And the Lord told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes and be prepared by the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (Exodus 19:10-11)
The Holy Number 3
God has ordered the world to follow mathematical and numerical patterns. We can see his design in how numbers operate even in nature, knowing that everything on earth points back to the fact that God exists, so we have no excuse not to praise him.
Numbers are important in the Bible. We can often overlook these because our culture doesn’t have the same emphasis on number symbolism that the original audience had. But by looking at Scripture in context, we can dive even more into the richness of God’s word:
God says something 3 times: We see God repeating a phrase three times in several places in Scripture. Jesus goes back to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane three times (Matthew 26:4). God calls the prophet Samuel thrice (1 Samuel 3:8). Jesus repeats the phrase “feed my sheep” to Peter three times (John 21:15-17).
Three of the same words: We see several instances of three of the same words in a row. Woe (three of them) are called out by an eagle in revelation, foreshadowing terrible judgment (Revelation 8:13), Jeremiah repeats the word “land” thrice (Jeremiah 22:29), and we hear the triplet of holy in Isaiah (Isaiah 6:3).
Three patriarchs: In Scripture, we have three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 22:32). These were the fathers of the Israelite nation, God’s people.
Three gifts: The Magi present to Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh in Matthew 2.
Three angels: In Revelation 14:6-16, we encounter three angels. The first, tells all the earth to worship God. The second, declares the fall of Babylon. And the third, declares that anyone who receives the Mark of the Beast will receive God’s wrath.
The Trinity: Of course, we can’t look at the number three without looking at the Trinity: God is three in one: the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son (Colossians 2:9), and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The third day: We can’t talk three without talking about how Jesus rose after three days (1 Corinthians 15:4). In Jewish culture, three days past the time of death indicated they were truly dead. Therefore, Jesus truly conquered death by not rising until the third day.
On the Third Day
According to Paul’s gospel, Christ was “raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This is “of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3–5).
We all know that Christ rose on the third day. But we probably aren’t as familiar with the latter half of Paul’s statement, namely, that Christ was “raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). This wasn’t just something that happened in history; it was also prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus himself says the same thing in Luke 24:46: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.”
Which raises the question, where? Where is it written that Christ would rise on the third day? To find the answer, we must remember that the Old Testament has more than one way of pointing to Christ. We often think first of explicit predictions (e.g., Mic. 5:2). But we come up dry in our search for “Messiah raised on the third day” predictions. But, there are none.
The Old Testament has more than one way of pointing to Christ.
But the Old Testament also points to Christ through typological patterns, such as the slaying of the Passover lamb and the building of the tabernacle (1 Cor. 5:7; John 1:14). These are also things that Jesus fulfills. The “third day” Scriptures that Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 15:4 fall into this category.
In the Old Testament we find a pattern of God doing big things on the third day. Redemptive things. Revelatory things. And yes, resurrection things. Here are four examples:
1. Sparing Isaac
We’re probably all familiar with the story of Abraham offering up Isaac (Genesis 22). It was an excruciating test of Abraham’s faith, as God commanded him to do the unthinkable, only to provide a substitute at the last minute.
This event is a picture of God offering up Jesus on Good Friday. Isaac is described as Abraham’s “only son, whom he loved” (Gen. 22:2; John 3:16). He’s seen carrying the wood on which he would be slain (Gen. 22:6; John 19:17). And when he asks his father, “Here is the wood but where is the lamb?” Abraham replies, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:7–8). He would indeed. Whereas God spared Abraham’s son, he didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all (Rom. 8:32).
But there’s more. The story is also a picture of Jesus’s resurrection. Abraham tells his servant that both he and Isaac will return (Gen. 22:5). The writer of Hebrews seems to infer from this that Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead: “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:19).
Figuratively speaking, Isaac was offered up. And figuratively speaking, he was raised from the dead.
Genesis 22 describes the time frame for Isaac’s figurative death and resurrection:
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he . . . went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. (Gen. 22:3–4)
This is when it went down. The typology isn’t precise, of course. For Isaac, this all happened on the same day (not on a Friday and a Sunday). Still, what happened to Jesus literally happened to Isaac figuratively: His father received him back from the dead. And according to Genesis 22:4, it happened on the third day.
2. Descending on Sinai
One of the greatest manifestations of God’s presence in the entire Old Testament was when God descended on Mount Sinai. This was a pivotal event, as God delivered his Law to those whom he had redeemed. It was something those who witnessed it would never forget.
God announces the event’s time frame in Exodus 19. When the people have finally arrived at Mount Sinai, he tells Moses:
Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and 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. (Ex. 19:10–11)
And that’s exactly what happened.
This was the greatest of all divine manifestations so far—a day never to be forgotten. And it happened “on the third day.”
3. Raising Israel
The regathering of God’s people from the Babylonian exile is sometimes described as a resurrection (Ezek. 37:11–14). Hosea 6:2 describes the time frame of this resurrection:
Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. (Hos. 6:1–2)
After they had borne God’s wrath, being cut down and killed in the exile (Isa. 6:11–13; 40:1–2), God promises to raise them up on the third day.
Of course, the reference here is to Israel being raised, not to the Messiah. But Jesus is the true Israel, the ultimate offspring of Abraham. And like Israel, God raised him up on the third day (for a close parallel, see Matt. 2:15’s use of Hos. 11:1).
4. Saving Jonah
The story of Jonah is well known—at least parts of it. We all know he got swallowed by a big fish, and we all know he eventually came out alive and became an instrument of Nineveh’s salvation.
The author gives us the time frame for how long Jonah was in the fish’s belly: “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jon. 1:17). The mention of this time frame is a strong hint that after three days Jonah will rise from what he himself refers to as “the belly of Sheol” (Jon. 2:2), the Hebrew word for the place of the dead (“Hades” in Greek).
It should strengthen our faith when we consider that God designed all of history with Jesus at the center, with every third day deliverance pointing directly to him.
You may question my previous examples. But in this case, Jesus connects the typological dots for us, drawing the parallel between Jonah’s deliverance from Sheol and his:
An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt. 12:39–40)
Don’t get hung up on the fact that there weren’t literally three nights between Jesus’s death and resurrection. The Jews counted days inclusively—the fact that Jesus was dead during parts of three separate days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) was enough in their minds to justify the language of “three days and three nights.”
The point is that just as Jonah got spat out of Hades on the third day, so did Jesus (Jonah 2:2; Acts 2:27). And just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so Jesus became a sign to his generation (Luke 11:30).
In Accordance with the Scriptures
When Paul says that Christ was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, I believe he had passages like these in mind—and there are more besides (2 Kings 20:5; Est. 5:1). Admittedly, only the Jonah passage is explicitly mentioned in the New Testament. But rather than limiting us in drawing connections from the Old Testament, Jesus’s use of Jonah 1:17 should teach us how to interpret similar passages that aren’t explicitly mentioned.
The empty tomb shouldn’t have been a surprise, especially coming when it did. It’s not as though the Israelites hadn’t been prepared. Not only had Jesus repeatedly told them (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34), but God also had been working wonders on the third day for millennia. And it wasn’t by accident. On the contrary, it should strengthen our faith when we consider that God designed all of history with Jesus at the center, with every third-day deliverance pointing directly to him.
Risen and reigning, Jesus is supreme. But he will not be alone; he is only the firstfruits. And soon the “third day” is coming for us all.
Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us,
and He will heal us;
He has wounded us,
and He will bind up our wounds.
He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day He will raise us up
so we can live in His presence. (Hosea 6:1-2)
The Gospel of Luke (Luke 3:23) states that Jesus was “about 30 years of age” at the start of his ministry. Luke noted that the ministry of John the Baptist began in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, which was the year AD 26.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, God’s word came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. (Luke 3: I, 2)
This statement of Luke makes absolutely certain the approximate date of Jesus’ public ministry, for we know when Tiberius was emperor (I4-37 A. D.) and when Pilate was procurator (26-36 A. D.).
Jesus began to minister shortly after this time. His crucifixion took place around AD 30, indicating that His public ministry took place within the AD 26 timeframe.
Scholars note that if Jesus began His public ministry between mid to late AD 26 and died in the spring of AD 30, His ministry would have been a total of 3½ years (including His resurrection, 40 days of appearances, and ascension).
Jesus declared that His ministry around 26 AD:
He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” (Luke 4:16-21)
Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
If we use the approximate date of the start of His public ministry as the First Coming, and add 2,000 years, this suggests the Second Coming will be soon. When we subtract 7 years for the Tribulation, the Rapture is imminent.
As Christians, it is time for us to enter into His presence.
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations! (Psalm 100:1-5)
The Lord Jesus Christ has given us the way to a closer more intimate walk with our Father in heaven. The tabernacle has also given us the pattern to a closer more intimate walk with our Father in heaven.
Jesus would step away from the groups of people and spend precious time alone with His Father. He would often put on His tallit, pull it around His face and enter into a tabernacle of prayer, leaving the world around Him out of His private time with the Lord.
There are some things you can do to help enter into His presence:
- Ask for forgiveness and thank Him for all He has done.
- Praise Him with song or words of your love for the Lord.
- Worship Him with all your heart. Offer yourself wholly to Him!
Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.
Go where He Goes! Follow the Leading of the Lord!
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”(Exodus 33:14-16)
Having the Presence of the Lord with you is most important. You can have this by setting aside the worldly problems, worldly goods and money as your main priority and MAKING GOD FIRST.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD 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 to all generations.’ Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt…
When we seek the presence of God, He the Great I AM becomes a part of us, part of our very DNA.
The outer court is the court of Salvation
The inner court is the court of Pentecost
The court behind the veil is the court of the Holy of Holies.
This is the court of the Presence of the Lord.
The veil that prevented His people (who were not priests) from entering was rent from top to bottom at the moment that Christ pronounced “It is finished!”
When He gave His life on the cross for our transgressions, we were then able to enter into the secret place of the Most High God!
Here is the good news for Yom Kippur: Jesus the Messiah has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
If you are not sure that you are a member of the family of God, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
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Awesome! Awesome! Perfect message again!!! Love it!
GospelGail, February 12, 2022
Thank you for sharing
Ziggy, March 18, 2022
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