The delivery of five red heifers to Israel has sparked a worldwide debate about its significance in biblical prophecy, particularly among Christians who believe a third temple will be built during the End Times.
The five heifers arrived in Israel from Texas last week after being approved by Jewish rabbis as red in color and unblemished – two requirements in the Mosaic law for sacrifice according to Numbers 19.
Many Christians believe a third temple will be built in Jerusalem during the End Times.
"The cows have been inspected by rabbis and were found to be red and unblemished, which means they are ritually pure for sacrifice as stipulated under the law of Moses," All Israel News reported. "In order for someone following Mosaic law to become ritually pure, the ashes of a red heifer are required, according to the Book of Numbers."
God told Moses in Numbers 19 to obtain a "red heifer without defect or blemish, and that has never been under a yoke." The heifer was to be taken by the priest "outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence." The rest of the chapter lists what is to be done with the heifer's blood and ashes after it is burned.
The pro-Israel Christian website TheIsraelGuys.com also labeled the heifers' arrival significant.
"It's incredible that several red heifers have been brought to Israel and could potentially be used in the reinstatement of the Temple services in the near future," the website said. "At the same time, as believers in the Bible and God's prophetic plan for Jerusalem, we first have to care about, and advocate for the place where God chose to place His Name, and where He said a House would one day be restored as a House of Prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56:7)."
The Orthodox Jewish community in Israel viewed the heifers as another step in the "Jewish journey to restore the Temple services in Jerusalem," TheIsraelGuys.com reported.
"According to rabbis and leaders in the Orthodox community, these heifers could be used to reinstate many of the practices of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, even before the 3rd Temple is rebuilt," the website said. "... At the welcoming ceremony, the small group witnessed the unloading of the heifers, recited blessings of thanksgiving, sang and danced, enjoyed a l'chaim [a toast], and even blew the shofar to celebrate this momentous occasion."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Erich Sacco, this is a stock image.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.