Death seems normal, because we see it all around us. But a major message of the Bible is death is out of place in the order God created. The mysterious ritual of the red heifer sacrifice detailed in this week’s reading — חֻקַּת Chukat (“statute of”) — is a pattern of what Heaven had planned for the healing mission of Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ).
The Torah reading חֻקַּת Chukat/Khuqat (“statute of”) starts with “the statute (khuqat) of the red heifer” and the bronze serpents, which are both symbolic of the role of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).
The blood of the red heifer, described in Numbers 19, was a shadow of Messiah Yeshua. The heifer was not killed on the altar in the tabernacle. The heifer was killed in a clean place, but not in a holy place. Before the Red Heifer was killed, she carried no burden but after her death, she had to carry a very heavy burden, which was the sin itself. All of this is symbolic of Messiah Yeshua.
What is this chapter about? Protecting the sanctuary? Protecting life? This is the only sacrifice that makes all the participants of the sacrifice temporarily unclean, including the priest himself.
If a person touched a dead animal, he was unclean until evening but if one touches a dead human being one was unclean for seven days.
The high priest could not supervise this sacrifice, the second in command was the one who had to be willing to be temporarily unclean for this. Eleazar did not kill the heifer, he supervised it. Yet, Eleazar the priest and all the others who participated in the sacrifice in one manner or other were unclean until evening. Everything was burned: flesh, bones, hide and even the dung was burned.
Once the heifer was killed, Numbers 19:4 says:
“Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times.” (NASB)
It’s a similar ritual to the ritual of Yom Kippur but he was doing this outside the camp, not in or near the tabernacle.
The heifer was not killed on the altar in the tabernacle. The heifer was killed in a clean place, but not in a holy place.
The heifer was not burned up alone.
“The priest shall take cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet material and cast it into the midst of the burning heifer.” (Numbers 19:6 NASB)
These items are all symbolic of purification and added redness to the sacrifice, but the ashes are not the end of the story.
“Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin.” (Numbers 19:9 NASB)
The point of this sacrifice and purification was to separate the people from death. Death is an overwhelming topic of this chapter. Death is the enemy.
The death of the red heifer is for the benefit of the people, not for God’s benefit. We think of death as natural and accept it as such but death is not natural. It was not part of God’s design when He made Adam and Eve. God made mankind for life, not death.
The Jewish people who have been trying to recreate all the items needed for the rebuilding of the Temple have not been able to find a truly red heifer. There have been many red heifers that were close but not quite right. However, if they ever find a truly pure red heifer, Christians need to take stand up and take notice because God is doing something.
The ashes of the Red Heifer represents something “unclean.” She was clean before she was killed. She had to be flawless, never yoked, perfectly red and innocent. Now she is dead and although the ashes were unclean, when her ashes were mixed with water and sprinkled on someone who had touched a dead human being, her ashes would make that person clean.
No one can really purify him or herself. Only the High Priest can declare one holy or unholy.
“That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.” (Numbers 19:12 NASB)
God wanted the Red Heifer to be killed outside His dwelling place. The red heifer is directly related to the Son of God. Just as the red heifer is killed outside of the camp, the Son of God was killed outside the camp too.
“Anyone who touches a corpse, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from Israel. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.” (Numbers 19:13 NASB)
“But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD; the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean.” (Numbers 19:20 NASB)
If you did not purify yourself, if you did not accept the death of the Red Heifer to clean you, you were no longer a member of the commonwealth of Israel. You were cast out as a goyim.
Touching any dead human being would cause one to be unclean, not just someone who was newly dead but even of one touches the bones of a person who had been dead for a very long time is unclean. God made this ritual not simply to prevent the spread of disease but to make sure that we don’t treat the death of a human being casually.
Before the Red Heifer was killed, she carried no burden but after her death, she had to carry a very heavy burden, which was the sin itself.
What is the weakness of the Torah? The Torah cannot change the heart, can’t make one holy. It can’t pay the price for sin. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about in Galatians. The Torah is our teacher, but not our savior. It tells us about mercy, trust and faith. The Torah can’t bring life, only the life and resurrection of the Son brings life. This doesn’t mean we should break the law, we should keep the law.
“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lamp-stand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” (Hebrews 9:1–5 NASB)
The author of Hebrews is not talking about the 613 laws but about the 10 commandments in the Ark.
“Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,” (Hebrews 9:6–9 NASB)
When Yeshua was sacrificed, He was sacrificed whole, his flesh, blood, everything offered up for us.
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11–14 NASB)
The blood of the Red Heifer was a shadow of Messiah Yeshua. Life is in the blood. When Yeshua was sacrificed, blood and water came out.
When we are cleaned with the blood of Messiah Yeshua, we take His death, mix it with the Holy Spirit and we have life.
Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.