why a female sacrificial-animal?19-07-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet
Sacrificial animals were generally, either male or female (Lev.3:1; 4:3,32). However, there are explicit exceptions. Burnt offerings are always male (Lev.1:10) but the “sacrifice” of the red heifer (Numbers 19) is, by definition, female. Why this difference? In the light of the NT we can determine, in advance, that sacrificial animals, in all their variations, refer to Christ who gave Himself as an “offering and a sacrifice to God for a fragrant odor (Eph.5:2; Heb.9:13; 10:10; Rev.5:9). Now one might say: since Christ is male, would sacrifice animals, as referring to Him, not have to be male also? But why does this not show to be the case? The various kinds of sacrificial animals highlight different aspects of the one sacrifice of Christ. The burnt offering refers to Christ as the One who rose from the dead. First, an animal was slain in order, as a burnt offering on the altar, to rise up as a sweet-smelling odor. So was Jesus crucified and pierced (=slain) in order to be honored, and as a burnt offering to arise from the grave and to ascend to God. Jesus, in his resurrection is made Lord and Christ, by God (Acts 2:36) – these are male functions that refer to rulership. Hence, male burnt offerings. The red heifer in Numbers 19, by contrast, is definitely female. A female sacrifice refers not to the glory of the resurrection, but to the suffering that preceded it. The heifer was red, the color of the earth and of the blood. It was slain outside the camp and burned (verse 3 and 5) and it came, explicitly, not on the altar. All this refers to Jesus who, in obedience, suffered outside the gate (Heb.13:11,12) and was by God given up to his enemies (Rom.8:32). The feminine symbolizes obedience and subordination. That we see portrayed in Jesus, who humbly and obediently went His way to the death of the cross (Phil.2:8).