The Water of Cleansing was used for numerous purposes – sprinkling the Levites when they were set apart, sprinkling someone who has had to touch a dead body, and drunk by a woman with a jealous husband. These later ones deal with death – of the body or of relationship – and thus with sin. Sin and its effects must be cleansed! John the Baptist was using this type of cleansing with his baptism of repentance – for cleansing. Christian baptism draws from this as from circumcision.
Thanks to Mr. Henry, check out Hebrews 9 v13-14. “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, …”.
The sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer.
That’s this part in Numbers that the author of Hebrews is referring too. The ashes of a heifer.
We’ve spent plenty of time thinking about the blood of goats and bulls, but now we’re looking at the water of cleansing, and the ashes that “impregnate” it (that’s from Mr Henry too).
As Stuart Snr says in his notes, the water of cleansing/purification was also to be used in the cleansing of the Levites (Numbers 8), and with the woman accused of adultery (Numbers 5 v17).
Seems like there are two thoughts here. One of baptism, and one of Jesus’ blood.
One is both a visible sign of the cleansing (in the water baptism), and a covenant made between God and the one being washed (behind the physical water).
The hearts of the Israelites weren’t made clean by the water of purification. It was an outward sign God wanted them to keep, to point to a deeper, fuller truth. His covenant with them as His people, that they were keep their side (Exodus 24, v3-8).
Notice v8, the blood of the covenant.
Which speaks to the second thought. That of Jesus’ blood. The writer of Hebrews seems to have Exodus 24 and the other covenantal passages in mind very clearly – Hebrews 9 again, v20 is a dictation of Ex 24 v8.
And back a little in Heb 9, v14 is a clear bell. “… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Sprit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
It’s Jesus’ blood that purifies us!
And the intent of that purification is wonderful, from dead works (nothing of ourselves) to serve the living God!
Praise God that we can serve Him because of what Jesus has done!