What the red heifers means to me Sept 9, 2018 11:47:02 GMT -6 barbiosheepgirl, mike, and 4 more like this
Post by gkp on Sept 9, 2018 11:47:02 GMT -6
Hi brothers and sisters, I am sorry for being silent lately. I have kept up on all your conversations but for reasons to be explained later I just haven't felt the need to join in. You all have always been precious to me and I lift you up in prayers often. So many things are happening these days that it is impossible to keep up with everything. The stars, volcanoes, earthquakes, middle east unrest, the list goes on and on. I would like to talk about just one small facet of this dazzling last days spectacle.
Daniel Matson was the first one I know that shared about the red heifer on his Facebook page. Apparently the Jews have a young heifer, spotless and up to code to use as a sacrifice animal in the future. My first thought was that this is interesting. My second thought was a bit of irritation at the Jews trying to resurrect an old pattern of no current use. I think that this was an inappropriate thought on my part. Last night I did a bit of searching and read Numbers 19 about the red heifer. Then, on a hunch, I turned to a couple of commentaries in the list on Bible Hub. I chose Matthew Henry Full and Darby's Bible Synopsis. I was blown away as I learned what really the red heifer is about. Let me set this insight aside just for a bit and share some personal struggles-
For a number of months my wife and I have born the heavy weight of witnessing the shambles and heartbreak of a marriage. Not ours, but the marriage of a young family very dear to us. As is usually the case there was blame on both partners. We have seen the damage they have done to each other for a long ling time. The hardest thing is to see how this process has impacted their child. This previously cheerful little five year old person is acting out the stress and confusion that is now the climate at home. Heartbreaking. We have tried to offer counsel and advice as well as a listening ear and whatever else we could. At this point the wife is changing . She has gone from being a domineering perfectionist who yelled at her husband to someone who has been broken and, praise God, someone who is seeking God and is willing to change. She calls my wife daily and shares concerns and worries and my wife guides her into better ways of seeing and into learning to trust a God Who is there for her. The hard thing lately is the husband who finally reached his limit and left the home (due in part to a work situation.) He returns home grudgingly on weekends but sees no hope for the marriage. And, in fact, has seemed to be doing his best to drive his wife into accepting a divorce. This has weighed so heavily on my heart. When I see how this impacts their child I get very angry. Realizing that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God, I have put off a letter or a phone call until I felt guidance from the Holy Spirit. My prayer all day yesterday was "God please soften his heart. Please wake him up to his hardness." It has been a hard burden for my wife and me to bear. Now, back to the red heifer-
I learned that this sacrifice was very different than the ones offered in the temple complex. Those were very public and often corporate and involved shedding blood. This one happened outside the camp. The others cleansed the people in God's sight. He saw them covered by the blood of these sacrifices. But, and I am just learning about this so give me some room to not be fully up to speed, the people could still labor under a guilty conscience. Something else was needed. The red heifer was meticulously inspected and even a couple of hairs the wrong color would disqualify it. At the right time the heifer was led to a place outside the camp and was slaughtered and burned there. Every part of the animal including the dung was burned. While the fire was raging the priest threw on cedar wood, hissop and scarlet yarn. When all was gone, another priest would maticulously collect all the ashes and save them. When a person came to the priests with a guilt problem, a tiny portion of the ash was mixed with running water and this was used to cleanse the conscience of the person. What is interesting is that the ashes of this first red heifer sacricficed during the priesthood of Aaron was enough to minister to the needs of the peopke for a thousand years! Later only eight more heifers were sacrificed for the people. Compare this with the vast amount of other animals that were sacrificed over the centuries of Jewish temple worship!
There is another important aspect to this red heifer process. The priests that participated were made unclean. They did nothing wrong but their good service rendered them unclean. They had to bathe, wash their clothes and wait till evening to be purified. Back to my story-
The weight my wife and I have been bearing is like the uncleaness of the priests. This morning I just felt worn out and nearly sick. It is what the Bible talks about when we are called a kingdom of priests and we are called to bear one another's burdens. It is a heavy thing to carry and yet it is why we are here. My life is not about earthly pleasures and pursuits, it is about caring for the weak, sick, and suffering.
For days I have been praying for God to change the heart of the husband. And I have been ready to step in with a strong message about manning up and that sort of thing. But this morning as I meditated on the red heifer, I realized in the process of answering my prayers, I needed to change first. I needed to humble myself and see my real place in the process. I am just a servant of the Lord who might serve in a priestly way by helping a brother with a guilty conscience to find peace with God. Rather than demanding that he try harder, which would not have worked, it is better to open a pathway to peace with God. Then what efforts he does in the future will stem from a good heart.
There is so much more to this story and to the lessons we can learn from the red heifer. I am humbly offering this to you in the hope it will broaden your understanding of our place in this suffering world and show you yet another example of the depth of God's love and compassion for His people. Also the heifer had to be a year old before being offered. Perhaps without fully understanding what they are doing, the Jews are preparing to finally deal with a guilty conscience in regards to how they treated their Messiah. God is working in mysterious ways indeed!