The Red Heifer-No Real Mystery
Western-educated people are already programmed for simple answers. We are the result of a public education system that streamlines the process of education to produce the greatest number of graduates regardless of actual skill level. After all, public funding from the government depends upon the breathing body sitting in the desk, not the well-trained mind inside of it.
For that reason, among others, students are conditioned to seek True or False answers, matching, or fill-in-the-blank (with sufficiently easy choices). Few students in a high school classroom today could survive the classroom of a hundred years ago when logic was challenged and details scrutinized. There were no effervescent "Good effort!" comments written in bright pink ink while scores of punctuation, grammar, and usage errors were ignored. There was little concern about discouraging the sensitive child or damaging his self-esteem.
While a good teacher can grow the mind while adhering to the conventions of the subject, those teachers are rare. Rarer still are the teachers who can challenge, discipline, and encourage young minds and hearts. No wonder modern readers of Scripture tend to limit their questions, and therefore their answers to True or False, Yes or No, Fill-in-the-Blank, one-dimensional answers. Messianics tend to ask, "Is it this way
or that way?" "What
exactly does this mean?"
So what EXACTLY is the mystery of the red heifer (
parah adumah)? It's no real mystery. The ritual of the red heifer is laden with multiple prophecies, types, and shadows. Most likely, the student will spend a lifetime studying the red heifer each year at the appointed time, and the student will unlock a new door of understanding. Even Edom's obstruction of Israel in the Torah portion is not random. It is prophetic of the soul's (the Red One) obstructionist policy to the will of the Ruach. The themes of the red heifer portion trace all the way to the Garden and
adam's (man's) creation from the
adom (red) earth. It also is no coincidence that the Torah portion specifies
tamei (uncleanness) that is contracted when one comes into a tent occupied by a corpse.
Mankind lives in a tent with corpses who have not had their vision of Yeshua's blood restored so that they may live in truth. They live in death
(met), but Israel lives in truth
(emet). Yeshua is a great royal purple high priest who officiates the service of the heifer, reconciling red of earthy man with blue of Heaven. The mockery of scarlet and purple robes during Yeshua's detention are symbols not lost on those who know the structures and textiles of the Tabernacle.
Yeshua is the priest who took uncleanness upon himself in order to produce something pure. Even the Jewish sages understood this picture, although they do not associate it with Yeshua. Munk says,
"The Kohen who mixed the water of purification became contaminated as if he had taken on the evil of the wicked nations in order to convert it to goodness."
And he quotes the Ramban who says,
"All the purity in Israel depends on the Kohen. However, in Messianic times, Hashem Himself will sprinkle pure waters over us and purify us, for the last
parah adumah will be that of Messiah." (Munk, 2001, p. 227)
The rabbis present both symbols, the pure Kohen and the heifer herself as symbols of the coming Messiah: one who would take on the contamination of death to convert it to goodness, and the Messiah who is the offering of the Holy One from which the ashes are taken to make the clean water that purifies from death. This is an instructive interpretation.
The red heifer symbolizes the first adam, a completely red, or sinful,
parah adumah. Is this where we get the word "pariah," a complete reject to what is civil and good? Messiah was rejected of adam and completely covered with his sin. He took up the cross-beam , which could have been of cedar wood, took the mockery of the robe of scarlet threads, and tasted the vinegar on the hyssop; these are the three essential ingredients of the burning of the heifer. Messiah was the red heifer in that what was purged from him was the red flesh and
nefesh (soul) of the First Adam, that which was earthy. Once the First Adam was completely purged, what was left was the stuff of cleansing from the realm of death.
According to the Torah, clean men were to remove those ashes, and according to Torah, a clean man did so. In fact, so that two witnesses would establish the Torah, both Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus retrieved Yeshua's body from the tree and placed it in a grave, rendering themselves unclean for the Passover in order to keep the commandment. The clean man who collected the red heifer's ashes also rendered himself unclean in order to enable the purification of man. May the memory of Joseph and Nicodemus be blessed. The parah adumah is similar to the scapegoat. It redeems sinners even though the man who leads it from the Camp must undergo purification afterward.
These are only a few types of Messiah and his redemption of the red stuff that is mankind.
Is Messiah the Red Heifer?
Is Messiah the priest?
Is Messiah the clean man?
Are there multiplied more layers of types and shadows to be found in the ritual?
Commentary on the Amidah is in
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