Our attention must now turn to the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, and the account of our Lord’s brief stay in Samaria. We read that “Jesus left Judaea and departed again into Galilee, and He must needs go through Samaria.” (Verse 3) In the Greek it says, “it was necessary for Him to go through Samaria.” But He could hardly do otherwise, because a trip from south to north would require Him to pass through Samaria. But I think John is saying more than that. I think he wants us to know that a divine plan was in the offing, and that the Lord had received word from His Father to stop off there for ministry. The rest of the chapter certainly bears this out.
Samaria was in earlier times the land that belonged to the ten northern tribes of Israel. But after their departure in captivity, Sargon established many other people in the land to take their place. Mention is made of Cuthites, Avvites, Sepharvites, andHamathites. Hostility between the Samaritans and the Jews, after returning from the Babylonian captivity, is the subject of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, particularly Ezra 4:7 and Neh.4:7.
However, it is clear that not all Israelites were taken from Samaria, because when Jesus met the woman at the well, she said,“Our father Jacob gave us this well, and drank thereof himself, and his children and cattle.” (4:12) And so the Lord was reaching out to “the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”
The result of the Lord’s ministry to the woman was the “conversion” of many Samaritans, who “believed on Him as a result of the woman’s testimony.” (4:39) A request was made for Jesus to spend a little time with them, and He acquiesced to their entreaty, “abiding there two days.” (4:40) and “after two days He departed into Galilee.” (4:43)
These two days are of interest to us in this study. We believe that they have a prophetic significance that is linked to a prophecy in Hosea 6. It reads as follows – “I will go and return to my place until they acknowledge their offence and seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me early, [saying] ‘Come, let us return unto the Lord, for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight.” (5:15-6:2)
“We shall live” means live in resurrection, where the “third day” resembles the third day when Jesus rose from the dead. We are now in the position to comprehend the meaning of this passage. No doubt there would be two literal days after their repentance, before the revival occurs, but as with many other Scriptural prophecies, there is more than one meaning implied. In this case we are looking at the two millennial days from the crucifixion to the present time, and as this period of time has almost expired, we can say with some degree of certainty that the Lord will return to His ancient people, as Paul said in Romans 11, “the Deliverer will return to Zion and turn ungodliness from Jacob. This is my covenant with them when I shall take away their sins.”(Romans 11:26-27, quoting from Isaiah 59:20-21, and 27:9)
Paul also helps us to know the reason for the delay. He says, “blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved.” (Rom.11:25-26) The negative side related to Israel’s blindness, a judicial blindness brought upon them by refusing to believe in their Messiah when He came. The positive side is the gracious extension of salvation to the Gentiles during a period of 2,000 years. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that shortly God will stopsaving Gentiles, and return solely to Israel. God never goes back, but always increases light, glory, mercy, and forgiveness. No, the future will be more glorious because both Jews and Gentiles will receive the Messiah, not just Gentiles.
We must now return to the story of the raising of Lazarus, because there is a complementary lesson to learn in this connection. We have already seen the significance of the four days that Lazarus lay dead in the tomb. But there is also a mention of two days. “When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He remained two days in the place where He was. Only after that He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go.’” (John 11:6-7)
No doubt the disciples were puzzled why there should have been this delay, knowing how much the family of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary meant to Him. This is one of the occasions when a word from His Father was enough either to constrain or restrain. AtSychar He was constrained to stay with the Samaritans for two days. Here He was restrained from going to raise Lazarus. Only in retrospect are we now able to see and understand a further purpose behind the delay, a delay which our Lord would not have understood Himself at the time, because He said that He had no knowledge of the date of His return.
These two days signify the delay between His own resurrection and that of His own faithful sons. We can now see that two thousand years have passed by, and all he signs indicate that resurrection is just round the corner, a hope and expectation that should fill us with excitement and joy. Peter asked the Lord about the setting up of His Kingdom, but was told that, “it was not for them to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” (Acts 1:7)
In this chapter we have seen three examples of where two days can prophetically imply two thousand years. Looking back into history as depicted in the Bible, the world has known of three successive periods of two thousand years.
- From Adam to Abram, where mankind was without distinction.
- From Abram to Christ, where God made a selection from amongst the people of the world.
- From Christ to the present time, where Gentiles are included in the blessings of Israel.
There will be yet another period of two thousand years, from the inauguration of the Kingdom, to the end of the eighth thousand years.