A Red Heifer and a Bloody Bride

red-heifer-1For if the blood of bulls and of goats,
and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,
sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,
purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:13-14

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded,
saying, Speak unto the children of Israel,
that they bring thee a red heifer without spot,
wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
… 5  and one shall burn the heifer in his sight;
her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
… 17  And for an unclean person [or thing] they shall take
of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin,
and running [Hebrew-
living] water shall be put thereto in a vessel.
Numbers 19:1-17

The Law’s remedy for uncleanness is living water poured through the ashes left from the burnt offering of a female calf, a red heifer. The special water is then called the water of separation. In studying the word separation, I discovered through Strong’s Concordance and Gesenius’ Lexicon that we may understand further the idea of waving away, as in shooing a fly. The priest uses the water to shoo away the uncleanness.

Why is this a female burnt offering?

The heifer is necessarily red according to the scripture. The Hebrew word red is a derivative of the word for blood. Everything that is described as red in Hebrew is compared to blood. (Similarly, everything that is white in Hebrew is compared to milk.)  The heifer may have been red in fur color, or she may have been blood red, possibly fertile and ready for breeding.

If she is offered to God in the height of her fertility, and then her ashes are mixed with living water, doesn’t that speak of resurrection?

What if this Red Heifer represents a bloody bride? -A bride who has laid down her life in offering to the Bridegroom. A bride who has given up marriage to this world for a heavenly union.

What if it is a resurrected Bride who sprinkles Living Water upon the unclean land?

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7:38

Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.
Numbers 21:17

Spoiler to A Point of Life, The Riddle

Clues are underlined, and the spoiler is at the bottom.

A Point of Life -The Riddle
by Susan Ector Ward

I occupy a point.

The point is a location on a particular line.

The line is located on a particular plane.

Within the plane, I am occupying a location on an infinite number of other lines.

The location of my point is claimed by an infinite number of other planes each of which incorporates an infinite number of other lines whose path also claims my point.

My point is the center of an infinite sphere.

I may move in any direction along any of the infinite number of lines occupied by my point.

Successively and momentarily as I move, I will be occupying one of an infinite number of other points each one not only located on the line along which I move but also located on an infinite number of other lines and also located on an infinite number of other planes, few of which are occupied by the point at which I began.

As I move, each point whose location I occupy becomes the center of a new infinite sphere.

I may change my direction by choosing to move along any of the infinite lines whose path claims the point of my new location.

As I move, I find that I have influenced an infinite number of spheres whose center I have occupied.

If I move backward to retrace my path, though I will again pass through the center of every one of the infinite spheres whose center I had occupied before, I cannot influence any sphere in the same way I had influenced it before because I have been influenced by each of the infinite spheres along my path.  The fact of my movement has changed me.  Though I go back, neither I nor my point can ever be the same as we once were.

Who am I?

I am a living soul.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – A Book Review

Anna Karenina –A Study in Happiness

Anna is a highly intelligent and deeply passionate woman.  Her natural grace and striking beauty affect everyone with the welcoming glow of her presence.  When we meet Anna she is a faithful, though unfulfilled wife.  She is a devoted mother to her eight year old son Sergei who is soon to grow past tender childhood.  She is a fully developed woman, yet her warm heart is empty.

Anna is bound by two men.  Alexei Karenin, her husband, is a strictly moral man who cannot show affection.  Alexei Vronsky is a young military bachelor driven by sensuality and personal pleasure.  He is her lover. It is no accident that the husband and the lover share the same first name.  At one point Anna speaks a clue in a delirium, “…such a strange, terrible fate, that they’re both Alexei, isn’t it?”[Part four chapter XVII]  The men are opposite bookends, equally responsible for Anna’s demise, as guilty as Anna herself.

Tolstoy does not throw stones at the guilty adulteress.  Her fall was not all her own doing.  Any one of the three could have saved Anna.  Had the husband yielded tender affection toward his wife, had the infatuated bachelor accepted Anna’s resistance to his first advances, had Anna herself fled from those continued advances, a woman’s life and a family would have been saved.

But what of happiness?  Could the Karenins have ever been happy?  Here is the central theme to Tolsoy’s novel, “All happy families are the same; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” [the novel’s opening sentence]

The novel follows the lives of three families:  Alexei and Anna Karenin, Anna’s brother Stepan and his wife Dolly, and Konstantin Levin and Dolly’s sister Kitty.  Two are unhappy families.  The unhappy families deal with the unhappiness differently, and one is indeed more unhappy than the other.  The third family struggles with its own troubles, yet remains true to its core values.  What makes the difference?  The peasant Fyodor’s simple observation answers the question, “He lives for the soul.  He remembers God.”  [Part eight chapter XI]

Although first published in 1873, Anna Karenina speaks profoundly to the modern world.  What is life all about?  What really matters?  What is happiness?   Tolsoy touches politics, philosophy and religion, as well as love, in this classic novel.  He gives us a window into Czarist Russia only 44 years before the Bolshevik Revolution.  His characters discuss economics, war, social order, even the relevance of religion and cultural norms.  His conclusion circles back to that which resonates at the root of everyman’s being, the pursuit of Happiness.

Tolstoy’s recipe for happiness?  -Do what is right for your fellow-man and remember God.

Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a Novel in Eight Parts first published in 1873-7, translated into English by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, Penguin Books, 2000-1

A Quote from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

I have begun reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolsoy, one of my favorite authors.  I hear that a new well-anticipated film version of the book will be released in the US this fall.  Tolstoy’s wealth in understanding the human condition makes him Master of character development.  The reader learns to love these characters as Tolstoy loves them and understands them.  They are timeless. One may find himself or learn to understand another, maybe to the point of reconciliation, through these living characters.  It has happened for me before in reading Tolstoy; now it’s happening again.

Here is a quote that won’t leave me.  I’m sure there will be more to share.

“He lived (without being aware of it) by those spiritual truths that he had drunk in with his mother’s milk…”

From Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, part 8 page 828 of the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky English translation from the original Russian, Penguin Books

[I confess; I read the last part first, a bad habit of mine.]

Susannah Wesley’s Talents

Susannah Wesley wrote in the 16th century:

…As I am a woman, so I am also the mistress of a large family. Although the superior charge of the souls contained it lies upon you; yet in your absence, I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my care as a talent committed to me under a trust by the Great Lord of all the families both of heaven and of earth. And if I am unfaithful to Him or to you in neglecting to improve these talents, how shall I answer unto Him, when He shall command me to render an account of my stewardship?   

The mother of John and Charles Wesley in a letter to her husband (1)

When a society loses its respect for motherhood,
it makes a mockery of motherhood’s provision for future generations,
and it loses its regard for the family.
That society sees people no longer as individuals,
but only as members of the corporate world body.
This is an affront to natural order and to Nature’s God.

Apostle Paul speaks to Timothy the young pastor:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house… (2)

Just as God planted within a young woman the desire for a husband, he also placed within her the desire to bear children. Although our society mocks and denies this innate desire, the truth aches within the heart of every woman who has submitted to its denial.

Children are a gift from God. They are the greatest blessing we will ever know in this life. As Susannah Wesley expressed to her husband, they are the greatest responsibility we will ever have. More than any other person, parents have the opportunity with their children to form them into –

  • faithful servants of God, or
  • reckless servants of hell.

Is there anyone who has excelled in any field without encouragement from another person?
Children can and will be molded.  Parents should see themselves as responsible for their children’s development.

Susannah Wesley saw her children as the talents of Jesus’ parable (3).
The talent was a piece of money. It was something that had worth when it was given to the servant. Each servant was expected to improve the good thing the master had given. This is an appropriate picture in which to place ourselves and our children. We have two choices. We may choose only to supply our children with food, clothing, shelter and a little advice now and then until they reach the age at which they go out on their own. Or, we may painstakingly observe each of our children’s strengths and weaknesses, praying and doing all within our ability to encourage the good and to help each child to overcome his faults. 

Parents are admonished to train their children.
Training goes much deeper than good advice. As with athletes, training involves setting a goal and practicing daily, repeatedly, until that goal becomes second nature to the trainee.

The Bible promises that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it (4).
Why?  -Because he has been trained in it. The way he should go has become second nature to him. Is this degree of training really possible?

In truth, parents are responsible either directly or indirectly for their child’s behavior. Ideally, parents must not allow immoral influences upon the child before he is sufficiently trained. In the days before the internet and cell phones, this level of protection was more feasible. Today, our children cannot even ride down the highway without some immoral influence being perpetrated upon them. I do not advocate monastic seclusion for rearing our children. But we must remember that parents are accountable to God, if not to society, for the way they rear their children. Let us fear, as did Susannah Wesley, lest we neglect to improve these talents.

More to come on this topic.

(1) The Journal of John Wesley, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 60610, p. 102
(2) 1 Timothy 5:14
(3) Matthew 25:14-30
(4) Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The above is an excerpt from Womanhood and God’s Dominion Call available as a free  e-booklet on this website.