Video Lesson: Holy Cow! Heifers & Cleanliness

We are getting close to the Passover time of year! How fitting that we are currently in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic at the time of posting this!

Why? Because the Passover started during … THE 10 PLAGUES ON EGYPT!

Even why-er? Because we are talking about keeping clean!

You should read Numbers 19 before reading/listening to this lesson.

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

What can we do to be clean? (Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually)

What is a heifer (heffer), and what is so significant about red?

Is there a purpose to sacrifices and blood offerings?

How can we deal with isolation from community? [Bonus for C-19: How are we handling isolation from each other during crisis?]

Now, to the big question of the day:

What does a sacrificial cow have to do with the Church?

Holy Cow! Heifers & Cleanliness
Numbers 19

We are continuing to look at the importance of Passover.

What is a red heifer?
A female cow that is reddish-brown (the word “red” comes from the same root for “man” in Hebrew, thus “earth-colored”)

How rare are red heifers?
Not too rare, but a perfect sacrificial red heifer must be at least 3 years old and must not have more than 2 or 3 white/black hairs nor any blemishes/disfigurements, never worked (even to have a person lean on it), and never been with a bull (no babies!)

The heifer is to be taken outside of the camp/city, slaughtered, then burned completely. While burning, cedarwood, hyssop, and a red (scarlet) yarn will be thrown in. Then, (vv. 17-19) the ashes are collected to be mixed with fresh/living (flowing) water into a container, and hyssop will be dipped in this ashy water to sprinkle the home and people who have sinned by touching a dead body. Those who refuse to be cleansed are cast out of the community (v. 20).

And this means what to me?

From our birth, we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV)

Therefore, we all have been constantly in contact with dead bodies our entire lives.

So we now turn to Hebrews 9:11-22 (ESV).

Hebrews 9 is all about our Great High Priest who offered the ultimate sacrifice.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

How does this all connect with the Passover?

Jesus was crucified at Passover. Also, just as the blood of a lamb was painted over the doors of the Israelites and protected them from death the night before they were allowed to leave Egypt, we escape God’s wrath and judgment of eternal death.

Just as the blood protected those who obeyed, those who did not lost their firstborn, similarly, if we are sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit mixed with the sacrifice made outside of the city – of God’s firstborn, Jesus’ body and blood – we are made clean of our living in death, while those who do not believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection can not be included in the House of God, the Church.

Back in Hebrews 9:23-28:

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Jesus is our holy cow. (Not to be confused with the Hindu idea of holy cows, and this is not blasphemous, because …) The red heifer and all other sacrificial rites were mere shadows of the work of Christ.

If we refuse to believe that Jesus was the perfect human sacrifice, that He died and rose again, we cannot be made clean and therefore enter God’s community, the Body of Christ, the Church – eternal life.

But if we believe, we are made clean of our sin and death and enter eternal life by grace through faith in the Son of God who redeemed us by His blood.

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