The Red Heifer

Q. Have you even covered or researched the subject about the Red heifer? For years I have heard about this but never fully researched it.

According to Numbers 19:2: “Speak unto the Children of Israel that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke”. It must not have hairs of any other color, it must be in perfect health, and it must never have been used to perform work. The cow is then slaughtered and burned “outside of the camp”. Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet are added to the fire, and the remaining ash is placed in a vessel containing pure water.

Then I found this in Ezekiel 36:25-26. “Then I shall sprinkle pure waters upon you, and you shall be clean, from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. I will also give you a new heart, and I will place within you a new spirit… ”

How does this Red Heifer pertain to The Tribulation? and or the re-building of the New Temple?

A. According to Numbers 19 the ashes of a red heifer were sprinkled into water to be used in the ritual cleansing from ceremonial uncleanliness. The ceremony involved in creating these ashes was unique. The red heifer was taken outside the camp to be burned and was totally destroyed, blood, guts and all, not just sacrificed on the Temple altar. While burning, cedar wood and scarlet wool were added to the fire. The scarlet wool was a symbol of sin being consumed with the animal. (Isaiah 1:18) The priest did not officiate, but designated someone else to destroy the animal. The cleansing process only required that a few drops be sprinkled on the unclean person, so it wasn’t a regular washing or bathing, but failure to do this meant exclusion from the congregation, either by banishment or execution, depending on which commentary you read.

A red heifer could have no hairs of another color to be qualified, so it was a very rare animal indeed. Tradition holds that from the time of Moses to the 2nd Temple destruction only 9 red heifers were used. The great Hebrew sage Maimonides prophesied that the 10th one will be prepared by the Messiah, so some orthodox Jews are searching for a 10th heifer as a sign of the coming Messiah. A few years ago they thought they had one until 4 white hairs appeared on its tail.

Today, every living Jew is ceremonially unclean and could not enter the Temple even if they had one, so producing a living red heifer is required prior to the construction of a new Temple and is paramount among signs that the Messiah is about to return.

For Christians there’s a clear comparison between the red heifer and the Lord Jesus. Both had to be perfect specimens, both were taken outside the “camp” to be destroyed, rather than being ritually sacrificed. Cedar wood and hysop were involved in both deaths. In both cases the High Priest observed but did not officiate. Those who did officiate were ceremonially unclean, and just as being sprinkled with water and ashes saved an unclean Jew from death, so does being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus save the Christian from death.

I believe the passage from Ezekiel 36 pertains to Israel’s discovery of the Messiah just prior to the Millennium. (Zechariah 12:10) Ezekiel 36 can be seen as an overview of the End Times with Israel being re-gathered to the Land and the ancient cities re-built. Then the nations that scorned her will be brought to scorn and finally Israel will discover that Jesus is their Messiah. Chapters 37-39 then provide the detail leading up to the Millennium in Chapters 40-48.

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