Exodus 29:1 “And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them for ministering to Me as priests: Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour). You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, with the bull and the two rams. And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute. So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.
The elements of the old covenant priesthood have corresponding realities in the new covenant which is in the blood of Jesus Christ. All who are in Christ are a holy nation, a royal priesthood. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Washing the priests in water corresponds to the washing of regeneration which is baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission – removal – of sins. Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Numbers 19:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is
the ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: ‘Speak to the
children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which
there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall
give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it
shall be slaughtered before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its
blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in
front of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the heifer shall be burned in his
sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned. And the
priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into
the midst of the fire burning the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his
clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp;
the priest shall be unclean until evening. And the one who burns it shall wash
his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening. Then
a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them
outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation
of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for
purifying from sin. And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash
his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the
children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them. He who touches
the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself
with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be
clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh
day, he will not be clean. Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and
does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall
be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification
was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him. This is
the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are
in the tent shall be unclean seven days; and every open vessel, which has no
cover fastened on it, is unclean. Whoever in the open field touches one
who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall
be unclean seven days. And for an unclean person they shall take some of
the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water
shall be put on them in a vessel. A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it
in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the
persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead,
or a grave. The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day
and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash
his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean. But the man
who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from
among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water
of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. It shall
be a perpetual statute for them. So,
the new priests were washed, were anointed, were holy and sanctified (separated
to serve God). But they leave the tent of meeting and come into contact
with something that is defiled or unclean. Now they are unclean and defiled and
cannot enter the Holy place else they will defile it and be struck down dead!
To remedy this the ordinance of the red heifer was given so that the ashes when
mixed with water and sprinkled were a memorial of the sacrifice that was made
to atone for this defilement
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Matthew, Mark and Luke record Jesus giving the commandment to His disciples to break bread and take the cup to not forget Him, His body broken for us and His blood shed for the remission of the sins of many. In John’s gospel we come to the above scene just after this last Passover supper. Here Jesus is making a visual presentation and explanation of what the breaking of bread and drinking the cup is for. This is the New Covenant equivalent to the sprinkling of the ashes of the re heifer on those defiled by coming into contact with death. It is a memorial of the sacrifice made once for all by Jesus offering His body, His blood on the cross. By doing this, as often as we do this, we exhibit the Lord’s death and take the opportunity to examine ourselves, confess our faults to God taking knowledge that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleans us from all sin.
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of (Greek literally ‘to not forget’) Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of (to not forget) Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. Here we are told the context in which the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are to break bread – around the meal table, preceding a corporate meal shared by those in intimate community house to house. There is no ‘service’, no formality or pretending. This is a real life setting.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. By keeping short accounts with God, having our sins continually washed away by the remembrance of Christ’s blood, we can maintain a clean conscience towards God and serve Him in holiness.
Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. Unspeakable gift, full and free salvation from sin!
1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
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Colin Thompson, Gateshead, England. 07804 615 945