Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin. And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. (Numbers 19:9-10)
In regard to the rite of the Red Heifer everyone, regardless of rank or station, who participated in the process was rendered unclean, including the one who simply gathered the ashes. And so speaking again to the paradox that is the Red Heifer, the ashes represented both sanctification and defilement. For those who were sprinkled with the waters of purification — water mingled with this ash — it was sanctification. For those who rendered the ashes, it was defilement, albeit it, temporarily. This is important because this paradox is also seen in the work of the Messiah as it relates to the response of the individual. Quoting the prophets, Peter put it this way:
“Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’ and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’” (1 Peter 2:6-8).
In other words, depending on how one responds to the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah, He will be a “stone of stumbling” or a “rock of offense.” In identifying Himself with this as the chief cornerstone, Yeshua said that the one who falls on it will be broken but the one upon whom it falls will “be ground to powder” (Matthew 21:44). The point is, that those who will humble themselves and be broken are positioned for sanctification and redemption; those who will not humble themselves are defiled and on the path to eternal damnation.
Furthermore, the prophet Daniel makes it clear that this issue is not exclusive to individuals but also applies to the nations. The prophet said that a stone “cut without hands” will crush all kingdoms into powder and they will be as “chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
And so the point of today’s devotion is, though we have previously been unclean, let us humble ourselves and be broken that we may be purified by the Blood of the Lamb. Brokenness is not always pleasant nor is it appealing, particularly to our flesh, but it is far better than what awaits those who resist God and refuse to be humbled now. Eventually, all will be humbled and the kingdoms of this world WILL become the kingdoms of our God and of His Messiah. In that day, all knees will bow and profess that He is LORD.
Blessings and Shalom,