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What Does the Bible Say About..The Third Day?

In Luke 24:46 He told them ,"This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day." Where in the Old Testament is the above written, particularly the rising from the dead on the Third Day?


That the Messiah was to suffer is a common theme in the prophecies of Isaiah. Four passages talk about “the Servant,” and each indicates a suffering servant. The passages are Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12. The most famous of these is Isaiah 53. A friend of mine has an excellent booklet that can be downloaded in PDF format, which deals in detail with these passages. It can be viewed/downloaded at http://www.padfield.com/acrobat/sermons/suffering-servant.pdf

While there is no single passage that says directly that the Messiah will rise again on the third day, there are passages that, by the Jewish manner of interpretation, imply that. One must understand that the Jewish rabbis do not think in the same way that modern Americans think. We often look simply at the direct and obvious meaning of a scripture (what the rabbis called the “pshat”). Thus a passage saying a young woman (virgin) will bear a child meant that a young woman would bear a child, probably in the near future. But Matthew shows the Jewish way of thinking when he applies that passage to Jesus and the virgin birth. It is this way of thinking (called “drash”) that would apply to passages about the third day. (Modern preachers use this method often, drawing conclusions from a passage that may not directly say what they want.)

Jesus used the book of Jonah to prove that he would rise on the third day. “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39-40)

Another passage that can be interpreted as being about the Messiah is Hosea 6:1-3. “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Verse two talks about God raising the subject of the passage up on the third day. The obvious primary meaning (pshat) is that God would provide restoration to Israel. The interpretive meaning (drash) is that the Messiah would suffer, and be raised on the third day to live although he had been dead.