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. (Numbers 19:11-12)
In this passage we see the primary purpose for the ashes of the Red Heifer and waters of purification — it was to cleanse those who had come in contact with a corpse of any kind. This was particularly important as it related to those wishing to approach the Almighty in His Sanctuary. In fact, the following verse states that anyone who touched a dead body but did not purify themselves in this manner would defile the “tabernacle of the LORD.” Even if they were immersed in a mikveh (baptismal pool), they would still be considered unclean.
This instruction amplifies yet another paradox as we consider the ministry of Yeshua — on more than one occasion He raised people from the dead by touching them. He went into the house of Jairus and took the hand of his dead daughter and said, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41). In the village of Nain, He touched the open coffin of a young man and the dead man sprang to life (Luke 7:14). So the question is, after touching these dead, was He required to be cleansed by the waters of purification seeing that He is the Red Heifer personified?. That doesn’t seem likely considering that, by Him, that which was considered “death” was made clean.
Think of it this way: nothing in Scripture suggests that when the waters of purification made contact with the unclean, that the waters were somehow rendered unclean. In other words, Messiah is the personification of what these waters represented and, therefore, He would not have been contaminated by what had — before He touched them — represented death. To accentuate this point, consider that He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead immediately after being touched by the woman who had the issue of blood. She, too, would have been considered unclean and, in her unclean state, would have been excluded from entering the Sanctuary. Yet when she touched Him, she was made clean and was permitted to enter the Sanctuary.
In the wilderness, Israel was tormented by fiery serpents bringing death to thousands, and yet, those who looked upon the Brazen Serpent suspended above them on a pole were healed. Likewise, the Scripture says that, “He who is hanged (on a tree) is accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23) and, yet by that same token, those who look to Messiah are “born again.” How is this so? Frankly, it defies a logical explanation given our limited understanding, however, it is no less true. And so, here is where faith kicks in (which is what He is looking for in all of us) — to believe that, in Him, what was dead can spring to life.
Blessings and Shalom,