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 The Red Heifer and the Third Jewish Temple

A few months back I had been listening to the news and heard on one broadcast commemorating the 100th day of the vicious and unwarranted brutal attack on Jewish families in Israel, Oct. 7th, that a Muslim speaker had at least in part, attributed the attack to Israel bringing in Red Heifers for a future purification sacrifice that would preceed the building of their third temple. To many, this just flew over their heads, but to those who are Christian "Watchers on the Wall" our ears perked up. 

A couple years back, a rancher in Texas had sent five Red Heifer cattle to Israel after they were inspected by a team of Jewish rabbi's. These Red Heifer cattle had to be spotless and without any blemish to be considered for the Numbers 19 sacrifice, a sacrifice that religious Jews have been waiting for since the destruction of their 2nd temple in AD 70 at the hands of the Romans. This wait has been 1,954 years long. Imagine that. 

Major Significance

The major significance to the Muslims, is they are scared. They do not want Israel to exist let alone rebuild a 3rd temple on the Holy site where their Al Aqsa mosque, their Dome of the Rock, and their Dome of the Tablets currently stand. Incidently, I believe the Dome of the Tablets is the location where the 3rd Temple will soon be constructed. 

The major significance for believing Jews is they will be purified by the sprinkling of the ashes of this Red Heifer sacrifice. Read Number 19, Old Testament for details. Not only will they be purified from touching things dead, but the sprinkling of the ashes upon the temple artifacts the priests and the priestly clothing will purify them for temple service. All of these things in accordance with Jewish law.

The major significance for true Christian believers is that the rebuilding of the third temple was prophesied to occur before the Second coming of Christ to the earth, Zech 14:4,5. 

Zechariah 14:3–4 (NKJV)

    3      Then the LORD will go forth
    And fight against those nations,
    As He fights in the day of battle.
    4      And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
    Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
    And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
    From east to west,
    Making a very large valley;
    Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
    And half of it toward the south.

References to the third temple in New Testament prophecy

2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 (NKJV)
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

In the passage above the future man of sin, the antichrist, will desecrate the rebuilt 3rd temple, in the middle of the seven year period the Bible refers to as the tribulation period

Revelation 11:1–3 (NKJV)
1 Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there
2 But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. 
3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

In the passage preceeding, the Apostle John is told to measure the temple and the things in it. John could not do this unless a 3rd temple was built. The two witnesses are to prophesy for 42 months or 1260 days. this would be three and one-half years of 360 day years. exactly one-half of the seven year tribulation period. 

Jesus stated the following below in red. Things to note are the reference to the Holy Place (Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple) the Antichrist descecrating it, and the warning to flee because of the judgments about to fall.

Matthew 24:15–22 (NKJV)
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

What is happening now?

I have been following the Red Heifer passage and fulfillment since the mid 80's. I have preached on it numerous times in the past from the pulpit. The fact that the Jews are preparing to make the sacrifice, means we are very, very close to the Second Coming of Christ. Below is a sample picture of  what an altar may look like. According to history, it should be made of stone and sit atop the Mount of Olives giving the priest the ability look eastward directly into the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to where the Holy Place once stood. At this time I cannot confirm an altar is there, I have not seen it.

Sample altar used in practice offerings

Replica of the Red Heifer bridge by Norma Robertson, looking from the Mt of Olives into the Holy Place

One thing is sure, preparations are happening as the Scripture prophesied. If these things are about to occur it is time for all believers in Jesus to prepare ourselves through prayer and dedication to be doing His will in our lives. Pray for yourselves and for your families. Pray for your Christian brothers and sisters. Pray for the lost and spiritually blind that they will open up and heed the calling of the Holy Spirit to turn to Jesus. Pray for the Jewish people to turn to their Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). 

The Kicker: When will the sacrifice occur?

It is being speculated that this sacrifice will occur near Passover 2024, but that is unconfirmed. If it does occur then, then be alert for upscale violence. Be worshipful, not in the Jewish way, but to Christ who is our Messiah. And as always, be alert in your looking and listening for the call of Jesus to rapture His church into His eternal presence in the near future. 

The Comfort of Christ’s Coming

Lets remember that we Christians are not looking for a 3rd Temple but we are looking for Jesus! He is our blessed hope.

Titus 2:11-13 (NKJV)

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (NKJV)

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep,  lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Bro. Mike

**This article was edited because of a source who states the Altar is a model. I thought it prudent to edit to include that. But we do know if the religious Jews are going to use the current Red Heifers, it has to be in 2024 because they will be too old if they wait. They must be 2 years of age. They are approaching 3 years.

More from Got Questions:

What is the significance of a red heifer in the Bible? Is a red heifer a sign of the end times?

According to the Bible, the red heifer—a reddish-brown cow, probably no more than two years old which had never had a yoke on it—was to be sacrificed as part of the purification rites of the Mosaic Law. The slaughtering of a red heifer was a ceremonial ritual in the Old Testament sacrificial system, as described in Numbers 19:1–10. The purpose of the red heifer sacrifice was to provide for the water of cleansing (Numbers 19:9), another term for purification from sin. After the red heifer was sacrificed, her blood was sprinkled at the door of the tabernacle.

The imagery of the blood of the heifer without blemish being sacrificed and its blood cleansing from sin is a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for believers’ sin. He was “without blemish” just as the red heifer was to be. As the heifer was sacrificed “outside the camp” (Numbers 19:3), in the same way Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem: “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:11–12).

The Bible does teach that one day there will be again be a temple of God in Jerusalem (Ezekiel chapters 41–45). Jesus prophesied that the antichrist would desecrate the temple (Matthew 24:15), and for that to occur, there obviously would have to be a temple in Jerusalem once again. Many anticipate the birth of a red heifer because in order for a new temple to function according to the Old Testament law, a red heifer would have to be sacrificed for the water of cleansing used in the temple. So, when a red heifer is born (which is quite unusual) it might be a sign that the temple will soon be rebuilt.

Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).


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