was given to Daniel in response to his praying about the restoration of the Jewish temple in Israel, it is easy to leave the answer at that. However, the prophecy of the 70 weeks was about far more than just the restoration of the temple in Israel, which it did address. The answer that Gabriel conveyed to Daniel was about the complete restoration of the sanctuary. This leads to broader concepts of the temple.
One level is to recognize that God used Israel as a vehicle to get the message to the world. The Old Testament lesson is not just for Israel. The 70th week portion of the prophecy does not refer directly to the temple in Israel. The immediate context is more general as Daniel describes a strong agreement made with many nations. The reference to sacrifice and offering ceasing in the same sentence indicates the nations involved in the agreement will be affected. A confirmation of the broad application of this abolition is found in II Thessalonians 2 where it say that the Antichrist will oppose all forms of worship in the world.
There is yet another level of meaning. The ultimate extension of the sanctuary services is the realization that the body is the temple of the soul and that The Creator can be reached through the holy of holies within each of us. This concept can be seen in both the Old and New Testaments:
Ezekiel 36:26-27 "I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees."
Ezekiel 37:26-27 "I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
The Macrocosm and the Microcosm
The Bible often has several levels of meaning including the macrocosm, the world at large, and the microcosm, the world within you. Let's consider Daniel's prophecy of the abolition of the daily sacrifice. On the macrocosm level, all the temple buildings of the world, the places of worship, will be affected. On the microcosm level, the temple of our bodies will be affected. This prophecy has a message for both levels of meaning.
There are many references in the Bible to the reign of the Antichrist, a time period of 3½ years where we will see a government (the beast) and a religion (the harlot) imposed upon the world. When we bear these concepts in mind while contemplating the references to the desolating abomination in Daniel, I believe a clear picture emerges and suddenly the strange twists in the tightly coded wording of Daniel make sense.
An interesting aspect of Daniel's description of the desolating abomination in chapters 9 & 12 is the association with the literal time elements that all revolve around a 3½ year period. The implication is that the event at the beginning will be such that all will see and be able to mark time by this event. It should occur on a single day, since one can begin to count days from that point. That event is the abolition of sacrifice and offering.
If there comes a day when the world economic system collapses, then beginning that day everyone would be at a loss to bring sacrifice to their temple. However, this does not satisfy the religious aspects of the prophecy, so this event would not fulfill the prophecy but I do believe it is a necessary precursor for the actual fulfillment. The 3rd horse of the apocalypse in Revelation describes this stage.
If a day comes where we find ourselves bewildered as to what to do because the world economic system has collapsed and we are offered the "choice" of joining a system that will provide for all our needs again but also has a religion as part of it and that you must pledge your loyalty to that system, this would indeed satisfy the prophecy. Your ability to sacrifice and oblate at your temple will have stopped. Not only will you not have anything to bring, but all prior religions have now been opposed or outlawed as stated in II Thessalonians 2. This is the level of the macrocosm. What about the level of the microcosm.
To Join Is to be Marked
Let's take a closer look at Daniel 9:27:
"For one week he shall make a firm compact with the many; Half the week he shall abolish sacrifice and oblation; On the temple wing shall be the horrible abomination until the ruin that is decreed is poured out upon the horror."
What does the phrase "on the temple wing" refer to. On the macrocosm level it refers to the imposition of false doctrine or idols into the temple building. Not on the altar, at first, but in a wing of the building the idol is introduced. Eventually this infiltration into our faith builds to the point where the Antichrist commits the macrocosm of the abomination by declaring himself God. This is done at the center of the temple.
When we examine the phrase from the microcosm level, the temple of the body, then "on the temple wing" seems to refer to the arm of the body of the worshiper. Daniel is then describing some kind of abomination that is placed somewhere on the wing, which includes the arm and hand. This matches the description, and more importantly the meaning, of the mark of the beast that we find in the New Testament. Revelation repeatedly says that if it is accepted, it will lead to one's ruin.
If the mark of the beast is accepted onto the body, then eventually that temple will become desolate of God's spirit. Continuing on the microcosm level, if the mark, once accepted on the "wing", causes the body to stop offering oblation and sacrifice then this implies that it interferes with one's individual will.
In the book of Revelation God warns multiple times to not accept the mark, for once you do, you will be condemned. There seems to be no backing out of this choice. This appears to be a paradox because we all know that we always have the chance to change, to recognize a bad choice and repent after the fact. Why would God not allow that when it comes to accepting the mark of the beast. This is not God's way. If the mark will affect one's mind so that once one accepts it one would never decide to remove it, then the paradox is resolved and God's harsh warning now makes sense.
The final battle is ultimately about control. The dark side believes it needs to control others so as to bring about order. Facing the mark of the beast is about deciding whether to maintain control oneself or to give one's power over to another. It is also about accepting responsibility for our decisions. If you support the beast, the dark world government, you share in the responsibility of what it does. Spiritual maturity is about responsible use of the power of free will.
In summary, I believe the prophecies from Daniel about the desolating abomination can be interpreted in contemporary terms on two levels. As to the macrocosm, a day will come when a world government and religion will be imposed upon everyone. Perhaps the justification will be for the sake of the survival of the planet. All forms of worship will be affected and altered. If you follow the religion of Babylon it will result in your temple becoming desolate of God's spirit. On the microcosm level, each must face the choice of supporting this system or not and the consequences of that action. If you accept the mark of the beast you will surrender your individual will and eventually the temple of your body will become desolate of God's spirit.
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©1997 Collins Hamblen