Scarlet Yarn

There was a lot of Old Testament ritual going on around the time of Jesus’ death on the cross.  One of these rituals was that of the Red Heifer found in Numbers 19.  There is a man involved in that ritual who was neither a priest nor a Levite but who yet had a very significant role.  Some of the following is speculation.  It presumes that the Red Heifer ritual was occurring at the same time as Jesus’ crucifixion and that the man involved saw both things happening.  By putting the two events together like this we can see how this picture in the Old Testament points to Christ like so many pictures do.

The red heifer lowed and complained as it was brought outside the city walls.  Unlike the lambs that were sacrificed in the temple it wasn’t silent as it was led to the slaughter.  It was just like any other animal in that sense.  Otherwise it wasn’t a normal animal.  It had to be specially bred.  It was chosen from birth and reared for this day of its death.

I slaughtered the red heifer in the place chosen.  I could see the man from there, hanging on the cross.  The soldiers had even taken some of the sacred hyssop from the priest as he was coming out with it and used it when offering him a sedative.  Which he refused.  Why anyone would refuse that when going through such pain I couldn’t understand.

As I had been instructed and as my predecessors had done for the last 1500 years I burnt up the red heifer’s carcass, dung and all.   The priest then added the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop he had brought.  The wood reminded me of the cross on which that man was hanging.

I saw the soldiers gamble for his tunic.  It was full of scarlet yarn like the piece the priest had thrown in the fire.  Scarlet from blood.  Isaiah’s words come to my mind as I watch them:

“Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow.”

The ashes of the red heifer were mixed with the ashes of the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop and mixed with water to make the water of purification.  This was the whole point of that red heifer’s sacrifice.  That water would then be used if anyone was in contact with dead bodies, had a skin disease or was accused of adultery.

(The featured picture is from the blog

Leviticus! The Totality of His Forgiveness

Jesus’ death on the cross changed the ground rules of what it means to sin forever.  Before His death the Law reigned and sin produced spiritual death through the knowledge of the Law (read Paul’s letter to the Romans chapters 6-8).  This started when a commandment was given to Adam and Eve which they broke and therefore sinned and death entered the world through that sin.

However, Paul says that when Christ died, the Law (and we also) died with Him so that there is no longer any such thing as transgression (Romans 7).

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Colossians 2:13-15

So really now it doesn’t matter what you do right?  Actually that is right in theory but in practice the law of sin and death has been replaced by the new law of love.

If you really believe that God so loved you as to give His only Son to die for your sins there is no way that you should want to do anything that wouldn’t please Him.  Like any one in love with another person the ideal is that you couldn’t do anything to hurt them.  You want to follow them to the end of the earth.

However in practice people don’t always act consistently over their whole lives with the ideal.  So what then?  Well then it is a question of your will.

So you decide.  Things are tough.  Jesus perhaps hasn’t come through for you in the way you expected Him to.  Where do you turn to now?  Do you turn to someone else?  Do you expect them to save you from the predicament you find yourself in?  Will they?

The answer is no.  Expecting anyone to fill the gap in your life that only God can fill is idolatry.  The first commandment is, like all the commandments now, not a law but a promise.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

Exodus 20:2-3

If you have been born from above, you have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4-6).  From now on nothing else will do.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

 “For in just a little while,
    the Coming One will come and not delay.

And my righteous ones will live by faith.
    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” (Habakkuk 2:3-4)

We are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (NLT)

Dear friends, even though I am talking this way, I really don’t believe it applies to you. I am confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers as you still do. My great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

Hebrews 6:9-11 (NLT)

Yes the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews puts it better than ever I could. Please read chapters 6 and 10 of Hebrews to see the context in which I write these blogs.

Leviticus! The Greatest Challenge

Willful Sin after you are born again is not covered by the Sacrifice of Jesus!

If you have read the Letter to the Hebrews you will have come across some very hard passages.  After having explained at length the removal of the need for animal sacrifices by the one great sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 7:26 – 10:25), the writer then goes on to say what that Sacrifice does not cover – willful sin:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgement.” (Hebrews 10:26-27a).

And it doesn’t get any better from there.

In saying this the writer is only being consistent with what Moses wrote in Leviticus.  The animal sacrifices there also do not cover willful sin.  There are a litany of sins the Sacrifice does cover but the ones covered by sacrifice alone are the unintentional ones (see Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27).

I think if we are honest we know this.  No where in the Great News of Jesus’ death for us on Calvary as declared in the Scriptures is there any indication that it enables us to do what we want.  Quite the opposite.  In these days where so many worship songs and the atmosphere of the country we live in all pours out “Freedom” as the untouchable mantra, the idea of being a slave to either sin or righteousness can get quite unpopular.

If you think that only the writer to the Hebrews deals with this then you haven’t read much of the New Testament.  Have a look at 1 John 5:16 for instance:

16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

If you take a simplistic view of sin and make no distinctions between willful and unintentional sins then you are bound to be confused.

I believe that a careful reading of Leviticus will clear up that confusion.

Jesus’ sacrifice does cover a lot of the sins we commit after we are born again.

Sacrifice also plays a role in some intentional sins but even then the sins have an unwitting or unintentional part to them.  Examples are not testifying about some crime you have witnessed (Leviticus 5:1), touching unclean things (5:2,3) or saying you will do something and not doing it (5:4,5).  However, in each of the above cases confession is also required.  Jesus’ Sacrifice on its own is not enough even though without it we are lost.  Confession is not enough either, you have to have both.  As it says in the apostle John’s first letter:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

If you are not born again all this could appear to be foolishness.

I hope to continue this series by looking at what Leviticus says is and isn’t covered by the Sacrifice.  That doesn’t mean that you should go around analysing everything you do to see if it fits into one category or another.  If you are born again you know in your heart when you are out of sync with the Holy Spirit.  A lot of the things mentioned in Leviticus such as confession, restitution, willful sin and restoration you will do without needing to know the chapter and verses that apply to them.

But if you are like me and love the way the Scriptures, Old and New Testament, consistently reveal the nature of God then you might want to follow along.