Three Days and Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth

The Feast of Passover or Pesach is three nights from now. The Christian "Holy Week" begins tomorrow with the celebration of "Palm Sunday". Though there are similarities and a lot of differences between these two, there is one common question: How can "three days and three nights" fit if the Messiah died on Passover and resurrected two days later? Or, died Friday afternoon and resurrected Sunday morning?

Let's find out together.

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.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40 [KJV]

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40 is the verse we have read and heard a lot on how many days the Messiah was supposed to be in the heart of the earth. This verse was commonly understood as "in the graveyard" or "in death". It does not matter if one observes Christianity's "Holy Week" or the Biblical Feast of Passover. In the former, the Messiah died Friday and resurrected Sunday morning; and in the latter, the Messiah died the 14th Day of the 1st month and resurrected on the 16th Day.

In both, there is no three days and three nights in the heart of the earth as Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40 said.

Setting the Expectation

For us to be able to understand Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40 we first need to establish an agreement: the Bible is the final authority. Simply put, if it is written three days and three nights in the heart of the earth then it is what must have happened.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees told ๐ค‰๐ค„๐ค…๐ค”๐ค…๐ค (Yahushua), "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you."

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:38 [ISV]

This is very important for us to understand because this is the key, the sign, that ๐ค‰๐ค„๐ค…๐ค”๐ค…๐ค (Yahushua) or "Jesus" was indeed the Messiah. He must be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Not one day and two nights; not one day and half a night; not three days and three and half nights. There is no room for any other than three days and three nights.

What does it mean in the heart of the earth?

Let's look at Markus (Mark) 8:31-32.

31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

32 And he spake that saying openly. And Kepha took him, and began to rebuke him.

Markus (Mark) 8:31-32 [KJV]

In verse 31, the Messiah explained what must happen, and in verse 32 it was written that the Messiah explained it clearly or plainly. There are no hidden meanings, deeper layer, or any mathematical code to unlock. After he suffer many things, after he was rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, then he will rise after three days.

Markus (Mark) 8:31-32 sealed it. Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40 can not be anything other than a literal three days and three nights in the heart of the earth! It was the Messiah himself who explained plainly or openly what in the heart of the earth means before Mattithyahu (Matthew) wrote it!.

The Sign of Jonah

Now ๐ค‰๐ค„๐ค…๐ค„ (YAHUAH) had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Yonah (Jonah) 1:17 [KJV]

When Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, he did not party, he did not socialised, he did not start to draw on the belly walls of the fish out of boredom, no, he suffered. He was alive inside the belly of the fish but was suffering. Though it was not written, he was no doubt suffering from the smell, the digestive acid of the fish's stomach, he probably had wounds too, and his guilt and fear was eating him as well.

Just like Jonah, the Messiah must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chielf priests, and scribes, and be killed for three days and three nights not in the belly of the fish but in the heart of the earth.

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Messiah to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.

Lukas (Luke) 24:46 [KJV]

Even Lukas (Luke) recorded the Messiah saying the exact same thing. The Messiah must suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, it can not be any clearer than that. The Messiah's suffering is counted and him getting killed is but the last phase of the heart of the earth in Mattithyahu (Matthew) 12:40. Then on the third day he became the first to rise from the dead.

Inclusive counting versus Exclusive counting

During the Biblical times, the Israelites were counting similarly as the rest of what we call today as "Asians" - inclusively. It means that counting starts at "one (1)" as opposed to "zero (0)" when counting exclusively as most people do today. For example, in Korea, when a child is born he or she is 1 year old but in other countries the child upon birth is 0 year old.

This is important in understanding the Bible, we need to view it from a Hebrew perspecitve at that time period as the texts were written from their perspective and culture. Thus when counting the three days and three nights, at the strike of dawn it is "Day 1" and at the strike of darkness it is "Night 1". (For more about this topic, read Inclusive Versus Exclusive (Calendar) Counting.)

Putting it all together

From these verses, and directly from the Messiah himself, the heart of the earth was referring to from the moment he was betrayed up to when he was killed. The suffering he must endure to be the perfect and final sacrificial lamb to buy our salvation once and for all.

  • Nighttime of 13th is Night 1: Judas betrayed the Messiah at the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Daytime of 14th is Day 1: "Preparation Day". Trial, crucifixion, death at the 9th hour (15:00 or 3:00pm)
  • Nighttime of 14th is Night 2: Passover.

    Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:5 - In the fourteenth day of the first month at evening is ๐ค‰๐ค„๐ค…๐ค„ (YAHUAH)'s passover.

  • Daytime of 15th is Day 2: Sabbath Day and is also the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

    Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:6 - And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto ๐ค‰๐ค„๐ค…๐ค„ (YAHUAH): seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.

  • Nighttime of 15th is Night 3
  • Daytime of 16th is Day 3: Resurrection Day

The above is a simpler and shorter version. There are verses I did not include to keep it friendly for our modern generation of readers. Maybe in the future I might post a more thorough study of this topic.

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