Kirk Cameron, Paganism, and the Lordship of Christ

“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:8

Kirk Cameron has started an uproar, and I for one am relishing in it! I am so excited to see such a man as Kirk grow into a mature faith that see the implications of the Lordship of Jesus Christ for every aspect of life, and to see him live it out. The particular aspect of life which we are discussing are Holidays. In his upcoming film Saving Christmas, and his recent article on Christian Post on Halloween, Kirk delivers a shot across the bow of paganism. “What?”, you say. “I thought Kirk Cameron was advocating paganism. How is he attacking it?” In this way – he is attacking the inherent paganism and functional devil worship of the modern American evangelical. GASP! WHAT!? It really is simple folks. Simply commenting on Halloween’s origins as a Christian holiday, and making a film about the Christian and biblical roots of Christmas (of all things!), has modern American evangelicals bending over backwards, falling over one another to give credence and legitimacy to paganism. The only ones who are advocating that a pagan god is real are the critics of Kirk Cameron. The apostle Paul in contrast says, ”

“…we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”1 Cor. 8:4-6

Let ‘s recap. An idol is nothing. There is only one God of Heaven and Earth, of whom are all things, and we were made for Him and belong to Him. There is One Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. Kirk Cameron is espousing this truth, and his fellow Christians are falling headlong on a false altar to essentially denounce that there is one Lord Jesus Christ, and to affirm the existence, legitimacy, power and dominion of pagan idols that rival Christ’s Throne. Now of course they would say that they are against such idols and paganism, and that they are for Jesus, but I am having a difficult time figuring out how a person is “for Jesus” by denying His Universal Lordship, and denying that He won the victory over the devil and his demons in His Death and Resurrection and Ascension. How can a person be “for Jesus” when at every comment a Christian like Kirk Cameron makes, to the effect that this is God’s world and everything belongs to Him, and is Redeemed in Jesus, is then countered by a such Christians who propagate the argument that  the devil is really the lord of this world?

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like functional devil worship. Whereas Kirk Cameron is following God’s lead by making a public mockery of those false idols and defeated devils by espousing over the creation that Jesus Christ has been, is now, and forever will be victorious over the devil. On the cross God disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Christ (Col. 2:15). Kirk Cameron is saying the same thing. Jesus has bound the strong man (the devil) and entered into his house (the world) and has plundered him of his goods (everything ) (Matt. 12:29). Kirk Cameron is saying the same thing. Kirk Cameron is saying that the substance of every festival belongs to Christ (Col. 2:17). Kirk Cameron is saying that God, not the devil, has at the beginning of creation set up the sun, moon, and stars to be for signs (symbols), and for festival seasons, and for days and years. That means, that when people throughout the ages have recognized that there are cycles built into creation, with summer and winter solstice, and procession of the equinox, and the creation of the constellations – all of these were created by God, for God’s purposes, and for the salvation of God’s people. These things all belong to God, not the devil. So when rebellious sinful pagan man comes along, and corrupts God’s creation through pagan and practices and myths and rituals, applying false ungodly meaning to it, what should we as God’s people do? Should we do as Kirk Cameron has done, and laugh at such non-sense and preach that there is only one God and one Lord Jesus Christ, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things? Or should we adopt the approach the critics of Kirk Cameron haven taken. We can deny that all things belong to God, and say that the pagans had the rights to the creation the whole time, and that Christians should have nothing to do with it. That sounds convincing.

Folks, the issue is clear. Kirk Cameron comes along, sees a problem with what Christians are saying and doing with God’s creation and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and he decides to say something about it, something like, God is the Creator and Lord of Heaven and Earth, and the all of creation belongs to Him, not the devil. But then the functional devil worshiping Christians get in a tizzy trying to protect God by robbing Him of His glory over the created order, and then say that all these things are really pagan in origin. Well, you are wrong. God made the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the seasons, and He created it with meaning already attached to it. A pagan can try to assert his meaning over the creation, but his god is not real, so that is an impossible task. They will forever be fighting a losing battle. But, as long as we have Modern American Evangelical Christians doing all the leg work for the pagans, they will continue to put up a fight.

The critics of Kirk Cameron are like those critics of Jesus in Matthew 12. Kirk is casting the demons out of the holidays and the critics respond by saying that it is by the power of the prince of demons that he casts out demons. But every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? But if it is by the Spirit of God that Kirk is casting out holiday demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you. And if it is by the Spirit of God that Kirk is doing these things, then by what spirit are his critics denouncing him? The Modern American Evangelical Christian is a functional devil worshiper. You shall know them by their fruits.

Eye for an Eye, Thumb for a Thumb, Big Toe for a Big Toe, and the World for the World

adonibezekJudah, the firstborn, is selected to go up and fight for Israel. Judah recruits Simeon to help. A fitting partner for the task. According to Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi take vengeance on the Canaanites and the Perizites for raping their sister Dinah. They go over board and slaughter everything and everyone. Certainly not an “eye for an eye” punishment. So Jacob curses Simeon sentencing him to be “scattered” in Israel (Gen. 49:7). Both Judah and Simeon go to fight against Adoni-Bezek (Lord of Scattering or Lightning) at Bezek (Scattering/Lightning), and they send him and his army scattering in retreat. When Judah and Simeon finally catch up to Adoni-Bezek, they cut off his thumbs and big toes. He replies, “70 kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table. As I have done, so God has repaid me.” Simeon might have learned his lesson.

Genesis 10 gives us a list of 70 nations that comprise the world after the flood. in Genesis 11 those nations are scattered at the tower of Babel.  Adoni-Bezek had 70 kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off gathering scraps under his table is a telling picture of the Serpent’s demonic rule over the entire world. He crippled the world and enslaved them, and made them dependent upon him for scraps of food to survive. In an “eye for an eye” fashion, God has repaid the serpent Adoni-Bezek by cutting off his thumbs and big toes, thus crippling him and taking him captive. Judah and Simeon bind the strong man and take him to Jerusalem to die, where the city is burned with fire (Jud. 1:8). The 70 nations are now freed from the clutches of the Lord of Scattering/Lightning, and now Israel can begin taking dominion over the land and conquering any other serpents along the way.

Jesus in Luke 10, send out 70 disciples to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God. When the disciples returned they were amazed that even the demon were subject to them in the Jesus’ name. The Lord replies, “I was watching Satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” Like Adoni-Bezek, the Lord of Scattering/Lightning, Jesus sees Satan fall from Heaven like Lightning. His kingdom is then divided and scattered against itself as Satan is crippled of his power, bound and led to Jerusalem to die by the fire of Pentecost, where the nations of the world are reunited in Christ by the Holy Spirit to take dominion over the whole world through the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom.

Judges 1:1-7 pictures for us God’s plan to take back the world from the clutches of the Serpent, the Lord of Scattering/Lightning. The gospel cuts off the thumbs and big toes of the serpent and his demons and leaves them in slavery under the reign of King Jesus, the Greater Judah, the firstborn of Israel.

Our Common Meal by Jeffrey J. Meyers

One of the earliest “church manuals” we possess includes a model prayer to be made over the communion bread: “As this broken bread, once dispersed over the hills, was brought together and became one loaf, so may your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom” (the Didache, c. A.D. 100). This powerful symbolism—of innumerable grains harvested, mixed together, and baked into one loaf—delightfully combines the biblical imagery of God’s people as grain producing plants (Matt. 13:26; Mark 4:28-29; John 12:34; 1 Cor. 15:37), the harvest of the Gospel throughout history and at the Last Day (Luke 10:2; Rev. 14:15), and the Body of Christ as a loaf of bread (1 Cor. 10:17). We glimpse here in this ancient prayer a dimension of the early church’s understanding of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper that we modern Protestant Christians need to recover. Our fathers understood this rite to be a Sacrament of unity and ecclesiastical community. When the church takes, gives thanks for, then breaks and distributes the communion bread she becomes what the Father has called her out of the world to be—a unified community Spiritually united to her Lord, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, since the Reformation at least, the communal dimensions of the Lord’s Supper have been buried beneath a heap of metaphysical polemics about the location of the humanity of Christ in relation to the elements of bread and wine. Too many Protestants think that they comprehend the meaning of the Sacrament when they come to firm intellectual convictions about the various erroneous answers given to this narrow question. While I do not slight the importance of this question, as a pastor I wonder if the devil has not fanned the flames of this debate in order to see the grains once again scattered to the hills. The Sacrament of unity itself has become the source of disunity and ecclesiastical schism. Without sidestepping or belittling theological issues, it seems that the authors of the New Testament, including our Lord himself, were more interested in doing the Supper, than in theorizing about it. Jesus did not say, “Think about this” or “Meditate on this” or even “Theologize about this.” He said, “Do this.” Similarly, the Apostle Paul’s only extended discussion of the Lord’s Supper arises not on account of the Corinthian church’s errant sacramentology, but because the people were eating and drinking in a manner unworthy of the Meal. They were not ritually doing the Supper as a unified church. They failed to “discern” or “prove” the unity of the Body of Christ in their manner of eating (1 Cor. 11:29, 33). According to Paul, our relationship with and opinion of Jesus Christ is directly related to our opinion of and relationship with his church. And our relationship with the local church is formed not only by listening to the sermon or thinking truthful theological thoughts, but also by joining in the common meal and eating and drinking with the Body of Christ. The 19th century unbelieving philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach came very close to this with his maxim “you are what you eat.” We might tweak it a bit to get a more biblical dictum: “Who you are is revealed in how you eat” and also conversely “how you eat constitutes who you are.” The unity of the church is not only something we claim by faith every week when we sit at the common Table, it is also something we become every week as we eat the bread and drink the wine together. When we join our voices together with the gathered assembly in prayer, confession, singing, eating, and drinking we are weekly reconstituted by the Spirit as the Body of Christ, the very tangible public presence of God’s saving activity in the world. Sadly, in evangelical Protestantism’s practice, we have too often reduced the Lord’s Supper to a means of providing mental stimulus for individual religious meditation. It is thought by many to be just another opportunity to exercise personal, private devotions at church. To some extent, the way we practice the Supper encourages this. Everyone closes their eyes, turns inward, and mediates privately. The corporate, communal dimension of the Sacrament gets smothered beneath what in effect becomes an opportunity for intense personal quiet time in church. There is, of course, room for silence during the rite of Communion, but there is so much more going on than merely private devotions using the visual aids of bread and wine. Surely the food on the Table is not merely God’s flannel graph for adults. I was delighted to hear one of my parishioners explaining to a group of parents his way of disciplining his children when they were at each other’s throats during the evening family meal: “Is that the way you would act at the Lord’s Table?” This father’s rebuke is designed to remind his children that the common ritual of the Lord’s Supper establishes the way they ought to act toward one another at home and in the world as Christians. This is exactly right. What we do at the Lord’s Table ought to form us into a particular kind of community—a community of sacrificial love united to one another in Jesus our Savior. The Didache, making explicit what the Scriptures teach, insists on the necessity of reconciling any fellow Christians who might be at variance with each other before they could eat the Lord’s Supper together. The unity of the church as the Body of Christ, symbolized in the one loaf, must not be violated by personal disputes among the members of the local body as well as formal ecclesiastical schisms in the larger communion of the saints. If our faithful eating and drinking of the Supper means this much, then it ought to have a prominent, regular place in our assembling on the Lord’s Day. For the early church, it was never an optional ritual. Neither was the Supper celebrated occasionally in special services. Since the unity and community of both the local and universal church was something central to her existence, something that ought to characterize her normal, ordinary life in the world, the Sacrament of Communion would also have to be part of the every-week routine of the gathered church. The Apostle Paul indicates that the church “comes together” precisely to eat the Lord’s Supper and that in a openly unified way (1 Cor. 11:18, 20, 33, 34). The more we faithfully do the Lord’s Supper, the more we will experience the communal dimensions of the Sacrament, indeed, the community-forming nature of the ritual meal. Only then will the concrete oneness that our Lord petitioned the Father for be realized in the Church “in order that the world may believe” (John 17:23). After all, as Reformation Christians we do confess that the Sacrament truly does what God promises! The Lord of the harvest earnestly desires to gather his scattered grains together into one loaf, and all for the life of the world.

How the Church Transforms and Renews the World

The Church Transformed and Transforming by Steve Wilkins

If the Church is the chief instrument of transforming the world, then, apart from evangelism and missions, how does this happen? What is the Church to be and what must it do in order to scatter the darkness of sin and Satan?

Often, the answer we find in the Scriptures is, “live like God lives.” Israel was commanded to be “holy” because Yahweh was holy (Lev. 19:2). Jesus said that we must “be perfect” even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Mat. 5: 48). Paul says, “be imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1).

The Church is to be the place where the world sees true life, the life of God, lived. The Church is to be the place where the world can see the love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, generosity, and merriment of God. It is to be the place where the life that every person longs for (but can’t have apart from union with Jesus), may be seen and heard, tasted and touched.

The Church is called to demonstrate, as N. T. Wright has said, a new way of being human – that is, displaying the true and right humanness for which God created us. But what specifically does this look like? Paul says this is a life that stands in sharp contrast to the world of unbelief and rebellion (Eph. 4:17-21). It is a life that contradicts and corrects the world at every point. In the epistle to the Ephesians we see some of these points:

The world has lost its integrity, so we must be the people who speak the truth (4:25). This not only means that we must keep our promises and fulfill our contracts but also that we straightforwardly confess our sins and shortcomings. We are not yet what we ought to be and we must not pretend to be something more than we are. Integrity requires honest acknowledgement of our failures and taking full responsibility for our sins.

The world is a bitter place, so we must be the people who practice forgiveness (4:31-32) and we must do it like God Himself does it (i.e., freely, fully, immediately, and forgetting the offense). The Church ought to be a “grudge-free” zone.

The world is an ungrateful place, so we must be the people who give thanks (5:20). We must learn the discipline of gratitude, not only because it reminds us of our own insufficiency, but because it promotes peace. Gratitude implies confidence in God’s wisdom and goodness. I can’t sincerely give thanks for all things unless I believe God will work everything together for good. Thanksgiving brings peace.

The world is an unmerciful place, so we must be the people who are marked by compassion. The world takes, we should be the people who give (4:28). God delights in mercy and so should we.

The world is a stingy place, so we must be the people distinguished by generosity. God gives freely without regret. He gives abundantly and doesn’t keep an account, and we must be like Him. Our calling is not to enrich ourselves but to enrich others, making them more honorable and glorious. This means, among other things, that we must learn to be excited over every opportunity to give.

The world is a sad place, so we must be the people characterized by merriment. God is the One who is ever-blessed, ever-merry and we must be like Him. His joy makes Him mighty. It was the joy set before Him that enabled Jesus to “endure the cross and despise the shame” of the cross (Heb. 12:2). George Grant has reminded us that “merry” is an Anglo-Saxon word that originally meant “valiant, illustrious, great, or mighty.” To be “merry” meant not only being mirthful but to be joyously gallant and courageous. Merriment is that which constantly characterizes God Himself and it is this which fits us for living faithfully as well (“The joy of Yahweh” is our strength!).

If the Church is to be the engine of transformation in the world, then it must faithfully show the world what real life (the life of God) is like. The faith must be made visible. Salvation must be seen as a tangible reality—a reality you can feel.

And this happens when we imitate God: being faithful in our marriages and honest in our callings, living with the integrity of holiness, rejoicing with thanksgiving. As men see His life lived before them, that is, as they see our “good works,” they will then come to give Him glory (Matt. 5:20).

Raised on the Third Day

“…he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”

Paul says that Christ was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. The only question that one must ask is, Where? Where in Scripture does it say that the Christ is to be raised on the third day? And why the third day? Christ was raised on the first day of the week, which is why Christian’s celebrate Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week. The Gospels are replete with references to Christ’s resurrection happening “after three days” or “in three days.” But is there a difference between “the third day” and “three days”? Or is this just two ways of expressing the same thought?[1]

Of course Jesus rose from the dead after three days of being in the grave. That is not being questioned here. The purpose of this paper is to explore the possibility of not only a “third day” theme that runs throughout Scripture, but a “third day resurrection” theme that would make sense of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15.

Jonah is one Old Testament Scripture reference that Jesus appeals to for his three day stay in the grave. In Matthew 12:40 He says, “For just 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 reference is often appealed to in discussions on the “third day resurrection” theme by Biblical Commentators. Picking up on this third day resurrection motif from Jonah, some rabbinical interpreters have concluded that

“The expression three days and three nights is seen to reflect the conception that death is permanent only after a body has shown no signs of animation for a period of three days, the idea being that until that time had elapsed, the soul was conceived as still lingering near the individual, encouraging the hope of revival.” [2]

Indeed, Jonah was “resurrected” after three days of being in the belly of the great fish, which he calls “Sheol” (Jon. 2:2). Thus it is a fitting analogy that Jesus uses to describe his own resurrection in Matt. 12:40. The particular phrase “the third day” is not used with reference to Jonah, but rather “three days and three nights.” Thus, while a third day motif can be easily inferred from Jonah, and is even one in which Jesus references, for the purposes of this paper, it does not meet the requirements of specifically being a literal “third day” resurrection event, though it is by extension.

Another Scripture passage that is often employed to come to Paul’s defense is Hosea 6:2, which says:

“After two days he will revive us;
   on the third day he will raise us up,
   that we may live before him.”

This reference is more specific and it begins to meet the requirements of a “third day” resurrection motif from which we can hang our hats when trying to understand Paul’s peculiar phrase. But the passage says that on the third day he will “raise us up.” God is pictured as raising up Israel on the third day, not the Messiah. It is not unsurprising then that most liberal scholars[3] do not even entertain the notion that Jesus Christ is the true Israel and her resurrection is to be found in Him and His resurrection. Instead they hypothesize that the passage finds its fulfillment at some other time in history. But as Pusey notes in his commentary on the Minor Prophets, there is a great lack of any evidence to which historians and theologians alike can make appeal to qualify as the event to which the text speaks of.[4] Sweeney though takes a step further and postulates that the “raising up” takes place possibly in the advent of the rainy season. In saying this he unhesitatingly connects Israel to other ancient near eastern pagan fertility concepts, making appeal to verse three’s reference to the “spring rains” for support.

Peter Leithart on the contrary finds that Hosea 6:1-2 finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. He says, “Hosea exhorted Israel to return to the Lord: He has torn, but He will revive and raise us on third day (v. 2). Christ, the True Israel, was torn, but revived. He was torn by beasts, but, as a descendent of Judah He devoured His enemies, was raised up and exalted, like Joseph, to be ruler over all.”[5] Hosea 6:2 then is a strong contender for Scriptural fulfillment of the literal “third day” resurrection theme, but I question whether it is the only passage to which Paul makes his appeal.[6] We must look elsewhere to see if Paul could have had other passages in mind when he penned that particular phrase.

Let us continue our study then by looking at the very first recorded “third day” in Scripture. On the third day of creation the dry land “emerges” as it were from the underneath its watery grave. Vegetation begins sprout. Seed yielding plants, as well as fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed are also created on the third day. Prior to this on the first and second days of creation, nothing “living” had been created. It is on the third day that we see the very first living things come alive. It is the creation itself which comes alive and “brings forth” new life, on the third day.[7]

Genesis 22 tells the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, or we might now properly refer to it as the resurrection of Isaac. According Hebrews 11:19, Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Genesis 22:4 tells us this event took place on “the third day.”

In Genesis 40 we are presented with a third day resurrection motif, but we are also presented with a picture of third day death as well. The baker and the cup bearer were in prison with Joseph. They both had a dream and Joseph interpreted the dreams accordingly. The cupbearer was restored back to his place, while the baker was hanged. This happened on the third day of Pharaoh’s birthday, according to Gen. 40:20.

Our third day theme now takes upon itself a new aspect. We can understand this development more fully when we see that the third day motif is not restricted to “resurrection” only in the strictest sense, but also to judgment which sometimes brings about resurrection, or sometimes death. James Jordan understand that the third day motif is more than just resurrection, but is judgment as well. He notes in his commentary on Daniel that,

The third year (day, hour, month, event) is a time when preliminary things are judged and a more mature time is initiated. Christians are familiar with Jesus’ resurrection on the third day, which alludes back to Jonah’s “resurrection” after three days in the prepared fish. But there are third day (hour, month, year, event) crises all over the Bible. These are times when judgment changes things…[8]

In the context of the Joseph narrative Pharaoh’s judgment changed things for both the cup bearer and the baker[9], for Joseph as well, ultimately and eventually if not right away. It was Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams that changed his predicament, and when the Pharaoh himself had some bad dreams which no one who could interpret, the cup bearer remembered Joseph. This led to Joseph becoming second in command throughout all Egypt, and his wisdom enabled Egypt to survive the famine and it brought the Hebrews into the beautiful land of Goshen, which was the best of the land of Egypt. This is a type of resurrection that occurred, in which a more mature time was initiated. The cupbearer, Joseph, Egypt, and the Hebrews all were preserved from the death of famine due to the fulfillment of Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream on the third day.

In Genesis 42 Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies. He puts them all into custody together for three days. On the third day he brings them out of custody and says to them,

“Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die." And they did so.

Here we are presented with a type of resurrection. The brothers were released from prison and given a chance to vindicate themselves, while at the same time providing food for their family during the famine. This declaration was made on “the third day.”

In Exodus 19, Israel came to Mt. Sinai. Verse 1 says it was “on the third new moon” that they arrived at Sinai since they left Egypt. Verses 11 tells us that Israel was to prepare herself for “the third day” when “the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all people. Verses 16-20 tell of the great majesty and glory of God who appeared to Israel on “the third day” on top of Mt. Sinai in fire, smoke, thunder, and lightening. While Moses was on the mount he received the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant. Thus, Israel’s covenant inauguration/renewal ceremony took place on the third day. The prologue to the Ten Commandments reiterates this resurrection theme when God says, “I am the LORD you God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” This is resurrection language. “You were once dead in Egypt, but now you are alive, therefore serve me” is the essence of what God is saying. This proclamation takes place not just on the third day, but on the third day of the third month/third new moon.[10]

It is interesting that God told Moses to “consecrate the people today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day” (Ex. 19:10). Israel needed to be cleansed from their uncleanness, which is symbolic death. They were symbolically dead in Egypt and needed to be raised to life again, which was to take place on the third day when the covenant was going to be ratified/renewed. Thus we can agree with Jordan that the “process of covenant renewal with man dead in sins and trespasses must involve resurrection.”[11]

This brings us then to Numbers 19:11-13.

11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.”

This passage makes it very clear that death needs to be cleansed from a person on third day, as well as the on the seventh day. This is an obvious third day resurrection motif. But what might not be as obvious is why it is that the cleansing is needed on both the third and seventh days. Jordan gives us insight.

The third day (year, etc.) theme arises from the theology of the week. History begins on the first day, but humanity fell into sin and came under the judgment on [sic] death right away. There is a preliminary judgment and restoration on the third day, and that restoration makes it possible for humanity to become faithful and obedient as we move to the final, seventh day of history. This two judgment, two-resurrection scheme is set forth most fully in Numbers 19, where we read that a person who came into near contact with a human corpse was contaminated by death, just as all of us are contaminated with Adam’s death, and that the unclean person was cleansed both on the third day and again on the seventh. We see here a preliminary cleansing (that is, a resurrection from death contamination) and a final cleansing.[12]

This analysis seems to fit with Jesus’ understanding of the flow of history in John 5. Jesus said “For an hour is coming (future) and is now here (present), when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” The third day cleansing represents Christian baptism (the first resurrection) and the seventh day cleansing represents eschatological cleansing (the second resurrection). A person who has encountered death needs to be cleansed twice, once in the middle of history and once again at the end. The cleansing/resurrection in the middle of history and again at the end of history corresponds to the two cleansings/ two resurrections found in Numbers 19.[13] Saint Paul also affirms this truth when he speaks of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:23 – each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ will be resurrected.[14]

As Jordan has noted, not all third day events actually happen on the third day, but on the third year, hour, and month as well. With this in mind we see that this pattern fulfills Deuteronomy 14:22ff and 26:12ff which speaks of the tithe that had to brought in every third year. We know that the tithe was to be brought in during the Feast Booths, which was highly symbolic in nature, representing in very graphic details the resurrection and the salvation of the entire world, and even the creation itself.[15] It was on every third year after Israel paid their tithe and gave it to the Levite, the widow, and sojourner and the fatherless that they were to remind God of what they had done and remind Him to “Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Thus, Israel was to remind God to restore/resurrect their land after they had just celebrated the Feast of Booths which was an anticipatory celebration in which they looked forward to God’s future salvific blessings. After they had just acted out life in the New Creation, they were to call upon God to fulfill those promises which He made to them in the Feast of Booths. This is nothing less the resurrection on a grand scale.[16]

In summary, we have to say that we have only scratched the surface of the third day, hour, month, year, etc. theme in Scripture. We focused most of our time only looking at third day resurrection themes in the Pentateuch, all of which make a very strong case for Paul’s appeal to “The Scriptures” in 1 Corinthians 15. A more complete and thorough study could and should be made of the third day, year, etc events in the other narrative portions of the Bible. Seeing the many different ways in which the resurrection motif manifests itself throughout the Scriptures gives us more insight into the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on the third day, as well as our resurrection in Him, bringing us deeper into the mysteries of God and the greatness of our salvation. Indeed, all Scripture speaks of Him.[17]


Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts: NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

Chilton, David. Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Fort Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987.

_______. Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion. Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, 2007.

Crim, Keith R. and George A Buttrick. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4, R-Z. New York: Abingdon, 1962.

Farrer, Austin. A Rebirth of Images: The Making St. John’s Apocalypse. Albany, NY: State University Press, 1986.

Jordan, James B. The Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel. Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007.

_______. The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984.

Landes, George M. “The Three Days Three Nights Motif in Jonah 2:1” in the Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 86, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), 446-450.

Landy, Francis. Hosea. Sheffield, England, Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Leithart, Peter “Prey in My House” Biblical Horizons Newsletter, no. 8 (November, 1989), Biblical Horizons. (Accessed 2 February, 2011).

Pink, A.W. Gleanings in Genesis. Chicago: Moody Press, 1922.

Pusey, E.B. Barnes Notes on the Old Testament: The Minor Prophets: A Commentary, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker House Book, 1970.

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. IVP’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove: IVP, 1998.

Sweeney, Marvin A. and David W. Cotter, ed., Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry: The Twelve Prophets. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2000.

Zvi, Ehud Ben. Hosea: The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, Vol. XXIA/1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

[1] This is the conclusion of a very brief article written in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 4, R-Z (New York: Abingdon, 1962), 630.

[2] See George M. Landes, “The Three Days Three Nights Motif in Jonah 2:1” in the Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 86, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), 446.

[3] Ehud Ben Zvi, Hosea: The Forms of the Old Testament Literature, Vol. XXIA/1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005); Francis Landy, Hosea (Sheffield, England, Sheffield Academic Press, 1995); see also Marvin A. Sweeney, David W. Cotter, ed., Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry: The Tweleve Prophets (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2000), 69, “…such imagery is open to wide range of interpretation and does not provide the means to assign it to a particular event.”

[4] E.B. Pusey, Barnes Notes on the Old Testament: The Minor Prophets: A Commentary, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker House Book, 1970), 63-64.

[5] Peter Leithart, “Prey in My House” Biblical Horizons Newsletter, no. 8 (November, 1989), (Accessed 2 February, 2011).

[6] F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts: NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 215, n. 61.

[7] A.W. Pink, Gleanings in Genesis (Chicago: Moody Press, 1922), 25. “Beyond doubt, that which is foreshadowed on the third day’s work is resurrection. It is in the record concerning this third day that we read “Let the dry land appear” (verse 9). Previously the earth had been submerged, buried beneath the waters. But now the land is raised above the level of the seas; there is resurrection, the earth appears. But this is not all. In verse 11 we read, “And let the earth bring forth grass, etc.” Hitherto death had reigned supreme. No life appeared upon the surface of the ruined earth. But on the third day the earth is commanded to “bring forth.” Not on the second, not on the fourth, but on the third day was life seen upon the barren earth! Perfect is the type for all who have eyes to see. Wonderfully pregnant are the words, “Let the earth bring forth” to all who have ears to hear. It was on the third day that our Lord rose again from the dead “according to the Scriptures.” According to what Scriptures? Do we not have in these 9th and 11th verses of Genesis 1 the first of these scriptures, as well as the primitive picture of our Lord’s Resurrection!”

[8] James B. Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 130 (italics mine). Jordan doesn’t limit this third day motif to days only, but he believes this pattern of resurrection can be seen on third years, month, hours, as well as days.

[9] The baker of course was not “resurrected” but put to death. See Austin Farrer, A Rebirth of Images: The Making St. John’s Apocalypse (Albany, NY: State University Press, 1986). His argument is essentially that the seven cycles are de-creation cycles. In each of the seven cycles there is judgment upon each of the days of creation, for seven cycles, each cycle representing a week. Here we see that the third day motif, though not explicitly mentioned as such, does also contain death and judgment as well as resurrection and life. The baker illustrates for us that the third day theme does not have to be only resurrection, though it is mostly.

[10] See James B. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 55-56. “Exodus 19:1 tells us that Israel arrived “on the third new moon” (literally) from the month they left Egypt. They had departed on the 15th day of the first month, so that they arrived at Sinai at the beginning of the week. On the second day, Moses went up the mountain of God, and God told him that He was going to make covenant with Israel. Moses came down from the mountain and told the people, who rejoiced to have the Lord as their God (w. 2-8a). The third day, Moses told God what the people had said, and God told him that He would speak to Israel from the cloud of glory. Moses returned and told this to the people (VV. 8b-9). The fourth day, Moses returned to hear what God had to say next, and God told him to tell the people to prepare themselves to receive the covenant on the third day, which would be the sixth day of the week. Adam was created on the sixth day of the creation week, and was established in covenant with God. Since, as we have seen, the Sinaitic covenant is a redemptive specification or republication of the Old Adamic Covenant (from one Biblical perspective, at least), it is telling that God “re-creates” humanity in covenant with Himself on this sixth day of the week.”

[11] Jordan, Law of the Covenant, 56.

[12] Jordan, The Handwriting on the Wall, 130.

[13] Ibid., 58. “The man who is unclean from contact with a corpse is to be cleansed on the third day and again on the seventh day. This double resurrection pattern is found all through the Scriptures. For instance, in John 5:21-29, Jesus distinguishes a first resurrection, when those dead in sin will hear the voice of Christ and live (v. 2!5); and a second resurrection, when those dead in the grave will come forth to a physical resurrection (v. 29). The first resurrection comes in the middle of history to enable men to fulfill the duties of the old creation. The second resurrection comes at the end of history to usher men into the new creation. Jesus was raised on the third day, thereby inaugurating the New Covenant in the midst of the week of history. Christians live between the third and seventh days of history, Spiritually resurrected and in the New Covenant, but physically mortal and assigned to complete the tasks of the Old Adamic Covenant. The fact that the law was given at Sinai on the third day, and in the third month, was a provisional anticipation of the third-day resurrection yet to come in Christ.”

[14] David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Fort Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 550-551.

[15] David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, 2007), 44-46.

[16] See my sermon on the Feast of Booths in Deuteronomy 14. Available in 3 parts at Mike Bull’s blog –;;

[17] For a different approach to the third day motif, see Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. IVP’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove: IVP, 1998), 864.