Jews, Christians, Red Heifers, and Conflict in the Middle East

Today on the Jewish calendar is called Shabbat Parah–the third of the four special Sabbaths leading up to Passover on April 22nd this year (Shekalim, Zakor, Parah, Hachodesh). Each of these Sabbaths has a special Torah reading highlighting a theme associated with the Spring Passover season. The reading for today (Numbers 19:1-22) one of the strangest in the Torah–it concerns the ParahAdumah–or “Red Heifer,” which in the time of Moses was sacrificed and burnt to ashes and saved for generations. Portions of these ashes were then mixed with water, which was then sprinkled to remove the ritual defilement of death, in order for the entire operations of the Tabernacle, and subsequently the Temple, to operate in a state of ritual purity. These ashes were then subsequently replenished over the years, with a new Red Heifer sacrifice, the ashes of which would be added to the previous batch.

Flash forward to the 21st century. According to Jewish tradition only nine of these cows has been so sacrificed since the time of Moses up to the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Bottom line-without these ashes there can be no rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The parties of fundamentalist orthodox Jews who want to see a third Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem, despite the fact that the Muslim Dome of the Rock and the Al ‘Aksa mosque now occupy that sacred space that Jews call the “Temple Mount” and Muslims call the Haram al-Sharif–or “Noble Sanctuary,”–the third most holy site in Islam. However, there are several Jewish groups in Israel that are nonetheless preparing for the Third Temple, and one of the requirements is that a tenth Red Heifer would be sacrificed, so that its ashes would be ready for that time. Extensive preparations have already been made to prepare those cows that would qualify under Jewish law as “without blemish.”

Fundamentalist Muslims see these preparations as a significant threat to Muslim sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Hamas, for example, named their October 7th holocaust slaughter of Israelis the “Al Aksa Flood.” Muslim clerics have regularly called upon the Muslims of the region to rise up and story the Jews whom they charge with plans to take over the area and rebuilt their Temple.

Ironically, a sizable portion of fundamentalist Christians, are supporting the Jewish groups in these plans, with contributions of millions of dollars, in order to help facilitate the rebuilding of the Third Temple, with sacrifices reinstated, in order to set the stage for the Antichrist to come, defile that Temple, stop sacrifices, and bring on what is popularly referred to as Armageddon–culminating in the Return of Christ. Strange bedfellows, since these Christians do not even believe that God requires animal sacrifices anymore. But in their view, the final End Time events can not take place without such a Temple–and the Temple can’t be rebuilt–even if the way were cleared, without these ashes of the Red Heifer. Sounds Bizarre…but these are the realities involved behind the scenes even in the current War in Gaza.

Here is an up to date news story on the latest with all the background and particulars: Red Heifers Get Names. I also highly recommend this upcoming presentation on Youtube, “The Red Heifer: An Interfaith Overview,”  by my friend Ross K. Nichols. Whether you watch it live or the recording later, it will be one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date academic analyses of all these issues and their potentially explosive relevance to the times we are living in:

Description: Explore the enigmatic ritual of the Red Heifer, a ceremony shrouded in mystery and steeped in the depths of spiritual and prophetic significance. This video delves into an examination of sources spanning from ancient times to the modern era, from the sparse verses of Numbers 19 in the Hebrew Bible through the insights of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Mishna to early Christian writings and the Qur’ān. Our journey even extends into the clandestine communications of modern-day leaders, piecing together a narrative that has intrigued scholars, mystics, and believers across millennia. The ritual slaughter of the Red Heifer is dissected through a scholarly lens, investigating what can be traced back to the origins of this ancient law. Each source provides a unique perspective on a rite believed to hold the power to purify and possibly herald the dawn of a new age. Amidst a world riven by conflict, where ancient prophecies fuel the fires of modern battlegrounds, this analysis raises a pressing question: Will the Red Heifer usher in the messianic age, Armageddon, or both, or neither? Join us in this compelling exploration as we navigate through the layers of tradition, scripture, and prophecy to uncover the truths and mysteries surrounding the Red Heifer. This careful review illuminates the connections between past rituals and contemporary geopolitical realities, inviting viewers to ponder the profound implications of this symbol of purification and prophecy that continues to captivate and provoke the human spirit. 

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