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The Red Heifer in the Bible

Question: “What is the significance of a red heifer in the Bible? Is a red heifer a sign of the end times?”

Sources: Grace Through Faith 

I’m sure you’ve heard about the red heifer that has been found somewhere in the US, that is apparently qualified to be used in the third temple that will be built soon. I know finding the perfect candidate is huge in Biblical prophecy, but how does it fit into the rapture, are we that close ?

According to Numbers 19 the ashes of a pure red heifer were an ingredient in the water of purification that made Israelites ceremonially clean. Today all living Jews are unclean and cannot enter the Temple or touch anything that’s holy. Before they can begin building the new temple they will have to be made clean again. To become so, they need a red heifer and that’s why the birth of one is so exciting to them.

In all of Israel’s history there have only been 9 red heifers sacrificed. Hebrew tradition holds that when the 10th one is sacrificed it will be a sign of the Messiah’s coming.

This is not the first red heifer to be born in this generation. The previous ones exceeded the maximum allowable number of non-red hairs before reaching age 3 and were disqualified. This bears watching, but everything depends on the heifer remaining spotless until it is qualified.

The red heifer pertains to the rapture in that the Temple is a necessary component of Daniel’s 70th Week. It has to be built and functioning by the middle of the week when the anti-Christ defiles it (Daniel 9:27Matt. 24:15-212 Thes 2:4). From my studies, I’m convinced that the rapture will occur before the 70th Week begins. In short, a red heifer makes building the Temple possible soon and that makes the rapture possible sooner.

According to the Bible, the red heifer—a reddish-brown cow, probably no more than two years old which had never had a yoke on it—was to be sacrificed as part of the purification rites of the Mosaic Law. The slaughtering of a red heifer was a ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1-10. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle.

The imagery of the blood of the heifer without blemish being sacrificed and its blood cleansing from sin is a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for believers’ sin. He was “without blemish” just as the red heifer was to be. As the heifer was sacrificed “outside the camp” (Numbers 19:3), in the same way Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12).

The Bible does teach that one day there will be again be a temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezekiel chapters 41-45). Jesus prophesied that the antichrist would desecrate the temple (Matthew 24:15), and for that to occur, there obviously would have to be a temple in Jerusalem once again. Many anticipate the birth of a red heifer because in order for a new temple to function according to the Old Testament law, a red heifer would have to be sacrificed for the water of cleansing used in the temple. So, when a red heifer is born (which is quite unusual) it might be a sign that the temple will soon be rebuilt.

 

Answer: According to the Bible, the red heifer—a reddish-brown cow, probably no more than two years old which had never had a yoke on it—was to be sacrificed as part of the purification rites of the Mosaic Law. The slaughtering of a red heifer was a ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1-10. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle.

The imagery of the blood of the heifer without blemish being sacrificed and its blood cleansing from sin is a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for believers’ sin. He was “without blemish” just as the red heifer was to be. As the heifer was sacrificed “outside the camp” (Numbers 19:3), in the same way Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:11-12). 

The Bible does teach that one day there will be again be a temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezekiel chapters 41-45). Jesus prophesied that the antichrist would desecrate the temple (Matthew 24:15), and for that to occur, there obviously would have to be a temple in Jerusalem once again. Many anticipate the birth of a red heifer because in order for a new temple to function according to the Old Testament law, a red heifer would have to be sacrificed for the water of cleansing used in the temple. So, when a red heifer is born (which is quite unusual) it might be a sign that the temple will soon be rebuilt.

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