This time of year I usually do a bit of Spring cleaning. I attack something that has gone overlooked or just neglected. This year it’s a storage closet. There’s a bunch of stuff in there that I haven’t had the time nor the inclination to sort through. It is time to sort through the boxes and bins of random goodies I inherited over the past few years. These are not the treasured mementoes. It’s just stuff. That’s why I have avoided it. It’s meaningless stuff, extra towels, office supplies and miscellaneous crapola. Most of this stuff is going to be donated but I have to sort through and deliver the goods to the local drop off site. I have been putting it off. The reason I have avoided it is because of where it came from. It was stuff I got when my mom died in 2013; and more stuff when my close friend died in 2015.
I am taking a weeks break from my heavy duty studies to get this job done. Yes, there’s that much junk. I’m not twenty five years old anymore. I am turning sixty this year and I don’t have the physical capacity to zip through these projects like I used to. But that’s okay. I’m not interested in racing through the project. I am more interested in being thorough than quick.
While I am mindlessly going through my boxes I have been pondering on the annual spring cleaning associated with Passover. Which is coming up next week. Passover begins Nissan 14, the evening of Friday, the 19th of April and runs through the sundown on the 26th. Technically it is the Feast of Unleavened bread which lasts for seven days. The Feasts of the Lord which are a shadow of things to come (Hebrews 5:5 & 10:1) are fulfilled by Christ in His death burial and resurrection.
Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Jesus in the Spring Feasts
Passover is the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Yeshua/Jesus) which was offered up on the eve of Passover (this year it is a Friday). Passover is the celebration of being set free from bondage. Christ set us free from the bondage of sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the day after which this year is on a Saturday, a Sabbath, followed by the Feast of First Fruits (Sunday). Unleavened bread is observed for seven days. During those seven days there was to be no leaven in the house. This is a symbol of being thoroughly (symbolized by the number 7) delivered from sin (the leaven). Paul uses the concept of removing the leaven of sin in his address to the Corinthians. His comment is a direct reference to the Feast of Unleavened Bread as it associates with Passover.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Today I want to focus another preparatory observance; The Shabbat Parah (“Sabbath [of the] red heifer”) Most modern day Christians have no idea what the ashes of the red heifer was all about. Many have never even heard of it. But it plays a role in preparation for the Passover.
I’ve got some links below that you can check out for more information
The Sabbath of the Red Heifer – Shabbat Parah
According to Hebcal.com
Shabbat Parah / שבת פרה
Shabbat Parah (“Sabbath [of the] red heifer” שבת פרה) takes place on the Shabbat before Shabbat HaChodesh, in preparation for Passover. Numbers 19:1-22 describes the parah adumah (“red heifer”) in the Jewish temple as part of the manner in which the kohanim and the Jewish people purified themselves so that they would be ready (“pure”) to sacrifice the korban Pesach.
(Shabbat HaChodesh is the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Nissan (Nissan 1)
Here’s a bit of background from Judaism 101
Shabbat Parah occurs on the Shabbat following Purim, and marks the beginning of formal preparations for Pesach (Passover). The special Torah reading, Numbers 19:1-22, discusses a ritual of purification involving a red heifer (in Hebrew, parah adumah). Specifically, the ritual purifies people from the ritual impurity that comes from contact with the dead. At the end of the ritual, the people are purified, but the person who performed the ritual becomes temporarily impure.
The rabbis speak of the ritual of Parah Adumah as the greatest of mysteries: it makes the impure pure, and makes the pure impure. This proves that the rabbis were all men, because any woman knows that when you clean a house, you start with a clean sponge and a dirty house and you end with a dirty sponge and a clean house, and there is no great mystery in this!
The passage is chosen for this time because of the need to purify oneself for Pesach, (Passover) in preparation for pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Temple.
The writer of Hebrews mentions the ashes of the red heifer in his discussion concerning the blood of Jesus cleansing us from dead works.
Hebrews 9: 11-But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
I like how the New Living Translation translates verse 13
Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. NLT
The ashes of the red heifer was used to cleanse someone from having come in contact with a dead body. In order to observe the Passover the worshipper had to come to the Temple with their offering. They would be considered unclean if they had contact with a corpse. That defilement would render them unfit to enter the temple. Death would defile the Temple itself. So prior to the Passover they held a ceremony to cleanse people from the defilement of death.
Jesus however did what the ashes of the red heifer could never do. He didn’t just cleanse us from having touched a dead body. Through His death He broke the power of death over all humanity.
2 Timothy 1:10
but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
1 Corinthians 15:54,55
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory…
As Believers in Jesus we no longer have to worry about whether we have become defiled by the death of this world. We can come boldly
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Under the old covenant the worshipper had to be conscious of sin and defilement. Under the New Covenant we no longer have to be sin conscious. Sin has been taken out of the way. So has any kind of defilement. The worst defilement under the Old Covenant was death. Because we no longer have to fear the punishment of sin, we no longer have to fear death.
Jesus has cleansed us with a better cleansing than the ashes of the red heifer.
1 John 1:7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
Luke 22:14-20 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
Jesus changed the focus of the Passover celebration. It no longer needed to be focused on the hardship of slavery in Egypt and the ten plagues. No longer were the people of God to remember the miracles accomplished through Moses which resulted in deliverance from bondage. Jesus made the declaration that from that day forward the Believer’s were to remember Him. He knew He was going to the cross. He knew that He was about to triumph over death itself. He knew they were never going to have to rehearse the shadow of things to come. They were going to be able to celebrate the power of God through the finished work of the cross. They were going to be able to celebrate the power of the Blood of Jesus. Jesus was about to do what all the Passover sacrifices before could not accomplish. Jesus was about to do what all the ashes of all the red heifers that ever were offered could not achieve. Jesus was about to do what all the goats offered on the day of Atonement could not do. He was about to cancel out the punishment for sin and fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law so that animal sacrifices would never have to be offered again.
Jesus was about to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin and death.