Month: September 2014

The Third Day Series: Part 13 – David

Are you familiar with the account of David acquiring the land upon which the temple was built? It is quite a strange story. The events that led up to the acquisition of the land started with David being tempted to take a census of Israel. Buying a piece of land for God’s temple was the farthest thing from his mind.

Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.” Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21: 1 – 3

Joab’s response indicates that at that time in Israel, under those particular circumstances, it was a wicked thing for the king to take a census. It was an offense to God. It was an indication, perhaps, that the king was relying on the numbers of his people rather than on God, for the security of the nation. The sin of David was dealt with by God, but only after the nine month long census had occurred.

So when they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days…Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” 2 Samuel 24: 8, 10

David ordered the census and did not listen to Joab, who advised him not to do it. Nine months later David recognized his sin and repented to God, asking God to take the sin away. God then responded in a most mysterious way.

When David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus the LORD says, “I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.” ‘ ” So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel 24: 11 – 14

David chose the three day penalty and God smote the land.

So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” 2 Samuel 24: 15 – 17

Even though David chose three days’ worth of pestilence, he regretted asking God to smite the land and he pleaded with God to only punish him. God then responded in mercy and grace, granting David the ability to make a sacrifice as an offering.

So Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded. Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be held back from the people.” Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what is good in his sight. Look, the oxen for the burnt offering, the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. Everything, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel. 2 Samuel 24: 18 – 25

This land that David bought, to build an altar on and offer sacrifices to God, became the land where his son Solomon would build the temple.

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2 Chronicles 3: 1

In other words, a story which started with David’s sin ended with the purchase of the land where the temple, God’s chosen place for the atonement of sin to occur, would be located. If this was all the story was about, it would be important enough on its own. But beyond this historical reading there is an additional interpretation, an additional layer of meaning. The whole story alludes to the gospel story and includes third day typology. Consider this:

David’s Story Gospel Story
David sinned against God by taking a census Adam sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit
David’s sin brought a pestilence upon the land of Israel Adam’s sin caused all of humanity to be born under the curse of sin and death
On the third day, David interceded for the people and God stopped the plague. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and appeased the wrath of God

There is no doubt that this account of David is an odd one. Satan tempts him to take a census and he does. God allows David to choose one of three punishments for his sin, and he chooses the one that lasts for three days and which he knows will afflict the people he rules over. He repents, offers prayer and sacrifices to God, and purchases the land where the temple would be built. This land was purchased on the third day. And this land was on Mount Moriah – the same Mount Moriah upon which Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, an event which pointed ahead to Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death. It was the same Mount Moriah that Abraham called, according to Genesis 22: 14, “The LORD Will Provide”.

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The Third Day Series: Part 12 – Samson

One of the goals of this series is to cause you to “stop and look”, when reading the Old Testament and encountering a three day reference. The reference should be examined to determine whether it is a type of Christ’s third day resurrection. If it is not a type, then no harm, no foul. But if it is a type, then you have grown in your understanding of the gospel, for both Jesus and Paul consider third day types in the Old Testament to be part of the gospel’s essential definition (see Luke 24 and 1 Cor 15).

In the story of Samson there is a three day reference, and without consciously stopping and thinking about the reference, one could easily overlook its significance to the plot. But it is very important in the story of Samson. However, before we look at the specific three day reference, we need a little more context regarding Samson. In a general way, Samson himself is a type of Jesus. Despite being riddled with flaws and sin, Samson as a judge of Israel pointed ahead to Jesus the judge of the world, who is Himself flawless and without sin. Consider these things:

Samson Jesus
Mother was barren Mother was a virgin
An angel announced his conception to his parents An angel announced His conception to His parents
He was made a Nazarite (set apart for the Lord) before birth He was the eternal Son of God before birth
He was conceived for a specific purpose (to begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines) He was conceived for a specific purpose (to deliver His people from their sins)
His purpose was fulfilled in his death (Judges 16: 30) His purpose was fulfilled in His death

One day Samson became enamored with a Philistine woman (Philistines were enemies of Israelites) and she became his wife. Samson threw a feast for her and her people, and something happened at the feast that changed Samson’s life. Unbeknownst to Samson, a riddle he gave had dramatic consequences for him, his wife, and her people.

“Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.” So he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” Judges 14: 12 – 14

This riddle seems harmless enough, but one needs to know that an answer would have been virtually impossible for the guests to guess. The riddle was based on an isolated experience that Samson had on the way to his wife’s land:

Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. So he went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson. When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion. So he scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. Judges 14: 5 – 9

Samson killed a lion. Later, he founds bees and honey in the carcass. It is as simple as that. Now the reason the riddle was so important for the rest of Samson’s life was not because of the content, but because of the peoples’ reaction to it and the subsequent course of events. It is at this point where we have our three day reference. For the sake of context we will repeat the verses where Samson gave the riddle, and continue past them to see the peoples’ reaction.

“Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.” So he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.”

But they could not tell the riddle in three days.

Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?” Judges 14: 12 – 15

Despite being given seven days to guess the riddle, the text tells us that the people grew anxious after three days. Here is a summary of Samson’s story following this three day interval of time:

  1. The people threatened to harm Samson’s wife if she couldn’t tell them the answer.
  2. Samson’s wife was able to get the answer from him, and then she gave it to her people.
  3. The people gave Samson the answer by the end of the feast, which caused Samson to have to pay the prize.
  4. In order to pay the prize, Samson went to a city and killed some Philistines and took their spoil.
  5. After paying the prize, Samson went away in anger without his wife.
  6. Since Samson left without his wife, the woman’s father gave her to another man.
  7. When Samson returned to visit his wife, he learned she had been given away, and in anger he torched the people’s crops and fields.
  8. The people burned Samson’s wife in retaliation.
  9. Samson went to battle the people and killed them.
  10. Weary after his battles, Samson called on God for refreshment, and God split open a hollow place and caused water to come forth.

This is quite a string of events to derive from a riddle given at a feast. Between the riddle and the string of events we find a reference to a three day passing of time. Now the three day reference didn’t really need to be there to advance the plot. It would have been enough to say “on the fourth day after the riddle, the people threatened Samson’s wife.” But the text, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, included the line

But they could not tell the riddle in three days.

It is clear, at least to me, that this portion of Samson’s story meets the required pattern that allows us to classify a passage as being a type of the third day resurrection of Jesus. The story features an Old Testament figure, a three day interval of time, and extraordinary events related to the time frame (the 10 events listed above that followed the giving of the riddle).

This pattern, which we see multiple times in the Old Testament, prepares the reader for the ultimate manifestation of the pattern: the death, burial, and third day resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, laid down His life for us, so that through His death and the giving of His body we might taste the sweet honey of the gospel – forgiveness of sins and peace with God.

Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.