Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Have you ever noticed how many parallels there are in scripture? It’s seems as if the Lord has given us all these examples as a means to help us understand the deeper implications of God’s majesty. Read through the descriptions of each story in the Old Testament and you will see a spiritual parallel in the New Testament. See how God moves in very clear and purposeful ways and you realize the order by which He reigns.
The more you examine God’s Word, the more you will see that spiritual insight is available for all who seek it.
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.“
A good place to start when seeking a greater understanding is with Jesus.
The Value of the Tomb
Why did Jesus stay in the tomb three days? Look a little closer, and you’ll see that three days isn’t as obvious as you would think. In jewish tradition, a day constituted morning to evening as one day. Any part of that time from the sun rising to its setting was considered a day, not 24 hours in the literal sense.
By the time Jesus died upon the cross to the time He arose from the grave, it was about 40 hours or constituted part of 3 Jewish days.
The number of days the spies of Israel surveyed the promised land and considered whether to trust the Lord or reject his provision was 40 days. The subsequent judgement upon Israel for their unbelief equated to a year for each day they tested God’s faithfulness.
Numbers 14:34 “In keeping with the forty days you spied out the land, you shall bear your guilt forty years–a year for each day–and you will experience My alienation.”
The judgement upon the earth during the days of Noah was a time that God purified the land of sin and rebellion. The measure of God’s wrath revealed the magnitude of man’s sin before God. It says in Genesis 6 that every thought and intent of mankind was evil continually.
Genesis 7:17 “For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and the waters rose and lifted the ark high above the earth.”
When Christ the Messiah came to die for our sins, it was the darkness of man’s heart that was continually evil before the Lord. All of the earth was guilty before God and the same measure of darkness that befell the earth in the time of Noah was the same measure of darkness the Messiah had to bear for the sins of mankind.
As Jonah sat in absolute darkness in the belly of the whale for 3 days, Jesus also dwelled in the tomb for our sin. As the earth bore God’s judgement for 40 days and nights in the time of Noah, Jesus bore our judgement for 40 hours in the tomb.
Matthew 4:1 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry”
The fasting Jesus endured in the wilderness was a time of spiritual strengthening in preparation for ministry. It was time for the Messiah to establish the Kingdom of God and prepare Himself to be the remission of sin for all of mankind. As Jesus endured trial and testing in the wilderness it reminds us of Noah and all his family endured in the Ark when the storms were raging.
Why is 40 years, 40 days, or 40 hours so significant a time frame? The children of Israel endured 400 years of testing in Egypt, 40 years of preparation in the desert and the earth waited 4000 years for the Messiah to appear.
Patterns show Purpose
Nothing God does is random, no act is off the cuff, He doesn’t create with the hope that it turns out right nor does He move without considering well His intent. The more we see order, the more we see the Creator of that order.
God acts purposefully because He has a plan.
Revelation 6:7-8 “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”
The 4th seal represents death in the order of judgements that will befall the earth. The judgement during the flood brought death, and sin brings spiritual death— Jesus remedied death for those who receive His grace.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
The 4th commandment of keeping the Sabbath is one law Israel violated when God brought 400 years of captivity to Israel. The captivity that Israel endured was like a 400 year death sentence that culminated with their subsequent release and rise of a nation that was meant to glorify God before the world.
The Sabbath rest parallels the 7th day of rest during creation. The Sabbath day was a day that completed the days of Creation. The number seven is an ordinal day representative of completion.
Exodus 20:10 “but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God, on which you must not do any work–neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant or livestock, nor the foreigner within your gates.”
Just as God rested upon completion of His creative work, we rest on the Sabbath and reflect on the goodness of God in our lives.
For 6000 years Creation has groaned in labor of futility, brought about through the sin of mankind. The millennial reign of Christ will culminate in a 1000 years of rest upon the earth, a rest that only Christ can bring.
Old Testament ritual cleansing was instituted by God and had a specific pattern that was to be observed.
Exodus 19:12 “He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.”
On the 3rd day Jesus arose and the cleansing of the nations began. On the 7th day, the culmination of God’s work brought forth perfection. The perfect righteousness each believer receives by grace shows forth God’s perfection, an order that He always observes and is reflective of all that He has established.
Matthew 12:7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
All things created were made by God and was for God. When we rest on the Sabbath and honor God, we honor Jesus. The whole of Creation is not only managed by Him, it reflects Him. He is the One who walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden, He is the One who spoke to Noah, He is the One who established Abraham, He is the One who guided Moses, He appeared before Joshua, He walked the earth in human form, He met Saul on the road to Damascus, and He will be there in the end to receive His church and dispose of Satan.
This is Jesus’ Creation. We are His people and He alone will be glorified.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The pattern of God’s purposes are vast, I could never do them justice in a short time period. A brief description of parallels in God’s methodology is a glimpse into His creative genius.
The world cries for peace but peace is not something that can be attained by their our own efforts. No amount of striving will bring about the rest that only God can provide. This world of chaos and strife is clearly not lead by God, anything He does goes forth in order and purpose.
One day, we will see the end of sin and God’s Creation will return to the order that He intended. Don’t fear…that day is soon to come.