“Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin” (Numbers 19:9).
In 1997 and in 2002, red heifers were born in the land of Israel. These two incidents received publicity as people wondered if this has any spiritual meaning. Some modern Jews believe that the ritual of gathering the ashes of a heifer will be performed by the Messiah when he comes and thus this would be a sign of the end. But these existing red heifers had been disqualified as a sign by the Jews themselves. And, there is no reference in the scriptures that the ashes of a red heifer would be a sign of the end.
The red heifer was a reddish-brown cow (no more than two years old and had never had a yoke on it). The slaughtering of a red heifer was a ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1-10. It was sacrificed as part of the purification rites of the Mosaic Law. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide ashes for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle.
The blood of the heifer without blemish that was sacrificed and its blood cleansing from sin is a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for believers’ sin. Jesus was “without blemish” just as the red heifer was to be. As the heifer was sacrificed “outside the camp” (Numbers 19:30), in the same way Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12).
At the cross, all the sacrificial offerings of the Mosaic ordinances came to an end (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:16). Now spiritual Israel (Jews and Gentiles) come to God by the blood of Jesus Christ and not of animals. The Jewish temple got destroyed at 70 A.D. And today, the Church became the body of Christ and the believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
In His service,
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