"Tell the Israelites to bring you a
red heifer without defect or blemish and
that has never been under a yoke." Numbers 19:2
Contact with death is the occasion of this type.
DEATH! The very sound falls heavily. What mind can
lightly think of it? What eye unmoved can see it? The limbs, once full of
vigor, stir no more. Sinews, once elastic in activity, become rigid. The
form, so wondrous in its mechanism, becomes an inert mass. The features,
once the reflecting mirror of ten thousand thoughts, are marble-monotony.
The vessel, once so proudly merry, lies a deserted wreck. The fabric, once
so sparkling in beauty, is a deserted ruin.
Death! It is more than animation fled. Decay draws near,
with a polluting touch. Corruption fastens on its prey. The friends, most
dotingly attached, cannot but turn loathingly away. A stern necessity
requires, that offensive remains be buried out of sight.
Reader, here pause and meditate. This death is pressing
at your heels. It soon will lay you low. Your weeping friends will hide you
in the dust. A forgetting world will go on merrily, as though you had not
been. Say, do you joyfully await its touch? Can you feel, Death comes as
with friendly hand to open the cage-door, that my freed spirit may fly to
its high home? Remember, you cannot escape. This tyrant wields a universal
But in what cradle is it born? Whence is it armed with
that destroying scythe? It is transgression's child. Sin is the womb which
bore it. A sinless world would have been deathless bloom. But the world is
sinful, and therefore is an open tomb.
In Eden sin was foreseen, and therefore death was
fore-announced. Obey and live--but disobey, and "you shall surely die." Gen.
2:17. The miserable sequel is well known. The tempter came. The bold lie
triumphed. And from that day our fallen earth has been one charnel-house.
Hence death is no ingredient in creation's primal law. It
is a shadow cast by a blighted ruin. In its features we read
wrath--displeasure--curse. Its voice is sternly one--God is offended. Its
scourge vindicates eternal majesty and truth.
Death, then, is perpetual evidence, that rebellion has
worked extensively. It follows, because sin has preceded. Now God, in love,
desires to set this truth conspicuously before each eye. Hence He writes a
clear decree in Israel's code. "Whoever touches a dead body, is unclean
seven days." Numb. 19:11. The man, thus soiled, is outcast from the
tabernacle-service. He is exiled from social fellowships. The rule is
universal. "This is the ritual law that applies when someone dies in a tent:
Those who enter that tent, and those who were inside when the death
occurred, will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. Any container in the
tent that was not covered with a lid is also defiled. And if someone
outdoors touches the corpse of someone who was killed with a sword or who
died a natural death, or if someone touches a human bone or a grave, that
person will be unclean for seven days." Numbers 19:14-16
This is a rigid law. But it speaks clearly. How awfully
it shows God's sense of sin! Whoever is brought near to death--sin's
symbol--is symbolically vile. Proximity to lifelessness--sin's
work--is counted, as proximity to sin itself. The contact with the sign, is
branded, as contact with the thing signified.
But pollution may thus occur, which no forethought could
flee. Without intent the foot might touch a grave. In ignorance a tent might
be entered, where death sat. The decent offices of love might
require, that lifeless relatives be carried out. Care must hide those, who
cannot hide themselves. Be it so. It matters not what be the cause--if death
is touched, legal uncleanness is incurred.
We hence are taught, how sin surrounds us, and how
suddenly it soils. It is the very atmosphere of earth. Man cannot move,
but some contamination meets him. His casual walk is along miry
paths. In the discharge of pious duties some stain may soon
defile. Thus each day's course may render us impure.
This is a humbling truth. But in this very darkness there
is light. We are not left bereft of remedy. The unclean may be cleansed. All
stains may vanish. There is a fountain opened for all soul-filth. There is
full help for foulest need. Where sin abounds, sin's cure exceeds. Where
pollution spreads its wide pall, the Savior brings His wider covering. This
is the Gospel-message. And this stands prominently forth in the provision
for removing the defilement of death's touch.
Reader, come view now the ordinance of the Red Heifer.
And while you view, bless God for the great antitype--Christ Jesus.
God, who sentences the unclean, appears now to relieve.
No remedy could be devised by man. None could be credited, unless it brings
heaven's seal. Faith cannot rest, but on a God-erected rock. But He
provides, and He reveals. "Tell the Israelites to bring you a red
heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke."
In the first place THE VICTIM IS SPECIFIED. But still the
people must present it. Thus Christ, God's sacrifice for sin, is taken from
earth's sons. That it may be so, He puts on our nature. He clothes Himself
with humanity, as the Woman's Seed. So our race is enabled to give from its
fold the sin-removing offering. The pitying angels could not find this help.
Their nature is distinct from ours. Their glittering hosts hold not a
substitute for man. The children of Israel must bring a Red Heifer.
The HEIFER'S COLOR is precisely fixed. It must be
throughout, without one spot. Faith learns most precious lessons from this
rule. What is Adam, but red earth? Hence, then, the ruddy type manifests our
Lord, as Adam's offering. Yes, He is truly man, that He may take man's
place, and bear man's guilt--and pay man's curse--and suffer in man's stead.
The Heifer--RED--proclaims, that in nature Christ is verily what Adam
was--sin always excepted--and verily what Adam's children are. Believer,
rejoice. As man, you sinned--as man, you merit hell--but Christ has lived,
and worked, and died, a God-man in your stead.
But Scripture-types have many phases. PURE RED recalls
the thought of blood. And can faith look to Jesus and not mark His
streaming wounds? He stands in vesture dipped in blood. He shed it, and thus
satisfies for sin. He shows it by the Spirit to the soul, and thus infuses
peace. He pleads it before God, and thus obtains the blessings, which His
"WITHOUT DEFECT OR BLEMISH." The Heifer must be perfect.
This is a general requisition. Completeness must adorn each victim on God's
altar. The slightest blemish was exclusion. This always shows our
Jesus--spotless in perfection's brightest luster. Truly He was man, but
truly He was man immeasurably far from sin. From the first breath, until His
return in triumph to His throne, He was as clean from evil, as Jehovah in
the highest. No sunbeam is more clear from darkness, than Jesus from sin's
shadow. If it could have been otherwise, how could He have atoned for us?
Sin's touch would have made Him subservient to justice. Death would have
been due for His own faults. But now He gives His soul--His body--without
one blemish, a pure--fit--all-sufficient sacrifice for all the sins of His
most sinful flock. Such is the lesson from the Heifer without blemish.
THE NECK ALSO MUST BE UNMARKED BY YOKE. It never may have
yielded to compulsion's lash. It must be unused to imposed work. Thus
Jesus bounds with willing step to Calvary, "Lo I come." Constraint compelled
Him not. No force reluctantly dragged Him. His moving impulse was pure
love--love for His Father's name--love for immortal souls--love springing
fresh from the deep fountains of His heart--love, as free as the air.
Christ is all willingness. Who can be tardy, when He
calls? Christ flies on rapid wings to save. Who will not fly on rapid wing
The Heifer is then dragged outside the camp. As a vile
thing it is cast out. The dwelling place of man rejects it. The type is
answered, when Jesus, reviled--despised--spit on--mangled--scorned, is led
beyond the city's gates. Ignominy's cup then over flows. He is reproached,
as vilest refuse.
Believer, do not expect favor with the world. They, who
scorned Jesus, will not honor you. Submit with His most lamb-like patience.
Follow Him amid all sneers. Endure the cross. It raises to a crown.
Next it is SLAIN. And did not Jesus die? He did, for
death was our desert. Therefore, He drank that cup. What grace what love!
what glorious rescue! what complete redemption! what full atonement! In very
deed the God-man dies. Believer, clasp the truth--exult--adore. When sins
reproach--when conscience stings--when Satan rages--when the white throne is
set, shout, "Christ died!" This answers every charge--silences each
adversary's voice--breaks Satan's chains--quenches hell's flames--tears out
the worm's sting--annihilates destruction--brings in salvation. The truth,
that Jesus died, is glory to God--glory for man--glory forever!
The Priest then turns towards the Mercy-seat, and seven
times SPRINKLES THE BLOOD. The Gospel-story is replete with blood. We here
again are taught its triumphs. It opens the door to the pure sanctuary
above. It clears the way. None enter, but along this consecrated path. This
sprinkling is the only key.
FIRE IS THEN APPLIED, and the whole Heifer is consumed.
The unsparing element devours all, and soon reduces it to ashes. We
see in this, how vengeance deals relentlessly with our sin-laden Surety.
It only checks its hand, when no more can be taken. Sweet are the tidings,
that no wrath remains for those, who die in Christ. Their agony is
past--their punishment is paid--all now before them is eternity of love.
Finally, THE ASHES ARE COLLECTED. Mingled with water from
a running stream, they form a purifying store. This is laid up for those
polluted by the touch of death. Through seven days such must be counted, as
unclean. Upon the third and seventh, they are sprinkled by a hyssop-rod
dipped in this fluid. And then impurity departs. Then the excluding taint is
Thus ends the rite. But Gospel truth still lives in the
eternal record. A fundamental truth is prominent. As these ashes purify the
ceremonially impure--so virtue from the dying cross takes moral guilt away.
But we learn more. The ashes are not used alone. They are
commingled with PURE WATER. This sparkling produce of the spring portrays
the Spirit's grace. Hence, though Christ's death obliterates
condemnatory stains, the Spirit must come in with further aid, to wash
the heart, and fit it for heavenly home. This hallowed fluid is applied by a
hyssop-bunch. This rod is emblem of the faith, which ventures near, and
claims the merit of redemption's store, and then applies it to the soul.
Ashes unsprinkled availed not. The Gospel-hope ungrasped is worth nothing.
Faith's hand must clasp and use it.
Reader, is there not here most large instruction for your
soul? Each day sees you unclean. Say, is your faith each day most closely
dealing with the Savior's death, and with the Spirit's love? In the Red
Heifer you are taught the remedy prepared by God. He hates, indeed, the
filth of sin, But He provides--proclaims--extends full expiation. All is now
ready to make you whiter than the whitest snow. Come, then, draw near in
faith. Be clean--be sanctified--be saved.