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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary

Red Heifer

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Among all the laws of the Levitical priesthood concerning sacrifices, there is hardly one more striking in all the particulars of it: as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet there is not one so generally little understood, or attended to. I beg the reader's attention to it as a subject highly interesting. He will find the account of it set forth at large, Numbers 19:1-10. Moses was commanded to speak unto the children of Israel to bring a red heifer without spot, wherein was no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. Eleazer the priest was to bring her forth without the camp, and one was to slay her before his face. Eleazer was then to take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times. One was then to burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, all was to be burnt. Then the priest was to take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Then the priest was to wash his clothes, and to bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he was to come into the camp, and be unclean until the even. And he that burned the heifer was to wash his clothes inwater, and bathe his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. And a man that was clean was to gather the ashes of the heifer and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, to be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. And this was to be both to the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourned among them, for a statute for ever.

Such are the interesting particulars in the Lord's appointment of the sacrifice of the red heifer. I would now beg to call the reader's attention to the service itself, in order to remark the prominent features of the ordinance, as typical of the person and offering of the Lord Jesus Christ,

And first, the heifer was to be red. A most unlikely thing to obtain, as if to prefigure the singularity of the person of Jesus; for none but the Lord Christ could be suited for our salvation: and the personal fitness of Jesus, in the singularity of his person and character, is that which endears him so highly to his people. Perhaps the reader may not know, or if he doth, he may not immediately re collect, that Adam was called Adam, or Adamah, on account of the red earth or dust from whence he was taken. Pure virgin earth is naturally red. Now the Lord Jesus is also called the last Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:45) And it is said of him, with peculiar reference to his human nature, that "forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." (Hebrews 2:14) And hence the church sings of him in the joy of her heart, "My beloved (said she) is white and ruddy, the chiefest among, ten thousand." (Song of Song of Solomon 5:10)

Secondly, this red heifer was to be without spot, and wherein there was no blemish. What could more strikingly depicture the features of him "who with out spot offered himself to God!" He was indeed, as the Holy Ghost hath drawn him, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens." (Hebrews 7:26) We are told that the Jews were so very tenacious that this heifer should be exactly corresponding to the %ordinance in those particulars, that if the animal had but a spot of different colour from the red, yea, but in a single hair, it was rejected. Surely nothing could be more in reference to the "lamb of God who was without blemish and without spot." (1 Peter 1:19)

Thirdly, that particularity of the red heifer in the Jewish church, that it should be one upon which there never came yoke, is of all others the most striking, as typical of Christ; and the more so, be cause, among all the sacrifices under the law, it is the only one we ever meet with of such an appoint ment. There was no yoke, no obligation, upon Christ, but his own freewill, for which he became a sacrifice for his people. For although he glorified not himself to be either an high priest, or sacrifice, uncalled and unsent of God, yet equally certain it is, that without his own voluntary offering he could not have suited the purpose of our redemption. Hence he saith himself, (John 10:17-18) "Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

Fourthly, the heifer, to signify uncleanness, was "slain without the camp." And Jesus, that he "might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate," The apostle makes a most beautiful persuasive and unanswerable appeal to the church, in this view of Jesus, when he saith, "Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach;" (Hebrews 13:12-13)

Fifthly, when the heifer had been slain, the blood was to be sprinkled directly before the tabernacle seven times. And it forms an express doc trine of the cross, the blood of sprinkling. As the tabernacle represented the whole church of Jesus, so all his people are supposed to be brought under the cleansing by the blood of Christ. Believers are said to have received the atonement. (Romans 5:11) Hence Paul, speaking of the privilege of the church, saith, "Ye are come to the blood of sprinkling." The blood of the heifer shed was not sufficient; it must be sprinkled. The blood of Christ is not only shed, but sprinkled, speaking peace from God to the sinner, and speaking of covenant faithfulness to God, in the infinite fulness of Christ's merits. Seven times performing the sprinkling of the blood of the heifer may probably mean, as Scripture numbers sometimes do, an indefinite number for a definite, by way of shewing the importance of it. The number seven is certainly used in Scripture with peculiar honour. The seven days of creation, the seventh day for the Sabbath, the seven times seven for the Sabbatical or Jubilee year, and the seventh day becoming an emblem of the everlasting Sabbath of heaven; all these are very high evidences of the peculiar honour conferred on the number. But no special reason other wise that I know of is given in the word of God for the consecration of seven to sacred things.

Sixthly, the heifer was to be wholly burnt, no part nor portion exempted. So Christ is a whole Saviour. They that are looking to him for salvation must wholly look. "Is Christ divided?" saith the apostle. The completeness of acceptance in Jesus renders it essentially necessary that his people should look only to him, for the everlasting acceptance of their persons in him. "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)

Seventhly, the whole congregation are said to be alike interested in this heifer, both in providing it, and in the enjoyment of the privileges of it. So the Lord Jesus is said "to have given himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:6) And as we do not read in any other part of this ordinance being appointed to be observed but once, so nothing could more blessedly point out the everlasting efficacy of that "one offering of the body of Jesus Christ once offered, whereby he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)

The Jews have a tradition, that this one heifer, with the ashes of the water of purification, lasted for near a thousand years, until the time of the captivity. But of this we have no Scriptural authority. It is sufficient for Christians to behold Christ both preached to the ear, and set forth to the eye, in type and figure, under the law. And it is doubly blessed, under the gospel, to behold the whole fulfilled in the person, blood, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord give his people grace, while beholding the law as having "a shadow of good things to come," to know that Christ is the substance, and that Christ is indeed "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth!"

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Red Heifer'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary.​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​r/red-heifer.html. London. 1828.