The Offerings: The Red Heifer
This continues a series on the Offerings and what they tell us of the Lord Jesus Christ as the supreme sacrifice. The Red Heifer was to deal with defilement in the wilderness. For us this present life is our journey through the wilderness - a spiritually lifeless scene. This appeared in ‘The Bible Handbook’ by Walter Scott. My own notes are given in purple.
The Red Heifer (Numbers 19)
This was a special provision to meet wilderness defilement. Our standing as Christians before God is founded on the accomplished work of the cross (Leviticus 16). Our whole condition as sinners has been divinely met, and that for God and eternity, by the blood of Jesus. Our weakness, infirmity, and sorrow as saints have their blessed answer in the unchangeable priesthood of the Son of God on high; while positive failure and defilement, contracted while passing on to our eternal rest, are securely provisioned for in the advocacy of Christ with the Father, in answer to which the spirit brings the written Word (the running water, Numbers 19) and the remembrance of Christ in agony and death (the ashes, Numbers 19) to bear upon the conscience of the erring one. Confession full and thorough follows, and the result is that the impaired communion with God is again restored. But be it carefully noted that this is Divine provision for a saint of God, one whose standing is in Divine righteousness, and of whose eternal safety there is not the least doubt.
A Christian cannot lose their salvation for then the work and high priesthood of the Lord Jesus would have no value. Defilement is when we have failed to the point that something has disrupted our enjoyment of God’s presence. The sense of communion has broken down. This is never from God’s side but is always from our side. In 1 John 1 we find that the blood of Jesus Christ ensures that from God’s side the communion that we have with Him should never be interrupted. It is we who get distracted from God and are therefore responsible for the loss in our spiritual enjoyment.
The red heifer must be spotless, unblemished, "wherein is no blemish," and "upon which never came yoke." Thus is Christ set forth in the absolute perfection of His nature, and in the holiness of His life. Like the sin offering, the animal was wholly consumed outside the camp, but with this marked peculiarity that the fat and the blood—the excellency and the life—were also consumed, save a little of the blood, which was reserved, and sprinkled seven times (perfection) before the Tabernacle. Thus the witness of death was brought before the eye of God. Cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet were then cast into the midst of the burning. Human nature in its best estate (cedar), in its lowest forms (hyssop), and all earthly glory (scarlet) for the Christian, went in the cross of Jesus. The ashes—remembrance of Christ's agony and wrath of God—were carefully gathered up as a "purification for sin," and along with running water—figure of the searching and convicting Word of God—were sprinkled by a clean person on the defiled one, on the third and seventh days. The third day's sprinkling was in view of his sin, the second sprinkling was in light of God's grace. The first would lead to a deepening sense of what sin is in light of what Jesus suffered, and the other application of the ashes and water would as surely lead to a more profound sense of what grace can accomplish as the fruit of the cross.
Blessed Saviour, we will soon be with Thee, and our sinning and our suffering will be all over.