fbpx Christian Reaction to the Red Heifer Airlift – The Israel Guys

Christian Reaction to the Red Heifer Airlift

*This article was originally published several weeks ago on the Cry For Zion website.

One week ago today,* biblical history was made as five red heifers made their way from Texas, USA to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. This is a legitimate first in 2,000 years—since the Second Temple Period! Israel365 News has exclusive reporting from the event, explaining the biblical significance and the current details. “The cows were between 5-8 months old. To be suitable for the red heifer ceremony, the cow must be two years and one day old so these heifers will be raised in Israel until they reach the proper age.”

Once again, the world is buzzing with the news focused on the Temple Mount with plenty of reactions world-wide. As someone who rejects Replacement Theology,* I was asked to comment from a Christian point of view, which was also published. I will give my comments here as well:

This is an historic event of biblical proportions. I continually try to prepare Christians for the fact that, just like Israel was restored, the Temple Mount will ultimately be restored, and neither restoration is some nefarious work of the devil, God forbid.

Sadly, a segment of the church will have knee-jerk reactions to news of red heifers. That’s because the lack of a Temple is the last, desperate stand of Replacement Theology. The destruction of the Temple was viewed by the later church as conclusive proof that the “Old Covenant” was dead and superseded by something radically redefined.

In fact, according to the New Testament, there is no conflict between the Temple sacrifices and the Gospel. None at all. Instead, they illustrate it. For Christians, sacrifices before Jesus pointed forward to Golgotha. Afterward, they point back to it. It’s that simple. Jesus has indeed “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:11–14). But that was never in conflict with the Temple. Hebrews 10:4 clarifies that it was always “impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” in order to save someone’s eternal soul. They serve other important functions.

The New Testament specifically mentions the ashes of the Red Heifer. It endorses their legitimacy (in the present tense) and states that the ashes certainly continued to remove ritual impurity of the physical body (Hebrews 9:13). It argues that this very truth should encourage our faith in Jesus.

Jesus himself loved God’s Temple, the “Father’s House.” He wept at the very thought of its desolation. Paul had no problems bringing sin offerings in the Temple in Acts 21. He testified repeatedly on trial that he came to bring sacrifices, was purified by the ashes of the Red Heifer, and committed no offense against the Temple (Acts 24:17-18; 25:8). The evidence is clear. (Read more on NT theology and the sacrifices here.)

As news of a potential Red Heifer break, we Christians should remember that Jesus and his apostles never slandered the Holy Temple by calling it the “temple of antichrist,” or of the devil, God forbid. They called it the “Temple of God” (2 Thess 2:3-4). The “temple of antichrist” is a completely unbiblical term, both literally—it does not appear in the Bible—and figuratively—it is not the temple “of antichrist.” It is God’s House.

The church needs to reexamine the Scriptures, not just regarding Israel, but in regard to the Temple service as well. It is a noteworthy encouragement that a committed Christian has provided these red heifers to Israel.

_____

* “Replacement Theology” (a.k.a. “Supersessionism,” now often called “Fulfillment Theology”) is the belief that “the church has taken the place of the Jewish people as God’s chosen community, and that God’s covenant with the Jews is now over and done. By extension, the term can be used to refer to any interpretation of Christian faith generally or the status of the church in particular that claims or implies the abrogation or obsolescence of God’s covenant with the Jewish people.“ (R. Kendall Soulen, “Supersessionism,” in A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 413-14).

Fully rejecting Replacement Theology as unbiblical is called a “Post-Supersessionist” view, defined as “a family of theological perspectives that affirms God’s irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people as a central and coherent part of ecclesial teaching. It rejects understandings of the new covenant that entail the abrogation or obsolescence of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, of the Torah as a demarcator of Jewish communal identity, or of the Jewish people themselves” (Society For Post-Supersessionist Theology, spostst.org). Note that it should not be confused with “Dual Covenant” theology.

About the author

John Enarson is the Christian Relations Director at Cry For Zion, helping Christians understand their history with the Temple Mount and how it relates to biblical theology and the Jewish people. John currently studies at the Scandinavian School of Theology.

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13 Responses
  1. Glenn

    In the third paragraph of this article, John Enarson says, “just like Israel was restored….” Israel is in a process of being restored by Adonai יהוה Elohim. It’s a work in progress. It is not done. The House of Judah, who have been restored into the Land of Israel are a part of the Whole House of Israel. After King Solomon’s reign the Whole House of Israel was divided into the House of Judah in the south and the House of Israel in the north, the so called Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, as Yeshua refers in Matthew 10:6 and Matthew and Matthew 15:24, or Lost Ten Tribes. Until the Northern Kingdom of Israel can legally live in Eretz Israel, the restoration is a work in progress. This is not replacement theology. This is Scriptural and Biblical.

  2. Brian Hennessy

    With all due respect, I have to disagree with John’s teaching. The physical stone temple is no longer to be considered the “house of God.” It never really was. It was a temporary venue for God’s presence that looked forward to a greater fulfilment. That’s why the NT says: “The Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands” (Acts 7:48). So where then is His house now?

    The body of Messiah is now God’s house/temple. “Do you not now that you are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (1 Cor. 3:16). And,”For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). In other words, we are the promised third temple that would be more glorious than Solomon’s. And by “we,” I mean all believing Jews and non-Jews.

    To say that the Jewish hope of a third physical temple is not in accordance with God’s intentions is not replacement theology. It just affirms that God’s intention for Israel is higher and as followers of Yeshua we need to promote the new covenant understanding of a coming living temple made up of living stones. We are no longer under the old covenant.

    1. Thanks for your comment, @Brian. (1) It’s hard to read the biblical texts and conclude that when the physical Sanctuary is continually called the “House of God,” it actually is not. It is called the “House of the LORD” throughout biblical history as well as in the Prophets’ visions of the future. Jesus’ favorite term for it was “My Father’s House” and Paul called it the “Temple of God” (2 Thess 2:3-4).

      (2) It is not just the NT which says “The Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands.” From the dedication of the very first Temple, King Solomon was clear about the immanence and transcendence of God in relation to the Jerusalem Temple. God said He heeded Solomon’s prayer:

      “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this House that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this House, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this Place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive” (1 King 8).

      (3) I agree with you that the corporate body of believers are a temple for God’s Spirit. There are many things which are patterned after the Temple—the individual believer, Jesus, the corporate body, the Garden of Eden, etc. It does not follow that the local fellowship of Messiah is in conflict with—or has somehow “replaced,” or “superseded,” God’s House in Jerusalem. The Apostles did not think so.

      (4) Regarding Replacement Theology, you mention, “To say that the Jewish hope of a third physical temple is not in accordance with God’s intentions is not replacement theology … *We are no longer under the old covenant.*”

      I’m glad you brought this up. Many people are unaware of what RT is truly defined as, which is why I added the recognised, academic definition by Kendall Soulen at the end of my article. Replacement Theology “claims or implies the abrogation or obsolescence of God’s covenant with the Jewish people.” That is why fully rejecting RT is defined as “[rejecting] understandings of the new covenant that entail the abrogation or obsolescence of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, of the Torah as a demarcator of Jewish communal identity.”

      In other words, saying the Temple is done because the Old Covenant is done falls squarely in the very definition of Replacement Theology (Supersessionism).

      But, even if that were not the case, and the New Covenant is already fully realised and it somehow necessitates the abrogation of God’s “Old Covenant” with Israel—consider the following:

      The New Covenant defined by Scripture stipulates that God will cause Jews to have the Torah (the very one that commands the Red Heifer ceremony) “written on their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Ezekiel 36:27 says that in the New Covenant, God will put His Spirit within Israel “and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” In plain, biblical terms, the New Covenant stipulates that God will put His Spirit within the Jewish people and “brainwash them” (write it on their hearts) to keep the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Torah and “do them.” The Red Heifer ceremony is one of those commandments, an “eternal statute.”

      How can the New Covenant be against its very own stipulations? (Compare the results of the New Covenant on Jews in Acts 21:20.)

      I find things become much simpler without Replacement Theology. That doesn’t not mean that we believers stop being the temple of God’s Spirit, or that there is some other Gospel, or that Jesus has not provided eternal atonement and “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10). Heaven forbid.

      Again, thanks for your comment.
      Grace & peace

      1. Glenn

        Shalom John Enarson,

        I see that you have replied to Brian Hennessy, but not to me although it was I, who wrote the first comment. In your reply to Brian you mention Jeremiah 31:33 and you comment that the Jews will have the Torah written on their hearts. If you go back just a few sentences to Jeremiah 31:30, it clearly states that Master יהוה Elohim will seal a covenant with BOTH the House of Israel AND the House of Judah. Both of His divided Kingdoms, the northern, Lost Sheep of the House of Israel, and the southern Kingdom of the House of Judah will have His Torah written on their/our hearts.

        I’m thinking that you, John, and it seems that some of the Israel Guys don’t see or understand the Two Houses of Israel and Judah, the Two Witnesses, the Two Candlesticks, the Two loaves, the Northern Kingdom of Israel that went into exile/diaspora in 722BCE and became “lo Ami” or “not My people”, but who are His firstborn, Ephraim from the stick of Yosef as Ezekiel who properly prophesies about the restoration in Ezekiel 37:15-28.

        I would like to hear your response.

    2. Brian Hennessy

      John – The portable Tabernacle that became the Temple complex under the old covenant WAS the dwelling place of God, or the house of God. But when Yeshua established God’s new covenant with Israel and sanctified it with his blood on the cross, God left the building. The curtain before the Holy of Holies was split in two signaling all believers could now enter into the presence of God by faith through the shed blood of Messiah, where before only the high priest under could enter once a year with the blood of animals. God then allowed 40 more years for the nation to fully transition to the new covenant “building” before he removed the stone building made with human hands – forever.

      The very existence of the stone temple testified that Yeshua had not yet come. “The holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place [through the blood of Yeshua] has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing” (Heb. 9:8). So if another stone temple did arise (it won’t), by its very existence it would testify that Messiah never came.

      There can be only one temple of God on earth. Under the OC it was the tabernacle/temple. Under the NC, it is us. “Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant…Messiah was faithful as a son OVER His house – whose house we are” (Heb. 3:2,6).

      RT arose, not because the Bible taught that the NC had replaced the OC (which it did), but because the fallen church wanted to establish that God had rejected the Jewish people and replaced them with another people of God, namely gentile Christians.

  3. Sharon

    What do you do with the temple described in Ezekiel? God gave the instructions for this temple to be available for the tribulation Christ described in Matthew and Revelation, and Daniel. To negate God’s full word is to not believe Him.

  4. dan

    While I truly appreciate your mission in Israel and I am not even close to a delusional replacement theology buff.

    RE:
    Temple Mount will ultimately be restored, and neither restoration is some nefarious work of the devil, God forbid.

    Sadly, a segment of the church will have knee-jerk reactions to news of red heifers. That’s because the lack of a Temple is the last, desperate stand of Replacement Theology.

    I am pre-trib and that makes me a target for 70% of the Christian groups especially the NO Prophecy crowd that are now moving to shut up the tri-trib believers.

    response:
    I know how you get where you make the statements but I am 69 years old and been through this many times. Replacement theology is not the real or even main issue as most main stream denominations are out to do the same.

    As a believer my command from the LORD is to bring folks to Him through Holy Spirit for Salvation to the Jew 1st then to the Gentile.

    My goal is to get folks to Him before the 7 years and even before the Temple.
    They need Yeshua Jesus, not me helping them back to sacrificing. I don’t believe God wants believers pointing Israel to another way of temporary Salvation. Yes, we know the Temple shall be built and will help to lead them into finally seeing how wrong it is to trust in themselves working for Salvation same as the RCC. That’s the plan but the body of Christ is not part of the plan we are the alternative.

    Your message is not a true message to bring them to Yeshua but to fulfill prophecy and go along with a lie. They are to turn to Yeshua Jesus that may not play well with your ministry in Israel but you should be more focused on the Mission Yeshua gave us.

    I would not want to find myself on the side that lead Israel back into something God told them He hated.

    Amos 5
    The Day of the LORD
    …20Will not the Day of the LORD be darkness and not light, even gloom with no brightness in it? 21“I hate, I despise your feasts! I cannot stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer Me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; for your peace offerings of fattened cattle I will have no regard.…

    Ephesians 5:2
    And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

    Why would I stand in the way of a sinner coming to Christ, I will be praying for the 144,000 Israelis that will come out of this…

    Shalom

  5. dan

    To John,
    While I truly appreciate your mission in Israel and I am not even close to a delusional replacement theology buff.

    RE:
    Temple Mount will ultimately be restored, and neither restoration is some nefarious work of the devil, God forbid.

    Sadly, a segment of the church will have knee-jerk reactions to news of red heifers. That’s because the lack of a Temple is the last, desperate stand of Replacement Theology.

    I am pre-trib and that makes me a target for 70% of the Christian groups especially the NO Prophecy crowd that are now moving to shut up the tri-trib believers.

    response:
    I know how you get where you make the statements but I am 69 years old and been through this many times. Replacement theology is not the real or even main issue as most main stream denominations are out to do the same.

    As a believer my command from the LORD is to bring folks to Him through Holy Spirit for Salvation to the Jew 1st then to the Gentile.

    My goal is to get folks to Him before the 7 years and even before the Temple.
    They need Yeshua Jesus, not me helping them back to sacrificing. I don’t believe God wants believers pointing Israel to another way of temporary Salvation. Yes, we know the Temple shall be built and will help to lead them into finally seeing how wrong it is to trust in themselves working for Salvation same as the RCC. That’s the plan but the body of Christ is not part of the plan we are the alternative.

    Your message is not a true message to bring them to Yeshua but to fulfill prophecy and go along with a lie. They are to turn to Yeshua Jesus that may not play well with your ministry in Israel but you should be more focused on the Mission Yeshua gave us.

    I would not want to find myself on the side that lead Israel back into something God told them He hated.

    Amos 5
    The Day of the LORD
    …20Will not the Day of the LORD be darkness and not light, even gloom with no brightness in it? 21“I hate, I despise your feasts! I cannot stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer Me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; for your peace offerings of fattened cattle I will have no regard.…

    Ephesians 5:2
    And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

    Why would I stand in the way of a sinner coming to Christ, I will be praying for the 144,000 Israelis that will come out of this…

    Shalom

  6. Adam

    I can’t believe we are in the 21st century and so called intelligent people are arguing over cows. Have we progressed so little as a species ?

  7. sam i am

    I have no issue with people believing what they want to believe. However, what non Jews preach to us is irrelevant to us. We know who we are and where we are. We’re not lost. I am not religious at all but I do think the 3rd Temple will be built and MUST be built one day. Blaybn gezunt.