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Three Days and Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth

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NOTICE: We are continuing to post more present truth studies, both old and new, so please visit us again soon.

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That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
 
Victor T. Houteff





Introducing Christ Our Savior

Three Days And Three Nights In The Heart Of The Earth

The question as to how long Christ remained in the tomb, and the day on which He was buried and resurrected, has been as widely discussed as any other Biblical subject. A number of theories have been advanced and doubtless much valuable time has been wasted, however, confusion upon the subject has not lessened, but rather increased.

Some one has asked, "What has that to do with our salvation?" It may not have much to do with the salvation of some, but it seems that with others it has a great deal to do. A certain sister said: "I believe all the S----- denomination teaches, but I cannot agree with the position Sister W---- holds on the subject of Christ's burial and resurrection. I know that Christ was three days and three nights in the tomb, but Sister W---- states He was buried on Friday evening and resurrected on Sunday morning. Therefore, I cannot believe in all her writings, and for this reason I have not, and will not, become a member of your church."

The misunderstanding of this question has kept this sister from connecting with the church. Now, if that particular denomination has the truth for the world at this present time, and this sister's misunderstanding has kept her from accepting it, then we must concede that this widely discussed subject has something to do with the salvation of some people, to say the least.

Said Jesus: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Matt. 7:7, 8.)

There could be nothing more pleasing to God than for one of His children to ask in faith the way of truth. If there is any power in the words of Jesus, then surely he who desires to know the truth and is willing to obey it, though it may demand that he sell all and give to the poor, renounce the world and all its inducements, it would be impossible for that soul to remain in darkness. Let the searcher after truth make just such a vow to God and thus try out His power and never failing promises

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through the words of His Son. But though it be possible to deceive men, we can never impose upon God, for He knows what is in the heart.

One of the chief reasons why confusion arises among Bible students is because they do not entirely depend on the Biblical expression of the words. They think themselves wiser than the prophets who were inspired with the Spirit of God, and thus wish to correct the words and meaning of the Holy Bible! Hence finite mortals have attempted to rectify and correct the Infinite One, whose wisdom, power, and vision is unsearchable! Though they know their interpretation of a text is not altogether in harmony with the whole tenor of the book and law, they see no injury, and fear not God. And when the fact is revealed they refuse to exchange error for truth because it contradicts their false theology. We invite the earnest attention of the reader upon this subject and that he take notice of the wonderful harmony of the Scriptures and the great wisdom used in them.

The sister was asked: "Where is your evidence that Christ was three days and three nights in the tomb?" "My answer is," she said, "in Matthew 12:40, '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'." Again she was asked, "On what day do you think Christ died?" She said, "John 19:31 has the answer: 'The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.' " Here she explained that it could not have been the preparation for the seventh-day Sabbath, for that Sabbath was an "High" day, so it was the preparation for the passover -- Wednesday. Then she began to count, "Thursday (1) Friday (2), Saturday (3); Wednesday night (1), Thursday night (2), Friday night (3). Thus there are three days and three nights."

According to this sister's reasoning she thinks her explanation is unquestionably correct. But not that Christ died at the ninth hour, just three hours before the end of the day (Matt. 27:46-50) and was buried at sunset -- 12 o'clock. (Luke 23:52-56.)

If He was buried on Wednesday, He would have been three full days and four full nights in the tomb, for the Bible plainly declares: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn [daybreak] toward the first day of the week, [Sunday A.M.] came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." (Matt. 28:1.) Again we quote from Mark 16:9, "Now when

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Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene."

Let us examine the theory from another angle. Said Jesus: "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." (Matt. 26:2.) "Then [after the two days] assembled together the chief priests... and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him." (Matt. 26:3, 4.) The time Christ said the words: "Ye know after two days is the feast of the passover," could not have been later than the beginning of Tuesday, if the feast of the passover was on Thursday. Then all that took place in connection with His judgment, crucifixion, death, and burial, had to be accomplished from late Tuesday morning to sunset Wednesday, which would have been impossible according to the Biblical time table as we shall endeavor to set forth.

Note the following Scriptures: "Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?" This was the preparation day for the feast of the Passover. "And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them, and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." (Matt. 26:17-22.) The passover feast can only be observed after sunset at the beginning of the first day of unleavened bread: "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover." (Lev. 23:5.) This is the last day of preparation for the passover. Therefore, Jesus was not yet in the hands of the priests on the preparation for the passover feast, and much less crucified. Furthermore, Matthew is altogether clear on the subject and leaves no room for argument: "And as they did eat, [the passover] he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." (Matt. 26:21.) How could Jesus eat the passover with the twelve had he been crucified and buried? We are ready to accept truth, but when the theory is contradicted by the Scriptures, then we must not submit to erroneous conclusions, for, he who believes a lie is an abomination unto God.

Permit us to clear the controversy by facts that can stand the test. Let the reader bear in mind that the passover is a seven-day affair, or what is called the "passover week." We quote Lev. 23:4-8: "These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their season. In the

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fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: Seven Days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein."

Now mark, the seventh-day Sabbath is controlled by the weekly cycle, and the passover by the monthly calendar. Therefore, in each passover week there is a seventh-day Sabbath and it may fall on any one of the seven paschal days. Again, mark that the fourteenth day is called the "Passover" day, but the fifteenth is the Passover "Feast." (See Num. 28:17; Joshua 5:11.) The seventh-day Sabbath is called, "The Sabbath." The sheaf offering was the first fruits of the harvest and it was to be offered before the Lord on the morrow after the Sabbath, that is, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday. (See Lev. 23:11.) The sheaf offering was a type of the resurrection -- the first fruits. Said the apostle: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" -- those whom He raised. (1 Cor. 15:20; also Matt. 27:52, 53.)

Thus Christ "led captivity captive" on the very day to which the type pointed.

The Passover Preparation

The passover is a feast of seven days; therefore, the preparation for the week required longer than a day. Quoting Ex. 12:3, 6, "In the tenth day of this month [the first] they shall take to them every man a lamb... And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month." The people were commanded to commence the preparation on the tenth day of month. On the fourteenth day, before sunset, all leaven was to be put out from their houses. Then the fifteenth day drew on, being the first day of unleavened bread, and the passover week commenced by killing the passover lamb. "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses." (Ex. 12:15.) Therefore, the fourteenth day was the last day of preparation, and the fifteenth, or the first day of the feast, was a holy convocation, and they were to do no servile work therein. Matthew 26:17, has reference to the same day upon which Jesus ate the passover with the twelve. (See Matt. 26:20, 21.)

The only possible days for the passover week would be as

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3 Days and 3 Nights in the Heart of the Earth

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follows: The fourteenth day of the first month that year was on Wednesday, and the day ended at sunset (even). The first day of the passover feast (15th day of the month) came on Thursday; the second, on Friday; the third, on Saturday (Sabbath); the fourth, on Sunday; the fifth, on Monday, the sixth, on Tuesday; the seventh and the last of the feast on Wednesday the 21st day of the month. (Follow chart on page 22).

Time Table From Passover To The Resurrection

The lamb could not be killed before the fourteenth day at even and be called "The Passover Lamb" according to the instruction given in the following Scriptures: "And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill It (the lamb) in the evening." (Ex. 12:6.) Suppose everything was ready and the lamb was killed as soon as the sun went down. It would take about fifteen minutes for it to die; then the pelt must be removed. In addition to this every part of it had to be dressed, washed, and placed back in the sacrifice and the opening sewed together, for there was not any part of it to be thrown away, save the waste. Therefore, the preparation for roasting the sacrifice would require not less than an hour. Thus we read: "Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with legs, and with the purtenance thereof." (Ex. 12:9.)

The ancient method of roasting required more time than our modern way. A rod was drawn through the sacrifice, then it was placed over coals of fire, and kept continually turning about by means of the rod. This method of roasting would require about four hours. To eat the passover ordain the Lord's supper, and the ordinance of humility, then sing a hymn, would have added another hour and a half. Afterwards they went to the mount of Olives. (See Mark 14:26.) The mount is about one half mile east of the third wall of the city. Therefore, it was some distance from the place where the passover was celebrated. Thus it would have taken them close to half an hour to get there on foot; after which Jesus took the three to the garden of Gethsemane.

There could not have been less than an hour and a half spent on the mount and in the garden while Jesus prayed; after which the apostles were told to take their rest in sleep, for Jesus went out to pray three times, and on returning, twice He found them sleeping, "and He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me One Hour?" (Matt. 26:40.) We may suppose they

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spent at least an hour in sleeping, otherwise the words of the Master on His third return: "Take your rest" (Matt. 26:45), would have been spoken in vain. After these experiences Judas arrived with the multitude and there was a little time spent in taking Jesus; and by the time they led Him to the priests it must have consumed not less than two hours. According to this computation of time, the total of hours spent from sunset Wednesday evening (beginning of the passover by killing the lamb) to the time Jesus was led to the high priest could not have taken less than twelve hours.

The analysis of the foregoing time table, proves that when Jesus was led to Caiaphas, the high priest, it was about the twelfth hour, or shortly before daylight on Thursday morning; and after His trial before the high priest, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early." (John 18:28.) "And it was the Preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (John 19:14.) As John states that it was early when they led Him from Caiaphas to the hall of judgment, and as he also states that it was about the sixth hour (either midnight, or midday according to ancient time), then it must have been shortly after midnight (about the sixth hour) when Pilate said to the Jews, "Behold your King," for John would not call midday, early. Therefore, after He had been judged by the Sanhedrin they called Pilate, and then went to the hall of judgment. This was done on the morning of the day following, after they had taken Jesus from the garden -- early Friday morning.

Says John, "And it was the preparation of the passover." We have previously explained that the preparation for the passover lamb was not one day, but rather a four day affair.

Furthermore, Matthew plainly says: "They made ready the Passover. Now when even was come, He [Christ] sat down with the twelve. And... they did eat." (Matt. 26:19-21.) Therefore, the passover preparation mentioned by John, cannot be the preparation for the passover lamb, but rather the preparation for the passover Sabbath (the seventh-day), called the passover preparation, because it was in the passover week, as it occurred only once a year. So then, that Friday is called "the preparation of the passover." Thus, the seventh-day Sabbath in the passover week was called a "High Day," because it was a Sabbath within a Sabbath -- the highest day in the year.

According to time tabulation, the Jewish rulers tried Jesus from twelve o'clock Thursday morning, to about six o'clock Friday morning (ancient time). Nine hours later -- at the third hour (Friday), Jesus was crucified. (See Mark 15:25.) After

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He had been on the cross for three hours the sun was darkened (at six o'clock -- noon. See Mark 15:33.) Three hours later Jesus died and the sun again gave light. (See Matt. 27:45-50.) In the three remaining hours to sunset, very hasty preparation was made and the Saviour was placed in Joseph's new tomb just before the seventh-day Sabbath drew on. We quote Luke 23:53-56: "And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Thus Jesus remained in the tomb from twelve o'clock Friday evening to about twelve o'clock Sunday morning. This is also proven by Mark 16:9, "Now when Jesus had risen early the first day of the week." Therefore, a total of about thirty-six hours in the tomb; and a grand total of eighty-four hours from the commencement of the passover to the resurrection.

Now mark, that from the time the Jews laid hands on Christ (Thursday the 12th hour) to His resurrection (Sunday the 12th hour), there were exactly seventy-two hours or three days and three night. Thus fulfilling the words of Jesus: "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." (Matt. 12:40.) The idea that in the "heart of the earth" means in the grave, is man's supposition without Bible foundation. If the Saviour had in mind His experience in the grave, He would have said so. If His grave was in the center of the earth -- about 4,000 miles beneath its surface (the heart of the earth) then one may suppose He meant the heart of the earth. Jesus used the expression to indicate that He was to be three days and three nights in the hands of sinners, and in the grave. Why are sinners called "The heart of the earth"? Because man was made of it according to Gen. 3:19, "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

At this point we draw the reader's attention to the chart on page 22. Take notice of the infinite wisdom used to devise the picture of the great sacrifice (the Cross) for human beings, which is an evidence of boundless love Divine. Note first, that the hand on the clock dial made its round three times. Mark that each event was three hours apart (3 x 9 and 6 x 12), making the cross.

Now observe that the position of the cross as it is on the dial, does not show the proper proportion. But if the reader will

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turn the diagram upside down as it were, which would show the way the ancient clock measured time -- being regulated by sunset at twelve o'clock, then the cross appears in its perfect form; thus we have another view of divine perfection.

The line across the dial between the hours of four and five, ten and eleven -- marked north and south pole, gives the exact position of the globe as it travels on its yearly orbit. Now look to the upper right at the sun as it was then in its proper relation to the earth, as it darkened from the sixth to the ninth hour and we see the sun stood in accurate position over the hours that remained in darkness! Is not this picture perfect -- beyond question? If so, could an intelligent being imagine that this all happened by accident? Does not this show unmistakable evidence that God had pre-ordained it all, and that by His mighty power it has come to pass to teach His children His plan, and the salvation that is offered to them? Said Paul, "The works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Heb. 4:3.) John also declares that the lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. (See Rev. 13:8.) Sinner, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!"

Though the passover lamb typified the crucifixion of Christ, it was not intended that He should be offered on the very day the lamb was killed. This fact is self-evident, for the lamb was killed in the evening and Christ was crucified in the morning -- three hours after sunrise, -- and died three hours before the evening.

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