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Numbers 19

Talks for Growing Christians

The Red Heifer Sacrifice

Numbers 19

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Lesson Number 24

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The red heifer sacrifice purified the unclean people in Israel.
  2. The red heifer sacrifice pictures the cleansing work of Christ.

Practical Application

  1. Be extremely careful when you sprinkle the ashes.

Questions

  1. What is a red heifer?
  2. Discuss the modern debate involving the red heifer.
  3. What was the purpose of the red heifer sacrifice?
  4. Review the process of the red heifer sacrifice.
  5. How does Hebrews 9:13-14 relate to this passage?

Answers

  1. A heifer is young, female cow, slightly older than a calf. Red heifers, with reddish-brown hair are a rare breed.
  2. Some Christians say the sacrificial system in Israel cannot begin again until the lost ashes of the red heifer and the Ark of the Covenant are found. There is no scriptural basis for this claim. There have also been reports of red heifers being bred in northern Israel, but these reports are speculative.
  3. It provided cleansing for anyone who had been defiled by touching a dead body or anything unclean.
  4. The heifer was killed and burned outside the camp. The ashes of the red heifer were then kept in a container in a clean place outside the camp. When anyone or anything was defiled, ashes were mixed in a vessel with running water. This water was sprinkled on the unclean person or object.
  5. Hebrews 9:13-14 tells us that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices, including the red heifer sacrifice, because His sacrificial death can cleanse even our consciences from sin.

Discuss/Consider

  1. The red heifer sacrifice purified the unclean people in Israel. This chapter pictures the truth that God is holy. What is unclean and defiled must be judged. But God in His grace has provided a way of purification. Today, our sins are forgiven and we are cleansed when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Still, as Christians we need constant cleansing from the defilement of sin. Discuss the ways for Christians to be purified today. Refer to Ephesians 5:26, 2 Corinthians 7:1, and 1 John 1:7.
  2. Review the many detailed ways in which the red heifer sacrifice pictures Christ as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Challenge

  1. As believers we are accountable to help our brothers and sisters deal with the defiling effect of sin in their lives by applying the cleansing effect of the Word. But we must be careful that we do not fall into the same sin (Galatians 6:1).

Key Verses

  • “Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer…for purifying from sin.” Numbers 19:9
  • “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

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