Strange Rituals

Numbers 19:1-10 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: “This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tent of Meeting.

While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and offal. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer.

After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They shall be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the aliens living among them.


The Bible has many of these strange rituals. Why does an omnipotent, omniscient, infinite God need these types of rituals to interact with his creation?

4 responses to “Strange Rituals

  • jason

    I don’t see where the Bible says that God “needs” these types of rituals to Interact with his creation. An omnipotent God doesn’t “need” to do anything. The laws were meant to 1. bring the people closer to God (not vice versa), and 2. foreshadow the sacrifice of Christ and the bringing in of the new law.

    On the surface these things might seem bizarre but we can rest assured there’s a reason behind every single one of these God-enacted requirements. It’s no good looking at it from 10,000 feet. Getting up close and personal and doing a little digging is what it’s all about. 🙂

    What are the ashes for? What do they represent? Is there a link between the “ceremonial clean place” and the tomb in which Christ was placed? Is there a link between washing and baptism? Who knows, but it’d certainly be a great study!

  • lenny


    You’re right on the surface these things do seem bizarre but like you, I’m sure there’s a purpose behind it. Just not sure what it is.


  • jason

    I wonder if ashes somehow symbolically represent the sin that was been burned/destroyed when the sin offering was sacrificed? It’s interesting that the ashes were disposed of outside of the encampment in the same way the sin was removed from the people or individual.

    Hm. Just a random thought 🙂

  • Nonya

    I guess you don’t know how soap is made.

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