The Ceremony To Wash Away Sin
1-2The LORD gave Moses and Aaron the following law:
The people of Israel must bring Moses a reddish-brown cow that has nothing wrong with it and that has never been used for plowing.
A heifer is a cow which has never been pregnant, and thus cannot yet give milk. They had to find one with a red color — which, of course, would be somewhat rare.
–David Guzik (and all following comments)
3Moses will give it to Eleazar the priest, then it will be led outside the camp and killed while Eleazar watches. 4He will dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it seven times in the direction of the sacred tent. 5Then the whole cow, including its skin, meat, blood, and insides must be burned.
In no other sacrifice in the Old Testament is the blood required to be burned.
6A priest is to throw a stick of cedar wood, a hyssop branch, and a piece of red yarn into the fire.
When the heifer was burnt, the priest would also put cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet into the fire. Each of these items has a special significance.
Cedar is extremely resistant to disease and rot, and is well known for its quality and preciousness. These properties may be the reason for including it here, as well as a symbolic reference to the wood of the cross.
Hyssop was used not only with the cleansing ceremony for lepers, but also Jesus was offered drink from a hyssop branch on the cross (Matthew 27:48), and when David said purge me with hyssop in Psalm 51:7, he was admitting he was as bad as a leper.
Scarlet, the color of blood, pictures the cleansing blood of Jesus on the cross. Scarlet was used in the veil and curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:31), in the garments of the high priest (Exodus 28:5-6), the covering for the table of showbread (Numbers 4:8), the sign of Rahab’s salvation (Joshua 2:21), and the color of the mocking “king’s robe” put on Jesus at His torture by the soldiers (Matthew 27:28).
7After the ceremony, the priest is to take a bath and wash his clothes. Only then can he go back into the camp, but he remains unclean and unfit for worship until evening. 8The man who burned the cow must also wash his clothes and take a bath, but he is also unclean until evening.
9A man who isn’t unclean must collect the ashes of the burnt cow and store them outside the camp in a clean place. The people of Israel can mix these ashes with the water used in the ceremony to wash away sin. 10The man who collects the ashes must wash his clothes, but will remain unclean until evening. This law must always be obeyed by the people of Israel and the foreigners living among them.
What Must Be Done after Touching a Dead Body
The LORD said:
11If you touch a dead body, you will be unclean for seven days.
The practice of quarantining all those who come into contact with a dead body was a wonderful public health measure as well. Those potentially contaminated would be set aside until it could be seen if they had contracted a disease from the dead body.
12But if you wash with the water mixed with the cow’s ashes on the third day and again on the seventh day, you will be clean and acceptable for worship. You must wash yourself on those days; if you don’t, you will remain unclean. 13Suppose you touch a dead body, but refuse to be made clean by washing with the water mixed with ashes. You will be guilty of making my sacred tent unclean and will no longer belong to the people of Israel.
14If someone dies in a tent while you are there, you will be unclean for seven days. And anyone who later enters the tent will also be unclean. 15Any open jar in the tent is unclean.
16If you touch the body of someone who was killed or who died of old age, or if you touch a human bone or a grave, you will be unclean for seven days.
17-18Before you can be made clean, someone who is clean must take some of the ashes from the burnt cow and stir them into a pot of spring water. That same person must dip a hyssop branch in the water and ashes, then sprinkle it on the tent and everything in it, including everyone who was inside. If you have touched a human bone, a grave, or a dead body, you must be sprinkled with that water. 19If this is done on the third day and on the seventh day, you will be clean. Then after you take a bath and wash your clothes, you can worship that evening.
Thus, ashes of the red heifer (which the ingredients all speak of the work of Jesus on our behalf), combined with water (which speaks of the work of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit) combine together to bring cleansing. It can cleanse even the uncleanness brought about by death.
All this cleansing is a precious picture; but the reality is in Jesus: For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14)
20If you are unclean and refuse to be made clean by washing with the water mixed with ashes, you will be guilty of making my sacred tent unclean, and you will no longer belong to the people of Israel. 21These laws will never change.
The man who sprinkled the water and the ashes on you when you were unclean must also wash his clothes. And whoever touches this water is unclean until evening. 22When you are unclean, everything you touch becomes unclean, and anyone who touches you will be unclean until evening.
How to get clean on the inside? How to have sins washed away?
HERE is an old hymn that has fallen out of favor in the present-day church, but the text speaks biblical truth. “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood” sung by Selah.