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The 1888 message taught the Biblical truth of corporate repentance

Significance of the Red Heifer: Christ Crucified Outside the Camp
by Gerald L. Finneman 

The heifer, unlike the par "bull," was not usually used in the Old Testament as a sacrificial animal. The red heifer was the exception. This animal was slaughtered and burned outside the camp (Num. 19:1-9). The ashes were preserved for future use. The ashes were to be kept for a "water separation," or a "purification for sin." (vv 9, 17-22). That ceremony was to remove defilement incurred through contact with the dead (vv 11-16). In Hebrews 9:13 is found a referral to this custom when writing of the effectiveness of Christ's blood for the forgiveness of sins.

The word in Numbers 19 for heifer is parah (paw raw'). This is the feminine gender of the term for "bullock." It means a cow, a kine, or a calf or young cow. The red heifer was to be "without spot" and without a yoke typifying Christ's voluntary coming to redeem us and His sinless character even though He took our sins as His own.

The red heifer was similar to, yet different from, the other offerings for sin. Nevertheless, the purpose was the same. It was a sin offering. However, the blood was not individually applied to the sinner. The blood is mentioned only in relationship to the sacrifice, when the priest sprinkled it toward the tabernacle seven times. Neither was the heifer offered within the confines of the court as were the other sacrifices. The blood of this slain animal was not carried into the first apartment of the tabernacle. It was not sprinkled before the veil. Neither was there a fingerprint, a blood print, placed upon the horns of the altar of incense as a record of the sin committed, confessed and forgiven.

The sacrifice of the red heifer was not directly connected with the regular and usual worship service of the sanctuary. The ceremony was conducted outside the camp. The offering of the red heifer was not only for the Israelite, but also for the stranger or gentile among them. (Num. 19:10). This offering was not a regular offering, only an occasional ceremony. It was universal in its scope.

The word "red" used here (vs 2) is adom'. It is related to the words adam and ground (or earth) [ada'mah]. The words "red" "Adam" and "ground" all come from the same root word 'dm. (In Lam. 4:7 the word adam is translated "ruddy"). In the beginning God made adam out of the ground (ada'mah) (Gen. 2:7). When Adam sinned all of creation was altered. The created structure of earth (ada'mah) was violated. Because of adam’s sin, the ada'mah brings forth thorns and thistles thus making adam's tilling of the ada'mah much more labor intensive (Gen. 3:17,18, 23). Finally after a lifetime of toil, adam must return to the ada'mah from which he was made (Gen. 3:19).

However, from adam God promised to bring forth a lifegiver (Gen. 3:15). The woman ('ishsha) was the physical counterpart of the man (Gen. 2:23, 24). Woman used in a collective sense such as "born of a woman" indicates man's mortality with his inherent frailties. (See Job 14:1; 15:14; 25:4.). The last Adam was to be "born of a woman" to redeem those who are under the condemnation of the law (Gal. 4:4, 5). In the first three chapters of Genesis we have the creation-fall-redemption pattern and model that guides us through the study of the Patriarchal, the Levitical, and the Christian ages revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.

The ceremony of the red heifer is most significant in the creation-fall-redemption model. Man was cast out of the paradise garden of Eden. At the end of his life he was consigned to the ground from which he came. But Christ, the second Adam, who was above all law, came under the law to redeem man. He went outside the gate to become the curse of God in order to redeem Adam's failure. The red heifer was to be one upon which a yoke had never been placed. This signified the voluntary offer of Himself for us. The only cord that bound Him was the cord of His own love for us. Christ was above all law. But He came under the jurisdiction and the condemnation of His violated moral law.

The red heifer was a congregational, or corporate, offering (Num. 19:1). It was to be offered outside the camp as an impure thing, typifying Christ who was made to be sin and a curse for us. He suffered outside the established order of things (Heb. 13:12). Outside the camp, Christ as the son of Adam (earthy-red) came in red apparel—red with His own blood which was the blood of mankind, red with the blood of His enemies. Although enemies, He reconciled us to God, through His death (Isa. 63:1-3; Rom. 5:10).

The heifer was to be totally consumed with nothing remaining but ashes. This typified the extent to which the last Adam would go. He offered Himself, both soul and body, as a sacrifice made by fire (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 9:18, Psa. 22:14). When Jesus spoke of His death, He never called it a sleep as in the first death. He spoke of it as it really was—eternal death, separation from the Father, the equivalent of what the Bible calls the second death. Hell is where both soul and body are destroyed (Matt. 10:28). This is the depth to which Christ went in order to save the world. He went to hell for us. He offered His soul for us (Isa. 53:12). The burning to ashes represents the total consumption and destruction of sin and sinners (Mal. 4:1, 3). This is the full extent covered in the infinite sacrifice to which Christ gave himself! He took our place as the Sin-bearer. Yea, more than this. He became sin itself in order that He might destroy him who had the power of sin and death (Heb. 2:14, 15).

The ashes were sufficient for all the people. When a person or a family needed purification, a fresh heifer was not required to be sacrificed. One was sufficient for all, including the sojourning stranger (Num. 19:10). So the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for everyone. It is everlastingly efficacious. There is enough virtue in His sacrifice for the sins of the world. (1 John 2:2). The ashes were stored for all future needs. So the sacrifice of Christ is laid up for us as an inexhaustible fountain of merit to which we have daily access for the purging of our consciences (Heb. 9:13, 14; Zech. 13:1).

Further, the red heifer was offered alone. Christ was all alone. There is but one sin-bearer and He trod the winepress alone. He endured the contradiction (hostility) of sinners (those he came to save) against himself, alone (Heb. 12:3).

And it is of interest here to note that the person who offered the red heifer himself became unclean. The only way he could be purified was by the ashes of that offering. So it is with those who crucified Christ. Man became guilty and defiled by sacrificing Christ. And it is by that very same sacrifice that the sin and guilt which crucified Him cleanses us. It is by virtue of the same blood which we shed, on Calvary, that we are cleansed from our guilt through faith. The sacrifice of Christ pollutes the clean (those who suppose they are so) by their guilt in crucifying Him; and that same sacrifice cleanses those who are unclean. Christ went outside the camp of heaven and became the accursed of God for the fallen human race. In His being cursed, He redeemed us from the curse (Gal. 3:13). He was "made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."(2 Cor. 5:21).

The sacrifice of the red heifer was the cross in type. It was designed to create an influence in favor of the cross, even where there was no interest. It was the means to move the world. That sacrifice, accomplished outside the camp of Israel, was witnessed by heathen passers-by. The offering was itself a call to all who were unclean, and helpless and perishing. It was an invitation to come for purification. It drew the attention of those outside the confines of the camp of Israel as well as Israel. It was the gospel declaration to "Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth!" (Isa. 45:22).

The crucified Christ draws everyone to Himself (John 12:32). A person must exert himself from being drawn to Christ or he will be pulled to Him. One must willingly take and keep himself away or he will be led to the foot of the cross. More than this, he will have to tear himself away from the mighty drawing influence of the Holy Spirit. God has made it hard for the willful sinner to be lost.

The red heifer, sacrificed outside the camp, was the gospel of Jesus Christ hanging upon the cross for the lost race. In the Levitical age it was the message, the doctrine, the argument and the warning to the impenitent. It was encouragement for the defiled and the sorrowing. It was the hope of every believer. It was designed to awaken an interest in the minds of men to cause them to fix their eyes on Christ. Christ and Him crucified was typified in the sacrifice of the red heifer. And in this type there was no other like it that was so characterized by clear, precise and terse expression of the far-reaching gospel of Christ crucified.

Spirit of Prophecy Statements Regarding
Corporate Sacrifice for Corporate Sin

As Adam and Eve were banished from Eden for transgressing the law of God, so Christ was to suffer without the boundaries of the holy place. He died outside the camp, where felons and murderers were executed. There He trod the winepress alone, bearing the penalty that should have fallen on the sinner. How deep and full of significance are the words, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." He went forth without the camp, thus showing that He gave His life not only for the Jewish nation, but for the whole world. …

Christ was indeed enduring the contradiction of sinners against himself. But every pang of suffering that he bore helped tear away the foundation of the enemy's kingdom. Satan bruised Christ's heel, but Christ bruised Satan's head. Through death the Saviour destroyed him that had the power of death. In the very act of grasping his prey, death was vanquished; for by dying, Christ brought to light life and immortality through the gospel. Never was the Son of God more beloved by his Father, by the heavenly family, and by the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds, than when he humbled himself to bear disgrace, humiliation, shame, and abuse. By becoming the sin-bearer, he lifted from the human race the curse of sin. In his own body he paid the penalty of that on which the power of Satan over humanity is founded—sin.

Not that sin might become righteousness, and transgression of the law a virtue, did Christ die. He died that sin might be made to appear exceeding sinful, the hateful thing that it is. By his death he became the possessor of the keys of hell and of death. Satan could no longer reign without a rival, and be reverenced as a god. Temples had been erected to him, and human sacrifices offered on his altars. But the emancipation papers of the race have been signed by the blood of the Son of God. A way has been opened for the message of hope and mercy to be carried to the ends of the earth. Now, whosoever will may take hold of God's strength, and make peace with him. The heathen are no longer to be wrapped in the darkness of superstition. The gloom is to disappear before the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness. (YI June 28, 1900).

The children of Israel were anciently commanded to make an offering for the entire congregation to purify, them from ceremonial defilement. This sacrifice was a red heifer and represented the more perfect offering that should 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. This was 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, the one brazen serpent, impressively point to the one great offering, the sacrifice of Christ.

This heifer 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 obligatory yoke upon Him, for He was independent and above all law. The angels, as God's intelligent 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 had power to lay down His life and to take it up again. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (4T 120, 121).

The sacrificial heifer was conducted without the camp and slain in the most imposing manner. Thus Christ suffered without the gates of Jerusalem, for Calvary was outside the city walls. This was to show that Christ did not die for the Hebrews alone, but for all mankind. He proclaims to a fallen world that He has come to be their Redeemer and urges them to accept the salvation He offers them. The heifer having been slain in a most solemn manner, the priest, clothed in pure white garments, took the blood in his hands as it issued from the body of the victim and cast it toward the temple seven times. "And having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (4T 121).

The body of the heifer was burned to ashes, which signified a whole and ample sacrifice. The ashes were then gathered up by a person uncontaminated by contact with the dead and placed in a vessel containing water from a running stream. This clean and pure person then took a cedar stick with scarlet cloth and a bunch of hyssop, and sprinkled the contents of the vessel upon the tent and the people assembled. This ceremony was repeated several times in order to be thorough and was done as a purification from sin. (4T 121, 122).

Thus Christ, in His own spotless righteousness, after shedding His precious blood, enters into the holy place to cleanse the sanctuary. And there the crimson current is brought into the service of reconciling God to man. 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.

The priest used cedar and hyssop, dipping them into the cleansing water and sprinkling the unclean. This symbolized the blood of Christ spilled to cleanse us from moral impurities. The repeated sprinklings illustrate the thoroughness of the work that must be accomplished for the repenting sinner. All that he has must be consecrated. Not only should his own soul 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.

After the tent had been sprinkled with hyssop, over the door of those cleansed was written: I am not my own; Lord, I am Thine. Thus should it be with those who profess to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. God is no less exacting now than He was in olden times. 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." "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit." (4T 122).

The blood of Christ is efficacious, but it needs to be applied continually. God not only wants His servants to use the means He has entrusted to them for His glory, but He desires them to make a consecration of themselves to His cause. If you, my brethren, have become selfish and are withholding from the Lord that which you should cheerfully give to His service, then you need the blood of sprinkling thoroughly applied, consecrating you and all your possessions to God. (4T 122, 323).

My much-respected brethren, you have not that earnest and unselfish devotion to the work of God that He requires of you. You have given your attention to temporal matters. You have trained your minds for business in order to thereby benefit yourselves. But God calls for you to come into closer union with Him, that He may mold and train you for His work. A solemn statement was made to ancient Israel that the man who should remain unclean and refuse to purify himself should 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 blood of sprinkling, how essential for those living in the perils of the last days, and exposed to the temptations of Satan, to have the blood of Christ applied to their hearts daily. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (4T 123).


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