We reply: The application is quite incorrect; but the tract itself is not likely either to benefit or injure any one. The danger of injury would chiefly be that as an entering wedge it might lead to more serious errors; and in a general way of course even the most insignificant error may hide some truth and thus prove an open switch for Satan to use in side-tracking us, should our hearts ever get out of harmony with the Lord and his plan.
The writer of the little tract falls into the very common mistake of failing to note that the Jewish code respecting sacrifices divided them (1) into sacrifices for two distinct classes,—the Levites (the High priest's household), and all Israel (the general congregation excepting the Levites); and (2) into sacrifices of two distinct times; viz., those of the Day of Atonement, and those of the year following the Day of Atonement. This is the key to the understanding of the types of Leviticus, and without it no one can obtain clear or consistent views.
The High Priest and under Priests (consecrated to sacrifice) represent Christ and the Church, the royal priesthood. The Levites (consecrated to service, not to sacrifice) represent believers in this Gospel Age—the household of faith.
The Day of Atonement, in which the sacrifices for all sins were made (the bullock and the goat for sin-offerings, together with their accompanying burnt offerings), represented this Gospel Age, beginning with the great and all important sacrifice of Christ, and finished with the "filling up of that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" by the royal priesthood, the members of his body. (Col. 1:24.) At the close of this Great Day of Atonement (the Gospel Age) the Great High Priest (head and body) will come forth and bless the people who desire to be God's people (represented by all Israel except the tribe of Levi), and the effect will be to lift them from the dust and grant them forgiveness and restitution.
The sacrifices and offerings of the people after the Day of Atonement, and based upon its work, represent penances for shortcomings after being cleansed by the great Atonement, and thank offerings, pledges, vows, etc., which the world will offer during the Millennium or "times of restitution."
The Red Heifer was not only not one of the Day of Atonement (or Gospel age) sacrifices, but it should not be counted a "sacrifice" at all; for only those animals were sacrifices of which a portion was placed upon God's altar. The High Priest killed all the sacrifices of the Atonement Day; but Aaron, the High Priest then, had nothing to do with the killing and burning of the Red Heifer. All sacrifices were killed in the "court of the Tabernacle," [R1872 : page 225] but the Red Heifer was killed outside the camp. The priests killed the sacrifices, but they did not kill the Red Heifer. We thus prove most positively that the Red Heifer represented neither Christ nor his Church, the "better sacrifices" [R1872 : page 226] of this Gospel age. And as the time for the righteous to suffer "without the camp" will end with the close of the Gospel age, we cannot apply the killing and burning of the Red Heifer as a type of anything that will occur in the Millennium. What then did that heifer represent?
It represented a class of people who died ignominiously; for "outside the camp" is used to represent ignominy, worldly disapproval or detestation. (Heb. 13:13.) The ancient worthies, whose faithfulness unto death outside the camp is recorded in Heb. 11:32-38, was just such a class as the one we are seeking,—represented in the Red Heifer burned without the camp, whose ashes served to purify those contaminated or unclean through association with death.
It represented a class of people not of the Gospel Church, but who in God's sight were justified, and by faith, as is represented by the fact that the heifer was without blemish and completely red—the color which represents the blood of Christ. All this well represents the worthies of Heb. 11:32-38. By faith they looked forward to the atonement for sin which God had promised; they caught a glimpse of Christ's day and were glad; they "endured as seeing him who is invisible," and "pleased God" (Heb. 11:5,27,39), and hence must have been justified, even though (the sin-offering not yet having been made) they could not be received into the liberties of sons of God.—Gal. 4:4-7; Heb. 3:5,6.
In that it never wore a yoke it represented a class of free men, just such as are mentioned in Heb. 11; for although some of those were born under the Law, and some before it, yet since all are mentioned together as equally approved in God's sight, and since we know that "by the deeds of the Law no flesh shall be justified in God's sight," therefore we are bound to conclude that all these were reckoned as free from the bondage of the Law, and accepted by faith with Abraham, under the Abrahamic covenant, and not as under the "yoke" of the Law, which condemned all who ever attempted justification under it.—Gal. 5:1; Acts 15:10.
The priest did not kill the Red Heifer: one of the under-priests merely sprinkled some of its blood toward the Tabernacle door: thus typically showing that the lives and deaths of the class represented pointed toward the Tabernacle, its door [Christ] and the atoning sacrifices to come. "They drank of the spiritual Rock [Christ] which followed them," and their lives given (their blood) pointed toward Him.
The "worthies" of Heb. 11, although equally as faithful as the "overcomers" of the Gospel age, could not be counted as sharers in the sufferings of Christ and joint-heirs of his glory. The great Creator has chosen to prepare some vessels to more honor and some to less honor; and some that resist the moulding and shaping influences of the great Potter will be neither, but will be vessels for destruction, unfit for his service in any capacity. (2 Tim. 2:20; Rom. 9:21,22.) The vessels for less honor were selected first, "until John" the baptizer, who was one of the chief of the ancient worthies, the house of servants; and yet the least one in the house of sons, the vessels unto greatest honor, is greater than he.—Matt. 11:11.
Christ Jesus our Lord was the first, the Head, the Leader of his elect Church, his body, which must follow his footsteps of suffering to glory, before others can be blessed. After the great antitypical Day of Atonement is ended, the sufferings of Christ finished, and the glorious reign begun, then the faithful worthies of the past shall be blessed, "God having foreseen some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."—Heb. 11:40.
The sin offering of Christ has laid up a great store of grace, merit, not only for his Church, but for all the families of the earth; and it will be the work of the Royal Priesthood to dispense that grace to those of earth's families who, when they come to a clear knowledge of the truth, obediently apply for forgiveness and help.
The faithfulness of the ancient worthies, even unto death, could not take away sin, and could not be presented before God as a sin offering, nor as a sacrifice at all, the altar [Christ] not having yet been set up. (Matt. 23:19.) But the faithfulness of the ancient worthies did yield some results (represented in the ashes of the Red Heifer)—it yielded a store of valuable experiences to them, by means of which those beautiful graces of character were produced which also adorn "the sons of God," who have now received the spirit of adoption. The Lord thus wrought in them the blessed fruits of holiness, though they could not be recognized as "sons," nor made partakers of the divine nature, nor joint-heirs with Christ, because not called to be vessels of the highest honor. They have thus "laid up in store" (1 Tim. 6:19), as the result of their fiery experiences (represented in the ashes of the burned heifer), characters precious in God's sight, which he intends by and by to use for the blessing of the world, after the Day of Atonement is ended. This is represented in the ashes of the heifer carefully gathered into a clean place for use in the purifying of the people who become defiled after having been cleansed with the atonement of the "better sacrifices" of the Atonement Day.
When the spiritual Kingdom has been set up, when the First Resurrection has taken place at the end of the Gospel age, then these "worthies" of the past will be blessed (Heb. 11:40,35), and enjoy a "better resurrection" than the world in general, in that theirs will be an instantaneous raising up from death to human perfection and life everlasting; while others of the world, even if obedient, must come up slowly to perfection, step by step. Then, too, as perfect men they will be the superiors and natural leaders of the world, and, according to promise, Christ will make them chiefs or "princes in all the earth." (Psa. 45:16.) They will be the seen representatives (Luke 13:28) of God's Kingdom, while Christ and the Church, the real spiritual rulers, will be unseen.—1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 1:3; 1 John 3:2.
Then, like the ashes of the heifer laid up in a clean place, the results of the painful experiences of the "worthies" will be a store of blessing, instruction, and help to these "Princes." And each pardoned one who would be cleansed perfectly must not only cleanse himself with water (truth) but must also have applied to him the instructions of these "Princes;" represented by the ashes of the heifer in water applied with "hyssop," which represented "purging" or cleansing.—Ex. 12:22; Lev. 14:4,49; Psa. 51:7; Heb. 9:19.
The cleansing was from all death-defilements—dead bodies, graves or the bones of the dead,—thus indicating that the agency through which men shall be fully cleansed from death and its degradation, lifted up in restitution, will be this work, of these whom the Lord for this purpose, shall "make princes in all the earth."