13 Mar 2018
The Red Heifer
Numbers 19:2 says:
“…‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him.”
This ritual was very precise, and Eleazar the priest was to watch over all the proceedings. After the red heifer was slaughtered, Eleazar dipped his finger into the blood and sprinkled it seven times over the entrance of the tabernacle. Following this, the heifer was burnt in front of him with the blood, hide, flesh and offal.
Then the priest placed cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet thread on top of the burning heifer. Next he was commanded to wash himself and his clothes. He would be unclean until the evening. The ashes of the red heifer were collected and kept securely, then added to water during the purification ceremony.
This whole reading is symbolic of the redemption Jesus purchased for us on the cross. A bunch of hyssop had previously been used to paint the blood of the Passover lamb onto the doorposts and lintels in Egypt (see Exodus 12:22). Rahab tied a scarlet thread in her window to help the spies and bring deliverance to her family (see Joshua 2:18).
Cedar wood represents the wooden cross on which Jesus died for us; our Red Heifer, killed outside the camp to become the purification for our sins, once and for all. His blood was applied and he was victorious against Satan’s advances. There is still wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.
Pause and reflect: With His own blood, Jesus entered the most holy place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Praise the Lord!