The opening of Parashah Chukat (Number/B’Midbar 19:1-22:1) begins, “Tell the people of Isra’el to bring you a young red female cow without fault or defect and which never born a yoke. You are to give it to El’azar the cohen; it is to be brought outside the camp and slaughtered in front of him.” (Numbers 19:2a-3, CJB)
Per Jewish tradition, the red heifer (or parot hadumot) was offered first on behalf of Isra’el by Moshe and El’azar, next by Ezra and two others sacrificed by Simon the Righteous and another two by Yochanan the High Priest. The seventh was offered by Eliyahu the prophet, the eighth by Hanamel of Egypt, the ninth was from Yishmael son of Piabi - but (per the Sages) the tenth and final red heifer will be burned by the Messiah at the time of the rebuilding of the third Temple. (Mishnah, Parah 3:5)
Within traditional Judaism, the appearance of what might qualify as a red heifer has always celebrated as a sign of the coming of the Mashiach and the restoration of the Temple within Jerusalem. Most recently, in September 2017, “The Temple Institute” announced the birth of “… a flawless all-red heifer that could pave the way for the fulfillment of a major end-times biblical prophecy.” For this reason, Jewish theologians have reminded from the beginning that the red heifer is essential to both the rebuilding the third-Temple in Jerusalem and will be needed to be sacrificed to complete the ritual of purification before the Mishkan.
In considering this, and our opening passage in Numbers chapter 19, how should we view this in light of biblical prophecy and the end of days? First, we must remember that Yeshua is the very substance of the shadow of the red heifer in the Torah as seen in Hebrews 9:24, 10:1-2. Yeshua’s sacrifice as our Cohen HaGadol after the order of Malki-Tzedek and as a result was prophetically fulfilled in him, proceeding the “rebuilding the holy Temple in Jerusalem. (John/Yochanan 2:19). The Temple is likewise seen as one that is made by God and not human hands by the Ruach haKodesh/Holy Spirit (Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:4, 11-12; Col 1:24). As a result of such fulfillment, we as followers of Yeshua are now therefore part of the Temple of Messiah’s body as seen in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 12:27 and as a result we are referred to in 1 Kefa/Peter 2:5 “Living Stones” and Yeshua is identified as our “Rosh Pina” (chief Corner Stone) as seen in Ephesians 2:20).
So, in the end, how does our understanding of fulfillment in the B’rit Chadashah match with our aforementioned midrash in Mishnah, Parah 3:5? It is in understanding that the sacrifice of the tenth and final red heifer was Yeshua himself, who by laying down his life and by both dying and raising from the dead instituted a new priesthood after the order of Malki-Tzedek (Hebrews 5:10, cf. 1 Kefa 2:5), built upon the foundation of the Levitical priesthood of Aharon as seen in Hebrews 13:10!
Because of this, we (both Jew and Gentile) have the assurance of salvation and we have been cleaned from our sins by a “better sacrifice” than that which was a foreshadow in the Torah. (Matt. 26:28, Heb. 9:14, 12:24, Eph. 1:7, 1 Kefa 1:2, 18-19, Rom. 5:9, Col. 1:14, 1 Yochanan 1:7). As beautiful as it was - the annual sacrifice in the Temple nevertheless lacked the power to redeem once and for all, but required a continual annual offering as a kaporah (covering) our sins on. an annual basis. Yet, in Messiah Yeshua, we are now saved and redeemed once and for all, and as a result, nothing is capable of removing us from Adonai’s loving hands!
This is what our Patriarch’s hoped for and this this is the reality that we all can partake in today unto the Lord's eminent return!
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