Sermon 527. The Red Heifer
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, AUGUST 30TH, 1863, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"This is the ordinance of the la w, which the Lord has commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bringyou a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish and upon which never came yoke: and you shall give her unto Eleazar thepriest, that he may bring her forth without thecamp and one shall slay her before his face."
THE true heading of all the books of Moses is to be found in the words of Jesus, "Moses wrote of Me." Take the Lord JesusChrist with you as a key, and however difficult the riddles of Leviticus or Numbers may at first sight appear, there is notone enigma in the whole collection which will notspeedily open and yield instruction. To the Israelites themselves, these rites and ceremonies must have been rather an exerciseof faith, than a means of instruction. "I cannot perfectly understand why this heifer is slain, or why yonder lamb is offered,"said the pious Israelite,"but though I cannot understand, I believe there is virtue in it all and I reverently do, even to the smallest particular,that which God, through His servant Moses, has commanded me to do."
To us, the types are not a dark mystery to perplex our faith, but an open vision to delight our eyes. Having believed in ChristJesus, having received Him as the Father's Sent One and being reconciled unto God by His death, we look back to the ceremoniesof the old Law as the patterns of heavenlythings. We endeavor to discover some new light in which the Savior's beauties may be set and to behold Him from some differentpoint of view, so that we may love Him the better and may trust Him more. Now, the particular point to which the red heiferreferred, concerning Christ andHis work, is just this-the provision which is made in Christ Jesus for the daily sins and failings of Believers.
In order to bring out our point clearly, we shall remark, first, that even true Israelites are in daily danger of defilement.Secondly, that there is a provision made in the Covenant of Grace for the removal of the daily defilement of sin. And thirdly,that the red heifer most beautifully setsforth Christ as being the constant purification of His people, that they, having their consciences purged from dead works,may have power to worship acceptably the living and true God.
I. It is undoubtedly true, that even THE TRUE ISRAELITE, THE TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST, IS THE SUBJECT OF DAILY DEFILEMENT.My Brothers and Sisters, we who have believed in Christ are free from sin before the Divine judgment seat. The moment thatwe believe in Christ, our sin is no longer ours. Itwas laid upon Christ and cannot be in two places at one time. And therefore are we perfectly clean from sin before the eyesof a holy God. This is justification, full, complete, everlasting. But we are all aware, that in the matter of sanctification,we are not, as yet, deliveredfrom evil.
Sin dwells, though it reigns not in our mortal bodies. And since there is sin within, there is the capability of the defilementof sin without. Who has lived for a single day in this base world without discovering that in all his actions he commits sin?Who does not realize that in everything towhich he puts his hand, he receives, as well as imparts, some degree of defilement? How is it, my Brothers and Sisters,that this is the case? The answer is easy, and it is to be found in the chapter before us.
Some of our defilement arises from the fact that we do actually come into contact with sin, here imaged in the corruptionof death. Read the eleventh verse-"He that touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days." We actually touchthat dead thing and sin, by overt acts oftransgression. The best man living still pollutes himself with evil. We have met with a few vain and ignorant persons whohave boasted that they were perfect, but we never believed in their perfection, except so far as to concede that they wereperfect in self-conceit, in boastfularrogance, and infamous impudence.
"If any man says he has no sin, he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him." The best of men are men at the best andwhile they are men, they will sin. We find the Apostle Paul crying out because of corruption and even using such strong languageas this-"O wretched man that I am! Whoshall deliver me from the body of this death?" We are in close connection with sin, because sin is in ourselves. It hasdyed us through and through, staining the very warp and woof of our nature. Until we lay aside these bodies and are admittedto the Church of the First-Born above,we shall never cease very close and intimate connection with sin.
Therefore, my Brothers and Sisters, we need to be constantly cleansed, because we are always defiling ourselves. In fact,we are always defiled because we are always touching the body of this death. Moreover, we get defilement, not only from ourown actual sins, but from companionship with othersinners. You will read farther on in this chapter, "When a man dies in a tent: all that come into the tent and all thatis in the tent, shall be unclean." The mere being with sinners defiles us. Christ could walk with publicans and sinners andyet incur no danger. The greatPhysician could walk the leper house of this world untainted by contagion, but this is not possible with us.
Even if the most honest and laudable motives shall lead us into the company of the ungodly, though our only aim may be tobring them to Jesus, yet their unhallowed conversation will not only vex, but defile. It is not possible to look upon anotherman's sin, even to look upon it with abhorrence,without receiving some degree of contamination, because the thought of evil is sin. Our hatred of evil always lacks in intensity-wedo not detest it as we ought-and a failure here is a sin of omission which pollutes. You may say you can go into evil companyand get nodefilement-my Brothers and Sisters-I doubt it.
It may be absolutely necessary for you in your calling, and more especially in your desire to bless others, to mingle withthe ungodly, but you might as well attempt to carry fire in your bosom and not be burnt, or handle pitch and not be blackened,as to dwell in the tents of Kedar withoutreceiving uncleanness. This dusty world must leave some mark upon our white garments-let us travel as carefully as we may."I am black because the sun has looked upon me," must ever be the confession of the bride of Christ. This world is full ofthe spiritually dead, and sincewe live, we must be often rendered unclean among the sinful. And therefore we need a daily cleansing to fit us for dailyfellowship with a holy God.
Reflect, dear Brothers and Sisters, again, that one reason why we are so constantly defiled, is our want of watchfulness.You will observe that everything in the tent of a dead man was defiled except vessels that were covered over. Any vessel whichwas left open was at once unclean. You and I oughtto cover up our hearts from the contamination of sin. It were well for us if we kept our heart with all diligence, sinceout of it are the issues of life. Good Mr. Dyer says, "The Christian should lock up his heart in the morning and give Godthe key, lest any evil should come in.And then when He unlocks it at night, a sweet perfume of prayer will rise at eventide."
But alas, we forget to lock up our hearts. We do not keep our Graces covered up. I believe that a man might go into the mostsinful places under Heaven without receiving defilement if he exercised a sufficient degree of watchfulness. But it is becausewe do not watch that the poisoned arrows woundus. I noticed the other day an allegory of a candle in a lantern, with the motto, "One weak point is too much." An enemyoutside the lantern tried to blow out the candle. He blew all around, but it was well-secured, until, at last, he found asingle crack and then through it he sentthe destroying breath and soon the flame of the candle was extinguished.
This is what the devil does with us. We may be guarded in nine points out of ten, but our strength is to be measured, markyou, by the strength of the weakest point. The devil will find out, sooner or later, some crack through which he will attackus to our soul's evil. Watch, my Brothers andSisters, watch carefully. It is because you and I fail here that we acquire this daily defilement and need daily to be purified.
A yet more striking thought is suggested by this chapter-sin is so desperately evil that the very slightest sin defiles us.He who touched a bone was unclean. It was not necessary to put your hand upon the clay-cold corpse to be defiled. The accidentallytouching with the foot a bonecarelessly thrown up by the grave digger. Even the touching it by the plowman as he turned up his furrow-even this was sufficientto make him unclean. Sin is such an immeasurably vile and pestilent a thing, that the slightest iniquity makes the Christianfoul-a thought,an imagination, the glancing of an eye. We may have shut out all the world from our closet, and yet find we have not shutout sin.
We may make a covenant with our eyes and with our hands and with our feet and with our lips, but still our wanton hearts willgo after evil. We have heard of some perfumes of which it is said that the thousandth part of a grain would leave a scentfor ages in the place where it had been. Andcertainly it is so with sin-about its merest bone there is an eternal pest-one sin of thought would be enough to destroyforever all communion with God. Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, we are defiled and need to be daily cleansed.
I must not fail to remind you, also, that sin, even when it is not seen, defiles, for you will observe in the chapter thata man was defiled who touched a grave. The bones might be buried deep down so that he could not discern them. And over thosebones the grass might have grown in green hillocks,decked with a few sweet flowers and yet, if the Israelite did but touch that grave with his foot, or with his hand, he wasdefiled. Oh, how many graves there are of sin-things that are fair to look upon, externally admirable but internally abominable!
Such-and-such a custom is tolerated, no, it has become fast fixed in society and who shall find fault with it? Yet, many ofour customs are but the graves of sin and many of our actions, which we think so admirable, have loathsome rottenness within.Too much, even of our sanctuary services, iscomparable to a whitewashed sepulcher. Those sweet hymns, the unanimous and hearty shout of praise, the earnest prayer,the reverent deportment-all those, I say, may be but the whitewashed sepulcher. For our thoughts may be going abroad afterall sorts of mischief, and so ourvery sanctuary services may be but the green sods which conceal the loathsomeness of sin.
O dear Friends, this is enough to startle us! We sin enough to our own knowledge, but how much of sin we commit of which weare not aware who shall possibly tell? Sins unknown! I have often reminded you of the expression in the Greek liturgy, "Yourunknown sufferings." It is such a blessing thatthere are unknown sufferings for these unknown sins. We are ignorant of the heights and depths of Jesus' love. Thank Godthat there is a vast atonement whose vast efficacy we must leave in ignorance, just as there are sins of ignorance utterlyundiscoverable by us.
Only one more thought here. I would have you notice, dear Friends, that the Jew was not only in danger of defilement in histent and when he walked the roads, but he was in danger in the open fields. For you will observe that it says that if he toucheda body that had been slain in the open fields,or a bone, he should be unclean. For all he knew, there might have been a battle there. Perhaps he thought, "Well, thisis out of the way of men. I see no footprints, no tracks here," and he walks carelessly across the green fields. But, thoughhe knows it not, there lies in his waythe corpse of old who had been killed by misadventure, or murdered by his fellow in strife. He stumbles upon the body andlo, he is unclean!
You may go where you will, but you cannot escape from sin. If you take the wings of the morning and fly unto the uttermostparts of the sea, sin is there. If you make your bed in Hell, it is there it reigns. If you seek the cover of midnight, isnot midnight the very noon and carnival of evil? Ifyou enter the Church of God, you shall find it there-high and low, rich and poor, polite and uncivilized-you shall searchall ranks and positions of men, but sin is everywhere. And until we mount with eagles' wings to dwell before the Eternal Throne,we shall have tocomplain that we are daily in danger of defilement.
II. This brings us now to change the subject, by observing THAT A PURIFICATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED. A constant expiation isprepared. As Hart puts it-
"If guilt removed, return and remain, Its power may be proved again and again."
The ransomed Church of God needs daily to be washed in the Fountain and the mercy is that the precious blood shall never loseits power, but its constant efficacy shall abide till they are, everyone of them, "Saved to sin no more." Beloved, there isa propitiation provided for daily defilement, forfirst of all, if it were not so, how melancholy were your case and mine!
Suppose we were Israelites, true Believers, and then to have sinned, as we certainly should do? Then, Beloved, at once weshould be cut off from all privileges. The unclean person had no right to go up to the house of the Lord. He had no participationin its solemn worship. For him there was noglory of sacred praise and no prevalence of earnest prayer. You and I would have no right to Christ, no adoption, no justification,no sanctification-for the unclean person has no right to any of these. And as we should have no privileges, so we could haveno communion withGod.
God cannot immediately commune except with perfectly holy beings. He does now commune with the imperfect- but then it is througha perfect Savior-and He cannot commune directly with you and me while sin abides in us. He has to look upon us as purifiedthrough Christ Jesus and being,therefore, wholly clean-or else it were not possible for Him to walk with us, and to manifest Himself to us. The ultimateresult in the Israelites' case would have been death. You observe that he who did not purify himself was cut off from Israel.First, cut off byexcommunication, so as no longer to be a sharer in the citizenship of Israel.
And then probably cut off, either by the executioner, or else by the sudden judgment of God through plague, or fiery serpent,or some other terrible means. And certainly if you and I, though Believers, could live for a season without being purified,carrying about with us the daily defilement ofsin-before long it must end in spiritual death and in utter destruction. But thanks be unto God, He has provided againstthese terrible consequences.
But think again, Beloved, the Lord must provide a daily cleansing for our daily defilement, for if not, where were His wisdom,where His love? He has provided for everything else. There is not a lack a saint can know, but God has furnished a supply.Out of the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus,our necessities are all supplied. But if this, this glaring, this soul-destroying need had not been provided for, how couldwe call Him our Father and trust in Him? How could we know Him to be the only wise God, our Savior? A failure would have occurredin a most important point.Beloved, the love, the wisdom, the complete wisdom of God demands that there should be such a purification supplied.
The work of our Lord Jesus Christ assures us of this. What is there opened for the house of David, for sin and for un-cleanness?A cistern? A cistern that might be emptied, a water pot, such as that which stood at Cana's marriage feast and might be drained?No, there is a fountain open for sin andfor uncleanness. We wash, the fountain flows. We wash again, the fountain still flows. From the great depths of the Deityof Christ, the eternal merit of His passion comes everlastingly welling up. Wash! Wash! It is inexhaustible, for it is fountain-fullness.Is it not said inScripture, "If any man sins, we have an Advocate"? Why is Christ an Advocate today? Only because we need an Advocate everyday.
Does He not constantly intercede yonder before the Eternal Throne? Why does He do that? Because we need daily intercession.And it is because we are constantly sinning that He is constantly an Advocate-constantly an Intercessor. He Himself has beautifullyset forth this in the case ofPeter-after Supper the Lord took a towel and girded Himself and then, taking His basin and His water, He went to Peter andPeter said, "You shall never wash my feet." But Jesus told him, "If I wash you not, you have no part in Me." He had been washedonce. Peter was free fromsin in the high sense of justification, but he needs the washing ofpurification. When Peter said, "Lord, wash not my feetonly, but also my head and my hands," then Jesus replied, "He that is washed"-that is, he who is pardoned-"needs not, saveto wash his feet, for heis clean every whit."
The feet need constant washing. The daily defilement of our daily walk through an ungodly world brings upon us the daily necessityof being cleaned from fresh sin, and that the mighty Master supplies to us. Methinks I see Him at this very day still girdedwith that towed, still with that basin andflowing water, going round to all His saints, coming round to us, Brothers and Sisters, and saying, "I have washed yourfeet, I, your Master and your Lord. And you are clean every whit." There is a provision then. The work of Jesus Christ justmeets the case.
Moreover, Beloved, the work of the Holy Spirit also meets the case, for what is His business but constantly to take of thethings of Christ and reveal them unto us-constantly to quicken, to enlighten and to comfort? Why all this, but because weare constantly in need, perpetually beingdefiled, and therefore needing perpetually to have the purification applied? Best of all, facts show that there is a purificationfor present guilt. The saints of old fell into sin, but they did not remain there. David cries, "Purge me with hyssop andI shall be clean: wash me and Ishall be whiter than snow." Peter denies his Master, but he does not always remain a blaspheming, ungrateful coward.
No, he comes back again to his Lord and Master and makes the avowal, "You know all things. You know that I love You." Youand I, I hope, can give a better proof, still, that we have tried it ourselves. We remember that dear hour when first we cameto Christ. Oh, it was no fiction, no dream. We wereweighed down with a thousand sins, but one look at Jesus took them all away. And since that time we have often been castdown. There may be some of you who escape from doubts and fears. If you do, I greatly envy you, but I think that most of usget, at times, in such a position thatwe cry with David, "My soul lies cleaving unto the dust." You feel as if you dare not come into the Lord's Presence. Youcannot hope that He will hear your prayer.
You cannot grasp the promises, they seem too good for such as you. You cannot look up to Christ to call Him Brother. "Abba,Father," falters on your tongue. But, have you not known what it is to look to your Redeemer again just as you did at first?And then your love and joy have come back to youagain once more, as if it had been a new con- version. And you have gone on your way rejoicing-you that only yesterday werehanging your harps upon the willows and refusing to sing to the praise of your Lord!
My dear Friends, if this were not a great Truth of God, some of us would die in despair. I am sure if I might not still cometo Jesus as a sinner and still rest in Him, expecting to be cleansed from all defilement, I do not know that there would beanything in the Bible which could yield comfort tome. I must have a remedy as broad as the disease. I must have a supply as deep, as wide, as constant as my needs, and, thanksbe unto God, here is just such a supply! The foulest sins Jesus takes away and when our hearts have backslidden from God Hedoes bring us back. Why, some ofus have appeared in our own consciences to have gone into the very belly of Hell, and yet the Lord has brought us up againto the gates of Heaven.
Ah, it does not take many minutes to work this change. Sometimes I have felt all God's waves and billows rolling over me tillI was ready to despair under a sense of my own unworthiness. And yet the next moment I have been able to read my title clearto mansions in the skies. And believing onChrist, I have had full fellowship with Him! This is the power of purification-thus is it that the application of the preciousblood of sprinkling always works, when faith, through the Holy Spirit, brings it to the conscience. May you and I know thisby our daily constantexperience of it- that there is a daily purification for daily defilement.
III. But now, Beloved, I bring you to the chapter itself. THE RED HEIFER SETS FORTH, IN A MOST ADMIRABLE MANNER, THE DAILYPURIFICATION FOR DAILY SIN. It was a heifer-an unusual thing for a sacrifice to be a female. And we scarcely know why it shouldbe in this case, unless indeed, to makethe substitution more evident. This red heifer stood for all the house of Israel-for the whole Church of God. And the Churchis always looked upon and considered in Scripture as being the spouse-the bride-always feminine.
Perhaps, to make the substitution obvious and complete, to show that this heifer stood in the place of the whole seed of Israel,it was chosen rather than the customary bullock. It was a red heifer. Some think because of its rarity, for it was very difficultto find one that was red without asingle spot-for if there were one white or black hair it was always rejected-it must be wholly and entirely red. Some thinkthat this was to signify how unique and unrivalled is the Person of Christ. How extraordinary-the only One of His Father-theonlyRedeemer of souls. Of such matchless virtue and of such glorious pedigree, that no angel can match with Him, neither anyof the sons of men, for a moment, be compared with Him.
Probably, however, the red was chosen only from its bringing to the mind of the Israelites the idea of blood, which was alwaysassociated with atonement and putting away of sin. Surely, my Brothers and Sisters, when we think of Christ, we always associateHim with the streaming gore, when we areunder a sense of sin. At other times we think of Him as white and ruddy, as Perfection itself. But there is no point aboutJesus which the trembling conscience loves to rest upon so much as that red crimson blood of His.
We have heard complaints sometimes made of our theology, that there is too much blood in it. "The blood is the life thereof."If there were no blood in our preaching, there were no life in it, no joy, no true power. It is just because we love to extolthat precious blood, that God is pleased tohonor the Word and make it comfortable to saints and make it the Word of quickening to sinners. I am sure, dear Brothersand Sisters, sometimes when we have sung that verse-
"His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads over His body on the Tree," in the presence of that blood-red mantle, we have feltthe next lines to be no imagination, but a sober fact-
"Then am I dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me."
My Master, His face covered with bloody sweat, with ruby drops of blood around His head. My Lord with His back like a riverof gore, where the accursed whips have beaten Him-His hands streaming with founts of crimson, and His feet flowing with rillsof scarlet, and His side giving forth arich waterfall of His heart's blood-He never seems so lovely as when thus I see him arrayed in "a vesture dipped in blood.""Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in His apparel, traveling in thegreatness of His strength? Ithat speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are You red in Your apparel and Your garments like He that treads in thewine vat?"
This is the glorious Savior, mighty to save and never seen so mighty to save as when He is robed in crimson. Let it be thered heifer. It shall ever bring to the mind of the pious Believer the remembrance of Him who trod the winepress alone.
It was a heifer without spot. This denotes the perfection of Christ's Character-"not having spot, or wrinkle, or any suchthing." Born without any human defilement, conceived immaculately through the Holy Spirit. "That holy Thing which is conceivedin you," said the angel to the Virgin.Without any natural defilement such as we receive, He felt not the taint of original sin.
Then the heifer must be without blemish. Our Christ, as He had no spot of original sin, has no blemish of actual sin. "Theprince of this world comes and has nothing in Me." He became like unto us in all points, but always with this exception-"yetwithout sin." Observe that this red heiferwas one where there never came a yoke. Perhaps this sets forth how willingly Christ came to die for us. Not forced fromHeaven, but freely delivering Himself for us all. "Lo, I come to do Your will. In the volume of the Book it is written ofMe, I delight to do Your will, O God."Not dragged to His death. "I lay down My life of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again.No man takes it from Me." The free Son of God wears no yoke, except that yoke which was easy to Him and that burden whichwas light, the yoke of love whichconstrained Him to lay down His life for His people.
An interesting circumstance about this red heifer is that it was not provided by the priests. It was not provided out of theusual funds of the sanctuary, nor yet by the princes, nor by any one person. The children of Israel provided it. Why? Why,that as they came out of their tents in the desert,or their houses in Jerusalem and saw the priests leading the red heifer, every man and every woman and every child mightsay, "I have a share in that heifer. I have a share in that victim which is being lead out of the city to be consumed." Brethren,I wish-oh, I would to GodI dare hope that every man and every woman here could say, "I have a share in Jesus Christ," for that is the meaning ofthis national provision, to let us see how Christ shed His blood for all His people. And they have all a part and all an interestin Him.
If you believe in Him, though you are the weakest of all His children, you have as good a share as the strongest. He is asmuch your Christ as He is the Christ of an Apostle, or of a martyr who went to Heaven in a chariot of fire. I hope, Brothersand Sisters, that you see this and are assured thatyou have an interest in Him. As we noted what this victim was, there is yet to be observed what was done with it. Again,let me beg you to refer to your Bibles, to see what became of this red heifer.
First, it was taken out of the camp. Herein it was a picture of Christ. That He might sanctify His people with His own blood,He suffered without the camp. Without the camp was the place of uncleanness. There the lepers dwelt. There every defiled personwas put in quarantine. Jesus Christ must benumbered with the transgressors and must suffer upon Mount Calvary, outside the city gates, upon that General Tyburn ofcriminals, "the place of a skull." The people of God are to be a separate people from all the rest of the world. They arenot to be numbered with the dwellers inthis world's city. They are to be strangers and pilgrims and sojourners, as all their fathers were. Therefore, Christ, toset them an example of separation, suffers Himself without the camp.
When taken without the camp, the red cow was slain. A dying Savior that takes away our sins. Brethren, we love Christ theRisen One, we bless Christ the living, pleading Intercessor, but after all, the purification to your conscience and to minecomes from the bleeding sacrifice. See Him slainbefore our eyes. Let us sing with Watts-
"My soul looks back to see The burdens You did bear When hanging on the cursed Tree, And hopes her guilt was there." Whenthe heifer was slain, Eleazar dipped his finger in the blood as it flowed gurgling forth. He dipped his finger in the warmblood and sprinkled it seven times before the door ofthe Tabernacle. Seven is the number of perfection-to show that there was a perfect offering made by the sprinkling of theblood. Even so, Jesus has perfectly presented His bloody sacrifice.
Now mark, all this does not purify. I am not yet come to that point. Atonement precedes purification-Christ must die and offerHimself a victim, or else He cannot be the Purifier. All this is necessary, but the vital part of the purification comes presently.They then took the body of theslain heifer, which was an unclean thing and made everybody unclean who touched it, and laid it upon a pile prepared forits burning. They consumed it utterly-its skin, its flesh, its blood, even to its dung-not a single thing must be left. Thissets forth the pangs ofthe Savior, His great and terrible agony upon the Cross. His real death, His real forsaking by God. It sets forth how Godaccounted Him unclean, how our Master was compelled to say, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
The heifer does not burn on the altar, it never smoked within the holy place as did the bullock which was God's offering.This was a foul and guilty thing. The man who killed it became foul. He that gathered the ashes was unclean, and even thepriest himself had to wash his garments. This setsforth how Christ was numbered with the transgressors, how the iniquity of His people was laid upon Him, and how the Lord,"made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." You will say, "A strangething that those who touched thesacrifice should be made unclean." Yes, but types, like other emblems do not run upon all fours.
Therefore you must look at it in the light intended-who was it that put Christ to death? Were they not unclean? Were not theRoman soldiers unclean? That ribald mob who shouted, "Crucify Him, crucify Him"-those eyes that gloated themselves with theagonies of His tortured body? And arenot you and I, who helped to put Him to death-are not we ourselves unclean? No, I go farther. If I today gather the ashesand bring them before you-if I seek today to be as the man who sprinkled that purifying water, am I not unclean? Do I notfeel that even when I amspeaking best of my Master, I am sinning still, for I cannot speak of Him as I would?
And, my Brothers and Sisters, what makes you feel so unclean as contact with Christ? Is it not true that the very same Christwho takes your sins away, first makes you feel your sins? "They shall look on Him whom they have pierced and they shall weepand mourn for their sins." The same Savior whotakes tears away when we look to Him by faith, first brings those tears to our eyes when we look and see Him die. It wasright, therefore, that He should first make those unclean who touched Him and then afterwards should make them clean throughanother touch of His purifying power.
When the whole was fully burnt, or while burning, we find the priest threw in cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet. What was this?According to Maimonides, the cedar wood was taken in logs and bound round with hyssop and then afterwards the whole envelopedin scarlet. So what was seen by the people wasthe scarlet which was at once the emblem of sin and its punishment-"Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as snow.Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Everything you see still continues of the red color, to set forthatonement for sin.
Inside this scarlet there is the hyssop of faith, which gives efficacy to the offering in each individual. And within thisis the cedar wood that sent forth a sweet and fragrant smell, a perfect righteousness, giving acceptance to the whole. Onedelights to think of this-in connection withChrist-that, as there is a daily witness of our defilement, so there is a daily imputation of His perfect righteousnessto us. So that we stand every day accepted in the Beloved by a daily imputation, by which not only is daily sin covered, butdaily righteousness given to us.We are, therefore, every day as much accepted as we shall be in that last great day when He shall receive us to His gloryeverlasting.
The essence of the matter lies in the last act, with the remains of the red cow. The cinders of the wood, the ashes of thebones and dung and flesh of the heifer, were all gathered together and carried away and laid by in a clean place. Accordingto the Jews there was not another heifer killed forthis purpose for a thousand years. They say, but then we have no reason to believe them, that there have never been butnine red heifers offered at all. One in the days of Moses, the next in Ezra's time, and the other seven afterwards, and thatwhen Messiah comes He is to offer thetenth, by which they let out the secret that they do look upon the Messiah as coming in His own time to complete the type.
Our own belief is that a red heifer was always found when ashes were wanted, and as there were hundreds and thousands of personsdefiling themselves, the place where the ashes were kept was much frequented and much of the purifying matter required. Theashes were to be put in a vessel with runningwater and the water was sprinkled over the unclean person who touched a body or a bone. By this process the ashes wouldrequire to be renewed much oftener than once in a thousand years, in order that everyone might have his portion. Does notthis storing up suggest that there is astore of merit in Christ Jesus? There was not only enough to make us free from sin by justification, but there is a storeof merit laid up that daily defilement may be removed as often as it comes-
"Here's pardon for transgressions past, It matters not how black their cast; And, O my soul, with wonder view, For sins tocome here's pardon too."
From all the sins I shall ever commit there is a purification laid by to cleanse me. The seven times sprinkled blood has putthese sins away before the Judgment Seat of God and the ashes which are laid by shall put my sin away from my conscience,purging it from dead works.
The ashes were to be put with running water. Running water is ever the sweet picture of the Holy Spirit-"He leads me besidestill waters." The Holy Spirit must take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us. Purification is made in Heaven bythe finger of Christ-seven times Hesprinkled His own blood-but on earth, in our conscience, it is made by the Holy Spirit. The Holly Spirit must make Christprecious and efficacious to us. What is Christ on the Cross? What is Christ in the grave? Nothing to any man till the HolySpirit makes Him Christ in theheart. You will hear many complain that there is no beauty in Christ that they should desire Him-it is to them dull workto hear of Jesus. Ah, Beloved and well it may be-but when the running water comes, when the Spirit of God gives quickeningand cleansing to the heartand makes us love things Divine, then there is nothing so precious, so inexpressibly desirable as the ashes of a slaughteredSavior.
Observe that it was applied by hyssop. The hyssop was dipped in water, and then the unclean was sprinkled. Hyssop is alwaysa type of faith. "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." Our faith, like a little sprig of hyssop, is dipped into theblood, or dipped into this cleansing water whichflowed from the side of Jesus, and so the remedy is applied. Brothers and Sisters, believe in Jesus more fully than youhave done and you will feel the power of His propitiation. He is God. He became Man. He suffered-those sufferings are ableto take away sin. You need have noguilt on your conscience, but be clean, rejoicing in Him and accepted in the Beloved. May the Lord give us to know morefully the mysteries of this red heifer and the joy of pardoned sin.
I will close by remarking that if there is any Believer here who has fallen into sin, if there is one who has lost the Presenceof the Lord-if you have grown cold and dead, if you are conscious of having backslidden, if you have begun to doubt whetheryou are a child of God at all-hereis in Christ just what you want. Ah, but you say, you have fallen so often, sinned so constantly. Yes, but here are ashesfor every day, cleansing for every hour, for every moment. Look upon your Lord and Savior. God is intending to forgive younot once only, but to cleanse youevery day. He has taught you to forgive your brother not seven times, but seventy times seven-and do you think He will notdo what He tells you to do? Ah, He will forgive you a countless number of times, yes, every day.
If you will seek daily cleansing in Christ, you shall have communion with Him. You shall stand in His presence and rejoicewith joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is no privilege reserved for the few, for all of us have-every child of God has-aninterest in this. Let us come,therefore, boldly and pray the Master now to apply again this purification of Christ, that we may again live near to Godand delight ourselves in His society.
And as for you that have never believed in Jesus, let me remind you that this is not for you. You need to be washed for thefirst time in the blood. O Soul! What a loathsome being you are out of Christ! Why, you are all over black from head to footand black within as well as without. What you needfirst is washing in the blood. You shall have the washing of water, of which we speak, another day. The blood of Jesus cancleanse you from all sin. Trust to Him and He shall save you. Trust Him now. Come now. May the Spirit help you to come thatyou may be saved, both now andforever. Amen.