In this final chapter we shall be looking at the occurrences of the expression “The Third Day.” Already we have come across it in the prophecy of Hosea chapter 6, and saw that it had a veiled reference to the Millennial Reign, when resurrections would occur. This would not have been understood by those who lived in Hosea’s day, nor indeed any following time, perhaps until more recent times, in the same way that no one understood “the last day the great day of the feast”, when it spoke about the time after the Millennium. But God had a way of introducing hints at the progress of His work, and as time progresses, so these hints begin to shine with an ever-increasing light, showing us that not only God’s work, but also His time chart are part of an Artist’s canvas that has been in His mind from that age when the earth didn’t even exist.
Our next reference, after Hosea 6, is in Exodus 19. In this chapter (which precedes the giving of the Ten Commandments) the Lord makes a conditional covenant with His people, based on their obedience. Their response was positive, when they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” (19:8) Moses related this response to the Lord, and was told, “Lo, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you for ever. . . . Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day, for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” (19:9-11)
The result was obedience to the Lord’s command. “Moses went down from the Mount to the people and sanctified them, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, ‘Be ready against the third day, come not at your wives.’ And it came to pass on the third day in the morning that there were thunders and lightning, and a thick cloud upon the Mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” (19:14-16)
If we are going to liken this to the beginning of “the third day” (i.e. the Millennium) then there are distinct indicators that have been used elsewhere, particularly in Paul’s writings and in the Revelation that concur with this interpretation. For example, the sound of the trumpet. Paul said to the Corinthians, “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor.15:52) To the Thessalonians he said, “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a word of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thess.4:16-17) Paul also said that this trumpet will be the last to sound, and that brings us to Revelation, where all seven trumpets are mentioned, together with the events that accompany the sounding of each. But when the seventh trumpet sounded, “Great voices in heaven said, ‘The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ . . . and is come the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should give reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great.” (Rev.11:15-18)
These Pauline statements include mention of the descent of the Lord, which brings us back to Exodus. “And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice, and the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the Mount, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the Mount, and Moses went up.”(Exod.19:19-20)
There are so many parallels between the Exodus event and the language of the resurrection day that the latter day may best be explained in terms of the former. All the pageantry of the Exodus encounter was visible, and very audible. But this does not mean that the events of the resurrection day will be visible and audible. My own feeling is that the event will happen, and the trumpet will be heard in the higher dimension, but not on the earth. However, the result will be quite visible, and will correspond with what happened in Exodus, when “the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people.” (Exod.19:11) The sight of people in resurrection in the coming day will be enough to send shivers down the spine of many people, those who will be severely embarrassed by the event. No doubt many of them will literally want to run away and “hide themselves in the dens and the rocks of the mountains.” (Rev.6:15)
What is it that makes the resurrected man stand out from the rest? No doubt many things, not least those things which are mentioned in the Gospels about our Lord’s appearances, but in the symbolism of the Exodus story there is one thing most apparent. “It came to pass when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the tablets in his hands, that he knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with them, . . . and the people were afraid to come near to him.” (Exod.34:29-30) Once Moses became aware of the reason for their fear, he put a vail over his face when speaking to them. Paul made mention of this in 2 Corinthians 3 – 4, where he spoke about the glory of the Old Covenant which was to be done away, and the light that shone for a while on Moses’ face, and compared it with the enduring glory of the New Covenant, where “we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.” (2 Cor.3:18) If this can be true here in the Shadowlands, how much more so will it be true in resurrection?
One is reminded of the entrancing words of the prophet Baruch, “Those who have been saved . . . shall see marvels in their time, for they behold the world that is now invisible to them, and realms now hidden from them, and time shall no longer age them, for in the heights of that world they shall dwell, and they shall be made like the angels, and be made equal to the stars, and they shall be changed into whatever form they will, from beauty into loveliness, and from light into the splendour of glory.”(Baruch 51:7-10) And then again, “Their faces will shine even more brightly, and their features will assume a luminous beauty, so that they may be able to attain and enter the world that does not die, which has been promised to them.” (Verses 3-4)
Our third reference to “the third day” comes in the story of Hezekiah’s illness and subsequent restoration. It is found in 2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38. Hezekiah was near to death, and the Lord spoke to him, saying, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” (2 Kings.20:1) This was a terrible blow to King Hezekiah, and he wept bitterly, telling the Lord that he had followed Him with a whole heart. The problem was that he had no son and heir to follow him, and therefore the line of David would be broken, and the regal promise of God cease. The Lord answered his plea, and promised that he would live another fifteen years. Isaiah was sent with this hopeful message. “Tell Hezekiah, I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. Behold I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the House of the Lord. I will add to your days 15 years, and I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend it for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.” (2 Kings 20:5-6.)
Hezekiah wanted a sign to know that it was truly the word of the Lord through Isaiah. The Lord gave him two options, either the shadow on the sundial would go forward 10 degrees, or backwards 10 degrees. Hezekiah chose the retrograde movement, because the shadow normally goes forward. The Lord agreed, and it happened. From a physical viewpoint this meant that time had gone into reverse for a brief period. How this happened we shall never know. It’s not something that can be easily explained by physical laws, any more than the long day of Joshua’s time, but we believe it nevertheless, because to do otherwise would be to deny to God the ability to do some small thing compared with His creation of the world in the beginning.
It was on the third day that he had been healed, and ascended the steps to the Temple. Three years later he had a son, whose name was Manasseh. It was a good thing for Hezekiah that he had no prior knowledge of what his son’s life would be like, so evil was his 55 years’ reign.
What have we to learn here? Is this not a symbol of what Paul referred to when speaking about “those of us who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”? (1 Thess.4:17) Paul expected to be alive when this event happened, but in his last letter (to Timothy) he knew it to be otherwise. But God occasionally makes a promise of this sort, as He did to Simeon. “It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (Luke 2:26) And there will be people, like Enoch and Elijah, who will be “caught up to meet the Lord” without experiencing physical death. So Hezekiah “went up to the House of the Lord on the third day.” That is what it will be like for all those who are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.” They will, at the beginning of the “third day”, go up to the heavenly house of God, as promised by the Lord to His disciples. “In my Father’s House there are many rooms, abiding places, . . . I go to prepare a place for you, . .and I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
There are other matters connected with Hezekiah’s story that should interest us here. The Lord promised him a son, so that the line of David would not be broken. If that royal line was broken, then the Messiah would not be able to come according to promise. That was the first and foremost matter in Hezekiah’s mind, and the Lord responded to his earnest prayer.
In the second place, he was promised victory over the king of Assyria, who was even then devouring the land at an alarming rate, and was ready to besiege Jerusalem, the “city of the Great King.” In both of these instances Satan was involved in trying to blot out the royal line, and destroy Jerusalem. In type, Satan is even now trying to destroy the “royal line”, the group of overcomers who will serve him in a kingly and priestly capacity in the Millennium. He is also attempting to destroy the very city of the Lord, the New Jerusalem, the spiritual city of God. But in accordance with Hezekiah’s prayer and tears, He will not allow either of these events to happen. Instead, the enemy will himself be destroyed from the earth.
This last point is the very thing that caused the book of Esther to be written. Haman, the type of Satan, had a plan to destroy all the Lord’s people, and it was up to Esther to do something. Her uncle Mordecai was unable to do anything, but he saw that his niece was near to the throne, and her intervention could bring a reversal of the decree already made against the Jewish people. However, Esther said that she had not been invited into the king’s presence for 30 days, and anyone trying to do so illegally would be under sentence of death unless the golden sceptre was held out.
Esther caused Mordecai to gather together all the Jews in Shushan, and fast for three days. We are then told that on the third dayEsther “put on her royal apparel and stood in the inner court of the king’s house opposite the king’s house, and the king sat upon his royal throne [to transact business] opposite the entrance to the house. And when he saw Esther standing in the court, she won favour in his sight.”
The rest of the story is well known. Haman is eventually hanged on his own gallows, and the Jewish people in the land won a significant victory over all their enemies. The symbolism granted in this story is the way in which God’s faithful people fast and pray during the days of Satan’s pride and bombast, and how in the Millennium, the “third day”, the enemy is destroyed, and the kingly line established, as with Esther.
The next reference is found in Ezra 6:15, where we are told that, “the house [of the Lord] was finished on the third day of Adar [the twelfth month]” The rebuilding of the Temple was completed on the third day of the month. This may look to be a mere chronological pointer, but in the theme of this writing, it comes as yet another veiled prophetic indicator, to show that the heavenly Jerusalem will be completed at the time when the Kingdom of God begins. He is waiting until His house is full. Then and only then will He enact resurrection, and bring in the Kingdom at the start of the Millennium.
In the New Testament there is but one reference to the third day (other than the obvious ones relating to the Lord’s resurrection) ands it is found in John 2. “And on the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there together with His disciples.” (Verses 1-2) Throughout chapter one, John had been using the expression “the next day” to show the sequence of events in that first week. Now he speaks about the third day after the previous events. The first day (1:19-28), the second day (1:29-34), the third day (1:35-42) and the fourth day (1:43-51) are all mentioned using the expression “the next day”, but then there was a gap until we come to “the third day” after these previous four. Hence the third day is really the seventh in the series. This is important, because the symbolism points to the “marriage supper of the Lamb,” and this takes place in the Millennium, which is both the third day and the seventh day. “This beginning of signs did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory.” (Verse 11) John knew that the miracles were also signs, and he called them such. How much he understood of their meaning is something we shall never know until we meet him.
This is the end of our excursion into Millennial typology. I believe sufficient evidence has been brought forth to convince us of all the hidden allusions to God’s chronological plan. In the second part of this work, we shall endeavour to show that Old Testament history indeed covers four millennia, as Archbishop Ussher first determined, but whose chronology is treated with either gentle humour or scorn today. Concerning the last two thousand years from the birth of Christ no one would argue. So we stand at the threshold of the seventh millennium, and as such it is the climax of history. Like Mordecai’s faithful Jews in Esther’s day, we should be fasting and praying that Satan’s plans will be foiled, and that he will be imprisoned for the millennium as prophesied in Revelation 20. It is not good enough to say, “It’s there in Revelation, so what’s the point of praying?” We are to become soldiers of the risen Christ, in the arena of life, not spectators or reporters, sitting in the auditorium waiting for the “show” to start.