The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: “This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned–its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. Numbers 19:1-5
A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. Numbers 19:9
The imagery of the red heifer foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus for believers’ sin. Jesus was without blemish. Jesus was taken outside Jerusalem and crucified. The ashes of the red heifer was used for purification from sin, similarly, the sacrifice of Jesus saves believers from the penalty of sin. While the “red heifer” is found only once in the Bible, Hebrews 9:13-14 ties a heifer, almost certainly a red heifer, to the cleansing by the blood of Jesus. “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” The power of cleansing by the red heifer’s ashes is a mystery of the Torah, but we certainly know the power of Jesus’ blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.