To say that we are living in exciting times is an understatement. World events are converging at such a high rate of speed that it is hard to keep up. For Bible students like myself, it is both exhilarating and concerning to see the whole planet moving towards a one-world government so quickly. I have been a believer for 39 years and since then, I have firmly believed in what the Bible says about the end times, the one-world government and a cashless society, but I always thought that it wouldn’t be in my lifetime, and yet, here we are.
The next event on God’s timetable is the Rapture of the believers from planet earth. This is a “signless event”, meaning that it doesn’t require anything before it takes place. I also believe that after the Rapture, those left behind will go through increasingly perilous times known as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble”, or as most of us know it, “The Great Tribulation”. This will be a period lasting seven years before the triumphal return of Yeshua the Messiah at the end of those seven years. This is when the Messianic or millennial kingdom will finally be inaugurated.
Incredibly, during the Great Tribulation, or more precisely at the midpoint, after 3.5 years, the Temple will be desecrated, but which Temple? Not counting the wilderness Tabernacle after the Exodus, there are four Temples described in the Bible. First, we read about Solomon’s Temple, which is the one that David wanted to build, in (1 Kings chapters 5-9) and 2 Chronicles (chapters 2-7). Then, after suffering some heavy damage at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, that Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel between 520-515 BCE and became known as Herod’s Temple. Roman general Titus destroys the Herodian Temple in 70 CE.
Israel currently doesn’t have a Temple in Jerusalem. Are things about to change? The Bible speaks of a third and a fourth Temple or Millennial Temple (Ezekiel 40-46). The third Temple is a project that has been at the heart of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem for decades. A section of religious Jews is convinced that they will be rebuilding their Temple and once again resume the sacrificial system in Israel. Towards that end, they have painstakingly recreated all the implements necessary for the resumption of Temple life. Everything has been ready for a while now, even the priests from the tribe of Levi (remember that the tribe of Levi is the only one that can be identified since its identity was preserved in the name of its members such as Levy and Cohen and other derivatives). But the proverbial buck stops here because, to resume Temple duties, a red heifer is needed. It is important to note that the third Temple, while simply called the third Temple by its Jewish proponents, is also known by Yeshua’s followers as the Tribulation Temple.
The search for the red heifer has been going on for decades. The criteria for the selection of the ultimate red heifer are quite specific. The reason why a red heifer is needed is that Jewish people at the Temple must present themselves in a state of ritual purity before they perform their duties. We get this from the Passover celebration in the wilderness in Numbers 9:5-7, “They observed the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses, so the sons of Israel did. But there were some men who were unclean because of the dead person, so that they could not observe Passover on that day.”
According to Judaism, there isn’t one Jewish man alive who can claim that level of purity and since the Temple no longer exists and the ashes of the red heifer are gone, it cannot yet be attained. Ritual purification continues to be mandatory for anyone within Judaism who has had contact with a dead body. The 113th commandment of the 613 found in the Torah stipulates that “the ashes of a red heifer are to be used in the process of ritual purification.” Numbers 19:1-22 explains the process, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence. Next Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its hide and its flesh and its blood, with its refuse, shall be burned….Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin.
So, the only way to be cleansed from impurity is to be washed with water mixed with the ashes of a red heifer, but not any red heifer would do! The parah adumah or “red cow” must be a young (less than three-years-old) red heifer with no defect, on which no yoke was ever placed. Only nine red heifers were ever found in the entire history of Israel, so it goes without saying that they are extremely rare and valuable. Much mystery surrounds the reason for using the ashes of a red heifer. Why ashes? Why a cow of a specific color? Why a sacrifice outside the Temple compound? Why mixed with water? Jewish tradition records that even the very wise king Solomon didn’t understand it. The Red Heifer is also mentioned in the New Testament in Hebrews 9:13-14 as an example of Yeshua’s spotless, sinless sacrifice being greater than the ashes of the animal.
Recently, five spotless, young red heifers were flown to Israel from Texas. If they continue to grow spotless, without defect and without even one black or white hair, they will qualify for the special sacrifice and gathering of their ashes. Time will tell, but these five are bringing a lot of hope to the Temple people patiently awaiting the qualified candidate. So, what does this all mean to us?
If indeed a kosher Red Heifer has been located and selected, this represents the last piece of the puzzle for the next Temple. Since all the implements have been recreated and the priests selected and trained, the Temple can be rebuilt, and the Levitical team can be purified. This validates the veracity of the Bible even further as if we needed more validation to believe that it is the infallible, inerrant word of God!
Unfortunately, if this is all happening in front of our eyes, and as great news as it may be for us followers of Yeshua the Messiah, it also means that the third Temple is ready to be rebuilt. This is the Temple that believers know as the “Tribulation Temple”. It is the very edifice that the coming antichrist will desecrate as he calls himself god and forces people to worship him. This means that the Tribulation is near and that great casualties will be seen in the world.
Christians can rejoice about the Red Heifer from a biblical standpoint, but from the perspective of the eternal order, only those who have trusted Yeshua will be in God’s presence, and this is no reason to rejoice when we think of all those around us who have not believed yet that Yeshua is the Messiah.
The Red Heifer, if qualified, will bring us one step closer to the last moments of the end times, which means that the Rapture is even closer than we think and that the need to share the Good News is truly now more important than ever!