“The red heifer”
They bring thee a red heifer without spot. —Numbers 19:2
Read Numbers 19
In this chapter we are confronted with a special offering consisting of a particular animal – a red heifer, a young red cow. A little while earlier there had been great consternation among the orthodox Jews who wanted to rebuild the temple. Many thought that because a red heifer had been born this must be done immediately. The heifer was named “Tsiel.” Why was this important? The ashes of a red heifer had to be used when entering the tabernacle and the temple. The people had complained that they were forbidden to come near the tabernacle. The living had stood among the dead during the rebellion of Korah, when the Lord showed the Israelites how despicable it was to be unclean. But in our chapter they are shown the remedy. We read that the heifer had to be completely red, without spot, and unaccustomed to the yoke (v.2), otherwise it could not point to the free will sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Eleazar had to kill the red heifer outside the camp, indicating that it was unclean. Afterwards, he had to sprinkle the blood of this animal directly in front of the tabernacle, pointing to the remission and forgiveness of sin. Then the heifer would be burned completely, revealing to Israel that she deserved the death sentence. As the heifer was burning in the fire, the priest also had to throw in some cedar wood for a sweet smell, as well as some hyssop for cleansing power, and a scarlet thread representing the power of life. Afterwards the ashes would be gathered carefully together and kept until they would be required again. For example, if someone touched a corpse then they could be cleansed by applying these ashes mixed with water to themselves.
Have you been cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus?