Is the Coming of the Messiah Closer?

Is the Coming of the Messiah Closer?

© David Burton 2022

The Red Heiffer

     “Excitement and joy abounded last Thursday {15 September 2022} when five red heifers landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, causing some of their 300 greeters to weep from emotion.
     “Reason for the exhilaration? According to Jewish tradition, the appearance of a 100%-red cow – which is extremely rare – is a sign of the imminent arrival of the Messiah. In Jewish law, this is the only animal whose ashes can be used to purify people who had been in contact with the dead – and all Jews today are considered to be in this state of impurity. Yet only those who have been purified can serve in the Temple and bring sacrifices to the holy site.
     “The criteria for the cow to meet the requirements is so rigorous that there has not been a documented case of such an animal in 2,000 years. It must be a particular shade of brownish red; it cannot have more than one white or black hair in its pelt; it cannot have any one of dozens of kinds of defects; and it must never have worked even a day of its life.
     "Several rabbis laboriously examined the five arrivals and pronounced them kosher, an announcement that brought some viewers to tears.
     “ ‘It is very gratifying that we have red cows ready both for the building of the Temple with God’s help, and in the meantime to study,’ said Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, the chief rabbi of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. ‘The building of the Temple is approaching, we need to know, to prepare, and that is one of the things’ that is needed.
     “The five heifers were the generous donation of a Christian Evangelical farmer named Byron, who raised them on his farm in Texas. They were driven to New York by truck and then put on an American Airlines cargo flight to Israel.
     “The arrivals are currently in a mandated quarantine, but they will ultimately be brought to their new home in the northern Beit She’an area, a breeding farm where it is hoped that their numbers will expand greatly.
     “Since their existence is such a rarity, the facility also expects to become a tourist site for both religious Jews and Christians from all over the world, as well as a draw for Jewish schoolchildren throughout the country.
     “Ordinarily, Israel forbids the import of live animals from the U.S., fearing the transmission of disease, but ‘these cows have undergone over 10 blood tests in the last year and have been in isolation for four months,’ a spokesperson said.
     “According to Maimonides (1138-1204), one of the greatest rabbis and philosophers in Jewish history, there have been only nine red heifers used to purify the nation from the time the Torah was given on Mount Sinai until the destruction of the Second Temple. The 10th, he wrote, will be used by the ‘King Messiah.’ “ (Ref. 1)

     In 2015, I wrote an article about the red heifer, titled “The End of Days and the Red Heifer ”.[2] The following summarizes what I wrote at that time.

     The “End of Days” concept - also known as End Time(s), Armageddon, the Apocalypse and Judgement Day - is based upon biblical prophecies and is common to the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In each religion, a messiah or redeemer will appear to herald or oversee the event. In Judaism, this redeemer is called the Moshiach. In Christianity, this redeemer is called the Messiah and in Islam, this redeemer is called the Mahdi.
     Common to both Judaism and Christianity is the concept of the Messiah. Christians believe the coming of the Messiah is the second coming - that of Jesus. Jews believe that the coming of the Messiah will be the first coming.
     The term "End of Days" is taken from the Old Testament, Numbers 24:14 and has been taken as a reference to the messianic era.
     In Numbers 24:14, Balaak, the king of Moab, calls upon the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites before he goes to war against them during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. Instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blesses the Israelites three different times. Balaam then takes leave of Balaak saying, “And now, behold, I go unto my people; come, and I will announce to thee what this people {the Israelites} shall do to thy people {the Moabites} in the end of days.
     Many, if not most, End of Time adherents view the creation of Israel in 1948 and the conquest of Jerusalem in 1967 as signs that the End of Days is approaching. Central to that event is the Jewish Holy Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. For conservative Christians, “building that Temple is an essential condition for the Second Coming. And for many Muslims, any attempt to destroy the shrines of Al-Aqsa {and replace it with the Jewish Temple} is a sign that the Hour is at hand.”
     The Temple Mount has become a major focal point in the Jewish-Muslim conflict since Israel captured it from Jordan in 1967 The Israeli government decided to leave the Temple Mount under nominal Jordanian and Muslim control. It has since become “the place where the drama of the End of Days will come to pass. For Jewish extremists, Israel’s failure to take full possession of the Mount is an affront; for Islamic extremists, Jewish rule is a desecration and an unending threat.”
     The Temple Mount is the most holy site in Judaism. Jews throughout the world stand and face the Temple Mount when reciting the Silent Prayer, the “Amidah”. Jews long for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple on the Mount and restoration of the ancient Temple services called for in the Bible. But, as will be explained later, in Israel and throughout the diaspora, only a radical fringe calls for Jewish worship on the Mount today or in the near future.
     For Muslims, the idea of Jewish worship on the Mount reinforces the worst fears of Israeli/Jewish intentions for taking over the Temple Mount. This fear has been instilled in them by Islamic extremists and anti-Israel hard-liners for nearly eight decades now.
     Why don't the Jews rebuild the Holy Temple? The followings reflect the view of many Jews.
     The first and most obvious answer to that question is that the Jews can't for political reasons. The Muslims have control over the Temple Mount, and for the Jews to destroy the Muslims' holy site to build their own would bring on a holy war.
     However, there are other issues involved. Even if Jews were to receive the consent of every Muslim to raze or move their sacred structures from the Temple Mount, many orthodox Jews believe they still would not be permitted to rebuild the Holy Temple.
     One reason is that it is forbidden to enter the precise area where the Holy Temple used to be, because all Jew are ritually impure as a result of sometime having come into contact with the dead. Whoever enters the precise area where the Holy Temple used to be is violating a biblical prohibition punishable by death. In order for a Jew to be able to become ritually pure, he would need the ablutions of the ashes of a red cow administered by a Jewish priest. This ritual and the requirements to conduct it are explained later in this article.
     The next problem is that an altar in the Temple area must be built in a very precise location. It is forbidden to place the altar anywhere else. When the Second Holy Temple was built, they had to find reliable witnesses who could testify to the exact spot. They found three such witnesses.
     But Jews today don't have any prophets or witnesses to tell them where to locate the altar. Thus, until a prophet - presumably Elijah - comes and tells them where to build the altar, Jews cannot do it.
     There are other problems remaining.
     Still, believing Jews have a tradition that Elijah the Prophet will arrive and reveal himself before the advent of the Messiah. He will arrive and answer all questions and resolve all doubts.
     However, there are Jews and non-Jews who believe that the Third Temple can and should be built upon the site of the first two Holy Temples. Some of these advocates of Jews rebuilding the Temple atop Mount Moriah are hard at work in an attempt to turn their belief into a reality. They have even announced that they have finished building an altar suitable for the Temple service. The altar, which took several years to build, can supposedly be operational at a moment’s notice.
     Now, another of the requirements for the reconstruction of the Holy Temple has been met - the perfect Red Heifer is reported to have been bred that is needed for the ritual purification that will allow believing Jews to walk upon the original location of the Holy of Holies.
     Many Christians have a fascination with the “End of Days” or the “End Times” prophecies. For fruition, the End Times prophecies require 3 preceding events: 1) the return of the Jews to Israel and the Jewish nation’s rebirth, 2) the repossession of Jerusalem by the returning Jews, and 3) the rebuilding of the Holy Temple by the Jews. Today, two of the three prophecies have been fulfilled.
     To some Christians, the destruction of the Dome of the Rock is thought to be the trigger that will serve as the prelude to the Second Coming of Jesus that signals the End of Days.
     Some Fundamentalist Christians believe that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ cannot occur until the Third Temple is constructed in Jerusalem, which again requires the appearance of a Red Heifer born in Israel. For them, the Hebrew Temple is essential to the prophecy, that Jesus will set his feet on the Mount of Olives and enter the rebuilt sanctuary through its eastern gate
     The End of Days scenario also exists in the Jewish faith and the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit), also known as Mount Moriah (Har HaMoriya), figures in this tradition.
     “Moshiach" is the Hebrew word for "Messiah." In Talmudic literature, the title Moshiach is reserved for the Jewish leader who will redeem Israel in the End of Days.
     “One of the principles of Jewish faith enumerated by Maimonides {the preeminent medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher, astronomer, Torah scholar, and physician of the Middle Ages} is that one day there will arise a dynamic Jewish leader, a direct descendant of the Davidic dynasty, who will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and gather Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the Land of Israel.
     All the nations of the world will recognize the Moshiach to be a world leader, and will accept his dominion. In the messianic era there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living.
     The Hebrew Talmud describes the period immediately prior to the advent of the Moshiach as one of great travail and turmoil. There will be a world recession, and governments will be controlled by despots. It is in this troubled setting that the Moshiach will arrive.
     An important aspect of the End of Days is the prediction that the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
     From many aspects, the End of Days, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the appearance of Moshiach, etc. revolve around the Jews building the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. As noted, there are problems with this. The location of the Holy of Holies is unknown and anyone who has had any contact with the dead is ritually impure and forbidden to enter this Holy of Holies. Being ritually cleansed in the ritual of the Red Heifer potentially solves the problem of ritual impurity.
     The End of Days is also a fundamental element of faith for Islam. In this scenario, there will be a time of great tribulation on Earth followed by the appearance of a great Savior and/or return of a Messiah, who will usher in the Kingdom of God on Earth and bring an end to suffering and evil.
     For most Muslims, the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount would create the basis for a holy war. Islam is not noted for sharing territory or property with Infidels, particularly a site the Muslims consider to be their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina.
     There is an organization in Jerusalem's Old City called the Temple Institute. It is an organization at the far edge of Israel’s Jewish religious right that is dedicated to establishing the Third Temple. Finding a Red Heifer is a precondition to building the Temple. Another precondition would be the removal of the Muslim Dome of the Rock and the al Aqsa Mosque from the Temple Mount.
     There are also many Israelis, Jews and others who regard the lack of a Red Heifer as a blessing that is preventing a major confrontation over control of the Temple Mount. Still, there are those who want to "bless" Israel and provide it with what they believe is the fuse for Armageddon.
     For some, the breeding of the perfect Red Heifer represents the creation of a “four legged bomb” which has the potential of setting the entire Mid-east region on fire. Muslim extremists may view the existence of the Red Heifer as proof of Jewish intent to take over the Temple Mount and destroy the Muslim structures located on it.
     Many believe that the End of Days is imminent. The signs are all there. The Jews have returned to the land of their forefathers. They have retaken possession of the Temple Mount. A ritually acceptable alter for the Third Temple has supposedly been built.
     Ever since Israel came into possession of old Jerusalem in 1967, some extremist Israelis have tried to accelerate the coming of the End Days by plotting the destruction of the Muslim shrines and busily constructing the various ritual objects for use in the rebuilt Temple. These Israeli extremists have forged a natural alliance with Christian religious zealots, who have their own rationale for racing toward Armageddon. At the same time, there are Islamic extremists who want to light the fuse of Armageddon by launching a wave of terrorist attacks in Israel and elsewhere across the world.
     Will the appearance of a perfect Red Heifer be the final signal to these religious radicals to take action to hasten the arrival of the End of Days? [2]

     The Temple Institute in Israel is continuing its push to have a Third Temple built on Har HaBayit in Jerusalem. As a major part of their efforts, they have been working to develop a ritually pure and acceptable Red Heifer. They have apparently made progress in this undertaking.

     “The requirement of a Red Heifer is probably the most enigmatic biblical commandment, and one that continues to capture the imaginations of Jews and Christians alike. The preparation and purpose of the Red Heifer as described in Numbers 19 indicates that the entire Temple service depends on the presence of water mixed with Red Heifer ash, the one and only means of purifying one who has come in contact with a corpse.
     “Since ascending the Temple Mount required purity, and it is assumed that everybody has either knowingly or unknowingly been made impure by coming in contact with death, no one can enter the Temple court until a Red Heifer is found and properly prepared.
     “It is for this reason that to this day, Jews are religiously forbidden from entering the area that was once the inner court of the Temple. Religious Jews who do ascend the Temple Mount first immerse themselves in a ritual bath, but that’s only good enough to get them into what was the outer courts, not to be confused with the Temple itself. This is the reason why until today Jews are not allowed to enter the Temple parameters. Those who do ascend, immerse themselves first in ritual bath, that only allows entering the Mount, that is not to be confused with the Temple itself.
     “The short of it is that without the Red Heifer, the Temple can’t be rebuilt.
     “The absence of the Temple, in turn, means that the full redemption of Israel is impossible, since according to Ezekiel 36, only the sprinkling of the Red Heifer water allows for the complete change of heart and spirit (“then I shall sprinkle pure waters upon you, and you shall be clean, from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. I will also give you a new heart, and I will place within you a new spirit”).
     “The reason why so many Christians are enamored with the Red Heifer is because they, too, understand that the Third Temple means not only redemption for Jews, but also redemption of the world. Likewise, both Jews and Christians share the belief that when Messiah will arrive, he will enter the Temple. So, for him to come, there must be a Temple.” (Ref. 3)

     “Abraham said to the Holy One: Should the people of Israel sin against You, Heaven forbid, You might treat them as the generation that perished in the Flood!
     "Said God: Not so.
     "Said Abraham: Give me a sign.
     “God then directed Abraham to offer animal sacrifices to Him, and Abraham came to understand the atoning power of that ritual act. And he was able to envision that atonement would be gained for the people Israel through the ritual of sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem.
     “Said Abraham: That will suffice while the Temple is standing. But when there is no Temple, what will become of the people Israel?
     “Said God: I have already arranged for them passages {in the Torah} concerning the sacrifices. Whenever they read about the sacrifices I shall consider them as having offred sacrifices in my Presence, and I shall forgive them all their sins.
Ref. (4)

  1. Sign of the messiah? Five red heifers, eligible for ‘purification,’ arrive in Israel, Batya Jerenberg,
    World Israel News, 20 September 2022.
  2. The End of Days and the Red Heifer, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 230, 3 August 2015.
  3. Getting Ready: Temple Institute Practices Burning the Red Heifer, Tsvi Sadan, Israel today, 2 May 2022.
  4. Mahzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, The Rabbinical Assembly, Accessed 21 September 2022.

  6 October 2022 {Article_548; Israel_70}    
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