Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three Days and Three Nights

Matthew 12:40 (NKJV) For 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. 

This verse seems to have caused much confusion about how long Jesus was dead. Matthew recorded six times that Jesus would be raised from dead on the third day (Mt 16:21, Mt 17:23, Mt 20:19, Mt 27:40, Mt 27:63 & 64).

Matthew also records that Jesus died on a preparation day (Mt 27:62). Preparation day is the day before a Sabbath. Matthew tells us Jesus was raised on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath. This would indicate that Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, the third day. However, this is only two nights. Six times Matthew correctly said Jesus would rise on the third day. However, what about our Scripture at the top? It says Jesus would be in the heart of this world like Jonah for three days and three nights.

It is one thing to suggest that different books in the Bible do not agree with each other, but, this is one author who seems to contradict himself. Whenever I see an apparent contradiction in the Bible, I know there is a deeper revelation to be had.

I can give you two very good explanations for this. One is a simple explanation and it is very feasible, but the other one I believe is correct.

First we know that Jesus was arrested during the night. Matthew says Peter denied Jesus before the rooster crowed (Mt 26:74). A rooster will crow at the break of day, they already had Jesus in custody for some time. His suffering began during the night. Jesus did suffer in the sin of the world for three nights and three days. However, I believe this verse has deeper meaning.

The Bible says, "I [Jonah] sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! Jonah 2:6 (NLT). I believe that Jonah died in the belly of the fish. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:22, "...without shedding of blood there is no remission." God gave an entire city remission of sin.

According to Strong's Hebrew dictionary (1), the name Jonah means, a dove or pigeon. A dove or pigeon was sometimes used for a burnt offering (Leviticus 1:14). This would mean that when Jonah died in the belly of the fish, He became an offering for the people of Nineveh. God then raised Jonah from the dead.

Tradition tells us Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. This is plausible. However the the Hebrew words translated as days and nights, can also mean portions of the day and portions of night (2). In other words, it could be that Jonah was in the fish for three hours of the day and three hours of the night. This is more likely.

The Bible says in Exodus 29:39, Offerings were to be done at the break of day (morning (3)) or at dusk (even (3)). Jesus was nailed to the cross about 9:00am using our current time system (Mk 15:25). Matthew 27:45 tells us at noon, darkness fell over the land until 3:00pm when Jesus died (using our current time system). This means that Jesus was on the cross from about 9:00am until 3:00pm---three hours of daylight and three hours of the night.

Just as the Hebrew words for day and night could also mean portions of the day or night, The Greek also can be translated the same way (4). The Old Testament, where we find the story of Jonah was originally written in Hebrew, while the New Testament, where we find the book of Matthew, was originally written in Greek.

The Bible says Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the cross (1 Pe 2:24). Jesus was in sin for three hours of daylight and three hours of the night on the cross. The heart of this world was sin. I strongly believe this is the meaning of the verse at the top.

Be blessed!

(1) Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by James Strong, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s numbers,Jonah-H3124,H3123
(2) Strong's numbers, Days-H3117, Nights-H3915
(3) Strong's numbers, Morning-H1242,Even-H6153
(4) Strong's numbers, Days G2250, Nights-G3571
see also:
Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, By Stephen  D. Renn © 2005 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. nyx [νύξ, <G3571>] nyx is the standard New Testament term for "night." It occurs in approximately sixty contexts with both literal and metaphorical connotations. The dominant usage of nyx indicates the sense of "night" (in contrast to "day") in literal context.

No comments:

Post a Comment