The search is on for a Red Heifer. Today those involved in rebuilding the Temple are searching for a Red Heifer. We have read articles in which American cattle have been examined by the rabbi's to determine if they are acceptable. What is so special about a "Red Heifer"? What is its purpose?
As we have seen in our study of the Tabernacle everything in the tabernacle was a picture, a type pointing to Yeshua. This is also true in the case of birth and death, which are closely related to sin and the second death, with redemption and the second birth. All connected with the origin of life and with death, implied defilement and required Levitical purification.
When a woman gave birth she was unclean 40 days if she had a boy and 80 days if she had a girl. (Lev 12) After that time she was to offer for her purification a lamb for a burnt offering and a turtledove, or young pigeon for a sin offering. In case of poverty, altogether only two turtledoves or two young pigeons were used. Miriam, when she gave birth to Yeshua, offered the two young pigeons. (Luke 2:22-24)
Purification from contact with a dead body required the ashes of a Red Heifer. Death, pointed to the second death, eternal separation from Yeshua, in the Lake of Fire. Defilement by the dead was symbolically treated as the greatest of all defilements. It lasted 7 days; it required a special kind of purification; and extended not only to those who had touched the dead, but even to the house or tent where the body had lain, and all open vessels therein. More than that, to enter such a house; to come into contact with the smallest bone, or with a grave; even to partake of a feast for the dead (Hos. 9:4), rendered ceremonially unclean for 7 days (Num. 19:11-16,18; 31:19). Also, he who was unclean rendered everything unclean, which he touched. (Num 19:22) For priests and Nazarites the law was even more stringent (Lev. 21; Ez. 44:25; Num. 6:7). The priests were not to defile themselves by touching any dead body except for those of their closest relatives. The High Priest was not even permitted to approach the bodies of his own parents.
In Numbers chapter 19, we read about the "Red Heifer". Only a female animal could be used for this sacrifice.
The law made a provision for purification from the defilement of death by the ashes of the red heifer. The red heifer must be without spot, that is without any white or black hair on its hide, without blemish, and on which never a yoke came. It was to be sacrificed outside the camp as a sin offering. It was to be offered by the son, or successor, of the High Priest. The blood of this sacrifice was to be sprinkled 7 times with the finger towards the sanctuary; then the whole animal, skin flesh, blood, and dung-burned, the priest cast in to the midst of the burning "cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet". The ashes of this sacrifice were to be gathered by "a man that is clean" and kept out side the camp in a clean place. The priest and the one who gathered the ashes were to be unclean until evening.
The cedar wood symbolized imperishable existence. Hyssop, symbolized purification from corruption. The scarlet color symbolized life. Perhaps the heifer was used to symbolize life, for the female brings life into the world.
When required for purification, a clean person was to take of those ashes, put them in a vessel, pour upon them living water, then dip hyssop in it, and on the 3rd and 7th days sprinkle him who was to be purified. After which he has to wash his clothes and bathe his flesh. The place where the body laid and the vessels in it were also purified.
The ashes of the red heifer, mixed with living water and sprinkled with hyssop, symbolized purification from that death which separates between G-d and man. This parallelism between the blood of Yeshua, and the ashes of a heifer on the one hand, and on the other between the purification of the flesh by these means, and that of the conscience from dead works is expressed in:
Heb 9:13-14 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 Yeshua, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to G-d, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living G-d?
Yeshua was put to death out side the city walls just as the heifer was sacrificed outside the camp. The ashes were gather and stored in a clean place outside the camp the same as Yeshua's body was kept outside the city. It was laid in a new tomb.
We all are unclean and stand in need of purification.
Num 19:18-19 "And a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the persons who were there, and on the one who touched the bone or the one slain or the one dying naturally or the grave. 'Then the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and shall be clean by evening."
Notice that we are told a "clean person" is able to perform this purification ritual. It was not necessary that a priest do it. But who is clean?
Isaiah 64:6 tells us "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
We may be ritually purified but it is necessary that we are spiritually purified.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the L-RD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
In Ps 51:7 David said: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
We are only clean through the shed blood of Yeshua applied to the doorposts of our hearts.