“…bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed. ‘You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence…” (Numbers 19:2b-3, NASB)
There is probably no more obscure subject in Scripture to most people than the chapter on “the ashes of the Red Heifer.” Yet, the most obscure passages can give us the richest truths! In Numbers 19, the Lord gave Israel directions to sacrifice a Red Heifer (a red cow) outside the camp, and later outside Jerusalem, upon the Mount of Olives. This Red Heifer had to be completely red, without blemish, and never having worn a yoke. This special sacrificial animal was killed in view of the tabernacle, and later after settling in Jerusalem, upon the Mt. of Olives facing the Eastern Gate of the Temple. The blood of the Red Heifer was sprinkled by the priest who made the offering toward the Tabernacle, and later, toward the Temple. Then the Red Heifer was placed upon the altar to be completely burned along with the wood. All of this was to be completely burned to ashes. Then, these ashes were to be mixed with water that came from a running stream. The gallons of mixture which resulted was to be stored and used for future sprinkling upon the people, priests, and objects which became defiled so they could be holy and usable in God’s service.
As Christians, this teaches us the high regard our Holy God has for our holiness as His people!! Israel would become defiled from the battles they had to fight, from coming in contact with dead bodies and animals. Defilement also came from committing acts of disobedience to God, such as sexual sins, stealing, and rebellion in attitudes and actions, etc. Much in our lives can defile us today in our daily walk! The blood of Jesus justifies and cleanses to save us and to enable us to serve Him as a holy people. Interestingly, sacrifices, continued in Israel to POINT BACK to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, until 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans (Heb. 9:13-14). We see, then, that it is God’s desire for us to be cleansed outwardly AND inwardly by faith in Jesus Christ! So, we should be living sacrifices to God daily! (Rom. 12:1-2)
God provided this and other sacrifices for Israel to offer continually to point the people to their need for holiness in thought and action to serve a Holy God. However, these sacrifices could not cleanse the conscience. (Hebrews 9) So, Jesus Christ, Who died in our place on the cross, as God’s complete sacrifice for our sins, justifies us before God, by forgiving our sins and sanctifying, or purifying us daily to serve Him. Interestingly, Orthodox Jews today plan to re-institute the sacrifice of the Red Heifer. This would enable them to purify the Temple Mount, to prepare the people to rebuild the Temple and purify the priests to restart the Temple sacrifices and service. Bible prophecy shows us that the Temple will be rebuilt!! The hunt for a qualified Red Heifer in Israel is ongoing, as well as searching for the ashes that may still exist in or around Jerusalem. These are prophetic indicators to us of the approach of the last days, and soon coming of the Lord to rapture the church. Now we know more about the “ashes of the Red Heifer” and their importance to teach us of our need for HOLINESS and PURITY to serve God!! As you watch for Jesus’ coming, Are you ready?