The Third Day

The Third Day Series: Concluding Words

The goal of this series was to examine and explain why Jesus rose on the third day, as opposed to the second or fourth days. I feel this has been accomplished, and hopefully you do too. Two main reasons for a third day resurrection were offered, both of which derive from the Bible.

  1. Jesus predicted it.
  2. Jesus said that the Old Testament predicted it.

Jesus’ prediction is easy to prove. Simply read Matthew 17: 22. But it is not as easy to prove the way in which the Old Testament predicted a third day resurrection. For as previously mentioned, the Old Testament does not contain a statement akin to “The Messiah will die and be raised on the third day.” Rather than directly predicting such a thing, the Old Testament established and repeated a pattern over and over and over. This repeated pattern serves as a precedent for the Christ’s third day resurrection. Another way to say it is that Jesus’ third day resurrection was the ultimate manifestation and fulfillment of the well-established pattern documented in the Old Testament.

What is this pattern, and how does it establish the precedent for Jesus’ rising from the dead? The pattern we have discerned is as follows:

  1. There is an account featuring an Old Testament figure.
  2. In the account is a three-day interval of time.
  3. The three-day interval of time relates to an extraordinary event in the figure’s life.

To demonstrate the validity of the pattern, we examined Old Testament passages featuring Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Israel, Rahab, Samson, David, Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Jonah, and Esther. These people are not obscure characters. All of these people, and their stories, are well-known to anyone familiar with the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was not secretive when placing the third day pattern in Scripture. He placed the pattern in the lives of the most well-known Biblical figures, during some of the most crucial times of their lives.

If you have never known how to evangelize a Jew, this is a good place to start. Explain to them the third day pattern. They have probably never heard of it. Sit with them and point out all the three day references in the stories of the major figures. If they ask you how you came across such a thing, tell them that the Messiah pointed it out to you. Tell them that the Messiah taught that such things were pointing to Him and His third day resurrection from the dead.

In the same way you would witness to a Jew, witness to yourself and to other Christians, so that your faith in Jesus Christ would be increased as you increase in your knowledge of His gospel. His death, burial, and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament. The Old Testament writings were concluded hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth. This is significant because it gives us the confidence to know that the New Testament is not a bunch of cleverly devised tales, but is rather documenting the activity of the Messiah whom the Old Testament said was coming.


The Third Day Series: Part 14 – Solomon

Solomon serves as a type of Christ. Jesus Himself rebuked the Pharisees for denying that someone who exceeded Solomon in greatness was in their presence.

The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12: 42

Not only is Solomon a type of Christ, but the wisdom of Solomon is a type of the wisdom of Christ. Solomon’s wisdom was on full display when he was asked to judge a dispute between two women.

Then two women who were harlots came to the king and stood before him. The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. It happened on the third day after I gave birth, that this woman also gave birth to a child, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, only the two of us in the house. This woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on it. So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom. When I rose in the morning to nurse my son, behold, he was dead; but when I looked at him carefully in the morning, behold, he was not my son, whom I had borne.” Then the other woman said, “No! For the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” But the first woman said, “No! For the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.” Thus they spoke before the king. Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” The king said, “Get me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. The king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son and said, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!” Then the king said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother.” When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice. 1 Kings 3: 16 – 28

This episode is especially significant because it occurs directly after the account of Solomon praying to God and asking for wisdom and a heart that was capable of ruling God’s people. Solomon had just taken the throne as a Davidic king and wanted to rule God’s people well. Solomon’s wise ruling regarding the child is evidence to the reader of Scripture that God answered Solomon’s prayer.

In this important passage, which demonstrates God’s kindness not only to Solomon but to David (because God promised David an eternal house), there appears a third day reference. The lying woman gave birth to her son on the third day after the other woman gave birth. The events after that led to their appearing before Solomon, giving him an opportunity to make a wise judgment. And so the Old Testament “third day pattern” is once again seen – an Old Testament figure is involved in a spectacular event, which at some point involves a three day period of time. The figure – Solomon. The event – his wise ruling as Davidic king. The three day period of time – the time that elapsed between the two births of the women.

Now how do these things typologically relate to Christ and his third day resurrection? It was mentioned before that the wisdom of Solomon is a type of the wisdom of Christ. What is the wisdom of Christ? It is the cross and the third day resurrection.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 24

The wisdom of the cross is far superior to the wisdom of man. Solomon was extremely wise, and yet he fell into extreme sin. His vast intelligence was not enough to overcome his intrinsic nature, which was corrupt and fallen. Only the power of God is enough to overcome an intrinsically wicked human nature. And that power of God, that wisdom of God, is Christ. Upon that cross He paid the penalty for our sins. As part of the New Covenant He transforms our hearts and our nature and frees us from the bondage of sin. We are given fellowship with the Holy Spirit, who helps us contend with the sin that remains in our lives. We may not be as wise as Solomon was, but we are in every way better, not because of ourselves, but because of the wisdom of Christ upon the cross.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5: 17

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”.

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.

The Third Day Series: Part 11 – Rahab

When Moses died, God appointed Joshua in his place. Joshua was the man who led Israel into the land of Canaan, the land God promised to His people. As they prepared for invasion, Joshua sent spies to scout the land. They went to the town of Jericho and found refuge in the house of a harlot named Rahab; she protected them from her own people, at great risk to herself.

Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. It was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men from the sons of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them, and she said, “yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. It came about when it was time to shut the gate at dark, that the men went out; I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” Joshua 2: 1 – 5

Rahab hid the spies because she feared their God. She knew that Israel would not fail in taking Jericho. She had heard and believed the accounts of the exodus and how Israel escaped Egypt by God’s hand, and how they had battled other kings and won. And so she shrewdly made peace with the spies, to keep her and her family safe.

“Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” Joshua 2: 12 – 13

The spies accepted her proposal.

So the men said to her, “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the LORD gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.” Joshua 2: 14

It is at this point where the conversation becomes really interesting.

Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed, and she tied the scarlet cord in the window. They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them. Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.” Joshua 2: 15 – 24

In this passage we not only have a three day reference, but a reference to a scarlet cord. Both of these function as New Testament types. The three day reference looks ahead to Christ’s third day resurrection, and the scarlet cord looks ahead to the shedding of Jesus’ blood for the forgiveness of sins.

Consider this comparison of events:

Old Testament Account New Testament Account
The spies depart for three days and hide in the hills Christ dies and is buried in a tomb for three days
The Jews promise not to harm Rahab, if she places the scarlet cord in her window God promises to remove His wrath from those who believe in Jesus (and the blood He shed)
After three days, the spies return to Joshua, the conquering of Jericho is imminent, and the protection of Rahab is guaranteed On the third day, Christ rose from the dead, His second coming is imminent, and the salvation of His church is guaranteed

This account of Rahab contains elements that look ahead to Jesus – the scarlet cord and the three days the spies were in the hills. But the passage is more than typological – it shows how God very specifically worked to preserve the Messianic seed. As a result of her encounter with the spies, Rahab became a believer in the God of Israel, married into the Messianic tribe of Judah, and became an ancestor of Jesus by becoming an ancestor of David. Matthew gives us this information:

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king…Matthew 1: 1 – 6

And so the story of Rahab and the spies is another stellar example of God’s sovereign working in history to bring about His plan of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God again has authenticated the Bible as His word by placing into the Old Testament another account featuring a three day period of time, this one involving a Gentile harlot who was grafted into the kingdom of God and made a righteous heir.

The Third Day Series: Part 10 – Israel

Given the magnitude of Moses’ ministry, it makes sense that he was involved in multiple events spanning a three day interval of time. We have already discussed the exodus from Egypt and the ninth plague. This time we will discuss the Lord appearing before His people at Mount Sinai, after the exodus.

In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain. Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19: 1 – 6

Here God spoke and declared that He would make the twelve tribes of Israel into a nation. This was no small event. God made a covenant with Israel, and on the basis of obedience to that covenant Israel would be a light to the world and ambassadors of God’s goodness and mercy. Moses told the people God’s words, as instructed, and the people responded.

All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. Exodus 19: 8

Upon hearing the response from Moses, God gave further instruction, and met with His people.

The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that they were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. Exodus 19: 9 – 18

God met with His people on the third day. Just as Jesus met with His disciples on the third day after His death. When God met with Israel there was lighting and thunder and a cloud and the people trembled and a trumpet sounded. Matthew tells us that on the day of Christ’s resurrection there were similar events – an earthquake, lightning, people trembling, trumpeting.

And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said…” Matthew 28: 2 – 6

The parallels between the two accounts are astounding:

Sinai Tomb
There was lightning and thunder The angel’s appearance was like lightning
There was a quaking mountain There was an earthquake
The LORD descended in fire The angel of the Lord descended from heaven
There was a cloud The angel was clothed white as snow
The people trembled The guards trembled
There was a very loud trumpet sound The angel trumpeted the truth of the resurrection

Given all these similarities, we can be confident in thinking that the account of the third day appearance of God on Sinai is a type, a foreshadow, of the third day appearance of Christ.

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.

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.

The Third Day Series: Part 7 – Joseph

Joseph, son of Jacob, led an extraordinary life:

  • He was his father’s favorite son
  • He was given a dream that he would rule over his family
  • He was sold into slavery by his brothers
  • He became a beloved slave of his Egyptian master
  • He was unjustly imprisoned because his master’s wife was angry he wouldn’t sleep with her
  • He was exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh
  • He was able to use his power to provide for his family during a seven year famine

Of the things just listed, his exaltation to the side of Pharaoh is our focus. It should be considered no small thing that a lowly foreigner attained a high position within the Egyptian government. He did not achieve that position through hard work, but because of God. While Joseph was imprisoned, God gave him the gift of dream interpretation, and it was his ability to interpret dreams that caused Pharaoh to notice him.

Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream…Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “I would make mention today of my own offenses. Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him. Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. Genesis 41: 1, 8 – 14

God gave Joseph the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, and Pharaoh was so impressed he appointed Joseph to a high position. Joseph used his power to bring his family to Egypt, keeping them well fed during a seven year famine. Included in Joseph’s family, included amongst those who may have starved to death if not for Joseph’s provision, was Judah, ancestor of Christ. Therefore, it is not inaccurate to say that through Joseph God preserved the Messianic line.

It is also not inaccurate to say that the starting point of the plotline to get Judah and the Messianic seed into the haven of Egypt was Joseph’s interaction with the cupbearer, while in prison. This interaction, in which Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream, was the basis of Joseph’s future audience with Pharoah, and “coincidentally” involved a three day span of time. Thus Joseph can be added to the list of Old Testament saints who typified Christ’s third day resurrection. For just as Jesus’ promise of resurrection was validated on the third day, so was Joseph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream. The entire account is documented in Genesis 40:

Then it came about after these things, the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. So he put them in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, in the jail, the same place where Joseph was imprisoned. The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time. Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me; and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer. Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”

When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, “I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head; and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.” Thus it came about on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

The Third Day Series: Part 6 – Creation

It is axiomatic that for every teaching in Scripture, there is a place where that teaching is first mentioned. For example, the whole of the Bible teaches that there is one particular and specific God who has created us and all things; the first mention of this teaching is the first line of the Bible.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

So we know that somewhere in Scripture is the first typological reference to Christ’s third day resurrection. Where is this prototype? As with so many foundational doctrines, it is found in Genesis, the book of beginnings, in the account of creation.

There was evening and there was morning, a third day. Genesis 1: 13

Now in what sense is this reference to the third day a prototype of Christ’s resurrection? We must look at the details of the account of creation.

Day God’s Assessment of Goodness
1 “God saw that the light was good”
2 none
3 “God saw that it was good” (dry land and sea)
“God saw that it was good” (vegetation)
4 “God saw that it was good”
5 “God saw that it was good”
6 “God saw that it was good”

The text itself gives the third day preeminence, in so much as the third day received two “it was good” assessments from God. No other day received two, and the second day did not even receive one. At some point the Jews recognized this textual detail and referred to the third day of creation as the Day of Double Blessing.

Although I haven’t read primary source materials regarding the Jewish regard for the Day of Double Blessing, I have read acknowledgments of the doctrine from both Christians and Jews. It is said that the third day (Tuesday) became so revered that it was the preferred day for Jewish weddings. The wedding in Cana, where Jesus performed His water to wine miracle, might have been on a Tuesday, for the Scripture says “the third day.”

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; (John 2: 1)

From a Biblical perspective, the third day was given preeminence in the first chapter of Genesis, and is the prototype of the third day theme. This theme is developed over the course of the Scripture, culminating with the third day resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

From a non-Biblical perspective, if we accept as true the cultural data about the Jewish regard for weddings on the third day, how much more potent are the parables of the wedding feasts, and the theme of Christ as the groom and His church as the bride? In a sense, we were married to Christ on the third day – the Jewish wedding day – for that was the day He paid the dowry for His bride – that was the day His blood purchased the forgiveness of our sins.