From the Beginning

A STORY OF "TIME" by Trevor Topsfield

The Red Heifer Sacrifice

To understand the sacrifice of the red heifer found in Numbers chapter 19 we need realise it is the requirement of the law.

Now the law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves (Hebrews 10:1)(NIV).

So the sacrifice of the red heifer is the shadow of some good thing in the future, so what is it a shadow of?

I will let the cat out of the bag right now and then give the details; the red heifer is the shadow form of the Church.

The Church and Judaism are two totally different organisations and because the Jews proclaimed the coming of Christ using the Hebrew language, and the Church proclaimed the reality of Christ using the Greek language. Therefore not only did one function before Christ and the other after him, nothing each one says sounds anything like the other.

The red heifer had to be without defect or blemish and in principle so is the Church as it is righteous through its faith in Jesus.

It was not like the other animals in the Jewish community that pulled carts, ploughs or carried wood, it had never worked in its life, it had always rested in all God had achieved. While there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, resting in the work of God is something the Church should have in common with the Jews.

The Israelites had to take the calf to the priest Eleazar who would take it outside the camp; outside the camp means it has nothing to do with Israel and slaughter it in the presence of Eleazar.

Eleazar had to see the calf die which means he saw the end of the calf, so the reality he saw was the end of the Church.

The reality will occur the day Jesus Christ returns to the earth and terminates the Church by calling every member both past and present to come up and be with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

In Daniel chapter 9 there is a timetable which means God still owes the Jews seven years which will occur when the Church has finished its stint as God’s representative.

Eleazar takes some of the blood of the heifer on his finger and sprinkles it at the front of the Tent in recognition of the service it has given.

While he watches the heifer is to be burnt, its hide, flesh, blood and offal. Nothing is spared, the good, bad, and the ugly is all burnt.

Onto the burning animal some cedar, hyssop and scarlet wool is thrown to modify the ashes as they will be used.

The cedar wood will give the ashes durability.

Hyssop has often been used at the completion of certain events and it was after Jesus had been judged for the sinfulness of the world that he said he was thirsty, so those around him lifted up sponge full of vinegar on a hyssop branch. Like saving work of Christ the Church has finished all it was commissioned to do.

Scarlet wool is the shadow of identification as it was used when in Genesis 38:28 a midwife was in attendance at the birth of twins. Because the firstborn has certain responsibilities and privileges it was important to know which of babies was first. In this case a hand appeared so the midwife tied a scarlet thread on it, the hand was retracted and then the other one was born. However there was no dispute who was the firstborn. In the same way these ashes belong to the Church.

There are three men who have come in contact with the heifer or its ashes are all defiled by them, so they will have to go through a cleansing process but there is a ritual in place to achieve it. Anything that is to do with the function of the Church will contaminate Judaism and those who belong to it.

While the Church and Judaism have common interests, they must stay separated as it would only confuse the issues if any try to combine the two together.

However, just as we of the Church can learn certain things through understanding the Hebrews of Old Testament and knowing it is in shadow form. The same can be said of the Jews as they learn from the reality as stated in the Greek language of the New Testament. To acknowledge this and also the 2000 years of experience someone is to take the ashes of the red heifer and store them in a clean place outside the camp so they can be mixed with water and it will become the water of cleansing , and used for the purification of sin.

The reason this has become a topic of conversation is that red heifers are extremely rare so this sacrifice has not always been possible because the lack of them. But a few years ago one was born in Israel sparking rumours that it might be about time the Church is coming to an end. This has caused a certain fear among some people as there is a general assumption that the last seven years of the Jews functioning as God’s people is not going to be pleasant.

While the sacrifice of the red heifer might indicate the nearness of the Church’s end, there are plenty of signs that suggest the same thing from the New Testament.


The logical conclusion is that even if these predictions are all wrong, that faith in Jesus Christ is the only solution as whatever way it goes everyone comes to an end.

Trevor Topsfield



Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by International Bible Society



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