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Bulls, goats and ashes
(This article is based on Testimonies 4:118.1 - 125.2)
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One of the problems the LORD had with His Hebrew people was that they constantly looked to the rituals He had hoped would teach them about the plan of salvation, as though they were the real thing. They considered the types as though they were the anti-types, which led many of them to believe that a blood-thirsty God wanted a life to “pay” for their transgressions. Therefore, in the book of the law in the New Testament the Spirit guided Paul to write the following words, in which He tried to direct the attention of the new Christians towards Christ alone.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh [is OK for an earthly picture]: how much more shall the blood [life] of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, [really] purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
These verses indicate that only the blood of bulls and goats were used as symbols of forgiveness and cleansing of sins in the earthly sanctuary services, so why do many of the modern gospel teachers constantly refer to the blood of a lamb as the symbol of it?
The confusion is caused by the mixing of two different pictures. One depicts the initial gift of salvation (justification), and the other the subsequent works of salvation (sanctification). They actually miss a third gift completely!
Our first encounter with the Son of God in the process of redemption is when we meet Him in our homes (or wherever), and there He is depicted as a Lamb. “For even Christ our passover [lamb] is sacrificed for us . . .” 1 Corinthians 5:7. That’s why it is written, “The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and says, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin [not sins in the plural] of the world’.” John 1:29.
In the picture form, He is shown as using His “blood” to protect us and those associated with us, in our own house, in the act of justification.
Here is the ritual:
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you [because that’s when you are re-born].
[Of course, this spiritual experience can take place at any time in an individual’s physical life,
but in the ritual service it was necessary to make it the beginning of the year,
to emphasise that it can only occur once in our lifetime.]
3 Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take [choose, set aside] to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house: 4 and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
[First, a living historical Christ must be chosen as our personal Saviour,
and then a three day period was set aside to confirm our choice.
It was to be shared so that none of it would be left to be wasted.]
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 and you shall keep it [although there were many physical animals it is always referred to as one] up until the fourteenth day of the same month [full moon]: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [late afternoon of the 13th to be eaten after dark on the 14th].
[It could be either a sheep or a goat (but must be male) because we often have differing ideas
as to WHY He chose to do this for us.
Sheep like to congregate together while goats prefer to be independent.
Note that the goat is second choice.]
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses [making the sign of a cross], wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs [vegetables] they shall eat it [to represent their hardships]. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden [boiled] at all with water, but roast with fire [to illustrate His fiery persecution]; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And you shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and [if for any reason some does] that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire [as a picture that the remainder has nothing to do with the ritual, for that is concerned only with the painting of the blood and the eating of the flesh].
11 And thus shall you eat it; with your loins girded [fully dressed], your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste [ready to leave Egypt, a picture of the world of slavery]: it is the LORD'S pass over.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD [who takes the blame for this slaughter].
13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over [protect] you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 And this day shall be to you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance [a ritual] for ever.
Those who accepted and responded to the Son God’s warning are shown as being protected by His “blood”, His life. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul”. Leviticus 17:11.
Those who rejected His offer of protection died!!
Our elder Brother is not a destroyer or a punisher, but we will read in this story that there was a “destroyer” present that night. “. . . when He sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over [hover over] the door, and will not suffer [allow] the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you”. Verse 23.
Satan knew of God’s plan to release His people from their physical bondage (he had heard Moses and God discussing it), so he decided to pre-empt it by destroying them. But it is also Satan’s desire to destroy ALL the people of the world, including those who have rebelled as he has, for he is insanely jealous of those who were created to replace him and the other rebel angels. Consider how often he has used the “king of the south” [non-Christians] to fight against the “king of the north” [professed Christians] and vice versa, in history. (See Daniel 11:1-40.) He does have God’s true people (spiritual Israel) who are his preferred target, in between the antagonists, but he cannot always control the outcome because of his anger, or the rage of those he has stirred up, for they are all fiercely independent.
And that night was one of those times – he and his rebel angels were so worked up with blood-lust that when they found that they could not get at the protected ones in their houses, they transferred their anger onto the firstborn of Egypt – man and beast! All the other Egyptians were still able to be covered by God’s universal grace, but the firstborn enjoyed special privileges and their rejection of that grace had deepened with Pharaoh’s hardening heart as the time had gone by after Moses’ return. (1 Samuel 6:6.)
(The principle of the firstborn has been in vogue in all nations since the Garden of Eden. It is written of God’s people, “But he shall acknowledge the [first] son . . . by giving him a double portion of all that he has [in his will]: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his”. Deuteronomy 21:17. Jacob had said, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power . . .” Genesis 49:3. This is called a “birthright” in Genesis 25:31, and reflected the Son of God’s position, but has also been taken up by others as a counterfeit.)
Their murder is what God had warned about, for He knew the characters of Satan’s angels. Those first-born Egyptians who sought shelter with God’s people were able to be protected, and later, they helped comprise the “mixed multitude” of Egyptian/Hebrew couples who travelled with His people during their departure. Exodus 12:37-38. However, in the mixed multitude were not only those who were actuated by faith in the God of Israel, but also a far greater number who desired only to escape from the plagues, or who followed in the wake of the moving multitudes merely from excitement and curiosity.
This class were always a hindrance and a snare to the Hebrews and began much of the complaining which occurred among them. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, ‘Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes’.” Numbers 11:4-6.
Under Inspiration Peter wrote for us;
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”, which is why the firstborn of the animals died also – Satan doesn’t care for any creature of this earth. 1 Peter 5:8. God is not saying that Satan is looking solely for Christians, but that he will attack anyone and anything that gets in his way, for he loves killing. God says, “. . . all they that hate Me love [giving] death”. Proverbs 8:36. (Even those who profess Christianity do it – consider the Inquisition.)
Some may suggest that such behaviour on the rebel angels part is not very logical, for Egypt and its people were on Satan’s side, but consider the actions of a human in a fit of blind rage, and the illogical behaviour of a mob (the beast), and you will know what happened, for rebel angels are no different from rebel humans – both are without the softening influence of the Holy Spirit and are full of anger and hate. When the “blood-lust” is roused creatures do strange things. Consider the “Reign of Terror” in the French revolution of the 1790’s. [Click here for his agenda.]
[For more on this thought, consider Appendix A.]
From my library:
God is constantly at work for the good of His creatures. Satan is also constantly at work, but for evil. The prince of the power of the air is the agent of destruction, the one who causes suffering and misery. Times without number God has interposed to avert death, to keep men, women, and children in safety when Satan purposed a result wholly disastrous.
But there was more to the passover than just the protecting blood – then the people also had to eat the “flesh” of the lamb to illustrate His life coming IN to them.
“Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no [spiritual] life in you. Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me”. John 6:53-57.
A little further on in the chapter about the pass over:
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
[Having once partaken of the gift of God
we should not leave His house (the kingdom of heaven)
lest we be destroyed in the plague.
We are to become separate, ready to be used like salt in food. Matthew 5:13.]
“And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: neither shall they say, ‘Lo here!’ or, ‘lo there!’ For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”. Luke 17:20-21.]
23 For the LORD will [have to allow the destroyer to] pass through to smite the Egyptians [who refuse or neglect protection]; and when He sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over [hover over] the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
Before obtaining freedom, the Hebrews had to show their faith in the great deliverance about to be accomplished.
They must ensure that all who were present were circumcised. Why?
Do you remember these words?
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked”. Deuteronomy 10:16.
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”. Romans 2:28-29. [For more on this, see Appendix B.]
The token of blood must be placed upon their houses, and they must separate themselves and their families from the Egyptians, and gather within their own dwellings. Had the Israelites disregarded in any particular the directions given them, had they neglected to separate their children from the Egyptians, had they slain the lamb, but failed to strike the doorpost with blood, or had any gone out of their houses, they would not have been secure. They might have honestly believed that they had done all that was necessary, but their sincerity would not have saved them.
All who failed to heed the LORD's directions would lose their first-born (not necessarily themselves) by the hand of the destroyer, for we can only live by EVERY word that comes from God.
The life of Christ that gives life to the world is in His word. It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as He had spoken through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, for the whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Saviour desired to fix the faith of His followers on the word. When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the word must be their source of power. Like their Master, they were to live “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4.
By obedience the people were to give evidence of their faith. So all who hope to be saved by the merits of the “blood” (life) of Christ should realize that they themselves have something to do in securing their salvation. While it is Christ only that can redeem us from the penalty of transgression, we are to turn from sin to obedience. We are saved by faith, not by works; yet our faith must be shown by our works. It is written; “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works’: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”. James 2:17-18.
God has given His Son to die as a propitiation for sin, He has manifested the light of truth, the way of life, He has given facilities, ordinances, and privileges; and now we must co-operate with these saving agencies; we must appreciate and use the helps that God has provided – believe and obey all the divine requirements, for there are destroying angels abroad who would like to kill all those whom the LORD does not constantly protect with His universal grace.
All of this takes place OUTSIDE of the church.
Further on in the chapter we have these words:
43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance [rules] of the passover: There shall no stranger [non-Jew] eat thereof: 44 but every man's servant that is bought for money, when you have circumcised him [into your family], then shall he eat thereof. [There were to be no slaves (as we know the term) in Israel.] 45 A foreigner and a hired [daily] servant shall not eat thereof.
46 In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. [We must go to where the Lamb is to eat it.]
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with you, and will [wants to] keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it [the three days from choice to action allows time for healing]; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
49 One law shall be to him that is home-born, and to the stranger that sojourns among you [every male partaker must be circumcised FIRST].
Remember, it is written: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked [proud and independent – goat-like]”. Deuteronomy 10:16. “He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”. Romans 2:29.
Those who are changed into meekness of character to inherit the new earth are those who partake of the exchange of life with the Saviour, for it takes two distinct steps to be “born” again.
First the “old” life must be removed, then the “new” life must be implanted.
Today we would say, the “old man” must die, then the “new man” begins, which is why Christ used the term, “born AGAIN”. We cannot carry two spiritual lives at the same time (for a “wife” cannot have two husbands at the same time), although as Christians we share a common physical humanity with those who are not followers of the LORD!
Using the illustration of a second marriage, it is written,
“Know you not, brothers [and sisters], (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law [of God] has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman which has a husband is bound by the law [of God] to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband [a different law]. So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress [by the law of God]: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man”. Romans 7:1-3. It’s very important to note that we CANNOT have two “husbands” (controlling powers) within us at the same time, for no man (or woman) can serve two masters. Luke 16:13. We are EITHER in the group of the “sinners” or the “righteous”, depending on to whom we are “married”.
We are told, “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful [i.e. he who stays separate]. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand [pass] in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish”. Psalm 1:1-6.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [under the power of sin], that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are “dead” to sin [the old husband], live any longer therein?
3 Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into “death”: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
[“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me”. Galatians 2:20. In this illustration the woman cannot die – it is her husband who does. In the reality we don’t die either, but some part of us does, for husband and wife are one. Genesis 2:24.]
5 For if we have been planted [buried] together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection [being born again]: 6 knowing this, that our “old man” [the power of the old husband] is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed [never to rise again], that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is “dead” is freed from [the power of] sin.
[Temptations will still come, but the choice is available to overcome them.]
8 Now if we be “dead” with Christ [justified], we believe that we shall also “live” [sanctified] with Him: 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin ONCE: but in that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise reckon [believe] you also yourselves to be “dead” [ONCE] indeed to [the power of] sin [the “old husband”], but alive to God through Jesus Christ our LORD.
All this is done in the power of the LAMB of God, who is now dwelling IN us as shown by the eating of the flesh of the lamb. (If your experience does not tally with this then you may have to recheck your rebirth.)
In the New Testament Jesus explained it another way. In the absence of a servant who would have washed the feet of all present to clean off the dust of the streets, He had taken on the role. “Then comes He to Simon Peter: and Peter says to Him, ‘LORD, do You wash my feet?’ [You shouldn’t do that! It’s demeaning.] Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter’. [It was a picture of the Christian life, and the work of God who is the greatest Servant of all.] Peter says to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet’. Jesus answered him, ‘If I wash you not, you have no part with Me’. Simon Peter says to Him, ‘LORD, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head [all over]’. Jesus says to him, ‘He that is washed [in spiritual baptism] needs not save to wash his [spiritual] feet, but is clean every whit [all over]: and you are clean, but not all’. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, ‘You are not all clean’.” John 13:6-11.
He that is washed in spiritual baptism with Christ has become clean all over, and after that only needs to confess individual acts of mistakes, of ignorance, and even contrition for deliberate actions, to be set right with God day by day. The Christian “walk” may dirty our “feet” but does not contaminate us all over again, even if we walk in muddy paths. We would have to roll in the mud to get dirty all over, or marry a new “dirty husband” in the marriage illustration.
So it is written;
“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly”. Proverbs 26:11.
“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog is turned to his own vomit again’; and ‘the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire’.” 2 Peter 2:21-22.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance [under these circumstances]; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh [individually and personally], and put Him to an open shame”. Hebrews 6:4-6.
Therefore, after the new beginning, we must show the evidence of this action of His, and so we are instructed to come to the sanctuary of God (close to God’s presence) with various offerings for various reasons. The most important of these for our purpose today is the offering made during a confession of an ACTION of sin. We cannot say, “LORD, forgive me for I am a sinner” for that is no longer true, but we can say, “LORD I am a sinning Christian”. In this instance we must confess a particular sin.
Concerning another type of sin action, it is written,
“And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he has sinned IN THAT THING: and he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin”. Leviticus 5:5-6.
This is also described in the following words:
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
3 If the priest [pastor] that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, A YOUNG BULLOCK without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.
4 And he shall bring the bullock to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the LORD. 5 And the priest that is anointed [his helper] shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room]: 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the veil of the sanctuary [on the ground].
7 And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the [golden] altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room]; and shall pour all the [the remainder of the] blood of the bullock at the bottom of the [brass] altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [in the courtyard] . . .
13 And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; 14 when the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer A YOUNG BULLOCK for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation [and do the same as for the priest]
. . .
22 When a ruler [elder] has sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; 23 or if his sin, wherein he has sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering,
A KID OF THE GOATS, A MALE without blemish: 24 and he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD: [but] it is a sin offering.
25 And the priest [who helps] shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put [some of] it upon the horns of the [brass] altar of burnt offering [which is in the courtyard], and shall pour out [the rest of] his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering [down the drain].
6 And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings [the dangerous parts]: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it [that sin] shall be forgiven him.
Here’s a plan of the sanctuary
27 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he does somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty [in the present]; 28 or if his sin, which he has sinned, come to his knowledge [from the past]: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the GOATS, a FEMALE without blemish [to represent himself, the “wife” of Christ], for his sin which he has sinned.
29 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering [confessing the particular sin of which he is guilty], and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering [to show he has caused his own death].
30 And the priest [who is helping] shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put [some of] it upon the horns of the [brass] altar of burnt offering [in the courtyard], and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar [a lot is wasted].
31 And he shall take away all the fat thereof [the dangerous parts], as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour to the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and IT SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM.
[He could bring a lamb, a female lamb, but it was second choice.]
32 And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it A FEMALE without blemish [it does NOT represent Christ].
33 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. 34 And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the [brass] altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar [none of this confession of sin blood ever goes into the sanctuary unless it is a bullock’s blood].
35 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
So what happens to the EVIDENCE of “death” for the common man?
24 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 25 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law [ritual] of the sin offering:
In the [same] place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is MOST holy [very dangerous].
26 The priest that offers it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place [a room near the sanctuary building] shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation [so the priest now bears the guilt (death) of the confession].
27 Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy [other priests could also eat of it, but the main one was the assisting priest]: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, you shall wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place. 28 But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden [boiled] shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brass pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.
29 All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.
30 And no [body of the] sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
If the blood was NOT used in the building, the body was eaten to show a transfer of the penalty of the sin to the priest – if the blood WAS used in the building then the body was burnt OUTSIDE THE CAMP, on a ceremonially clean rubbish tip.
So when was the blood used in the building?
3 If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.
[The priest who had officiated for a common person was now the “sinful person” in his place, and needed to be ritually cleansed of that sin!]
4 And he shall bring the bullock to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head [confessing that sin as his own, as Christ does for us], and kill the bullock before the LORD.
[“For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment [permission] have I received of My Father”. John 10:17-18.]
5 And the priest that is anointed [another helper] shall take of the bullock's blood [in a bowl], and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room of the building]: 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times [on the ground] before the LORD, before [in front of] the veil of the sanctuary [the entrance to the second room].
7 And the priest shall put some of the blood [the evidence of a death] upon the horns of the [golden] altar of sweet incense [the altar of prayer] before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room]; and shall pour all the [rest of the] blood of the bullock [in the drain] at the bottom of the [brass] altar of the burnt offering, which is at door of the tabernacle of the congregation [out in the courtyard].
8 And he shall take off from it [the body] all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,
9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away, 10 as it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering [fat accumulates diseases and should not be eaten].
11 And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung, 12 even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp to a clean place [to represent His physical death in this world], where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt [only the blood was used].
So, although a lamb’s blood was NEVER used in the sanctuary building, a bull’s blood was – and it was a priest’s offering. In like manner, when we as a born-again person confess a sin, the Son of God takes the penalty of it from us and bears it for us. We can go home (or get up from our knees) forgiven and cleansed and thank Him for that. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9. At that moment we can stand before a holy God free of conscious sin. Daniel said, “My God has sent His angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt”. Daniel 6:22.
But at some point the Son of God needs to be cleansed of that guilt and death.
As there was only one Passover experience each year, so there is only one Day of Atonement, or general cleansing each year. We can come at any time in our lives for confession and forgiveness, and come often, but the Son of man can only be cleansed of ours and all the other “born again” people once in His “lifetime”!!
He “died” once and is “cleansed” once, just as the prophecy indicates.
“Then I [Daniel] heard one Saint speaking, and another saint [angel] said to that certain Saint which spoke, ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?’ And He said to me [Daniel], ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed’.” Daniel 8:13-14.
The pass over ritual took place in the early part of the day (it begins at sunset);
the cleansing of the sanctuary occurred in the afternoon of the day so that late comers could still obtain forgiveness and cleansing before it started; the priest did not come out of the building till he had changed his clothes, so the second coming therefore occurred near the end of the day.
The physical pass over was in the spring, the 14th day of the 1st month; the cleansing took place in the autumn on the 10th day of the 7th month; and the Feast of Tabernacles came just before winter on the 15th day of the seventh month!
On that ceremonial day the ritual shows Him using a bull’s blood to move the “deaths” from the first room into the second room (where God sits in judgment), and then making use of a goat’s blood to move them from there onto the scapegoat, the devil. This pictured the manner in which the Son of God is cleansed from our confessed sins!
Thus it is written:
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered [unholy fire] before the LORD, and died [for that could not give them protection];
2 And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to Aaron your brother [who represents the Son of God in the ritual], that he come not at all times into the holy place [the second room] within the veil before the Mercy Seat, which is upon the ark [representing God’s throne of judgment]; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the Mercy Seat.
3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with [the blood of] a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering [of dedication].
4 [After that] He shall put on the holy [plain white] linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
[Christ must put off His coloured (salvation) clothes
and wear the plain white garments of judgment while He makes the atonement.]
5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel TWO [identical] kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself [with its blood], and for his house [his people, while wearing his coloured clothes].
7 And [before this] he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat [God identified which is His by His 3½ years of ministry].
9 And [after using the bull’s blood] Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering [to use its blood, but without any confession of sin over it].
10 But the [other] goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD [later], to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
11 And [before all this] Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself and for his house [confessing all the sins he was carrying], and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself.
[In the reality the Son of God is ready to confess all the sins
which He has been bearing for His people since the foundation of the world.]
12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the [golden] altar before the LORD, and [fill] his hands full of sweet incense beaten small [clouds of smoke mean lots of prayers mixed with the righteousness of Christ], and bring it within the veil [into the second room]. 13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire [in the censer] before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the Mercy Seat that is upon the testimony [the Ten Commandments], that he die not.
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the Mercy Seat eastward; and before the Mercy Seat [on the ground] shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times [showing the transfer of the penalties of our sins as His own into the presence of God the Father].
15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering [without any confession over it, so that that blood is sinless], that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the Mercy Seat, and before the Mercy Seat. [By doing this he “picks up” the “deaths” which were now there] 16 and he shall make an atonement for the holy place [thus cleansing the second room], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in ALL their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation [the first room], that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
17 And there shall be no [other] man [or priest] in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goes in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled”. Revelation 15:8. [There will be no more opportunity to confess sins while He is doing the reality of this ritual in the heavenly sanctuary, so we should do it while we can.]
18 And he shall go out to the [golden] altar that is before the LORD [in the first room], and make an atonement [cleansing] for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and [at separate times] put it upon the horns of the [incense] altar round about. 19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
20 And when he has made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the [golden] altar [of prayer], he [a “fit” and “capable” man from the congregation] shall bring the live goat [to the door of the tabernacle]: 21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him ALL the iniquities of the children of Israel, and ALL their transgressions in ALL their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness [for God does not hurt or destroy].
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities to a land not inhabited: and he [the “fit” (capable) man] shall let go the goat [free] in the wilderness.
23 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the [plain] linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there [for next year]: 24 and he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his coloured garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering [the ram], and the burnt offering of the people [another ram], and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp [and be clean].
27 And the [bodies of the] bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without [outside] the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung [on the clean rubbish heap]. 28 And he that burns them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
29 And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you: 30 for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from ALL your sins before the LORD [in one moment]. 31 It shall be a sabbath of rest to you [a special day], and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
32 And the priest, whom He [God] shall anoint [in the future], and whom He shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall [also] make the atonement [once a year], and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33 and he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the [golden] altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34 And this shall be an everlasting statute to you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year [once in a lifetime]. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Our old past lives which He takes from us at the “pass over circumcision” are not transferred to the physical sanctuary in any ritual, so they were NOT placed on the scapegoat. Christ as our Saviour, bears these for ever as part of His life, but that’s another story.
Regarding the daily offering of lambs in the courtyard, this is what is written:
38 Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually [24/7/365].
39 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning [9am, the time of the morning incense/prayer offering]; and the other lamb you shall offer at even [3pm, the afternoon incense/prayer offering]. 40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering.
[A “deal” was about 1/5th of a bushel, so 1/10th deal = a small amount
while a “hin” was about 6 litres, therefore ¼ = 1½ litres
– these represent Christ’s earthly possessions.]
41 And the other lamb you shall offer at even, and shall do thereto according to the meat [food] offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering [of dedication, worship and gratitude] made by fire to the LORD.
42 This shall be a continual burnt offering [every part of the animal was burnt, as was the flour/oil mixture, while the blood and wine were poured down the drain at the bottom of the altar] throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there to you.
43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.
There was no confession of sin over these animals (no hands on the heads), for they represented the continual dedication of Christ on our behalf. I repeat, they were “burnt” offerings, not “sin” offerings and this is a great difference.
One animal was placed on the altar at 9am and quickly consumed through to 3pm, when the other was joined to it which was slowly and methodically consumed until 9am the next morning. Together they picture the Son of God hanging on a spiritual cross from 9am to 9am, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
Through those word pictures we can see that ONLY the “blood of bulls and goats” was used as a symbol of cleansing us from sins.
The “blood” of God’s Lamb was used to protect us when we became Christians and this was done wherever we were at the time we asked for rescue from our past sinful lives.
The “normal” transfer of the penalty of sin into the sanctuary (both first and second apartments) was pictured by the blood of the bull (a strong energetic animal representing the Son of God as a Saviour), while the final transfer out of the tabernacle was depicted by the blood of a sinless goat (a fitting emblem of the Son of God as a King).
Let’s go back to our original verses and look at them again.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh [is OK for an earthly picture]: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, [really] purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Just what part do the ashes of a heifer take in the ceremonies of dealing with sin?
Not all is clear today in our understanding of the meaning of this special ceremony, but no doubt, that will change as time advances and we get nearer the second advent, for it has a special meaning for that time. The ashes were really a ceremonial way of dealing with THE RESULT of earthly sins – which is the contamination of physical death, the “last enemy”. 1 Corinthians 15:26. The blood of bulls and goats was used in the sanctuary to ritually deal with THE GUILT of sins as we have seen, but the ashes were used OUTSIDE of the sanctuary to deal with the pollution in the survivors, wherever and whenever death occurred. Because of this, it is easy to overlook them in the present period, just as many have overlooked the real significance of the Passover.
One ritual came at the beginning of the new life – the other at its earthly end.
One applies to a “sinner” – the other to a “Christian”.
One takes away the “sinfulness” of the past – the other takes away the “earthliness” of the present.
Both took a short time to fulfil, while the sanctuary services lasted the full lifetime.
The last ritual used “stored” or “old” ashes of a sacrifice, while the others used “fresh” blood.
In our day, of course, the ceremony of the ashes has a spiritual meaning as well as a physical one. Let’s see if we can discover it.
Ashes were often used in conjunction with “sackcloth” as a sign of contrition. They absorb, and were therefore also used as a cleansing agent. God says, “O daughter of My people, gird you with sackcloth, and wallow yourself in ashes: make you mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us”. Jeremiah 6:26.
In similar circumstances, the great prophet wrote, “And I set my face to the LORD God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes”. Daniel 9:3. And, speaking to some of His favourite cities, Jesus said, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes”. Luke 10:13. Job used them to absorb the discharge from his sores. “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes”. Job 2:7-8.
With this mind, let us read about the ritual:
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
2 “This is the ordinance [ritual] of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke”.
The children of Israel were anciently commanded to make an offering available for anyone of the entire congregation to purify them from the ceremonial defilement of death, which we have inherited from Adam.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Romans 5:12.
Death and the grave are of Satan’s kingdom and he complained bitterly when one was redeemed from there. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil [when] he disputed about the body of Moses, durst [dared] not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, ‘The LORD rebuke you’.” Jude 1:9.
Here’s another version:
9 The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, “No you don't. God will take care of you!” Jude 1:9 (The Message version.)
This illustration was made through a red heifer to represent the more perfect offering that would redeem from the pollution of sin. This was an occasional sacrifice for the purification of all those who had necessarily or accidentally touched the dead. All who came in contact with death in any way were considered ceremonially unclean, and although that was physical in those days, now it applies to all of us who are in contact with spiritual “death”, that is, the defilements of this world even if we have ceased to actively partake of them. It is the prelude to translation!
Thus it is written; “And you has He quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now [still] works in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation [behaviour] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”. Ephesians 2:1-2.
The ceremony was designed to forcibly impress the minds of the Hebrews with the fact that death came in consequence of sin, and therefore is a representative of sin. The one heifer, the one ark (Exodus 25:10-16), the one brass serpent (Numbers 21:9), impressively point to the one great offering, the sacrifice of Christ, but in different ways.
This virgin cow was to be red, which was a symbol of blood. It must be without spot or blemish, and one that had never borne a yoke. Here, again, Christ was typified. The Son of God came voluntarily to accomplish the work of atonement. There was no yoke upon Him, for He was independent and above all law. The angels, as God's created messengers, were under the yoke of obligation; no personal sacrifice of theirs could atone for the guilt of fallen man. Christ alone was free from the claims of the law to undertake the redemption of the sinful race. He alone has creative power. He told us that He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again. (John 10:17-18.) And it is said of Him, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”. Philippians 2:6. Yet this glorious Being loves us poor sinners and took upon Himself “the form of a servant” that He might suffer and die to show us what He does in our behalf. “[He] made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross”. Philippians 2:7-8.
In this ceremony it is the ashes of a “heifer” and not a “bull” that is used, because Jesus might have remained at His Father's right hand, wearing His kingly crown and royal robes, but He chose to exchange all the riches, honour, and glory of heaven for the poverty of humanity, and His position of high command for the horrors of Gethsemane and the humiliation and agony of Calvary. In this situation He became an obedient “wife” to God and a “brother” to man. He became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that by His baptism of suffering and blood He might show HOW He was purifying and redeeming a guilty world. “Lo, I come,” was the joyful assent, “to do Your will, O My God”. Hebrews 10:7.
This ceremony is commented on a little further in the same chapter. “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [purified], and our bodies washed with pure water [baptised]”. Hebrews 10:22.
3 And you shall give her to Eleazar the [son of the high] priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face.
Whenever needed, the sacrificial heifer was conducted outside the camp by an ordinary priest and then killed in the most imposing manner by another person. In the reality, Himself the priest, Himself the victim, Christ suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem, for Calvary was outside the city walls. This was to show that He did not die for the Hebrews alone, but for all mankind. However, in this ceremony He proclaimed to the inhabitants of a fallen world that He had come to be their Redeemer as well as Saviour, and urged them to accept redemption as well as the salvation and cleansing that He offered them.
The officiating priest was one of the ordinary priests (not the high priest) to show Christ’s connection with Christian humanity, and the executioner was a picture of one from this world, both of which we are and were. Addressing Christians in the New Testament, Peter wrote, “You also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ . . . But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy”. 1 Peter 2:5-10. This was a continuation of the Old Testament thought: “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”. Exodus 19:6.
4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before [towards] the tabernacle of the congregation seven times. [It was back in the middle of the camp. Numbers 2:17.]
The heifer having been slain in a most solemn manner, the priest, clothed in the pure white garments of his working uniform (Exodus 28:39-43), took some of the blood on his fingers as it issued from the body of the victim into the bowl, and cast it toward the temple seven times as a notification to God of the “death”. The rest of the blood was burned with the body.
5 And one shall burn the heifer in his [the priest’s] sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn.
6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even [twilight].
The entire body and blood of the heifer was burned to ashes, which signified a whole and ample sacrifice. This was performed by yet another “clean” person while the priest watched and threw into the fire a piece of a certain wood (which was a symbol of righteousness), a measure of scarlet cloth, and a bunch of hyssop. His part over, he could then wash and return to the camp, although he was to remain separate until the beginning of the next day because in the service he had been associated with a death. (This was a spiritual picture of the fact that he must remain on earth until the resurrection.)
8 And he that burns her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even [for the same reason].
One important point to note in this ritual is the number of different people who were employed in the preparation and use of it. In like manner, when a follower of the LORD needs cleansing and educating from the effects of sin, it is the combined efforts of many enquirers from the past which accomplishes this, for it is often ignorance or necessity which causes the contamination. It also shows the unity of purpose that all need to have who participate in this ceremonial.
There is no mention of the executioner being cleansed and returning to the camp, for the sinful nature, the “old man”, which causes the death of Christ can never enter heaven, because “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”. Romans 8:7.
9 And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer [when the fire dies down], and lay them up without [outside] the camp in a clean [holy] place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation [from the contamination of death]: it is a PURIFICATION for sin.
10 And he that gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even:
and it shall be to the children of Israel, and to the stranger that sojourns among them, for a statute for ever.
The ashes were then gathered up by a person who was uncontaminated by any contact with the dead (not even the heifer), and stored in a special place outside the camp until they were needed for individuals or groups. Then he too, washed, and returned to his place but remained separated until the beginning of the next day.
It is recorded that the ashes were for the use of anyone associated with the people of God, even if not home-born, which means anyone who comes to Christ whether in the church or not is eligible to be sprinkled by them. (It is the ashes which are primary symbol, not the water, even though it represents the Holy Spirit.)
Now we are shown the detail of how the ashes were to be used:
11 He that touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days [a complete period].
12 He shall purify himself with it [the ashes] on the third day [he shall request it, but not before then, for he must be “born again”], and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. [This is only effective on those who have partaken of the pass over.]
13 Whosoever touches the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifies not himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD [his own body, 2 Peter 1:13-14]; and that soul shall be cut off from [living] Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.
For normal use the ash was added to pure water which was poured into a bowl, and then they were sprinkled by another “clean” man where needed, for we cannot do this to ourselves.
An important point in these verses is that the sprinkling also needed a period of time for the formerly “unclean” man to become right with God. Many believe that once they are baptised to show the “death” of the “old man” and “resurrected” on the “third” day as Christ was, or forgiven for subsequent actions of sin during their lifetime, that they are clean immediately (which is true), but this procedure adds a note of caution to that idea, for there is more needed to be totally free from the contamination (the earthliness) of this world. More than forgiveness is needed if we are to be translated.
Let’s read on:
14 This is the law, when a man dies in a tent [at home]: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent [the survivors], shall be unclean seven days. 15 And every open vessel, which has no covering bound upon it, is unclean.
16 And whosoever touches 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.
Even “natural” death brings with it a common pollution which must be dealt with, on the dead as well as on the living. This could be likened to the disinfecting or sterilising that we would do today, but with a spiritual aspect. But the ashes are NOT used for one that is “dead” in confession of sin in the sanctuary, for that “death” is transferred to another.
This “pollution” must be cleansed by a “sprinkling”.
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:
18 And a clean [or fit] 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.
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 [the sprinkled one] shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.
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 has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation has not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.
The ashes were placed in a vessel containing water from a running (living) stream (or poured from a vessel) to represent the presence of the Holy Spirit. A clean and pure person then took a cedar stick wrapped with scarlet cloth to stir it, and a bunch of hyssop which was used to sprinkle the contents of the vessel upon the tent and the people assembled. This sprinkling was repeated several times in order to be thorough.
It was done as a purification from the results of sin.
It had nothing to do with forgiveness for individual sins, for that was accomplished in the sanctuary courtyard, either through the blood of a bull or a goat.
We should note that although originally sprinkled on the third day, there was a need for another sprinkling on the seventh day also. Although we are “clean” all over after baptism, and “clean” again after any confession of a sin (having had our “dirty feet” washed), there is still need of a final “cleansing” before we can rejoin the congregation (the people of the universe). This points us to the fact that THE atonement which covers ALL the sins of ALL Israel is not made until near the end of the sanctuary service year. (See Leviticus 16:21; 30.) In the type this was only done once in a ceremonial year. (There were other atonements for other reasons which were made at various times throughout the year, but they were not the final.)
Thus Christ, in His own spotless righteousness, after making His offering as a servant, the Son of man, entered into the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary as a picture of His officiating as the High Priest for the daily or continual forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 5:14-16. (He had been doing this as the Son of God since the foundation of the world, of course, but after Calvary it became more apparent to those who looked there.) Then, when the time came, He moved into the second apartment into the immediate presence of God the Father to show that the second phase of His ministry was now available to mankind.
But it is at “home” that the “ashes” are brought into the service of reconciling man to God from the “wages” of sin. (See Romans 6:23.) Therefore, although needed on the “seventh” or final day, it was NOT included as part of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. Of necessity, it would have had to have preceded that ceremony. Yet the only record we have of its being used is twice in all the Bible, for both Enoch and Elijah have obviously been sprinkled with it! Moses should have been also, but at the last minute he turned away from it.
During the exodus Satan had been trying hard to find something with which to accuse Moses before the angels. When Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, and called the people “Rebels” (a damning accusation), Satan exulted at his success in leading him to separate from God, and he told the angels that he would be able to overcome the Saviour of the world in the same way when He should come to redeem man. Numbers 20:10-12. Because of his transgression, Moses came under the power of Satan – the dominion of death. Had he remained steadfast, the LORD would have been able to bring him to the Promised Land, and would then have translated him to heaven without his seeing death, but he was not “sprinkled” on the seventh day, for he didn’t ask for it!
Some may look upon this slaying of the heifer as a meaningless ceremony, but it was done by the command of God and bears a deep significance that has not lost its application to the present time. God is no less exacting now than He was in olden times and we do well to study it. A solemn statement was made to ancient Israel that the man who should remain unclean and refuse to purify himself, (or rather, be purified by another) would be cut off from among the congregation. This has a special meaning for us. If it was necessary in ancient times for the “unclean” to be purified by the sprinkling of ashes after contact with the death, how essential for those living in the perils of the last days, and exposed to the full temptations of Satan, to have the ashes of Christ applied to their hearts daily to be cleansed from them and be ready for translation.
On earth the clean person used cedar and hyssop, dipping them into the cleansing water containing the ashes, and then sprinkling the unclean. This symbolized that part of the life of Christ given to cleanse us from moral impurities, which can be applied by any faithful person here on earth – it does NOT need an ordained pastor or priest, for the power is in the “ashes” not the man. (The “ashes” represent the “life” given by the Son of God [not the Son of man] “from the foundation of the world”. Revelation 13:8.)
The repeated sprinklings in the tent illustrate the thoroughness of the work that must be accomplished for the repenting follower of God. All that he has must be consecrated. Not only should his own heart be washed clean and pure, but he should strive to have his family, his domestic arrangements, his property, and his entire belongings consecrated to God. This is also explained in the various offerings, such as the “burnt” one to show the dedication of his life (Leviticus 1), the “meat [flour]” one to cover his possessions (Leviticus 2), the sacrifice of “peace” to represent “Thank You” (Leviticus 3), which was shared with as many as the offerer could get to a feast.
The ashes are also called “the water of separation”!
21 And it shall be a perpetual statute [rule] to them, that he that sprinkles the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that touches the water of separation shall be unclean until even. 22 And whatsoever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the soul that touches it shall be unclean until even.
The psalmist, in his prayer, refers to this symbolic ceremony when he says: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”. Psalm 51:7. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and RENEW a right spirit within me”. Verse 10. “RESTORE to me the joy of Your salvation; and uphold me with Your free Spirit”. Verse 12. He is NOT here asking for conversion, but for a cleansing from having come into contact with “death”.
In answer to the request, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” the LORD purifies the heart very much as we air a room. We do not close the doors and windows, and throw in some purifying substance; but we open the doors and throw wide the windows, and let heaven's purifying atmosphere flow in. The windows of impulse, of feeling, must be opened up toward heaven, and the dust of selfishness and earthliness must be expelled. The grace of God must sweep through the chambers of the mind, the imagination must have heavenly themes for contemplation, and every element of the nature must be purified and vitalized by the Spirit of God.
He or she who lives the principles of Bible religion, will not be found weak in moral power. Under the ennobling influence of the Holy Spirit, the tastes and inclinations can become pure and holy. Nothing takes so strong a hold upon the affections, nothing reaches so fully down to the deepest motives of action, nothing exerts so potent an influence upon the life, and gives so great firmness and stability to the character, as the religion of Christ. It leads its possessor ever upward, inspiring him or her with noble purposes, teaching decency of manners, and imparting a becoming dignity to every action.
The Spirit of God is interested in the salvation of man, and is ready to pour out His beneficent gifts, if we will comply with the conditions Christ has made: “Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the LORD, and touch not the unclean”. 2 Corinthians 6:17.
In the religious life of every Christian who is finally victorious there will be scenes of terrible perplexity and trial; but his or her knowledge of the Scriptures will enable each one to bring to mind the encouraging promises of God, which will comfort their hearts and strengthen their faith in the power of the Mighty One. They will read, “. . . that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”. 1 Peter 1:7.
The trial of faith is more precious than gold!
All should learn that this is a part of the discipline in the school of Christ, which is essential to purify and refine them from the dross of earthliness. If the truths of the Bible are woven into practical life, they will bring the mind up from its earthliness and debasement, its contact with “death”. Those who are conversant with the Scriptures will be found to be men and women who exert an elevating influence.
In searching for the heaven-revealed truths, the sincere searcher of the Scriptures is brought into close connection with the Spirit of God. The understanding that He gives of the revealed will of God enlarges the mind, expands, elevates, and endows it with new vigour, by bringing its faculties in contact with stupendous truths. If the study of the Scriptures is made a secondary consideration, great loss is sustained.
The Bible was for centuries excluded from Europe, and thus Satan found a rich field in which he worked with marvellous rapidity, and gathered a harvest to his liking.
But now it is time for the harvest of the LORD.
We need to ask a “clean” Man (the man Christ Jesus) to sprinkle us with the ashes so that we may be set free from the contamination of death, otherwise it won't happen!
The opinion is widely held that the sacrifices and offerings of the ancient Hebrews possess no significance for Christians, and can be of no interest to them. This opinion is without foundation. It is true that the physical ceremonies of the Mosaic law are not now to be observed; but, when rightly understood, they are seen to be all aglow with sacred and important truths. These rites, appointed by the LORD Himself, were like so many beacons to light up the path of God's ancient people, and to direct their minds to the great sacrifice being offered for the sins of men. Viewed in the light of the cross, they contain most precious lessons for the people of God today.
Our Father not only wants us to use the means He has entrusted to us for His glory, but He desires us to make a consecration of ourselves to His cause. After our “tent” has been sprinkled with the hyssop, over the door we could write:
“I am not my own; LORD, I am Yours”. This is how it should be with those who profess to being cleansed by the “ashes” of Christ.
They are efficacious, but they need to be applied often.
Why should we know all this detail?
The more we know the more capable we will be of recognising counterfeits,
for the truth will make us free.
Download a PDF version of this article.
The Messenger and News Review
February 29, 1976 Volume 11, No. 2
The Judgment of the Firstborn
On page 278 of Patriarchs and Prophets we find the following statement: “All who failed to heed the Lord's directions would lose their first-born by the hand of the destroyer.” Now let us think for a moment, is it not the aim of the gospel to secure for us the removal of the first-born? We know that the eradication of the first-born comes as the result of our faithfulness in obeying the Lord's directions in this matter. But notice – the above statement from Patriarchs and Prophets indicates that by failing to obey the Lord's directions the first-born would be destroyed!
You may smile as you note my attempt to create a contradiction here, for you know that it was the first-born of Egypt that was to be eliminated and not the first-born of Israel. This can be stated technically as the recognition of yet another distinction – the distinction between the first-born of Egypt and the first-born of the Israelites. This distinction may at first glance seem trifling, but, as we will see it is full of important implications which we will do well to explore.
Let us go back to some basics for a moment. God earnestly desires that we be converted. And revival of the spirit is possible only if the first-born has been removed. Now, is Satan willing that our first-born, or evil nature, be removed? No, he is not. However, is he willing that our flesh and blood bodies be removed from this earth? Yes, he certainly is. So, we see that Satan's emphasis is on the physical and his purpose destructive while God's emphasis is spiritual and His purpose constructive.
Let us now review the above statement from Patriarchs and Prophets. “All who failed to heed the Lord's directions would lose their first-born by the hand of the destroyer.” Is not that still true today? Will not we today still lose our first-born if we fail to heed the Lord's directions? Yes, we will, for the first-born here spoken of is the first-born of Israel, the flesh and blood body including everything it houses.
So, we may safely rewrite the sentence in the present tense: “All who fail to heed the Lord's directions will lose their first-born by the hand of the destroyer.”
We often learn a thing better by comparing it with its opposite. Therefore, let me suggest a rewriting of the above sentence in order to show the opposite picture: “All who heed the Lord's directions will lose their first-born by the hand of God.”
There are three elements in these sentences which may be compared. We may state them in a table of opposites as follows:
All who fail to heed the Lord's directions
All who heed the Lord's directions
the hand of the destroyer
the hand of God
It should be more discernible through the above table that the distinctions to be noted with respect to the first-born are distinctions to be made regarding judgment. In order that this might be yet further clarified, let us compare two statements from the New Testament.
“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17.
“For what the law could not do ... God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Romans 8:3.
A comparison of these texts will yield one of two conclusions: either the Bible contradicts itself, or it does not. If we conclude that “the world” and “sin in the flesh” are on a par with each other, then it contradicts itself. But since we must continue on in the faith of the assumption that the Bible never contradicts itself, we must conclude that “the world” and “sin in the flesh” are two quite different things. Otherwise, we have Christ condemning what He came not to condemn, but to save – and hardly a more glaring contradiction could be imagined.
We mentioned previously that Satan does not desire the removal of our old sin nature. We should also remember that this sin nature is “sin in the flesh”. We have just seen that “sin in the flesh” and “the world” are two quite different things. Thus it is that while Satan is not interested in the destruction of the sin nature, he is very much interested in the destruction of the world. Christ, on the other hand, is interested in the salvation of the world through the removal of sin in the flesh.
Returning to the statement from John's gospel (John 3:17), let us construct, as before, an opposing statement to an inspired verse so that we might better see the contrast between God's character and that of Satan.
For Satan dispatched himself to the world to condemn the world so that the world through him might be destroyed.
For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
It is God's will that all people – that is, the world full of people – be saved. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. We could also state this truth by saying that God wishes the removal of “sin in the flesh”, or the first-born, from everyone. At the same time it is Satan's wish that all people – again the whole world – be destroyed, even those who are by nature his own! In other words, Satan desires the complete physical annihilation of all inhabitants on the earth – including his own followers! We could say, then, that Satan desires the universal death of the first-born.
Satan's judgment is on the first-born.
God's judgment is also on the first-born.
Satan is of one character.
God is of another character.
Therefore, Satan judges with a certain judgment.
God judges with another judgment.
This line of reasoning shows us that the first-born in the one case is not the same as the first-born of the other case.
As we return our attention once again to the Passover in Egypt we notice that Egypt was the land of sin run by godless sinners, the Egyptians. These Egyptians were certainly not God's people. They were Satan's people. God's people were their captives. We can just imagine how pleasing this was to Satan. As long as God's people were slaves to Satan's people he certainly had great cause for satisfaction. On the night of the passover we would normally expect that if any Hebrew family failed to do as it was directed by God, its first-born would be slain. If there were no failures on the part of God's people to heed the Lord's directions then we might expect that on the night of the passover there would be no deaths whatsoever, the logic being that if Satan could not destroy any of his Archenemy's people in the great controversy, he would just have to settle for the continued satisfaction of seeing God's people suffer under the hard bondage of his own people, the Egyptians.
But in this logic lies a monumental fallacy based upon human failure to recognize a most important principle. This principle is that there is not the slightest degree of inherent goodness in the character of Satan, therefore nor of inherent logic in the administration of his government. All his actions find their origin in selfishness and rage.
Imagine a young man who, after having spent much time and effort on the writing of a play, is sitting in the audience at its premiere. Having been confident of it's success, he sinks into a deep depression as he hears the derisive comments of those in attendance. The show is a flop. Afterward, his best friend tries to console him. The young man rejects his best friend's attempts, and in addition turns on him and castigates him bitterly. Then he walks off alone, rejecting any company. You can just imagine that young man vengefully kicking a small stone that happens to be in his path, or throwing a glass or dish against the wall in his intense frustration. The glass or dish is certainly of more use unbroken than broken, but how much success do you suppose you would have in trying to convince the young man of that? Rage is illogical. And Satan is enraged. He will take advantage of any occasion for effecting his basic purpose of destruction. His rage, or hatred, is the abiding force in his life. It controls all his actions and makes him an indiscriminate killer. No deference is extended, even to his own subjects.
RAGE IS ILLOGICAL!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. In the above text Peter has chosen a most descriptive model of rage in the roaring lion. Note also that Peter does not say “Seeking whom of us Christians he may devour.” Other translations say “some one to devour”.
Thus it is that the history of the first passover is a story of wholesale death, even though not one Israelite was affected. It is a story of the death of a first-born. But the death of the first-born by the hand of the destroyer is quite different from the death of the first-born by the hand of God.
Satan destroys whomever he may.
God, in fact, destroys no one.
Satan destroys friend and foe alike.
God destroys not even his foes.
Satan destroys the power of life itself, that is, the physical being.
God destroys the power of sin in the individual and never the individual himself.
In fact, God does not even destroy the power of sin as men generally think of it. Instead, He removes the sin from the individual and places it in the Sanctuary.
[We can see that the word “Sanctuary” here means “Christ”. Ed.]
The distinction between the two first-borns can be made even clearer through the following table of parallels:
The 1st Born (physical life)
The 1st Born (spiritual life)
target of Satan's concern
target of God's concern
Satan condemns it
God condemns it
“sin in the flesh”
the carnal mind.
Through this we can also see that Jesus' coming in our weak, sinful flesh was especially significant. Jesus came to magnify the law and make it honourable. Satan hates the law, and so Christ's magnification of it was most appropriate. Satan also hates our very lives, our very flesh. And so, just as appropriately, Jesus magnified and honoured that, too, by coming in it and keeping the law perfectly in it.
“For what the law could not do (i.e. keep itself) in that it was weak (unfulfilled) through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Romans 8:3.
Jesus, of course, never condemned himself and he came in our flesh, sinful flesh. Yet, as the verse says, he condemned sin in the flesh. Note, too, that the next verse contrasts “the flesh” with “the Spirit”. We know that Jesus walked “after the Spirit”, so the term “the flesh” in this instance at least, must be synonymous with “sin in the flesh”. Thus we see that “the flesh”, as with “the first-born” is capable of two interpretations.
Let us once again set forth the distinctions in a table:
“sinful flesh” Romans 8:3
“sin in the flesh” Romans 8:3
can keep the law Romans 6:12, 13
not subject to the law Romans 8:7
“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.”
1 John 4:2
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8.
target of Satan's concern
target of God's concern
human nature carnal,
Satan condemns it
God condemns it.
It is interesting to observe that all popular theology is content to let sin remain in the flesh. Rather than condemning “sinful flesh”, the churches of Babylon condemn “sinful flesh” by saying words to the effect that in our present physical condition, law keeping is beyond us. Christ only can keep the law and does so for us.
The only people who can truly lay claim to being God's people are those who condemn sin in the flesh as Jesus did. “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.
Jesus came into the world as we came into it – in weak, sinful flesh. Now we must die as He died and come into the world as He came into it – free.
“For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:7.
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11. Back
The necessity of circumcision
22 And you [Moses] shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, Israel is My son, even My firstborn: 23 and I say to you, Let My son go, that he may serve Me: and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn’.”
24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him [Moses], and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah [his wife] took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, “Surely a bloody husband are you to me”.
26 So He let him go: then she said, “A bloody husband you are”, because of the circumcision.
On the way from Midian, Moses received a startling and terrible warning of the LORD's displeasure. An angel appeared to him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy him. No explanation was given; but under the guidance of the Spirit Moses remembered that he had disregarded one of God's requirements; yielding to the persuasion of his wife, he had neglected to perform the rite of circumcision upon their youngest son.
He had failed to comply with the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings of God's covenant with Israel; and such a neglect on the part of their chosen leader could not but lessen the force of the divine precepts upon the people.
Zipporah, fearing that her husband would be killed, performed the rite herself, and the angel then permitted Moses to pursue his journey.
In his mission to Pharaoh, Moses was to be placed in a position of great peril; his life could be preserved only through the protection of holy angels. But while living in neglect of a known duty, he would not be secure; for he could not be shielded by the angels of God. It was not his son who was in danger, he could be protected regardless of the physical omission, but Moses could not be coved while neglecting a known duty!
In the time of trouble just before the coming of Christ, the righteous will be preserved through the ministration of heavenly angels; but there will be no security for the transgressor of God's law, for angels cannot then protect those who are deliberately disregarding one of the divine precepts. Back
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