Mystery of the Red Heifer
HOLY COW!! Am I ever excited! For the past few months I have been led by the Holy Spirit to research everything I could find on the sacrifice of the Red Heifer, the mysterious ritual that even Solomon in all his wisdom failed to comprehend (Eccl 7:23). Much to my surprise there was a major announcement from the Temple Institute in Jerusalem on July 12, 2015 regarding the Red Heifer Project, which endeavors to introduce a Red Angus breed into Israel. The purpose of the multi-faceted project, of course, is to propagate a perfect specimen suitable for sacrifice as in Bible times.
Instructions for the Red Heifer ritual are given in Numbers 19, which I encourage you to read. With these instructions in mind, we will consider the halachaic qualifications for the Red Heifer, halachaic meaning the collective body of Jewish law based on the Talmud. The heifer must:
- Be without blemish
- Be completely red (the color of blood), with not more than two hairs of a different color growing from a single follicle (Alfred Edersheim)
- Never be yoked, ridden, or touched, except for necessary protection, to assure that the cow would never be used for any profane purpose (Yeshua’s was a willing sacrifice, and He was free of the yoke of sin and bondage)
- Be a female (a type of the Bride of Yeshua)
- Never have mated (like the virgin Mary, who conceived by the Holy Spirit)
- Be three years of age, the peak of growth and strength (Gen 15:9)
- Yeshua’s earthly ministry lasted three years (some sources claim the heifer could be sacrificed between two and five years of age)
- Be sacrificed outside the camp (Yeshua was also sacrificed outside the camp)
The sacrifice of the Red Heifer is the only offering where the color of the animal was specifically designated by God. The color red, of course, symbolizes blood, in this case, the sacrificial atoning blood of Yeshua. For this reason the Red Heifer is regarded as a type of Yeshua. According to Jewish tradition, the sacrifice atoned for the sin of the golden calf. The fully-colored, red bovine, hoofs included, speaks of the blood-covered redeemed of the Lord. The idea of a hair or two of the heifer being a color other than red reminds us that all of our sins must be under the blood covering of Yeshua, every single one.
It is a rare occurrence, indeed, for a perfect specimen to be found. Even so, there have been nine such offerings of blemish-free Red Heifers in Israel’s history, with the first sacrifice prepared by Moses. Ezra prepared the second sacrifice, followed by Shimon HaTzaddik, who prepared the third and fourth sacrifices. Yochanan also prepared two sacrifices, numbers five and six. Eliehoenai prepared the seventh offering, with the eighth sacrifice prepared by Hanamel, an Egyptian, and the ninth prepared by Ishmael, son of Piabi. It was imperative that provision for renewed purity be readily available for those entering God’s sacred house of worship.
Jewish tradition claims the tenth and final sacrifice of the Red Heifer will be prepared by the coming Messiah. Many Christian Bible scholars, however, regard the crucifixion of Yeshua as the tenth and final sacrifice. Whether or not a perfect specimen is eventually found and sacrificed, the Son of God is the ultimate fulfillment of the Red Heifer sacrifice.
What does the announcement of the Red Heifer Project mean to believers in Yeshua, whose sins have been forgiven by His ultimate sacrifice? I believe the Red Heifer Project is another sign of the near return of our heavenly Bridegroom! We know from Scripture that a third Temple will be in place when the coming anti-christ dares to enter it:
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thess 2:3-4
I am elated that God led me to study this topic, which I began teaching just five days prior to the announcement! I LOVE it when the Lord confirms my course of study and teaching. It is vitally important that we be in the Spirit according to God’s timing during these last days, gleaning all we can from His Word and sharing it with all who will listen.
Coming soon: Holy Cow! – The Mystery of the Red Heifer, by Dr. Noreen Jacks