The Red Heifer's Ashes (Part 6)

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Thursday, January 12, 2017
(Hebrews 9:13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (Hebrews 9:14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Let us return once more to the following portion of Numbers 19, that chapter in Moses' Law which commanded a Water of Separation infused with the ashes of a pure red heifer for cleansing ceremonial defilement by a dead body, etc. (Num 19:13) Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. (Num 19:14) This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. (Num 19:15) And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. (Num 19:16) And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. (Num 19:17) And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: (Num 19:18) And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: (Num 19:19) And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. (Num 19:20) But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. (Num 19:21) And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. We note again that the lack of purification after touching a dead body defiled God's tabernacle and brought fearful judgment for uncleanness (vs. 13, 20). By comparison, having come to the knowledge of the truth of “Christ crucified” (1CO 1:23; 1CO 2:2), we should see ourselves as crucified with Him. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ...” (GAL 2:20). We are told, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin...” (ROM 6:11) since “...our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed...” (ROM 6:6). The pre-Christ carnal man is a dead body to the believer and as contact with a dead body under Moses' Law ceremonially defiled someone, so we become spiritually defiled by doing the dead works of sin associated with the dead body of our old man. We are rather to strive through the Spirit to “...mortify the deeds of the body...” (ROM 8:13), i.e., to put them to death. This is a justified slaying, and far from it defiling the Christian (as a Jew would be defiled by a slain man, NUM 19:16), it shows him to be clean. However, to revert to former darkness (religious or moral) would for a Christian be a contracting of defilement from that dead body of sin and contrary to our command to “...touch not the unclean thing...” (2CO 6:16-18): (2Co 6:16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2Co 6:17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (2Co 6:18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Believers will have failures from time to time when in a moment of weakness we give in to a temptation, as Paul said, “...the evil which I would not, that I do” (ROM 7:19). It is at such times that we prefer fellowship with the dead corpse of an old sin or the dead corpse of a religious lie to fellowship with the living God. It is helpful in this battle, when tempted to give in to a sin, to visualize oneself snuggling up to a rotting corpse and to cry “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (ROM 7:24). Full deliverance awaits the Second Coming when our bodies will be made as pure and incorruptible as Christ's body (PHIL 3:20-21; 1JO 3:2). Present failure, though, is not without hope. When we defile ourselves by a dead work of sin, there is a continuously available provision for us that far excels the ash-infused water of separation: (1Jo 2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1Jo 2:2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. It will do no good to try to cover that dead work of sin like a grave. The grave spoke of defilement (NUM 19:18), not mercy. The mercy is found in confession and repentance: (Pro 28:13) He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Whenever necessary, we are told, “...Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded” (JAM 4:8), to “...cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit...” (2CO 7:1). John tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1JO 1:9). In so doing, we come not for cleansing unto a fellow sinner who sprinkles ashes and water, but unto “...Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling...” (HEB 12:24), and He is never the worse for it (unlike the sprinkler of NUM 19:21): He is “...holy, harmless, undefiled...” (HEB 7:26). Without this purifying, saints are defiled and they in turn defile the church to which they are joined and are liable to those fearful words written to the church at Corinth which echo NUM 19:13, (1Co 3:16) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1Co 3:17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. How much, therefore, it behooves believers that have the hope of full deliverance from the body of this death (ROM 7:24) to purify themselves accordingly: (1Jo 3:2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1Jo 3:3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Faith is our hyssop (c/w NUM 19:18) by which we access the grace wherein we stand (ROM 5:2) and apply the benefits of Christ for cleansing. Our God has told us that we can come unto the throne of grace boldly to obtain mercy (HEB 4:16). Because Christ has remitted the sins of His people, we should therefore have “...boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (HEB 10:16-19). This blessing stands in sharp relief to what we read in Numbers 19. Their defilement forbade them from God's dwelling place on earth until they were cleansed. But the believer, through Jesus, goes into God's dwelling place in heaven for cleansing. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary summarizes the situation thus: “ashes of an heifer — (Num. 19:16-18). The type is full of comfort for us. The water of separation, made of the ashes of the red heifer, was the provision for removing ceremonial defilement whenever incurred by contact with the dead. As she was slain without the camp, so Christ (compare Heb. 13:11; Num. 19:3, Num. 19:4). The ashes were laid by for constant use; so the continually cleansing effects of Christ’s blood, once for all shed. In our wilderness journey we are continually contracting defilement by contact with the spiritually dead, and with dead works, and need therefore continual application to the antitypical life-giving cleansing blood of Christ, whereby we are afresh restored to peace and living communion with God in the heavenly holy place.”

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