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Red Heifer a Harbinger of the End Times—Prepare for Apocalypse?

There has been a lot of buzz recently regarding the identification of potentially viable red heifers in Israel. Such reports first began to surface back in the late 90s (1997 to be exact); however, the Temple Institute has just recently revealed that they now have two such candidates under their care—sacrificial animals that will play a key role in the future Third Temple. Are living in the Last Days and End Times? Are we on a collision course with an irrevocable and pre-ordained destiny—the Apocalypse or Armageddon?

The enigmatic red heifer is inextricably linked to the end times, the building of Israel’s Third Temple, and the coming Millennial Kingdom.

In fact, these female cows have significant relevance for preppers—whether Christians or otherwise—as well.

They are a sign that events unfolding in the world today are rapidly heading towards an inescapable and devastating climax. A warning bell indicating that we are indeed living in the Last Days… and a harbinger signaling that we are barreling down the proverbial railroad tracks, headed for an end-times apocalyptic event.

While many are passionately asserting that everything is just fine and we are headed for a glorious V-shaped recovery and brighter days ahead… those with eyes willing to see, ears willing to hear, and a heart that seeks understanding are emphatically warning that we are rushing headlong into perilous times.

While there have been no red heifers for nearly 2,000 years, we are now witnessing the emergence of actual potential candidates. This is yet another significant prophetic sign—similar to the mega-sign revealed in the budding of the “Fig Tree” (the rebirth of the nation of Israel) in 1948 (cf. Matthew 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33)—that the time of this current dispensation (the Church or Gentile Age) may be coming to a dramatic and catastrophic close.

As we’ll see, these cows are approaching a critical age and could represent a critical and necessary ingredient for the construction of a Third Temple—marking the end of the age and the unleashing a period of great tribulation upon the earth.

Let’s examine this emerging prophetic sign and reveal what these red heifers mean for the End Times and why we need to be as prepared as ever for coming calamities—and, potentially, Armageddon itself.

If you listen closely, you can hear the approaching hoofbeats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse…

Background: The Red Heifer’s Role in the Temple

According to Numbers 19, a red heifer without blemish is the key ingredient to creating the “waters of cleansing”—water that will be needed to cleanse, purify, and prepare a Third Temple.

God’s Word declares that only the sacrifice of a perfect red heifer can restore the biblical purity required for people to access a rebuilt Third Temple:

“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.” (Numbers 19:1-2)

The Temple Institute writes, “Without it, the Divine service of the Holy Temple cannot be resumed,” adding, “There is a spiritual renaissance today in Israel; after almost 2,000 years, Israel is clearly moving towards the time when the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah—the prophesied Third Temple—will be rebuilt.”

In fact, these cleansing waters are necessary to ritually purify the Temple Mount area, the sacred vessels, and the entire Levitical priesthood that are all being prepared for service today.

Ezekiel, who prophecies about the rebuilt Third Temple, also mentions these waters of purification in conjunction with the regathering of Israel:

“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 36:24–26)

The Mishnah (or Mishna), the central and authoritative compilation of Rabbinic Oral Law (the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions known as the Oral Torah), specifies the unique and extreme divine requirements for a sacrificial red heifer (parah adumah) to be worthy.

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In order for a cow to qualify as a Red Heifer for this holy purpose of purification, it must meet the following requirements, as outlined in Numbers 19, and also in the writings of the oral tradition of the Talmud:

  • It must be absolutely perfect in its redness.  Even two hairs of any other color will disqualify it (even its hooves must be red).
  • It must be at least three or four years old—although older animals could be used, younger could not.
  • It must be free of any kind of internal or external defect or blemish.
  • It must not have been used for any type of physical labor nor have ever been placed under a yoke—not even once.
  • It must have been born naturally and never have been pregnant or milked.
God's Divine Requirements for a Red Heifer

According to the Mishnah, the ceremony of the burning of the red heifer took place on the Mount of Olives (outside the Temple). A ritually pure kohen (or cohen), a priest, slaughtered the heifer and sprinkled its blood in the direction of the Temple seven times. The red heifer was then burned on a pyre, together with crimson dyed wool, hyssop, and cedar wood.

For perspective, here’s a present-day view of the Temple Mount taken from the Mount of Olives:

View of the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives

Why a red heifer?

According to the Messianic Bible Project, “The commandment regarding the red heifer is such a mystery that the rabbis place it in the category of chukkim—divine decrees that cannot be understood by our limited human understanding.”

However, some Jewish sages believe the ordinance of the red heifer is connected to the sin of the golden calf—serving in some way as atonement for the terrible consequences of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf when they were brought out of Egypt.

Purification: How Are the Waters of Cleansing Produced from a Red Heifer?

Numbers also reveals how the Red Heifer is to be used to produce the waters of cleansing—meaning, the water needed to purify the Third Temple and prepare it for the presence of God.

God declares that the Red Heifer, without blemish, must be sacrificed by a priest outside the Temple:

“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.” (Numbers 19:3-4)

And, it must be reduced to ashes by burning it, with the addition of cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool:

“While [the priest] watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer.” (Numbers 19:5-6)

Finally, the ashes are to be stored outside the Temple and used to make the cleansing (or purifying) waters:

“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 are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.” (Numbers 19:9)

Parah Adumah: Where Have All the Good Cows Gone?

Following the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD, the red heifer line ceased to exist—no acceptable candidate has been seen in nearly 2,000 years.

In fact, only 9 red heifers were slaughtered during the entire period from Moses to the destruction of the Second Temple. The rigid requirements render such a cow as a true anomaly.

However, cattle breeders are attempting to systematically breed red heifers and export them to Israel to establish a breeding line of red heifers in Israel—in conjunction with ongoing projects in Israel. For example, the Temple Institute has been raising funds in order to use modern technology to produce a red heifer that is genetically based on the Red Angus.

Remember, the Third Temple cannot be built without proper purification—hence, a red heifer (unknown for the last 2,000 years) must be found.

It is interesting to note that many of the other preparations for the Third Temple have already been completed, including the sacred worship vessels and priestly garments to be worn by the Levites in Temple services. Furthermore, over 500 young Jewish men, descended from the tribe of Levi, have been trained as Temple Priests to fulfill their duties of worship and sacrifice in the Temple.

It is all coming down to finding an unblemished red heifer for the requisite sacrifice.

Attention: Viable Red Heifer Candidates Have been Identified

Based on the husbandry work being carried out above, the Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to preparing the reconstruction of a Third Temple in Jerusalem, has been attempting to identify red heifer candidates consistent with the requirements of Numbers 19:1–22 and Mishnah Tractate Parah.

The first possible candidate in nearly two millennia was identified in 1997, followed by a second in 2002.

While both of these cows were later determined to be disqualified, they marked an important “turning.” Much like the miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948, we are witnessing the rebirth of a line of red heifers.

In September 2018, the Temple Institute announced that another red heifer candidate had been born, stating, “The heifer is currently a viable candidate and will be examined [to see] whether it possess[es] the necessary qualifications for the red heifer.”

September 2018--Birth of a Red Heifer Candidate

Today, they currently have at least two red heifer candidates in their program. These young female cows are nearing the critical age of three and both remain viable candidates—neither, as yet, has been found to be disqualified.

This means that Israel may be on the cusp of creating waters of cleansing once again… paving the way for the Third Temple.

In fact, the Temple Institute has even begun to experiment with the meticulous rabbinic rituals surrounding the red heifer. According to Israel Today, in August of 2019, they burned a dead cow on a kind of a wooden altar. Into the burning fire were also thrown cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet-dyed wool. The experiment was designed to check the amount of ash produced, and whether it would be enough to purify every Israelite living today.

As the candidates approach the minimum three-year criteria for age, the Jewish experts are keeping a close eye on them—performing regular inspections to ensure they remain viable.

March 2020--Experts from The Temple Institute Inspect a Red Heifer Candidate

Red Heifers, Third Temple & the End Times: What’s the Connection & Why Does It Matter?

As we mentioned in the introduction, the red heifer is inexorably linked to the end times, the building of the Third Temple, and the coming Messianic Era.

It is important to understand God’s prophetic timeline in order to grasp the importance of the Third Temple and, by extension, the red heifer (required to have a functioning Third Temple).

Biblical eschatology is a deep river of study—one that could take hundreds of posts to fully explore. Thus, we will only hit upon the most pivotal points that relate to this discussion.

God has declared that a Third Temple will be built. Furthermore, Christ’s return will not occur until that Third Temple is in operation. Finally, His glorious Second Coming will usher in the physical kingdom—His divine reign over planet Earth from Jerusalem and the Temple.

Model of Jewish Second Temple

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 achieving maximum purification.

And, since ascending the Temple Mount required this degree of purity, no one can enter the Temple court until a red heifer is found and properly prepared.

Thus, the identification of viable red heifers is a sign that the current age is drawing to a close and the final age (the seventh) is about to be birthed—with Christ’s return and establishment of His physical kingdom on Earth.

This truth presents two very serious corollaries—consequences or direct implications for all of mankind to ponder and wrestle with today:

  • The Rapture of the Church is on the Doorstep
  • The Tribulation is Coming

The Rapture: First Reason the Red Heifers & Third Temple Matter

First, there is the matter of the Rapture—the instantaneous rescue (snatching away) of believers by Christ from the great tribulation (God’s wrath) to come.

John, writing under divine inspiration from his captivity in a cave on the Isle of Patmos (a rocky island of roughly 13 square miles off the coast of Turkey), admonished each of us to read and study the Book of Revelation:

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

This prophecy (i.e., the Book of Revelation) describes the great period of tribulation to come… but it also supports the Rapture of believers. The entire focus of the first three chapters is exclusively on the church. However, there is a noticeable break as we move into chapter four, with John writing, “After this I looked…”

From this point on, the church is not referred to again during the tribulation period.


Because the true church is no longer there (on the earth)—the believers have been raptured and are in heaven with Christ. God’s focus has shifted back to Israel and His judgment on the world, which was never intended for the church. The church is not seen on earth again until it returns (from heaven) with Christ at his glorious and physical second coming.

While the Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture has been imminent since Pentecost (the start of the Church Age), it has become understood that God intends for it to occur at the conclusion of a lengthy and productive church age.

Why? Because He is a merciful God—He desires for as many lost souls as possible to have the opportunity to come to a saving faith before the Rapture. This is why the end of the church age is referred to as the “fulness” of the times—God will have reaped a bountiful harvest of souls.

However, He has established a divine timetable—and the window of opportunity is coming to a close.

The restoration of viable red heifers—necessary for a Third Temple—is just another piece to add to a prophetic puzzle that is nearing completion. It is another warning to turn our heads upward, for our redemption is drawing near—the end of the church age and the Rapture are rapidly approaching and could happen at any moment.

Thus, the first reason that this sign—along with a plethora of others—is so important is that it provides further confirmation that the Rapture is as imminent as it has ever been. Time is short.

This is critical for humanity because the Rapture represents the rescue of the Church (the Bride of Christ) from something… and that “something” is the unleashing of God’s wrath and judgment on a wicked, evil and rebellious world—the Tribulation.

The Tribulation: Second Reason the Red Heifers & Third Temple Matter

Following the Rapture of the church, the world will enter a seven-year period of great tribulation—unlike anything it has ever experienced.

In fact, Christ declared that were it not limited to seven years, no one would survive it (cf. Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20).

This period of tribulation will commence with the confirmation of a peace treaty protecting Israel—one that will enable the construction of the Third Temple.

This is why a qualified red heifer is critical—you can’t have a Third Temple without it.

Furthermore, the Third Temple must be in operation by the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation period because the antichrist will declare himself “god” in that Temple—an act referred to in the Bible as the “abomination of desolation” (cf. Daniel 12:11, Matthew 24:15-20).

Thus, red heifers point toward a Third Temple, which, in turn, point towards a rapidly approaching period of global tribulation.

Red Heifers: The Key Takeaways for Preppers

All of the information in this article regarding the Red Heifer points to three critical takeaways for preppers:

  • Believers (Christians) should be eagerly anticipating the Rapture
  • Time is running out for unbelievers to avoid the Tribulation
  • All preppers—whether saved or unsaved—need to prepare for things to get ugly

It is critical to understand that the Rapture is a rescue of God’s people from His judgment (wrath) that will occur during the Tribulation period—judgment that is not intended for His children.

However, things can (and will) continue to become progressively worse leading up to the actual Tribulation. It is not only possible but to be expected that believers will be exposed to the threats and consequences of this deterioration prior to the Rapture.

As such, it is critical that we are adequately prepared—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Furthermore, for those preppers who are not believers, you need to be prepared for not only the continued deterioration prior to the Rapture but also for the likely time period between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation period (a brief transition period)—meaning, you will be facing horrific prospects for more than seven years.

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You need to be extremely prepared—the reality is that you likely won’t survive to the end regardless. The Book of Revelation paints a bleak picture in which upwards of 70% (and that’s being conservative) of all those entering the Tribulation period will likely die before it is over—not good odds.

My hope for you is that—should you miss the Rapture—you will be prepared well enough that you can survive long enough to realize what is going on, change your mind and heart about God, and come to a saving faith in Christ during the Tribulation!

(But I certainly recommend doing so now and being a part of the Rapture!)

I’d love to get the opportunity to meet you in the kingdom one glorious day!


The Red Heifer is just another sign that we need to be stepping up our prepping game—and, for believers, looking to the heavens for Christ to appear in the clouds and call us home.

Understand—No red heifer will ever get you into heaven. It only represents a symbolic sacrificial cleaning and purification. There is only one way to eternal life and that is by faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone—works and symbolic sacrifices won’t get it done.

We would be wise to prayerfully reflect on the divinely inspired words of Paul, who wrote:

“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

It’s time to get preppingbut chose Christ first!

Hey, if you’d like to learn more about why we feel this is the most critical time ever to be a prepper, we highly recommend reading our article The Endgame: Woldview Evolution & Why It Matters for Preppers.

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Doug is a passionate servant of Christ and holds an MBA, BBA (Summa Cum Laude), and AAcc from Liberty University, as well as an additional two years of study at Bible college. He has over 20-years of corporate finance, accounting, and operations management experience—spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He is proud to have served his country as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and his local communities as a firefighter/EMT and reserve peace officer—experience that has provided him with a unique skill-set when it comes to emergency medicine, firearms, crisis management, and wilderness survival. Doug enjoys playing the drums, prepping, and spending time with family—especially in the Outer Banks of NC.