FIRSTBORN SONSHIP OF CHRIST
The New Birth in the Old Testament
THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERINGS (Continued)
We begin here with a slight bit of repetition which is important for the remainder of the article. This study of the ashes has proven to be refreshing much beyond expectation.
10. The "Ashes" of the Red Heifer Offering Were Put in a Clean Place, and Were Used to Demonstrate Healing, Redemption, and the New Birth Resurrection.
3 "Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze," Exo 27:3.
12 "The whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned," Lev 4:12.
The ashes were counted as "clean," were carried by a "clean" person, and were kept in a "clean" place. The wood that burned the sacrifices was turned into ashes along with the ashes of the various burnt sacrifices. "Ashes" were used with fasting, 1) as an aid toward better understanding of the bitter experiences of life (Job 2:7-10), 2) as an aid to humbling oneself before the Lord that the Lord may be more glorified in all our experiences – and that we may be more effective in our life and Gospel ministry toward everyone (Gen 18:27; Job 2:7-10; Dan 9:3), 3) to demonstrate, "by grace through faith," godly mourning and grief in the midst of severe covenant training (Job 2:7-10; Est 4:3; Mt 5:4), 4) to experience deeper sorrow and repentance before God, in order to receive mercy, forgiveness, and deliverance (Job 42:6; Dan 9:3; Jon 3:5-6; Mt 11:21), 5) to bear witness of God's purpose in harsh covenant discipline that serves to purify our hearts and lives (Num 19:12-13,19-20; Pro 3:11-12), 6) to testify of the extreme agony of the death of the Lamb of God (Num 19:5-6,9; Ps 22:1-21), 7) to call attention to the whole redemption cycle, which begins with God's eternal purpose of redemption – where the Son of God would become human in a virgin birth, and includes the resurrection new birth into the divine image and likeness of God in both our body and spirit, Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; Eph 1:4-5; Phi 2:6-11; 1Pe 1:18-20.
Webster says that Lye is:
"1. Orig., a strong, alkaline solution obtained by leaching wood ashes.
2. Any strongly alkaline substance, usually sodium or potassium hydroxide, used in cleaning, making soap, etc.
3. Any substance obtained by leaching."
This appears to be more than coincidental. In the case of Numbers 19, the "ashes" from the burning of the red heifer, cedar wood, scarlet, and Hyssop were mixed with "running water" (Num 19:17), and were used to cleanse from defilement of a dead body, Num 19:11-20. All of Adam's descendants were and are "dead in sins" by natural birth (Rom 5:12; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:13), but were (under the Law Covenant) counted as being made clean by the sprinkling of the these ashes mixed with running water, Num 19:17. This mixture of ashes and water is called "water of purification" (Num 19:9), and was used 1) to cleanse people who had touched any dead body, a bone, or a grave, 2) to cleanse every person who was in a house when a person died and every person who entered that house before it was cleansed with the water of purification, 3) to cleanse the house itself and all open vessels in the house where a person died, etc.
23 "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23), and "the wages of sin is death," Rom 6:23. This death is eternal punishment, except that God is merciful to provide an escape from sin's defilement and eternal punishment of sin, 1Co 3:15; Rev 21:23-26. God has also provided a last will and testament salvation (inheritance), in which we can qualify for a divine birth into the image and likeness of God, thereby inheriting the full range of God's divine attributes, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:22-24; 5:31-32; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.
Another factor of immense importance is the urgent warning that if any defiled person who would not obey the seven day cleansing process of being sprinkled with the ashes and water mixture, that person remained unclean (dead in sins) before God, Num 19:13,20.
13 "'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...
20 '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," Num 19:13,20.
His lack of cleansing defiled the tabernacle which represented the whole nation. In the case of Achan, others lost their lives and Achan was stoned to death, Jos 7. In the case of the church, such people are to be put out of the church, 1Co 5:5. A little leaven defiles the whole lump, Jos 7; in all cases, the person is in position to inherit the last will and testament inheritance, but forfeits that new birth of the firstborn sonship and the entire birthright inheritance. He fails to make his calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:4-10. The Scriptures require holiness of life to inherit the firstborn sonship: the unholy will be relegated to the servant sonship, Gal 4:21 thru 5:4; Heb 12:8.
13 "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
14 "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?
15 "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.
16 "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 "For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives," Heb 9:13-17.
First, in verse 16 above, where there is a testament there is a testator, and where there is a testator and a testament, there must be the death of the testator. The Son of God was the Testator in the Garden of Eden, so He must die. The testament must be a redemption testament where the Seed of the woman would vicariously redeem according to the testament and crush the head of the serpent.
But to do this the Son of God 1) must be born into the human race through a virgin birth to be without sin as the Seed of the woman (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7), 2) must live a perfect life without sin (without spot or blemish, 1Pe 1:18-20), 3) must die vicariously for man's sins (Isa 53), 4) must be buried and descend into paradise (Ps 68:17-18; Eph 4:8), and 5) must arise out of the grave in a new born body, possessing all the divine attributes of God (the express image and likeness of God, Gen 1:26-27; Ps 2:7; Col1:15,18; 2:9; Heb 1:3). This and more was clearly taught to and symbolically demonstrated before Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Gen 3:15-21.
Also, very importantly, may we not overlook the very significant use of the "ashes of a heifer" in the passage above, Heb 9:13-17. Study this passage carefully. The ashes were not taken to a rubbish dump and treated as something worthless. From this passage in Hebrews, the "Ashes" under the Law Covenant were and are to be associated with 1) the sacrifice of animals symbolizing the future sacrifice of the Kinsman Redeemer; 2) immediate and progressive forgiveness of sins in the current phase of life (Ps 51); 3) immediate cleansing of the conscience to the extent of faith-obedience, just as our conscience is constantly being defiled and then cleansed by each step of faith-obedience (Ps 51; 1Ti 1:19-20); 4) the full redemption cycle – no part of the redemption cycle stands alone, from God's eternal purpose of redemption, through God becoming human in a virgin birth, to His divine resurrection new birth and beyond; 5) the new birth when Christ returns – observe the entire sweep from Heb 9:13 through 9:28.
The Old Testament contains many symbolic ceremonies and life experiences which are all governed by last will and testaments. All of these have their fulfillment in the New Covenant, which is also a last will and testament, and which all the other testaments were shadows of good things to come with no efficacy without this final last will and testament, Heb 9:16-17.
We can therefore confidently correlate everything in the Bible to the redemption cycle in three ways: 1) the process of qualifying for the firstborn sonship into the image and likeness of God, 2) the general redemption of creation and of nations over which the firstborn sons will reign eternally (Rev 21 & 22), and 3) the judgments of God (both temporary and eternal) upon the unfaithful and the unsaved, (Mt 25; Rev 16; 20 thru 22), over which the firstborn sons will also reign eternally in "divine oneness," together with and under the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Jn 17:21-23.
1) Christ is the High Priest of a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, not of this world.
11 "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle (the glorified saints) not made with hands, that is, not of this creation," Heb 9:11.
Compare this verse with 2Co 5:1-5. The expressions "not made with hands" and "not of this creation," refer to the divine heavenly body in contrast to the natural earthy body, 1Co 15:44-50; 2Co 5:1-5. The church (credited as already crucified, dead, buried, and deified together with Christ) is currently the tabernacle under consideration. However, all who qualify for the firstborn sonship throughout the Scriptures will be in the bride and body of Christ after the resurrection.
Currently, the church, in a metaphor, is the body of Christ. The church (with all its members as the body of Christ) is counted to have been crucified together with Christ on the cross, died together with Christ on the altar of burnt offering, buried together with Christ in the tomb, and raised together with Christ out of the tomb into divine (heavenly, spirit, born again) bodies. The church, in the metaphor, is currently the more perfect tabernacle, Heb 9:11.
2) Christ, as High Priest, enters the most holy place with His own blood, to obtain divine redemption for all the firstborn sons.
12 "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," Heb 9:12.
We must keep each major step of the redemption cycle in mind as we study God's Word. Here the blood includes Christ's virgin birth without sin, His perfect life without sin, His vicarious death bearing our sins, His burial, and His resurrection birth to create the "new man," Eph 2:10-22; Col 3:1-10.
As High Priest, Christ entered the most holy place, to prepare the way of access for all who qualify for the firstborn sonship, Heb 6:11-20; 9:11-28. This addresses the major goal or purpose of redemption: the freedom to enter into the presence of God, possessing the full and divine (born again) image and likeness of God. This had to be done by the High Priest in order to provide the divine new birth inheritance for a divine kingdom of firstborn sons, fully conformed to the divine image and likeness of God.
3) The blood and the ashes are both used in purifying the flesh in the redemption cycle.
13 "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh," Heb 9:13.
The ashes of the firstborn people are seen as "one" with the ashes of Christ in the burnt offerings and especially in the red heifer offering. Of course, the actual human body of Christ was not burned at all; however, the ashes of the wood and animal bodies symbolically provided 1) a complete destruction (as in death) of the sinful body by divine judgment, 2) the agonizing death that Christ would die, 3) the cleansing quality of the ashes, 4) the resurrection of the dead, symbolized in cleansing death's defilement (Num 19), 5) the judgment of God against careless souls who do not search and heed God's Word with great diligence.
We will demonstrate that ashes were used for healing from death's defilement, and refer not only to resurrection but also to the new birth resurrection out of an earthy body into a divine body, into the fullness of the divine image and likeness of God. May we commit to memory and ever keep in mind the redemption cycle which testifies throughout the Bible that God 1) purposed to create man in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27; 1Co 15:44-49; Eph 4:22-24; Col 1:15; 3:10; Heb 1:3), 2) permitted man to fall into sin and death in order to demonstrate His love, mercy, power, glory (Rom 9:22-23), 3) promised Himself to be man's Kinsman Redeemer (Gen 3:15; Job 19:25-27; Isa 9:6-7; 53:1-13; 54:5), 4) revealed that He Himself would be born of a virgin into the human family in order to be a human without sin (Gen 3:15; Isa 7:14), 5) emphasized that, as a human and as Redeemer, He would live a sinless human life (Gen 7:2; Ex 12:5; Lev 11; Isa 53), 6) demonstrated constantly that, as Redeemer, He would suffer God's wrath against sin in a vicarious death (Lev 1 thru 7; Isa 53), 7) testified and portrayed in many types that God forgives those who repent, believe, and obey (Gen 3:21; 4:1-7; Heb 11), 8) gave constant assurance that, as Kinsman Redeemer, He would arise out of the grave in a divine human body in the precise image and likeness of God, Gen 3:21; 4:4; Ps 17:15; Isa 53:10-12; Dan 12:3; Col 1:15,19; Heb 1:3.
The Bible is a book of redemption. It provides instructions which govern every thought, feeling, attitude, desire, word, and deed of all mankind. The Bible reveals that God will judge and punish all evil, but is primarily and infinitely concerned with redemption of a chosen firstborn people. Hence, every word of the Scriptures finds its source and application in relation to the redemption cycle, generally stated above. This understanding will help us correlate the numerous types, ceremonies, laws, blessings, judgments, gains, losses, etc., in the Scriptures, in their relation to the redemption cycle. The redemption cycle is the correlation of events in God's purpose from before creation through the seventh millennium of human life.
Both the "blood" and "ashes" of Heb 9:13 address the death and divine resurrection life of the Testator, and also the daily death and divine resurrection life of those who are joined to Him in the firstborn sonship and who pursue godliness with great diligence. The blood was shed, taking the physical life of the sacrifice, and the same blood was sprinkled before the Lord and put on the horns of the altar, which horns represented both Christ and His firstborn people in divine kingly position and authority.
The ashes in the water of purification were sprinkled the third day and the seventh day on the living who were defiled by a dead body (Num 19), which dead body represented being "dead in sins" – all of us are dead in sins by natural birth, Ps 51:5; 58:3; Eph 2:1-5. The cleansing of the defiled body on the third day appears to represent the new birth resurrection of Christ, and the cleansing on the seventh day represents the new birth resurrection of the firstborn sons when Christ returns.
4) The blood of animal sacrifices and the ashes of their burning still speak of the death and new birth resurrection of Christ.
14 "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?" Heb 9:14.
Blood, water, and ashes all speak of cleansing the conscience from sin and death, as seen in this verse and context. Also Job said, "Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," Job 42:6. Dust and ashes are uniquely related. The Lord said to Adam: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return." Gen 3:19.
The human body in death returns to the dust from which it was initially taken, Gen 3:19. But the "ashes" of the Redeemer's body (symbolically) mixed with the ashes of the wood and of the burned body, speak of purification and redemption from sin and death. As we have seen, "wood" represents the human nature of Christ and His people.
The "ashes" of the red heifer are still speaking with powerful symbolic testimony. Those in the Old Testament who went astray and were not cleansed with the water of purification (running water and the ashes of the red heifer) defiled the whole congregation, and that person was cut off from the firstborn sonship, Num 19:13,20; Ex 4:22-23. The saved church member who forsakes the assembly of the church, treads under foot the Son of God, counts the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and insults the Spirit of grace (and persists in doing so), is cut off from Christ with no more sacrifice for sin, Heb 10:22-31.
The ashes are still bearing witness, Heb 9:13. They were an integral and necessary part of the redemption cycle as portrayed in symbolic form in the Old Testament. The ashes testified 1) that God became the Seed of the woman in the virgin birth, 2) that He lived a perfect human life and performed a prophesied Messianic earthly ministry, 3) that His blood was shed and (as the Lamb of God) He was burned to ashes (not literally, but symbolically), 4) that the ashes were mixed with "running water" (which is a life giving source), 5) that the ashes and water mixture was sprinkled on death-defiled people to symbolically cleanse them and their conscience from sin and death's defilement, 6) that (being cleansed) they were no longer defiled with death's defilement 7) that (being cleansed) they were able to continue serving God acceptably with a good conscience within the redemption process (our conscience will continue to require cleansing until the new birth resurrection), 8) that the "ashes" mixed with the running water represent the healing efficacy of Christ and His firstborn companions who pass through the fire of the altar (the divine judgments of the cross) with Him, 9) that the healing power of the mixture of the ashes and the running water (Spirit, Jn 3:5; 4:10,14; 7:37-39; Rom 1:4; 1Co 15:45) testify of the life-giving spirit (divine) body (1Co 15:45), and 10) the ashes and running water speak out like a trumpet of the resurrection birth into the image and likeness of God. God said, "Let Us make man in Our image and in Our likeness," (Gen 1:26; Jn 17:21-23) and that is precisely what the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have been doing with the last will and testament people down through the ages, Gen 1:26.
The blood of Christ currently cleanses the conscience of the faithful testament people on a continuing basis during this life. During the daily life of both Old and New Testament people, the conscience required a continual cleansing because of the constant sinning on the part of all of us. However, the one sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for the necessary continual cleansing of our conscience in this life, and a once-for-all permanent cleansing from sin and therefore of the conscience in the new birth resurrection, Heb 9:28.
5) The "ashes" testified of final and permanent redemption from sin and death (and all the effects of sin and death) into the precise image and likeness of God.
15 "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," Heb 9:15.
Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant that He may by means of "death" redeem a vast host of firstborn sons, out of defilement of sin and death, into the divine image and likeness of God, possessing the full range of God's divine attributes, except for infinity, Gen 1:26-27; Ps 17:15; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:22-24; 5:31-32; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23. The plan of redemption began with God's eternal purpose, as stated in Rom 9:22-23 and Phi 2:6-11.
The first last will and testament had its beginning with the killing of clean animals in the Garden of Eden, the obvious burning of their bodies, and clothing Adam and Eve in their skins.
Though not stated in Gen 3, yet made obvious through the Scriptures, the bodies of clean animals were burned on an altar, teaching Adam and Eve how to properly worship God, and also to portray more vividly the meaning of sin and death. God reveals His covenants to those who love and reverence Him (Ps 25:14); therefore God explained to Adam and Eve that the slain animals portrayed Himself as the Seed of the woman who would die as our Kinsman Redeemer, and would be raised back to life in a divine body. God also explained that the skins of the animals signified the righteous and divine nature of God, which they and their faithful descendants would receive if they endure and overcome the required last will and testament discipline, Heb 12:1-11.
"...that those who are called may receive the promise..." (Heb 9:15), refers to making our calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:4-10. This must be emphasized because Satan, with cunning craftiness, has deceived so many of the Lord's people into believing that one is born again at first faith and is thereby guaranteed the inheritance of all the attributes of God's divine nature.
The Scriptures do not teach such. To the contrary, we must daily give all diligence to grow into the image and likeness of God by adding and growing in the divine virtues, as stated in 2Pe 1:3-9. To fail to do so is to be deceived and make shipwreck of a good conscience (1Ti 1:19-20), and fail to make our calling and election sure by grace through faith, 2Pe 1:4-10.
6) The "ashes" bear witness of the covenants as last will and testaments, which carry the promise (even God's oath, Heb 6:11-20) of the inheritance of God's divine nature.
16 "For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 "For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives," Heb 9:16-17.
This passage reveals that all the redemption covenants of the Bible are last will and testaments, which promise the fullness of God's divine nature to all who overcome the life-long daily discipline expressly stipulated in the testaments. Where there is a testament, there must be the vicarious death of the Testator. And in this "death," as symbolically represented by the Old Testament covenants, the Testator's body was burned to "ashes." The Old Testament covenants, otherwise, testifies that the Lord's body would be crucified (Ps 22:1-18; Zec 112:10), buried without burning, and raised again the third day without seeing corruption, Ps 16:7-11; 2:1-18; Eze 12:10.
Israel ate the Passover lamb, and the priests ate part of most of the sacrifices, which represented eating Christ's flesh, Ex 12; Lev 6. Christ said if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us, Jn 6:27-27. Symbolically we eat His flesh and drink His blood in the Lord's Supper, 1Co 10:16-17; 11:23-29. And with our minds we eat His flesh and drink His blood by obeying His Word, Mt 4:4. We are to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, and we do so with the aid of the Holy Spirit, Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 4:9-12; Gal 5:25; Eph 4:22-24.
The body of Christ was burned to ashes symbolically as an additional aid in understanding of 1) the complete destruction of sin in our being, 2) the cleansing effect inherent in the ashes, 3) the inevitable association of the ashes with the redemption cycle, and 4) the inheritance promised to the last will and testament people. The major emphasis in God's eternal purpose is to fashion a special people into His own image and likeness, by giving them new born, divine bodies, filled will all the fullness of God (the full range of His divine attributes), Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:11-24; 5:31-32; Col 1;19; 2:9; 3:1-10; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.