June 2018           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


God's Holy Day

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Three Days and Three Nights

This article ties in with "The Human God" in relation to how long Jesus lay in the tomb.

It is a few months after the Christian Passover, and several months before the next one, but I thought I would go into something that has confused many people about the resurrection of Jesus.

  In this issue we will try to answer the questions of what time of day was Christ buried, how long was He in the grave, which day was the crucifixion, and which day was He resurrected. Not necessarily in that order.

Most reading this article will, perhaps, reject it out of hand, in whole or in part, because it doesn't fit their life the way  they want it to fit. Perhaps it won't fit their "lifestyle" and/or "worship" pattern. Some will reject it because they refuse to question anything that is different from what 'their church' teaches. However, we hope it will be clear, to the point and truthful. (Emphasis will be given with bold and italicized letters and will be our emphasis-- the editor).

Let it be stated at the very beginning that neither the 'apostolic fathers' nor anyone else were eye-witnesses to the resurrection! They had no more knowledge of what had happened than what we can know by their writings.

The main point of all this is that this is one of the salvation principles of Christ's doctrine.

With that in mind we will begin with the doubting Pharisees. They were asking Jesus for a sign (supernatural evidence) of His Messiahship. They were asking for proof of that Messiahship, as it were.

"An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign but 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! (Mat. 12:39-40)

I have read many writings about the above verses, but most of those writers just will not accept what Jesus said!


He made a point of saying the only sign he would give to prove He was the Messiah was that He would be just three days and three nights in the grave (the heart of the earth). Some have even tried to make the phrase "heart of the earth" mean "in the hands of the people".

The resurrection itself was NOT used to prove His Messiahship. He based His proof on the length of time He would remain buried. If it was as He said, then His claim was proven. If it was not, then He would not be the Messiah! I think that is pretty plain, don't you?

Just what is the bible definition of "three days and three nights"? Some 'higher critics' as well as 'theologians' claim Jesus was only in the tomb half as long as He said. They ask us to believe that 'in the Greek language' in which the New Testament was written, the expression "three days and three nights" means ANY three periods, day or night. As far as it goes, that statement is true.

However, those same critics and theologians admit that in the Hebrew language the expression means a definite period of 72 hours ... three twelve hour days and three twelve hour nights.

"... and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)

This was written in Hebrew! This, they admit, was a period of 72 hours. And Jesus POINTEDLY said that as Jonah was three days and three nights in the great fish's belly, so he would be the same length of time in the earth!

In chapter 2 and verse 2 Jonah says, "I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me! Out of the belly of hell (the grave) cried I, and You heard my voice!"

If anyone would care to do so, they might want to look up this word 'hell' in an exhaustive concordance. I have done it for you if you don't have a concordance. It is from the Hebrew word 'sheol' and the meaning is "the grave". If you read the rest of chapter 2, you might understand that this is a prophecy about Jesus, His death, and His resurrection.

After Jonah was in the belly of the fish for a period of 72 hours, God resurrected him (yes, he was DEAD. It pictured the death Jesus would suffer.) to be the savior of Ninevah. Jesus was to be in His grave the same length of time and thereafter was resurrected (from DEATH) by God to become the Savior of Mankind! It's a beautiful picture!

Now let's look at the only bible definition which shows how to count days and let's count up the time it takes until "the third day". In Genesis 1:4, God "divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.

And the evening (dark) and the morning (light or day) were the first day."

God re-iterates this to cover the six days and then rests on the seventh day. If we take note of the fact that night precedes day with the way God counts days we can use the following chart to find out when the "third" day was.

First night First day
Second night Second day
Third night Third day

So we see here that there was a night followed by a day making up each full 24 hour day. The third day then followed the third night and the day ended at sunset which completed 72 hours, right?

These are plain and simple words. So how do these 'wise' and 'prudent' scholars and theologians know Jesus was crucified on 'Good Friday' and rose 'Easter Sunday'? 

That's easy! They don't know! 

It just isn't so! It is a tradition of men that has been taught to them and observed by them since they were children and is therefore carelessly assumed

Jesus said something very strongly about "making the Word of God of none effect through your traditions." (Mark 7:13)

We have now examined the words of two people who were there, (Matthew and Jonah), and both set the length and duration Jesus was in the tomb to 72 hours. Do we have others which say the same thing? 

Yes. Read Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Matthew 27:63, John 2:18-22. There are more, but this should be enough for any real believer!

Notice in Mark 8:31 it says Jesus must be killed and after three days rise again. Jesus had to be killed first and the three days counted after that! Examine this carefully ... If Jesus had been killed on Friday and after one day had arisen, the resurrection would have been on Saturday! If after two days, He would have arisen on Sunday, and if after three days, the resurrection would have occurred on Monday! One cannot by any process of mathematics figure less than 72 full hours ...three nights and three days ... in a resurrection that occurred three days after the crucifixion!

There is much more to this that would make this article into an on-line book. We don't want to take up that much web space here, but if anyone is interested, just write in and we will point you in the right direction for more material on this question.


Think carefully ... in order to be exactly 72 hours (three nights and three days) in the tomb, Jesus had to be resurrected at exactly the same time of day that His body was placed in the tomb. If we can find the time of day of His burial, we have found the time of day of His resurrection.

Jesus cried on the cross soon after "the ninth hour" or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. (Mat. 27:46-50), Mark 15:42, Luke 23:44-46)

The crucifixion day was called "the preparation day" or day before "the Sabbath." (Mat. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54) This day ended at sunset according to Bible reckoning (Lev. 23:32)

Yes, Jesus was buried before this same day ended ... before sunset. (Mat. 27:57, Luke 23:52-54, John 19:42). And John adds: "There laid they Jesus because of the Jew's preparation day."

According to the laws observed by the Jews, a body had to be buried before the beginning of a Sabbath. Hence, Jesus was buried before sunset on the same day He died, and He died at 3 p.m.

Christ was buried in late afternoon, and the resurrection had to be in late afternoon, near sunset. If He was not in the grave three nights and three days and He did not rise in late afternoon near sunset, He failed to prove by the only sign He gave that He was the TRUE MESSIAH!


The first people, Mary Magdalene and her friends, came to the tomb on the first day of the week (Sunday). Putting all the scriptures together we find it was very early, while it was yet dark, as the sun was just beginning to rise, at dawn. (Mark 16:6, Luke 24:1, John 20:1) When they arrived the tomb was already open. 

While it was YET DARK, Jesus was not there! Notice the angel said, "He is not here, but is risen" (past tense). (Mark 16:6, Luke 24:3, John 20:2, Mat. 28:5-6)

He had already risen before sunrise Sunday morning. Of course He had! He rose from the grave in late afternoon near sunset. And since we know the resurrection took place before that Sunday morning, we now know the resurrection of Christ occurred late Saturday afternoon near sunset!! It was NOT a Sunday resurrection after all. It was a Sabbath resurrection!!


What proof can we have that He spent the exact amount of time in the grave as He said He would? Because we must remember that some have said He spent only HALF THAT TIME.

The angel of the Lord gives us his testimony in Mat. 28:6 which I present as proof, and I quote, "He is not here: for He is risen, as He said." And He certainly did not rise AS HE SAID unless He arose at the precise time that He said He would!

Another proof: "For I delivered first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures.
"And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.
"And that He was seen of Cephas (Peter), then of the twelve." (1 Cor. 15:3-5)

ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, not contrary to them!!


We count back three days and three nights from when He arose and we come to Wednesday, the fourth (or middle) day of the week. You might also want to study the 70 weeks prophecy in relation to this event. Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, died at 3 p.m., was buried near sunset and three nights and three days later (at sunset) He was resurrected ... on Saturday (the weekly Sabbath). On Sunday morning He was not there for He had already risen.


Some people raise an objection to this, and yet this objection proves this point of truth. The scriptures say that the day after the crucifixion was a Sabbath day. People have assumed from this that the crucifixion was on Friday

I have shown by all four gospels that the crucifixion day ... a Wednesday ... Was called "the preparation." Some have even erroneously stated that the weekly sabbath is the only sabbath that has a "preparation day".

John's Gospel tells us, "It was the preparation of the Passover". He also said that Sabbath, the day after Passover was ... but let him tell it:

"For that Sabbath was an high day." (John 19:14,31)

The day after Passover was an High Sabbath Day. Some have even said, in holding to their ideas, that an "annual" Sabbath falling on a "weekly" Sabbath makes it a High Sabbath. Is this true? 

All one needs to do is ask any Jewish person coming out of the Synagogue and he will tell you that it is one of the annual Holy Days. 

The Israelites (notice... I didn't say - Jews) observed seven of these days each year.. every one called Sabbaths. Annual Sabbaths fall on certain calendar dates and on different days of the week. They might fall on just about ANY day of the week.

Notice the following texts:

The Feast of Trumpets is a High Sabbath.

"Speak unto the children of Israel saying, in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an Holy Convocation." (Lev. 23:24) (Convocation means a commanded assembly.)

The Day of Atonement is a High Sabbath:

"And this shall be a statute forever unto you;
"It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you and you shall afflict your souls (by fasting) by a statute forever." (Lev. 16:29-31)

The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the last day are Sabbaths;

"Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit (produce) of the land, you shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days; on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eight day shall be a sabbath."(Lev. 23:39)

Matthew 26:2 shows Jesus was crucified on the Passover. The Passover was the day of Israel commemorating their deliverance from Egypt.

Exodus 12 gives the complete original story.

Numbers 28:16-17 gives the dates.

1 Cor. 5:7 shows the Lamb represented Christ and His sacrifice.

There are many more proofs throughout the scriptures for those whose minds are open to the truth. I have covered perhaps more than I should in the space we have. I have tried to cover the salvation event truthfully and scripturally, straight from the pages of YOUR BIBLE.

I believe I have presented a solid case for what I have written. I don't feel that I have to defend God or His Truth because I don't think God needs my puny power to defend Him. He can do very well Himself if He feels the need to do so.

This article has been presented in an attitude of service to all who have desired to read the complete article, for it is long.

In closing please remember; The supernatural sign of Jesus Messiahship was NOT the resurrection, but THE LENGTH OF TIME He was in the grave.


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