In a very special edition of the Carlson Report for Holy Week, we are going to look at how the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is gloriously tied to our own resurrection. These amazing connections have been hidden for much of history but are now being revealed to His people as our Resurrection Day draws near.
The "Third Day" is an important biblical expression for us to study because it is the day that our Lord Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. In virtually every case where our Lord referred to His resurrection, He told the Disciples it would be on the "Third Day" (see passages such as Matthew 16:21, Luke 9:22). This continual reference to the "Third Day", as Resurrection day, was picked up by the early Church and used by the Apostles, as Paul does in I Corinthians 15:4. The early Church's focus on the "Third Day" as part of the Gospel message eventually found a permanent place in important Confessions of the Christian Faith such as the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds, which are universally accepted by orthodox Christianity today. The importance of the "Third Day" cannot be overemphasized, however, because it involves much more than a passing reference to our Lord's resurrection. The "Third Day" becomes "The Day" associated with resurrection in Scripture and, if properly understood, is the key insight needed to unlocking the entire History of Redemption, including our Lord's return. Therefore, because so much of our understanding concerning our faith is tied to this Biblical idiom, we should be willing to take the time to study this subject in depth.
As with any doctrine or subject in Scripture, God begins to lay a pattern concerning it way before we realize its importance at a later place in Redemptive History. In the case of the "Third Day" we first find reference to it in the story of the Creation in Genesis 1:9-13. On the "Third Day" of Creation, God separated the waters from the land to create dry ground for the growth of plants, vegetation and various fruit bearing trees. The "Third Day" marks the time when life emerges from the chaos of the waters of Creation. It is out of water then that Scripture tells us life comes. This pattern is replayed throughout Scripture and is seen again in Genesis 8 where we find the story of Noah and the Flood. Noah's Ark rests on dry ground so that new life can begin for Noah and his family on the 17th day of the 7th month according to Genesis 8:4. This day also happens to be the same day that our Lord Jesus rose again from the dead. Therefore, the "Third Day" of Creation, and its connection to Noah's day of redemption, wonderfully ties into the pattern for the Biblical Doctrine of the Resurrection.
The Christian understanding of Baptism, as seen in passages such as Romans 6:3-5, picks up on this same theme that life emerges out of the waters of Creation. This insight is especially exciting when we consider the fact that all physical and spiritual births follow this pattern of life emerging from the waters. All of us emerged from our mother's Bag of Waters as we began our physical life and were able to be placed on "dry ground' so to speak. In addition, every Christian emerges from the regenerative waters of the work of the Holy Spirit at conversion according to our Lord Jesus' words in John 3:3-8. The Holy Spirit washes away our sin and gives us a new, resurrected life that allows us to stand on the "dry ground" in true fellowship with God.
Once we have understood that the "Third Day" is an idiomatic signpost to the believer's resurrection, we are also able to learn other important information. A careful study of the usage of the "Third Day" in scripture also reveals that it ties in with other important themes, such as marriage. We find the "Third Day" mentioned in Exodus 19:11 where the people of Israel meet with God at Mount Sinai. The Bible is clear that this day is seen by God as His betrothal to the Nation according to later commentary in passages such as Jeremiah 2:2-3, 3:14. In the New Testament we find the same marriage motif expressed when our Lord Jesus, Who is the true Bridegroom of God's people, arrives at the wedding in Cana on the "Third Day" according to John 2:1. Our Lord reminds his mother in John 2:4 that "His time or day" of marriage has not yet arrived. Other passages, such as Esther 5:1-2, give us the picture of the beautiful bride meeting the King for a wedding and marriage on the "Third Day." Therefore, the concept of the "Third Day" allows us to see that the Resurrection is also a Wedding Day and Marriage that points to our ultimate relationship to the Lord Himself.
The Doctrine of the Resurrection on the "Third Day" also relates to the resurrection of a corporate people. The Nation of Israel, like Her Messiah, is also raised from the dead on the "Third Day." Careful study of the Exodus as seen in Exodus 12-14 reveals that the Nation of Israel came out of the waters of the Red Sea on the same day that Jesus rose from the dead. However, during that time most of the Nation was still spiritually dead or un-resurrected according to the Apostle Paul's later commentary in I Corinthians 10:1-5. Scripture, however, is clear to explain that although the Nation has never corporately experienced a spiritual resurrection, outside of the remnant, that such a future day would come. The day of Israel's corporate resurrection takes place on the "Third Day" after the Nation's rejection of Her Messiah at His 1st Coming. We see this resurrection of the Nation as prophesied by numerous Old Testament prophets such as is found in Isaiah 66:7-14, Jeremiah 23:5-8, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Amos 9:14-15, and in the New Testament passages such as Romans 11:15.
The best passages to explain this corporate resurrection of Israel, from the perspective of the "Third Day", is found in Hosea 6:1-2. In Hosea 6 we hear the prophet's call to the Nation to return to God for a last time.
Come; let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us that we may live in his presence.
Hosea's time was a time of apostasy and the prophet gave the people a pronouncement of God's judgement and hope. The text tells us that Israel would be "torn to pieces" for a period of about two days, but that after two days the people would begin to be "revived." The text goes on to say that on the "Third Day" the Nation would be able to live in "God's presence", indicating a complete restoration, or resurrection, from spiritual death. Historical study of the Nation of Israel verifies Hosea's prophecy. The Jewish people have been persecuted and "torn to pieces" since the rejection of Her Messiah, as our Lord prophesied in Matthew 23:39. However, in May of 1948 the Nation was" born again" physically or resurrected, so to speak, and is currently "reviving" as its political, economic, and military powers are growing each day. Clearly then, the Nation is "reviving" after two days or almost 2000 years since the resurrection of Her Messiah. Hosea's prophecy will be completed on the "Third Day", when the Nation will experience a spiritual birth and resurrection by receiving the Lord Jesus as Messiah. Hosea's prophecy also gives us the invaluable insight that one calendar day of time can also refer to a period of 1000 years, just as two days have translated into almost 2000 years. Hosea's symbolism is verified by other Biblical passages such as Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8.
By carefully considering all of the previous data we are now ready to formulate a timeline and chart that outlines the course of Redemptive History from the beginning of Creation to the consummation of Redemption as the Lord Jesus Christ's return draws near. This chart does NOT set dates, but gives general patterns and seasons to consider regarding the Lord's purposes for the world. That timeline/chart follows below:
The above chart attempts to help us visualize several things. First of all, it helps us to understand that God has fashioned Redemption after the same 7-day week of Creation in Genesis 1 & 2. Creation begins on the 1st day and concludes on the 7th day as God rests. Redemption also begins on the 1st day, with God's promise to send the Messiah in Genesis 3:15, an concludes on the 7th day when the Messiah and His people rest during His Millennial Reign, seen in Biblical passages such as Micah 4:1-5. The 8th day of Redemption listed begins a new week or system of time which is the timeless eternity of the New Heavens and Earth scripture briefly mentioned in Revelation 21 & 22. The chart also shows us that all time, with regards to the resurrection of individuals and the Nation of Israel, begins on the "3rd Day" after the Messiah's 1st Coming and Resurrection. The Messiah must rise first on the "Third Day" in order to be the prophetic model for the believer's physical resurrection and the Nation of Israel's spiritual resurrection on the "3rd Day." In addition, we also see that the "3rd Day" and the 7th day are equivalent Biblical idioms. These days are the concluding days of redemption with God's people and Israel at rest and peace, just as God concluded the First Creation in Genesis.
As our brief study of the "Third Day" comes to a close, there are a couple of important thoughts to reflect upon. First of all, God chose the number 3 of the "Third Day" because it tells us that we have a Triune Redeemer Who brings us our salvation and resurrection. The New Testament tells us this by showing us that each Person of the Blessed Trinity takes part in our Resurrection. God the Father raises us according to John 5:21, God the Son raises us according to John 6:40 and God the Holy Spirit raises us according to Romans 8:11. Therefore, the Doctrine f the Resurrection is clearly a great witness to the mystery of the Triune God we worship and love. And finally, we know that the two days or 2000 years since our Lord Jesus' 1st Coming are almost over. All the signs of Scripture and history should prepare us for the fulfillment of the Apostle Paul's words to the Church in I Thessalonians 5:14-18 where we hear,
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we who are left till the coming of the Lord will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are left alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This brief study points to the incredible fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming very soon for His People/Bride. That truth is something we can know, not just speculate about. We are now in that last season of earthly life before the Rapture or Resurrection Day of God's people. This is the Blessed Hope that every generation has waited for since Adam and Eve fell into sin and experienced the reality of death that has touched us all.
The two days or 2000 years, since our Lord's ministry on earth ended, are almost completed. Our Lord's glorious Resurrection on the "Third Day" was designed to leave an incredible prophetic template that would prepare His people for their wonderful, future life with Him. Our "Third Day" or Resurrection Day is about to begin. Our Lord's entire goal of ministry, as spoken of in Luke 13:32, and His future wedding with His Bride in John 2:1, are about to begin as we enter the third millennium since our Lord's 1st coming. This third millennium, since our Lord came, is the "Third Day" and the longed for Messianic Age. It is also the ultimate manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth that will last 1000 years as spoken of in Revelation 20: 1-6. What a glorious Day that will be for everyone when our Lord's Prayer is finally answered, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". Matthew 6:10.
As we see the Day approaching, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 10:25, let's be ready to meet our Lord Jesus Christ face to face in Revelation 4 for joy unspeakable that is full of glory forever more. Even so come Lord Jesus! Amen. Revelation 22:20.
Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!