You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him. (Numbers 19:3)
As we continue discussing the message embedded within the rites of the Red Heifer, it is clear that the primary intent is to point us to Messiah and His suffering. Each component within this paradox has some connection to what He endured because of us as well as what He procured for us — everlasting life. In that vein of thought, consider that the heifer represents our sin and rebellion.
The Hebrew word translated as “heifer” is פרה parah, a word that suggests fruit which grows in an unrestrained manner — i.e. flourishing. On the surface, this has a positive connotation, yet this word is also related to the notion of being “free of control, uninhibited.” In fact, this is the word translated as “wild” when describing Ishmael. When it is used to describe him, it is not intended to be a compliment but a description of his nature which, as we see through many of his descendants, is hostile toward God and His people.
Lack of restraint is why mankind fell in the first place and why we continue to walk contrary to the will of God. So then, perhaps that is why the Red Heifer had to be taken outside of the camp and slaughtered — it was representative of wild, unrestrained sin. Yet at the same time, it represented the One who had never behaved in an unrestrained, wild manner (i.e. He who knew no sin). Nevertheless, He exemplified this nature completely in that He was made to be sin for us, so that all those who had behaved in a wholly unrestrained manner could be born again as sons of God. For this reason, He was led outside of the city and executed in the presence of the priests who looked on as the Roman executioners did their work. So again, we who have been redeemed should be forever grateful, and in demonstration of that gratitude, live in way that says, “Thank You!”
Blessings and Shalom,