(Preface: The following message was given by Val Black at Faith Christian Fellowship, Shenandoah, Iowa at the Wednesday evening service on April 30, 1997. It was in response to the announcement of the first unblemished Red Heifer to be born in Israel in 2000 years. Although it may seem outdated in terms of the news of a red heifer being born at that time, the message of the Ashes of the Red Heifer is still the same and affects the Body of Christ today.)
What is the meaning behind the Red Heifer and what significance does it offer for Christians today?
Turn to Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”
There is no God like the God we serve. He says, “Remember the former things of old” This is God speaking to Israel. He’s telling them to remember those days of miracles when He brought them out of Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army, how He provided water for them and fed them with manna from Heaven while they roamed the desert for 40 years. He says, ” Remember those things and know that there is none other like me”. This is also for the every Born-Again Believer who has been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ. We’re not to remember the sins of our past but God would have us to remember the miracle of our salvation. We are to remember how we were brought out of the pit of destruction by the power of the Holy Spirit. How He brought us into the Light and planted us on a Rock. And that Rock was Christ.
God is omniscient. He knows every end of every beginning because He IS the Beginning and the End. He says, His “counsel shall stand”, in other words, what He says, goes. Every word that proceeds out of His mouth does a work and never returns to Him without accomplishing that thing that He wants it to do. (Isa 55:11) If He said it, He’ll do it, if He spoke it He’ll bring it to pass.
“And I will do all my pleasure”. There He is announcing to the world that He is sovereign. No one tells Him what to do. Everything we ask for must already be in His will. You can confess something until you’re blue in the face but unless it’s in the Holy will of God it will never happen. He is the Potter and we are the clay.
There are a lot of “religions” in the world today but there are three important factors that set them apart from Christianity.
Number one: every founder of any religion is either dead, buried and, still in their graves or on their way. Only our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death, risen from the grave and gone to sit at the right Hand of His Father, and then promised to come back to pick us up!
Number two: No “religion” has ever predicted the future and had it come true 100%. The reason is, the gods (little ’g’) of “religion” only know two things, the past and the present. They can guess, but they can’t predict the future. Every time a recorded prophecy is fulfilled the world should know that there is no God like our God. He is a Triune God . . . . Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three Persons yet, One God.
I said there were three factors that distinguish Born Again Believers from religion and have named two.
Number Three is the fact that true Christianity is NOT a “religion”. Neither is it a club, a society, fraternity or a league. It’s not an organization or an association, or a brotherhood.
It’s knowing Someone very special – – in a very special way. It’s knowing the Creator of all things on a personal, first-Name basis. Someday the whole world will know Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords but, in the meantime, we can simply call Him, “Jesus”. And we can call His Father, Abba or “Daddy”.
The world refers to us as “Christians” and rightly so. In Heaven, where it really matters, we’re known as the Children of God and the righteousness of Christ. We’re the redeemed, the Church of the Firstborn, the salt of the earth, a chosen generation and a peculiar people because we’ve been bought with Blood. We’re a “holy priesthood”, the temple of the Holy Spirit, we’re overcomers and more than conquerors thru Christ Jesus. No member of any “religion” can ever make that claim.
In Matthew 16:2-4, “He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. (3) And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (4) A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall be no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”
Don’t ever let it be said that Jesus was afraid to speak out, especially against the Pharisees, Scribes and the Sadducees. In His day, they were the most respected men of religion. They had been waiting for centuries for the Messiah to appear and here they are standing face to face with Him and they didn’t know Him. He just didn’t live up to their standards as the Messiah so, they rejected Him and, to take some of the pressure off of what He was saying to them, they crucified Him. What they didn’t know was that in killing Jesus, they were fulfilling the Law, the same Law which they had known so well. It was in their heads but it didn’t do a thing to their hardened hearts. That kind of religion can justify killing another just to survive.
Those men came to Jesus asking for a sign from Heaven but Jesus told them they had a sign in Jonah and that was all they needed. They wanted something with God’s signature on it that said, “yes, this is the Messiah”. They were better at predicting the weather than they were at discerning the coming of Jesus.
What Jesus was referring to when He mentioned Jonah was the three days that Jonah was in the belly of a whale. That was pointing to the burial and resurrection of Jesus. Now, you’ve got to ask yourself, how could these men know that when Jesus hadn’t even died yet. It hardly seems fair. But Jonah was just one of over 453 prophetic signs that were in the Old Testament. They knew the letter of the law from start to finish but didn’t recognize its Author, Jesus Christ. The Law pointed the way to perfection and Jesus was its Manifestation yet, they still didn’t get it.
They should have been watching the signs of the times instead of asking for signs from Heaven. They had been eye-witnesses to Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled yet they couldn’t, or wouldn’t discern the signs of their times.
Let’s not be like the Pharisees. Out of 453 prophecies about the Coming of Jesus, 196 told about His FIRST Coming. On the day that He was crucified, every one of those 196 prophecies had been fulfilled. If there are 453 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Coming of Jesus and 196 were fulfilled at His first coming, that leaves 257 signs left to be fulfilled for His SECOND Coming. The Lord doesn’t want us to be in the dark when it comes to prophesy for these end times. He wants us to be watching. Mt. 25:13 says, “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”.
No one knows the day nor the hour when Jesus is going to return but by watching the times in which we live and by seeing and recognizing prophecy being fulfilled we can know that the time of His Coming is getting close. Let’s take a look at just a few things which point to His return.
Isaiah 66:8-10, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. (9) Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. (10) Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: “
There is a very important prophecy in that verse. In 1948 that prophecy was fulfilled. The verse asks the question, “shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once?”
On May 14, 1948, at 2 p.m. Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion signed papers that officially proclaimed Israel as a nation. A nation was born at once, in one day. Just as the prophecy had said. That event was like a red flag to the Body of Christ and it signaled the beginning of the return of Jesus Christ. Within 3 years over half a million Jews returned to their Promised Land.
The beginning of the return of God’s chosen people to the land was a direct fulfillment of other prophecies.
Jer. 31: 7-8, “For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. (8) Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together (some women gave birth on their way to Israel) :a great company shall return thither.”
This says “the remnant of Israel”, meaning the Jews who had been scattered throughout the world after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. For over two thousand years the Jews have been dispersed throughout the world and the majority of them have longed to be able to return to the land promised to them by God, thru Abraham. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia relaxed her immigration laws and permitted Jews to return to Israel. It was like a break in a dam. Jews poured out of Russia and other former communistic countries so fast that there was and still is, a shortage of intellectuals, scientists, artists and other gifted people in those lands.
Now with all these people coming into Israel from countries around the world, it presented a problem with communication. Everyone spoke a different language. Some spoke Russian, some spoke Polish, some English, and so on. To build the nation they needed one common language. Otherwise, they would be like the Tower of Babel. Nothing but confusion.
One man came up with the idea of establishing Hebrew as the national language. Up until then, Hebrew was almost forgotten. It had been almost lost for 2000 years. In the time of Jesus, Greek was the common language used, even by the Jews. Hebrew was only used by the priests and scribes for religious purposes. Well, Hebrew became the official language of Israel. This was a fulfillment of two verses of scripture, Jeremiah 31:23: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.”
And again in Zephaniah 3:9, “For then will I turn to the people a PURE language, (I have read that one of the characteristics of Hebrew is that you cannot use it to swear or take the Name of the Lord in vain) that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.”
Well, we could go on and on with various prophecies and how God is fulfilling them in these days. But let’s look at something that made the news a while back. It was a subject that made most people, even Christians, ask “What does that have to do with ANYTHING?
It had to with the birth of a red calf named “Melody”. The news even made the front cover of some national magazines. What was so important about the birth of this calf that was “red” all over? Let’s look in scripture for an answer.
To begin with, let’s turn to Daniel 9:24-27 (Read, also 2 Thess. 2:3-4) “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (25) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
Hold your place there in the Bible. We know that Jesus is coming back to earth. What we don’t know is when. We know that certain things have to be fulfilled before He comes back. I’m not talking about the Rapture. There is nothing left to be fulfilled for the Rapture to happen. It could happen yet this evening. The Second Coming of Jesus is in two stages. The first stage is the Rapture when He comes above the earth. The second stage is His actual coming to earth at which time He will set up His kingdom to reign a thousand years. We know that there are prophecies to be fulfilled before the Second stage can happen.
Look back at verse 25 where it says the “people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;”
This is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It was totally destroyed by the armies of Titus, a Roman General. They tore down the Temple stone by stone until there was nothing left but the foundation which is still there today. This was a direct fulfillment of a prophecy by Jesus in Mark 13:2: “And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Thirty-eight years later this actually happened. Roman soldiers, led by General Titus, tore down the Temple stone by stone and threw them into the valley below. 200 ft. of rubble and stones are still there today. Houses have been built over the rubble.
Now, look back at Daniel, verse (27) “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” This is talking about the Antichrist entering the Temple and stopping the Jews from making sacrificial offerings to God.
Now, about here we have to ask a question. How will the Antichrist enter the Temple and stop the sacrifices if the Temple is no longer there? The answer is a rebuilt Temple. We know that before the Antichrist can appear there has to be a Temple if he is going to stop the sacrifices. So, any signs pointing towards this rebuilding of the Temple are signs of the Antichrist, which are also signs of the Return of the Lord Jesus who will destroy the Antichrist.
For several years dedicated Jews have been reproducing all of the instruments needed in the Temple sacrifices. The last that I heard they were raising money to reproduce the Menorah, which is a candlestick with 7 branches and made out of gold. Estimated cost was a million dollars. The Garments of the High Priest and the other priests are being woven from pure linen cloth. There are 2 or 3 schools that are teaching young men the Old Testament laws in sacrifice and offerings.
There is no doubt about it, Israel is getting ready to rebuild the Temple. But there is one important factor that can stop it. Not only will it stop it but even if they get a Temple built and have all the instruments made, the garments made and the priests taught in sacrifices and offerings they cannot, according to the Law of Moses, perform their rituals until they have found a very special cow. The news that I was speaking about was about this very special cow, a “red heifer” which was recently born in Israel. For years they have been attempting to genetically engineer a strain of red heifers but this heifer, named “Melody”, was not of that strain. She was naturally born of a black and white cow and a brown bull for a sire. Her birth was considered to be a “miracle” by the Orthodox Jews who say that it is a sign from God and now work can begin on building a new, Third Temple in Jerusalem.
Now, what is this business about a “red heifer” and why are some people so excited? Turn to Numbers 19:1-10 and read it. What you have just read is one of the most unusual rituals described in the Bible.
What they would do is take a young female cow, or heifer. It had to be red without one white or black hair or any other blemish of any kind. They would take the heifer outside of Jerusalem over to the Mt. of Olives and kill it by cutting its throat. Then they would take the blood and sprinkle it towards the Holy of Holies in the Temple across the Kidron Valley. Then they would take the carcass and burn it on top of a large pile of wood. While it was burning they would throw in a piece of cedar wood, a branch of hyssop and a piece of scarlet material. Then after the whole animal was burned to ashes, priests would gather the ashes in a clay vessel and carry them back to the Temple. Then they would sprinkle the ashes into a large cistern of water. Those waters then became, “waters of purification”. The water was used to purify people from certain defilements.
For instance, anyone that touched a dead body was considered “unclean” for 7 days. On the third day he was to take some of the water of purification, the water with the ashes in it and wash himself with it. If he didn’t do this on the third day he would not be considered “clean” at the end of 7 days. Another example, if a man died in a tent, the tent was unclean for 7 days. That included everything in the tent and anyone coming into it until it was considered clean again. Everything had to be washed with waters of purification.
Verses 11 thru to the end of the chapter tells how the water was to be used for the purpose of purification. This sacrificing of the Red Heifer has only happened a total of 9 times since Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai. The reason is that the ashes mixed with water go a long way. The last time it was performed was just before the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.
You know, in our thinking of today we could understand this if the water was turned into a disinfectant when ashes were mixed with it, but that wasn’t the case. It was just water with ashes floating in it. Yet God said it would purify the impure and make clean the unclean. This strange ritual baffled the priests, the High Priests and everyone else. It just didn’t make sense. Yet they performed the rituals.
The place in Jerusalem where the Temple will be rebuilt has been defiled time and again. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, priests and other people have died on that spot of land and it has become defiled, or “unclean” with death. It has to be cleaned with waters of purification. Not only that but, after the Temple is built and before any of the priests can begin their duties they will have to be washed in this water, along with all the utensils.
This is why there was so much excitement in Israel, those who want to see the Temple rebuilt. The only thing missing is a red heifer that could be used for the water of purification.
There’s nothing to stop the Jews from building the Temple and re-instating the sacrifices and offerings according to the Law of Moses. Nothing that is, except the enemies of Israel and there is an abundance of them.
One of the holiest shrines of the Arab world, the Dome of the Rock, is on this same spot where the Temple will be rebuilt. A few years ago the Palestinians started a riot because some Jews had opened up a tunnel under the Temple Mount. What were they so upset about? They said that the Jews were undermining the Islamic shrine so they could build their Temple. This is a thorn in the side of the Arabs and if anything is going to start an all-out war between Israel and the Islamic world it will be the rebuilding of the Temple on the Temple mount.
Rebuilding the Temple will open the door for one man to rise up and offer a solution to the problem. That solution will be in the form of a covenant between Israel and the Arabs. And the man to devise the covenant will be the Antichrist.
Now, you have to remember, the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Church of Jesus Christ is Raptured (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). This is the significance of the birth of the Red Heifer to the Body of Christ (Christians). It brings us just one day closer to the Coming of the Lord.
One of the strange things about the red heifer is that the sacrificing of the animal defiled the priest that did the sacrificing. This defilement lasted until evening. This is what baffled the priests who performed the ritual. How could the ashes of the red heifer mixed in water clean what was unclean yet cause the priest performing the ritual to be unclean? It purified the impure but at the same time made the pure to be impure. Another strange thing was that in all other sacrifices only a part of the animal was burned but in this sacrifice, all of the Red Heifer is burned.
There’s something missing in our study of the Ashes of the Red Heifer. No Bible lesson is complete unless you find Jesus somewhere in it. Our study of the Ashes of the Red Heifer is no exception. (I owe most of the following information from author Grant Jeffrey and his book, “Heaven, The Last Frontier”.)
Referring back to Numbers 19, verse 2 it says, “Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish”
In all the other sacrifices and offerings the animal had to be a male. Yet here it calls for a red heifer, a female cow. Remember when Jesus was betrayed by Judas? Do you remember how many pieces of silver he was paid by the Pharisees? Thirty! In those days thirty pieces of silver was the price paid for a female slave, a male slave was more highly valued and sold for 50 pieces(See Lev. 27:3-4). Jesus was betrayed by Judas for the price of a female, the lesser valued slave. (Phil. 2:7) The female cow, the heifer pointed to Him.
Again referring to verse 2, ” . . . without spot, wherein is no blemish”. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus “was in all points tempted like us as we are, yet without sin”. Jesus was pure and without sin, without a spiritual spot or blemish.
Continuing on with the last part of verse two it says, “and upon which never came yoke”. Yokes were used on beasts of burden. A yoke would join two of them together so they could be led and worked in the field. Jesus went to the Cross alone. He was never forced or, “yoked” to be a sacrifice for you and me.
Verse 3 says “that he may bring her (the heifer) forth without the camp and one shall slay her before his face”. In the days of their wandering in the wilderness, the heifer was taken outside the camp and sacrificed. In the days of the Temple, it was taken outside the city, across the Kidron Valley to the Mt. of Olives. Jesus was taken outside the city to the Hill of Golgotha, the place of the Skull, and crucified, or sacrificed.
Verse 4, the priest would take the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkle before the tabernacle 7 times. 7 is the number of completion. When the Blood of Jesus was being poured out on the Cross one of the last things He said was, “It is finished”
Verse 5, “And one shall burn the heifer in his sight, her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung shall he burn.” Every ounce of the red heifer was burned in the fire. In scripture, fire is symbolic of the wrath of God and on Calvary’s Hill 2000 years ago Jesus took the wrath of His own Father for your and my sin. Hebrews 10:11 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And in 2 Cor. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”
And the last verse we will look at is verse 6, Numbers 19. “And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.”
The cedar wood represents two things. First, the wood represents the Cross. Secondly, cedar wood is the wood used in the construction of the Temple, it was overlaid with gold. So the cedar wood represents the Temple. Jesus spent a lot of time worshipping and teaching in the Temple and He often spoke of it. One day Jesus went thru the Temple and cleaned it out of moneychangers and other merchants. Then He walked out. Some Jews followed Him and said, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things.” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19) . This statement was one of the ones used against Him at His trial. They thought He meant the building but He was talking about His own Body. The piece of cedar wood that was burned with the Red Heifer was pointing to Jesus.
Back to verse 6 in Numbers 19 it also says to take “hyssop” which was a weedy bush that grows there. They would take a branch of hyssop and burn it with the Red Heifer. What does a branch of hyssop have to do with Jesus? Turn to Isaiah 53:2, this is a prophecy about the first coming of Jesus and it says, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” Jeremiah 23:5, another prophecy about His first coming, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch…”
Zech. 3:8, “Here now, o Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for behold, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch”.
Again in Verse 6:12, “Behold the man whose name is the Branch” Jesus was born into this world as a tender plant, or branch, but He grew into a Man. Remember what He said? I am the vine, you are the branches? The Branch grew to become a vine and now we are branches of that vine.
Back to Numbers 19, verse 6. The last thing to be thrown into the fire with the Red Heifer was a piece of scarlet cloth. Remember (Matthew 27:28) when Jesus was brought before Pilate? Pilate sentenced Him to die and released Barabbas. Then Roman soldiers took Jesus and they whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head and then they put a scarlet robe (Matt. 27:28) over His shoulders and mocked Him, saying, “Hail! King of the Jews”.
When those soldiers placed that piece of scarlet over His shoulders it represented something which touches each and every one of us. In fact, each one of us has done that very same thing. Turn to Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”
Before a person becomes saved, his spiritual “wardrobe” gives the impression that he is magnificently dressed. The “world” encourages such apparel but being woven of self-righteousness, it is in total rebellion to God.
Then, one day, the Holy Spirit draws us from darkness into the Light of the Gospel. Our filthy rags of self-righteousness are then revealed for what they really are, an abomination to God. Then the Holy Spirit also reveals to us that there is only one way to salvation, through Jesus Christ.
If you are “saved” then, at one point in time you have taken your robe of scarlet, (representing your sins) and placed it on the shoulders of Jesus. Because of His love for you, He willingly received it and, in return, gave you a “garment of salvation” and a Robe of His Righteousness. (One size fits all.)
Now, all of these things:
No. 1 The Red Heifer, a female, representing the price paid for Jesus.
No. 2 Cedar wood representing the Cross and the Temple.
No. 3 Hyssop representing Jesus, the Branch.
No. 4 Scarlet representing our sins.
All these were burned in a fire representing the Wrath of God. That fire produced ashes which was mixed with ordinary water and changed it into a water of purification to clean from spiritual defilement. And that, my friend, represents the Blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 9:13 says, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Let’s rejoice because God is revealing these things to His Church in these last days. And keep looking up, Jesus is about to return!