Intercontinental Church of God - Chicago Church
Affiliated with the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

 
 

Neither Did His Flesh See Corruption

 

By Jim Josephsen

 
 

           

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter standing up with the eleven (Acts 2:14), lifted up his voice and began to preach the good news of salvation, of the hope for Israel and Judah, of the Savior Jesus Christ.

 

            Central to the gospel message (the good news) of salvation is the preaching of Jesus Christ; who He is and why He came; how that He died and was resurrected. Jesus Christ, the very God who created all things (John 1:3, 10; Colossians 1:16), before being born of the flesh, resided in the heavens, at the throne with His Father (John 17:5; John 3:13, 6:38, 51). Jesus Christ, the God of Israel, came down to this earth, to live in the flesh (John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14-17), to redeem His people, to save His people (Matthew 1:21) from the wages of sin (death –Romans 6:23) (Acts 4:12, 5:30-31; 1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus Christ is at the very core of the gospel message. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And for this reason, God the Father, who so loved the world (John 3:16), expressed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

 

            Notice what Christ spoke, as written by Luke, summarizing what the gospel message is to be. Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all the nations beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).

 

            The apostle Paul enumerated the main elements of the gospel. “For I delivered unto you 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 rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

 

            Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose the third day – according to the scriptures.

 

             As Peter preached of Jesus Christ to ye men of Judaea and all that dwell at Jerusalem (Acts 2:14) he made a most remarkable statement. Quoting Old Testament scriptures (even as Paul said – according to the scriptures), Peter revealed an aspect of Christ we can neither ignore nor take for granted.

 

            Notice Acts 2:22-36 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.  For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

 

            Here we read a portion of the first sermon Peter preached. Within his sermon, Peter quoted from a Psalm King David wrote. Peter preached according to the scriptures. Notice the scripture verses David wrote, from which Peter quoted.

 

            Psalm 16:9-10: Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

 

            Notice these two verses as taken from the New International Version. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

 

Just who was this Holy One who would not be allowed to see corruption?  Just who was David speaking of?

 

            In David’s day, as David wrote, who was this individual that would have been known as, or qualified as “your Holy Onewho would not see decay or corruption?”

 

Possibly some of the scholars of Ancient Israel, priests and teachers in Judah may have drawn a vague connection to the Messiah or a Redeemer who was prophesied to come. However, an understanding of a Messiah to come would have only been made clearer, after the writings of Isaiah (chapter 52: 13-15 and 53) were available. Did some perhaps understand the prophetic inference of Genesis 3:15?

 

Perhaps some of the scribes and scholars or those of priestly understanding may have read this Psalm and concluded that David was speaking of himself, using some type of vague hyperbolic language.

 

The reality of just who was this Holy One, was first made known, was first revealed by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The truth of what David spoke was manifest on that Day of Pentecost. What David wrote could not have been understood until the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Prior to the Day of Pentecost, Psalm 16:9-10 was a mystery waiting to be revealed.

 

The Holy One was and is none other than Jesus Christ. As Peter explains, He [David] seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption (Acts 2:31).  Peter provided the answer.

 

            David was given a vision, prophetic insight of the coming of a Messiah and the events that would occur to this Messiah. This is what was meant when Peter declared, He seeing this spoke before ….

 

Let’s notice the New Century Version reading of Acts 2:31. Knowing this before it happened; David talked about the Christ rising from the dead. He said: He was not left in the grave, His body did not rot.

           

            Jesus Christ is the one of whom these scriptures speak.

 

These verses did not speak of David.

 

But notice, speaking of David, Peter said, he is both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us unto this day (Acts 2:29) and David is not ascended into the heavens (verse 34).

 

            At the time when Peter preached his first sermon to the attentive crowd huddled around him and the Apostles on that Day of Pentecost; David’s body, which had been laid in the sepulchre many centuries earlier, was still there on earth, having decayed, having seen corruption, having deteriorated.

 

David’s flesh and bones at that time (and even now), were nothing more than dust, minerals, elements and dirt. As the word of God clearly explains of those who die… till thou return unto the ground, for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust thou shall return (Genesis 3:19).  

 

Notice also Job 21:26; they shall lie down alike in the dust and the worms shall cover them.

 

Notice Job 34:15; all flesh shall perish together and man shall turn to dust.              

 

Consider Psalm 104:29; … thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

 

Notice Ecclesiastes 3:20; All go unto one place; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again.

 

Of all who die, including David, their flesh decomposes, returning to the dust; their flesh sees corruption.

 

            But as for Jesus Christ, Peter revealed that Jesus Christ did not remain in the grave (hell, grave, pit, underworld retreat, place of the dead – Greek word Hades (Strong’s 86); comparable to the Hebrew word Sheol (Strong’s 7585)) neither did his flesh rot or decay. His flesh did not see corruption.

 

            Of Jesus Christ, His body did not rot, it did not decay. Unlike all mankind, whose bodies see corruption, decomposing, returning to the dust, minerals and elements of the earth, going through the decaying process, Jesus Christ did not see corruption.

 

            The fact that neither did his flesh decay, correlates perfectly with the fact that Jesus Christ was in the tomb three days and three nights; a time span of some 72 hours.

 

            It was necessary that He remained in the tomb three days and three nights; but not into the fourth day. Remaining in the grave three days and three nights, some 72 hours, brought Christ up to the fourth day, but not into the fourth day, and in so doing, validated the prophecy that neither did his flesh rot or decay.

 

            That Christ’s flesh did not see corruption was a fulfillment of prophecy, validating Christ’s Messiahship and Lordship. It was a necessary fulfillment of prophecy, proving to the world that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Christ, the very son of God, the only Savior of the world.

 

            In order to understand the importance of the prophecy, neither did his flesh see corruption let us start with what Christ said was a necessary authentication of His death.

 

Notice: Matthew 12:39-40. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: and there shall be no sign given to it but the sign of Jonas the prophet: 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.

 

Three days and three nights equates to 72 hours. This time frame is necessary to understand and has dynamic relevance.

 

 The scriptures clearly explain and history reveals, Jesus Christ was not placed in the tomb on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning at sunrise, as typical Christianity believes. When reviewing the scriptures relevant to the time Christ died and was placed in the tomb, we are not talking about three parts of a day and three parts of a night.

 

To accept the span of time as Christians typically believe would only provide for Christ to have been in the tomb two nights and one day, with a short afternoon and a few short hours of the early morning. In total we are looking at some 36 to 39 hours.  From Friday 3:00 pm to Sunday 6:00 am is only 39 hours in total and this is still woefully short of the required 72 hours (three days and three nights) which Jesus Himself stated the Son of Man was to be in the tomb, in the heart of the earth.

 

            Jesus Christ was a Jew, not a Catholic, not a Roman nor a Greek. Being Jewish, He reflected ideas and taught using Hebraic thought processes, concepts and idioms.

 

Even as Jesus Christ explained, according to Hebrew reckoning, a day consists of 12 hours of light. Notice John 11:9. (The night then consists of 12 hours of darkness.) A day is also understood as consisting of 12 hours of  light and 12 hours of  darkness; combining to make up a 24 hour day.

 

An example of a 24 hour day would be the Sabbath day. The Sabbath consists of a night and day cycle, from evening sunset to evening sunset, a complete 24 hour cycle (cf. Leviticus 23:32). Christ is Lord of the Sabbath Day (Matthew 12:8), a complete 24-hour period.

 

 This understanding is very similar to what we acknowledge today. We understand the day as the light portion, 12 hours worth and we also understand the day consists of 24 hours. The difference however for our commonly accepted day is: the 24-hour day begins at 12:00 midnight and ends 24 hours later at 12:00 midnight. That cycle of each day, broken in the middle of the night (darkness) consists of 6 hours of dark, then 12 hours of light, then another 6 hours of dark – roughly speaking – depending on the seasons. In all 24 hours in a day.

 

Jewish day reckoning consists of 12 hours of night/darkness and 12 hours of day/light in succession, between sunset to sunset. The sequence of each day is night, morning, day, evening. The commencement of the night is the first event of a new day and the evening (the extinguishing of the sun’s light) is the last event to occur each day.

 

All cultures and societies acknowledge that a day can be considered in two ways; either 12 hours of light or 24 hours of time (one complete rotation of the earth around its axis) consisting of 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of light.

 

            Yet even without this knowledge, we can still understand that Christ was speaking of three 24-hour cycles of time; a complete 72 hours. Christ was very clear in His explanation. He stated, for as Jonas was three days (three 12-hour periods of light) and three nights (three 12-hour periods of darkness) in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

 

             Three - twelve hour periods of day/light (total 36 hours) plus three - twelve hour periods of dark/night (total 36 hours) equals 72 total hours.

 

            Understanding various Hebrew concepts is easy to accomplish when we allow the Bible to interpret itself. Notice Esther 4:16. Go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: …. Esther required a 72 hour fast.

 

            There is no way to dance around this clear, accurate Biblical and historical understanding. When Jesus Christ said three days and three nights, He clearly explained (to those who have an ear), He meant 72 hours.

           

If Christ were not in the tomb (the sepulchre, the grave) for some 72 hours (three days and three nights), then it would have been impossible for the prophecy, neither did his flesh see corruption to have been fulfilled.

 

            Christ had to be in the grave for some 72 hours in order for the accuracy of the prophecy, neither did His flesh see corruption to have become a reality.

 

            Let us progress through the events that led up to the fulfillment of 72 hours.

 

Let us understand why Christ did not remain in the tomb into the 73rd hour or into the fourth day.

 

Let us understand why Christ’s flesh did not see corruption.  

 

Let us review the time elements surrounding Christ’s death and more specifically, when He was placed in the tomb.

 

            As the New Testament clearly reveals, Jesus Christ died at the 9th hour (corresponding to three o’clock in the afternoon) on the preparation day. The preparation day is the 14th day of the first month.

 

The preparation day served a dual purpose.

 

In that it was the 14th day of the first month, the preparation day was the day before the First Day of Unleavened Bread (the 15th day of the first month – Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17).  On the preparation day, final preparations (such as the cleaning out or removing of leavening from the houses and Temple), were made for the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was called the [feast of] Passover (Luke 22:1).

 

General history regarding the preparation day explains that at the time of Christ, in Galilee, no work was to be performed on the 14th and in Judaea no new work was to commence that day; rather only “work at hand” could be carried on until mid-day. The only exception to the no work rule was that for tailors, barbers and laundry. Individuals strict to the law, forbid the eating of leavening after mid-day on the 14th. It was also known that the last of leavening taken out of the home was to be burnt no later than mid-day. All this preparation being done in preparation for the Passover/Unleavened Bread Holy Day.

 

Likewise, the 14th day of the first month, was the day on which the Passover lamb was sacrificed, in the evening (Hebrew beyn ha arbayim – between the evenings), toward the end of that day; see Leviticus 23:5. The preparation day allowed for the lamb sacrifice in preparation for the Passover meal which was consumed with unleavened bread on the night of the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

 

The 9th hour of the 14th day of the first month was the time of day when the Passover Lamb(s) were sacrificed in the Temple at Jerusalem. The perfect timing of Christ’s death (about the 9th hour) coinciding with the slaying of the lamb in the Temple justifies the doctrine, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). The killing of the Passover Lamb commencing at 3:00 in the afternoon satisfied the law’s command to kill it between the evenings (Exodus 12:6).

 

            In the year of Christ’s death, the 14th day of the first month fell on the fourth day of the week, a Wednesday, the middle day of the week. The fact that He died mid-week fulfills the prophecy … in the midst (middle) of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease … (Daniel 9:27).

 

            Christ died at the 9th hour. He then remained on the stake for a couple hours, being then taken down and placed in the tomb (sepulchre or grave) in the evening, as the preparation day was coming to an end. Counting three days and three nights, a total of some 72 hours, starting from that Wednesday evening brings us to Sabbath (Saturday) late afternoon/evening, as the Sabbath was coming to an end.

 

Placed in the tomb on Wednesday evening and resurrected Saturday evening, Christ clearly was in the grave three days and three nights, a total of some 72 hours.

 

Anything less than Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, would not have satisfied the words of Jesus Christ nor the necessity for some 72 hours to be fulfilled.

 

            Jesus Christ was resurrected on the third day, as it was nearing an end, but not on the fourth day.

 

            Let us review the scriptures which inform us of the time of Christ’s death - the 9th hour of the preparation day.

 

Matthew 27:45-50, 62 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. …  Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,

Mark 15:33-39, 42 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. … And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

            Luke 23:44-46, 50-54 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them); he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 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.

 

John 19:14, 31, 42 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! … The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. … There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 

Regard the phrase John wrote; for that sabbath day was an high day, we understand that each of the seven annual Holy Days are considered high or sacred days. Each Holy Day is considered a sabbath day or a cessation day (cf. Leviticus 23:24, 32, and 39. The Holy Days, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Eighth day are all called sabbath(s). The same rule applies for all of God’s seven annual Holy Days.). The First Day of Unleavened Bread, being the 15th day of the first month, is a Holy Day, a Sabbath Day, a High day. That sabbath was an high day, a Holy Day – not a normal weekly Sabbath.

 

In summary, Christ was placed on the stake (crucified) at the 3rd hour [9:00 am], Mark 15:25. From the 6th hour [12:00 noon] until the 9th hour [3:00pm], there was darkness over the land, Mark 15:33.

 

About the 9th hour Christ died. (This fact we have just read in the scriptures above.)

 

The 9th hour is equivalent to 3:00 in the afternoon. As the gospels relate, at the 9th hour, after He cried out to the Father, Christ died. Yet, His body remained on the stake until the evening, before it was taken down to be placed in the sepulchre.  Consequently, Christ, being on the stake was dead awhile. Mark 15:44-45: And Pilate marveled if he were already dead: and calling unto him a centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

 

Ever sensitive to the political and religious turmoil brewing among the Jewish leadership over the man, Jesus Christ, Pilate did not want to take any chances that Jesus may have only been in an unconscious or semi-comatose state up on the crucifixion stake, only to be revived by his disciples once taken down. Realizing that possibility existed, Pilate made sure Christ was dead. The centurion checking out the situation no doubt told Pilate, “Christ certainly was dead,” as a spear was even thrust through His side, accomplishing the task (John 19:34).

 

Christ was certifiably dead. Now when evening was come, Christ’s body was taken off the stake. Notice the following scriptures.

 

Mathew 27:57–60 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

 

Mark 15:42-46 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

 

John 19:30-42 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 

The evening of a day, in Hebrew reckoning, is equivalent to the 12th hour of the day(light). There are (generally speaking – depending on seasonal vicissitudes) twelve hours of light in a day (John 11:9) and there are twelve hours of dark/night; together which constitutes a 24 hour day.

 

The evening of a day is the last hour of the 12 hours of daylight and is also the last hour of the 24 hour daily cycle. (The 12th hour, like all hours, has a duration of some 60 minutes. After the 12th hour is complete, the 1st hour commences.) The evening of a day is the last hour of daylight (the 12th hour of daylight), just before the commencement of the night/dark.

 

The night/dark of the day is the 1st hour of the new day, which commences after the evening sunset (of the old day – the 12th hour) is completed; after the sun’s light has extinguished.

 

The evening is always at the end of the day, whether you think of the 12 hour portion of the day or the 24 hour cycle of the day.

 

Consider Matthew 20:1-12.  In summary we read in verse 6 of the 11th hour. Then verse 8 we read even was come. The even(ing) would be the 12th hour. Why?

 

Once again, let us review the scriptures. Christ said “are there not 12 hours in the day” (John 11:9). The 12th hour is the last hour of the day and is called the evening.  Verse 12 of Matthew 20 shows how that those who worked from the 11th hour of the day worked for one hour, until the evening, which was quitting time; the ending of the work day.

 

Eleven plus one equals twelve and the evening was the 12th hour of the day. (For further detail explaining when the evening of each day occurs, see the Bible Study on the Old Testament Passover or the Bible Study entitled, “Sunset to Sunset – What does that mean?”) The evening, the 12th hour of a day would last for some 60 minutes, until the 1st hour of the night, which is the commencement of a new day.

 

When the 12th hour (the even(ing)) of the preparation day came, Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Christ, to put Him into the tomb. He had about one hour to get the body of Jesus Christ into the sepulchre, before the Sabbath Day (Holy Day) commenced.

 

All the gospel narratives express the urgency placed upon Joseph’s shoulders in his need to get the body of Christ in the tomb before the night commenced, before the Sabbath day (the High day) commenced.

 

Christ died at the 9th hour. His body remained on the stake for approximately 3 hours, as the evening was closing in. Joseph asked of Pilate for the body (to be taken down and buried), as the Sabbath day (the High day – the First Day of Unleavened Bread) was soon approaching. The body of Christ had to be in the tomb before the sun had set; otherwise the Law (actually two) would have been broken.

 

1) The law pertaining to the Holy Days Leviticus 23 – no work is to be done on the Holy Days and 2) Deuteronomy 21:22-23; dead bodies needed to be buried the same day on which they died; they are not to remain out all night.

 

Christ was placed securely in the tomb before the night, before the start of the first day (of the required 3 day and 3 nights). After the evening (the completion of the 12th hour) of the preparation day concluded, the night (also known as the 1st hour of the night) of the next (new) day commenced.

 

That next or new day was the Sabbath (High Day) Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31 and was also known as the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a High Day.

 

The year in which Jesus Christ died, the First Day of Unleavened Bread fell on a Thursday. That day was His first full day in the tomb. Day two was a Friday and day three was a Sabbath/Saturday. The gospel narratives as found in Mark and Luke relating to the time Christ was in the tomb confirms that two Sabbath days are mentioned; Jesus Christ was in the tomb during the first Sabbath, that being the High Day and during the second Sabbath, which refers to the weekly 7th day Sabbath of rest.
(See the study, Mark and Luke Prove Jesus Christ was in the Tomb during Two Sabbaths.)

 

Now with regard to the resurrection of Christ, the scriptures are clear in explaining that the seventh-day Sabbath was over; that the first day of the week had already commenced, and while it was yet dark, in the morning, before the sun arose on the first day of the week, the tomb was already empty. Jesus Christ had already risen, before the light of day, that Sunday morning.

 

Jesus Christ was not resurrected on Sunday morning, which would have been the fourth day.

 

Jewish calendar reckoning reveals to us that the first day of the week commences after the evening/sunset is completely extinguished on that previous Sabbath day. Each day starts with the commencement of night.

 

The first day of the week had commenced with the night. After some 10 to 11 hours of darkness transpired, the women then came early on Sunday morning (as the night of that first day of the week was coming to a close), while it was yet dark (John 20:1) only to find the tomb empty, for he had risen, already (Mathew 28:6, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6).

 

Christ died at the 9th hour of the preparation day. He was placed in the newly hewn, never used sepulchre in the evening of the preparation day (John 19:41-42). He died and was buried mid-week, Wednesday, according to the scriptures. For three day and three nights, some 72 hours he laid in the tomb. From Wednesday evening, counting some 72 hours (three days and three nights), brings us to Saturday, late afternoon/evening.

 

Let us understand a little more of the some 72 hours Christ was in the grave. It is necessary to understand that Christ would be raised on the third day, not any time sooner and certainly not on the fourth day.

 

For the sake of clarification and to stay true to the scriptures, did Christ specifically say he would be in the heart of the earth 72 hours?

 

No, He did not. And the reason is obvious, yet the meaning of three days and three nights equating to some 72 hours is clear.

 

The time element called an hour (consisting of 60 minutes) as we utilize today was not in practice at that time. Then, there was no “clock.” The sundial was used, was operational then and the sundial helped mark off time during the day. There were divisions of time within the hour then which were marked off as the sun’s light producing a shadow, moved across the dial. But the specificity of the hour as we know it today was not yet measured then.

 

One could know of the 3rd hour, the 9th hour, the 11th hour, etc, by the positioning of the sun (in the sky and on the sundial). But for that generation and society, the exacting precision of minutes was not in practice.  

 

So to say Christ was in the tomb an exact 72 hours, to the minutes, would be in error. An approximate, some 72 hours would be correct. Yet, what we do know of certainty is Christ was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights and was resurrected on that third day.

 

 Just how close to the 73rd hour (or the beginning of the 4th day) was he resurrected?

 

We do not know, with exacting precision, the exact minute of the 72nd hour (yet before the commencement of the 73rd hour), when Christ was resurrected. And to say He may have been resurrected in the late afternoon/early evening of the Sabbath would not be in error, either.

 

However, what we do know is Jesus Christ was resurrected on the 3rd day. We do know he had to be resurrected before the 4th day; before the commencement of the 73rd hour.

 

He was laid in the tomb, in the evening of a Wednesday. He was in the tomb three days and three nights. He was resurrected late Saturday in the evening. He was resurrected no later than the completion of the evening (12th hour) of the 3rd day, which also was called the weekly Sabbath day.

 

He was not resurrected past the evening of the Sabbath. He was not resurrected on a Sunday, in the morning, at sunrise; or at any time on that first day of the week. If He were, He would have been in the tomb past the three days and three nights for which He was required to be in the heart of the earth.

 

Clearly Christ was raised on the 3rd day.  Consider the following scriptures: Matthew 16:21, 17:23, 20:19; Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34; Luke 9:22, 18:33, 24:7; John 2:19 (21); I Corinthians 15:4.

 

Why did Christ have to be raised on the 3rd day; why the requirement for 3 days and 3 nights?

 

Read Acts 2:31, He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell (the grave), neither his flesh did see corruption.

 

Peter spoke, quoting from Psalm 16:10 For thou will not leave my soul in hell: neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption

 

The word corruption comes from the Greek diaphthora (Strong’s 1312) meaning decay or corruption; from the Greek word which means to rot thoroughly.

 

Notice Acts 13:33-37. God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he raised up Jesus again; as it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day I have begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption: But he whom God raised up saw no corruption.

 

Jesus Christ saw no corruption, no decay. For three days and three nights Christ was in the heart of the earth, in (hell - Hades) the grave. For three days and three nights Christ was dead, having no life. He was unconscious of all existence. He was dead and His spirit went back to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7 cf. Zechariah 12:1).  Christ had no power, no life, no experience, no involvement with the living (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). All that was possible for Jesus Christ, the Son of God was the promise and surety that His Father would raise Him from the dead on the third day.

 

If Jesus were in the tomb longer than three days and three nights, into the 4th day, He would have begun to decay.

 

If Jesus were in the tomb longer than three days and three nights, He (His flesh) would have seen corruption and the reliability of prophecy and the complete trustworthiness of the Word of God would have been broken.

 

Let us now notice the incredible scriptures which help us understand that had Jesus been in the grave into the fourth day, past the third day, His flesh would have seen corruption.

 

Notice John 11:17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he [Lazarus] had lain in the grave four days already.

 

Now John 11:39, Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

 

How interesting. Consider this fact, not only a historical fact but a scientific fact.

 

Lazarus was in the tomb (grave) four days. It was said of Lazarus that he stinks. The odor of rot and decay was evident.

 

Why did God allow that this comment be recorded for us to read today? What does it mean?

 

God allows us to understand that Lazarus by this time stinketh because into the fourth day he was beginning to see corruption and decay.

 

            Here is revealed the reality of why Jesus could not have remained dead, in the tomb into the fourth day.

 

            Here is the reality as to why Jesus Christ was dead for only three days and three nights, some 72 hours and no longer.

 

If Christ were to have remained dead into the fourth day, beyond the third day, he too would have begun to stinketh, to begin to see corruption. And doing so, Jesus Christ would not have fulfilled David’s prophecy pertaining to: neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

 

In the science of taphonomy, we come to understand some interesting facets of the human decomposition process. In general we know that at the time of death or about four minutes thereafter, once a body, once living tissue or a living organism has died, it begins the process of decomposing, of returning to the dust, minerals and elements of the earth, just as God said it would.

 

Once life is over, the natural process of tissue, cellular and organic material breakdown commences. However, there are stages or phases all organisms, all bodies go through in the process toward final dust. Depending on a multitude of variables, the duration from initial to complete decomposition will vary.

 

Two interesting occurrences which, in general, are common to the human body upon death are the stages of rigor mortis and the fresh stage of decomposition

 

Rigor mortis (Latin for stiffness of death) is a recognizable sign of death that is caused by a chemical change in the muscles after death, causing the limbs of the corpse to become stiff and difficult to move or manipulate. In humans it commences about 3 hours after death; it reaches maximum stiffness after 12 hours and gradually dissipates until approximately 72 hours (3 days) after death. The muscles are then softened allowing for a more aggressive rate of decomposition.

 

Fresh stage of decomposition occurs after the first few days following death. There are no physical signs of decomposition during this time. However, homeostasis of the body has ceased, allowing cellular and soft tissue changes to occur because of the process of autolysis, the destruction of the cells and organs due to an aseptic chemical process. When the final stage of autolysis is reached, an anaerobic (absent of free oxygen) environment is created. This allows for the formation of acids, gases and other volatile organic compounds, creating putrefaction and obvious foul smelling odors.

After three days and three nights, and into the fourth day, we can understand why Martha said by this time there is a bad odor around Lazarus, for he has been there four days (John 11:39 NIV).

Jesus Christ told His disciples, The Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men and they shall kill him: and after that he is killed, he shall rise on the third day (Mark 9:31).

The truth is – Jesus Christ did rise on the third day. Not the second; not the fourth, but the third day.

The truth is – as Jonah was three days and three night in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (in the grave) (Matthew 12:40).

The truth is – being any longer than three complete days in the grave would have satisfied a condition in which Christ would have begun to stink, as corruption would have aggressively set in His flesh.

Jesus Christ died on a Wednesday, midweek; at the same time the Passover Lamb was sacrificed in the Temple. He was placed in the tomb in the evening of that day. Three days and three nights later, He was resurrected in the late afternoon/evening, on a Sabbath. Christ was not resurrected on a Sunday morning.

This fact allowed that on the first day of the week, which begins at night, already being alive, Jesus Christ was able to fulfill His responsibility as the Wave Sheaf offering; an offering performed before God the Father, which had to be performed on that first day of the week. (See the study, Christ, the Wave Sheaf Offering.)

Jesus Christ was resurrected on the third day, not on the fourth day. Being resurrected on the third day, fulfilled the prophecy: neither will you allow your Holy One to see corruption.

Of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, God and King, our Elder Brother and High Priest who sits at the right hand of God Almighty, the Father: he was not left in the grave; neither did his body see corruption.

 
 

 

 
 
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