Month: June 2014

The Third Day Series: Part 9 – Athanasius

Athanasius, in his book On the Incarnation, discussed the third day resurrection of Jesus. But he did not interpret a Biblical text or discuss an Old Testament type. Rather, he engaged in philosophical reasoning. Here are his words, found in the fifth chapter:

Fitting indeed, then, and wholly consonant was the death on the cross for us; and we can see how reasonable it was, and why it is that the salvation of the world could be accomplished in no other way. Even on the cross He did not hide Himself from sight; rather, He made all creation witness to the presence of its Maker. Then, having once let it be seen that it was truly dead, He did not allow that temple of His body to linger long, but forthwith on the third day raised it up, impassible and incorruptible, the pledge and token of His victory.

It was, of course, within His power thus to have raised His body and displayed it as alive directly after death. But the all-wise Saviour did not do this, lest some should deny that it had really or completely died. Besides this, had the interval between His death and resurrection been but two days, the glory of His incorruption might not have appeared. He waited one whole day to show that His body was really dead, and then on the third day showed it incorruptible to all. The interval was no longer, lest people should have forgotten about it and grown doubtful whether it were in truth the same body. No, while the affair was still ringing in their ears and their eyes were still straining and their minds in turmoil, and while those who had put Him to death were still on the spot and themselves witnessing to the fact of it, the Son of God after three days showed His once dead body immortal and incorruptible; and it was evident to all that it was from no natural weakness that the body which the Word indwelt had died, but in order that in it by the Saviour’s power death might be done away.

At the beginning of this series, it was stated that there are two reasons (Biblically) why Christ rose on the third day:

  1. Jesus said He would.
  2. Jesus said that the Old Testament prophesied a third day resurrection.

In the passage quoted from Athanasius, neither the prophecy of Jesus nor the prophetic witness of the Old Testament played a role in the explanation as to why Christ rose on the third day. Instead, Athanasius engaged in philosophical reasoning. Rather than offering Biblically based reasons for the third day resurrection, which can be validated by Scripture, there were speculations provided that have no Biblical basis.

With all due respect to Athanasius, a beloved saint and a great defender of the doctrine of the Trinity, his words on the third day pull us away from the Biblical text and towards opinions and guesses. Not only with this third day doctrine, but with all the doctrines of Scripture, we should strive to stick as closely as possible to the text, lest we supplant the teaching of God with our own.

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Noah’s Flood and a Recent Scientific Discovery

I could not help but laugh as I read a Huffington Post article this week about geologists discovering a massive body of water near the earth’s core (a body of water larger than our largest ocean).

Why was I laughing?

Because what is groundbreaking news to the secular scientists has been known and believed for thousands of years by Jews and Christians, by those who believe that the events recorded in the book of Genesis are not fictional, but historical facts.

Genesis, written by Moses over three thousand years ago, tells us that the flood in the days of Noah, which covered the whole earth, was caused not only by excessive amounts of rain, but by vast amounts of water coming from underneath the earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. Genesis 7: 11

Notice how the text says “the fountains of the great deep burst open.” How would Moses, a nomadic desert dweller writing between 1446 – 1406 B.C., without the aid of modern science, be able to make such a statement about the hidden geological processes of the earth? The answer is this: God told Moses about how He caused the flood to happen. God told Moses how the earth worked.

Do you believe that God spoke to Moses, and that He accurately told Moses how the flood happened? Do you believe there was a global flood that wiped out all of a wicked humanity, except for Noah and his family?

If you don’t, then you are not likely to believe Jesus, who tells us that another day is coming, similar to the days of Noah, when God will judge the wickedness of men, and only those who have had their sins forgiven by Jesus Christ will survive this coming flood, which is not a flood of water, but a flood of God’s righteous anger and fire:

And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all…It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17: 26 – 27, 30
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3: 3 – 9

The good news of Jesus Christ is that you do not have to die for your sins. Repent, turn to Him, and you will be saved. This is God’s promise. Just as God promised Noah that he and his family would be spared from the flood of water, so too will all who believe in Jesus Christ be spared from the flood of fire that is to come. This is because on the cross, where Jesus of Nazareth hung unto death, the fire and judgment of God that we deserve was given to Him. He took our punishment in our place, so we would not have to endure it. But the promise of God is only to those who believe that Jesus died for them. To those who don’t believe, they will receive their due, just as those who in the days of Noah disbelieved that a flood was coming, and then they perished.

Amen.

The Third Day Series: Part 8 – Moses

In the days of Joseph, a three day period played a pivotal role in getting Jacob and his progeny into Egypt. In the days of Moses, a three day period played a pivotal role in getting the progeny out of Egypt. God told Moses to ask Pharoah if Israel could leave Egypt and go on a three day journey into the wilderness, to worship God.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. Exodus 3: 14 – 20

God told Moses to request Pharaoh’s permission to go on a three day journey, knowing full well that Pharaoh would not allow it except under compulsion. God compelled Pharaoh by smiting Egypt with ten plagues; and it just so happened that one of the plagues, the ninth, occurred over three days.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. Exodus 10: 21 – 23

The Scripture says that God not only caused darkness to fall upon Egypt, but that Israel had light in their dwellings. This is doubly insulting to Pharaoh, for not only was his god Ra (a sun god) unable to keep the Egyptians in light, Ra was unable to keep God’s people in darkness.

Moving ahead now, from the days of Moses to our own, we can take these two three day references in the account of the exodus and parallel them with New Testament themes; themes deriving from the death, burial and third day resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The first reference was the request for a three day journey into the wilderness, which God ultimately used as a means of complete deliverance for Israel from Egypt. This looks ahead to how Christ’s third day resurrection secured complete deliverance for His people from sin and from the wrath of God.

The second reference was the three days of darkness for Egypt, while Israel’s dwellings remained lit. This points ahead to the New Testament theme of Christ being the light for HIs people, while those who don’t believe in Jesus are in darkness.

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. John 3: 19 – 21
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8: 12
And I (Paul) said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ Acts 26: 15 – 18

We should not be surprised that Moses and the exodus can be counted among the third day types pointing to the resurrection of the Messiah. As important as Moses was, and as important as the exodus from Egypt was, it might have been more surprising to find that they did not point ahead to Jesus. For as we have already discussed, the pattern that emerges when studying the third day theme is major Old Testament figures involved in spectacular events, which at some point involve a three day period of time. Certainly Moses and the exodus fit the description.