THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS
Where was Jesus during that three days when His body lay in the tomb? What was He doing? Some wonder about this sort of thing, and yet, too many, have never pondered it, let alone to have studied it.
"For as Jonah was three days, and three nights in the whale’s body, so shall the Son of Man be three days, and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Jonah went to paradise while in the belly of that fish.
"out of the belly of hell (sheol) cried I."
"I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever."
Jesus went to sheol also. The time period was the same, and the location to which they went was the same.
Jesus had been horribly mistreated in the days just preceding this trip to the inner earth. He had been put on trial before Herod, who had claimed to be the king of the Jews, and yet, he was not even a Jew himself.
Jesus had been taken before the Roman governor, Pilate. This Roman tyrant ignored the advise of his wife who had a warning in a dream. Pilate, a tyrant at the time, later was saved. In this initial meeting of Jesus, he relented and had him put upon the cross to die.
Bar-abbas, whose very name was a claim to be a ‘son of the heavenly Father, was a zealot of hate and murder. Yet, despite his evil and false claim, was chosen by the people to live, while Jesus was chosen to die, though He was perfect, and sinless.
The mistreatment of Jesus, His agony on the cross, with its hours of darkness, pain, and loneliness, was then followed with death, and the departure of His spirit from His body. What happened then? Where did Jesus go? What was He doing in these three days, and three nights?
Jesus went to paradise, also referred to as the garden of Eden. There is the same area, from which mankind had been expelled millennia before, Jesus met saints who were awaiting His death and resurrection, so that they could go to heaven.
Enoch, in his book, (the same book that Jude quoted in his epistle) tells us that there is in paradise a holy mountain, with four large rooms. In this place, saints of the Old Testament awaited the atonement provided by Jesus.
Moses and Elijah came to the Mt of Transfiguration to talk to Jesus some days before the crucifixion of Jesus. The Bible tells us that they discussed the things shortly to come (the passion week). They then departed and could take the exciting news back to the others in paradise. How paradise must have rejoiced when the message was brought to them by Moses and Elijah. It is too bad the disciples on that mount had slept and missed the full discussion of Jesus with Moses and Elijah!
Psalms 16 was inserted by the Lord into the Word, to show us prophetically the thoughts of Jesus while there in paradise.
"...Preserve Me, O God; for in Thee do I put My trust.... My goodness extendeth not to Thee, but to the saints that are IN the earth... My heart is glad, and My glory rejoiceth, and My flesh shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell (sheol), neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption."
There, in that passage, we see that Jesus would, during the three days and three nights, be in sheol, and be ministering to the saints "IN the earth."
Psalms 68 also speaks of this time, and in verse 18 we read:
"Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them."
This shows us that Jesus, Who had descended to paradise, had then ascended to heaven. Jesus took those saints in paradise to heaven. The gift of grace, the atonement of the blood for mankind, had been given as gifts for mankind. Now, when a saint dies, his/her spirit goes directly to heaven, and not to paradise. The grace of God has been extended so that at death, we can dwell with the Lord.
Jesus, after the three days and three nights, was reunited with the body, and its resurrection startled even those who had been foretold of this event. He had destroyed the devil’s power, and even taken some from paradise back with Him (Hebrews 2:14-15, Matthew 27:52-53). Upon His return to the resurrected body, Jesus had already ‘bruised’ Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).
Where is this ‘paradise’?
The Jewish people believed in seven abodes, called ‘heavens’. The first heaven is the clouds above us on this firmament. The second heaven is the atmosphere of this earth above the clouds. The third heaven is paradise in sheol. The fourth heaven is our solar system, with its planets, comets, etc. The fifth heaven is the stars and galaxies of the universe. The sixth heaven is the planet we call ‘heaven’. The seventh heaven is the throne room within that planet.
Sheol is the location of the third heaven. In the place called ‘sheol’ is paradise, hell fire, and an abyss between the two. The earth is nearly 8000 miles in diameter, so if hell fire is in the center, it is nearly 4000 miles from us. Hell fire is the innermost part of sheol.
The word ‘sheol’ is often translated ‘hell’ in the Bible, but it only contains ‘hell fire’, it is not only hell fire that is there. According to the Bible, sheol is the ‘lower parts of the earth’, and the ‘nether parts of the earth.’ Sheol includes hell fire, the abyss (the great gulf, the bottomless pit), and the garden of Eden in paradise.
The Bible says that there are ‘heavenly places’. This is not teaching that there is more than one ‘heaven’ as we think of it in our culture, but there are more than one ‘heavens’ wherein beings dwell in this universe.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (evil spirits) in high places.(epouranois, heavenly places)’
Ephesians 1:3-20 tells us that we are ‘blessed ... with all spiritual blessings... in heavenly places... Whom He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.’
Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are ‘raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places."
Note that all these speak of a plural, multiple places called heaven. The Greek word for heaven is ‘ou-ranus’ meaning ‘places above the ground.’ The Word ‘epouranois’ means ‘a rising from above the ground.’ Therefore, the culture of that time saw 7 areas that could be called a place of rising above the ground. The clouds, the upper atmosphere, the solar system, etc. are all reached by rising above the earth. Another word, ‘shamen’, means ‘heaven’, and is never used in the Bible in the singular, but always in the plural (shalayim).
Paul was taken to the ‘third heaven’, which was then identified as ‘paradise’:
II Corinthians 12:1-4
"...I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord... whether in the body, I cannot tell, whether out of the body, I cannot tell, such a one caught up to the THIRD HEAVEN... how that he was caught up into PARADISE, and heard unspeakable words (rhema), which is not lawful for me to utter."
Paradise is where Jesus met the thief on that same day as the crucifixion, and paradise is called the ‘third heaven’. This same paradise is in the ‘heart of the earth’ where Jesus spent the three days and three nights.
Jesus descended into paradise:
"Wherefore, He saith, when He ascended up on high (heaven), He led captivity captive (saints from paradise), and gave gifts to men. Now that He ascended, what is it, but that He also descended first, into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the Same also, that ascended far above all heavens that He might fill all things."
The ‘nether parts of the earth’ are spoken of oft in the Bible:
"I made the nations to shake at the sword of his fall, when I cast him down to hell (sheol), with them that descend into the pit (abyss); and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down to hell (sheol) with him that was slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under the shadow of the midst of the heathen. To whom art thou thus like in glory and greatness among the trees of Eden? Yet thou shalt be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth."
So, Ezekiel shows the location of Eden is in ‘the nether parts of the earth’. It is in ‘sheol’ where also is the abyss, and hell fire.
Hell fire is the part of sheol that most think of when it is mentioned. It is in sheol, in the lowest part of sheol.
"...a fire is kindled... shall burn unto the lowest hell (sheol).’
"... Thou hast delivered My soul from the lowest hell (sheol).’
"...her guests are in the depths of hell (sheol).’
"...rich man... in hell (hades, Greek equivalent to sheol), he lifted up his eyes, being in torment... I am tormented in flames."
The ‘great gulf’ was between hell and paradise in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, is the ‘pit’, the abyss, the bottomless pit. In that middle area of sheol, the gravity pulls in all directions evenly, and becomes a ‘bottomless’ area, as described by the Bible.
‘Paradise’ comes from the Greek word ‘paradeisos’, and means ‘a park, a pleasure ground, a forest or orchard.’ In the Septuagint, the word ‘paradeisos’ is used of the garden of Eden. The Jewish people called ‘paradise’ to be ‘Abraham’s bosom’.
This paradise is located in the lower parts of the earth.
"three days and three nights... in the heart of the earth.’
"...He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth.’
Paradise is the same location of the garden of Eden. This place is within the earth, within a huge open area of the inner earth. In the center of this open area is hell fire. Between the hell fire and paradise is the abyss.
Why was this paradise and Eden not flooded by the flood of Noah?
"...the fountains of the deep (inner earth) and the windows of heaven were stopped (closed) and the rain from heaven was restrained."
"... I covered the deep (inner earth) for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed."
Before the resurrection of Jesus, the righteous saints went to paradise at death. After the resurrection of Jesus, saints go directly to heaven at death.
Angels carried the righteous souls to paradise, and men carried the body to the grave:
"...beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom’
II Corinthians 5:8
"...to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.’
"...having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ.’
In paradise, the four rooms of the mountain that Enoch describes, had the souls of the Old Testament saints. Moses and Elijah came from there to the Mt of Transfiguration, and returned to spread the wonderful news that Jesus was about to begin His journey to Jerusalem to be crucified. That was joyous news to the saints in paradise, for soon they would go from paradise to heaven, with Jesus.
This paradise had men expelled from it, when sin came:
"So He drove out the man; and placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword who turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.’
WHAT WAS JESUS DOING IN PARADISE?
‘Today, thou shalt be with Me in paradise.’
Jesus spent time with the ‘thief on the cross’ that same day as the crucifixion. Jesus was there three days, and three nights. Fellowship with the thief, and with other saints there, was a first order of business. Elijah and Moses had told all there, that Jesus was soon to arrive. The joyous meeting was fellowship beyond description.
Jesus did not plan to stay, and His body would not see ‘corruption’ during that time. He would soon be resurrected, but had some important things to do while in paradise.
"Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell (sheol).. Neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption."
Jesus went to paradise to preach to ‘spirits in prison’.
I Peter 3:19
"By which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.’
Jesus preached a sermon to souls awaiting to be released from that holding place, wherein they were limited from going on to heaven, till the blood had done its work of atonement. The messages and revelations of Jesus to the twelve disciples, were shared with these saints in paradise during that three day period.
Psalms 16 prophetically showed some of the teachings of Jesus during that three day period.
"My goodness extendeth not to Thee (God), but to the saints that are IN the earth... For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell (sheol)."
Psalms 68 is a sermon of Jesus in paradise:
Psalms 68:1, 3, 18
"Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered... (demons were shocked when Jesus was resurrected) ...let the righteous be glad (the disciples were joyous on Resurrection day, and the saints in paradise were rejoicing three days prior)
...lead captivity captive, received gifts for men.’
The description of such ‘gifts’ probably was much of the sermon of Jesus there.
3. DESTROYED THE DEVIL’S POWER OF DEATH
From that time forward, death has no torment for the saints. To die it to be with Jesus in heaven. Death no longer has any sting or torment for the saints. We are assured of resurrection because Jesus shed His blood, paid our debt of sin, and guaranteed we too can be resurrected.
"Forasmuch, then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
4. JESUS PREPARED SOME TO RETURN TO EARTH
"The graves were opened, and the bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves, after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
These were some of the 70 disciples that Jesus had foretold that they would be killed, but ‘not a hair of their head’ would truly die. So this resurrection brought them back to finish their ministry.
5. GAVE GIFTS TO MEN
‘gave gifts unto men.’
In Psalms 68:18, it says that the ‘gifts’ were ‘received’. What Jesus received due to His death, was the grace of God that could be given to mankind through that death.
Ephesians 3:2, 7, 8, 4:7 shows a description of those gifts:
3:2 ‘grace of God which is given to you...’
3:7 ‘grace of God given unto me...’
3:8 ‘is this grace given, that I should preach...’
4:7 ‘is given grace according to the measure of the spirit of Christ.’
Elsewhere, during that three days, the passover was being celebrated by the Jewish people. They were celebrating the provision of God in Egypt to release them from their slavery there. Jesus was, while they were in such celebration, celebrating another release, the release from the sins and death of this world.
Judas was in hell fire during this three days, deceived by the devil to seek money instead of salvation from sins.
The devil was rejoicing during that three day period, thinking he had kept Jesus from bruising his head. Yet, on resurrection day, despite the stone in front of the tomb, and the soldiers guarding it, Jesus stepped out of that tomb, resurrected and victor over sin and death.
I Corinthians 2:7-8
"none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known... they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
Death could not hold Jesus for He is ‘resurrection and life’.
"Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life."
Does Jesus have resurrection power and life for us? We tend to say ‘Yes’, but that is not what He said here. What He said, is not that ‘I have resurrection and life’. But He said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life’. It is what He is, not just what He does.
The "I am" One shows us that He is resurrection and life, personified. Jesus said:
"I am’ so often, in fact it is the meaning of Jah, one of His names. It is part of Jehovah, which literally means "I am, I was, I will be". Yet, He is divine, and "I am" is a divine name.
When Moses asked by what name should he go and release Israel from bondage. The Lord told Him that the "I Am" had sent him.
Jesus is telling Martha, in the above verse, that resurrection and life, is not merely of divine origin, but it is the divine nature.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life" is said in most funeral services. It is not just a claim to Jesus having that power, but that He is Resurrection and Life.
Mary and Martha came to realize something more of Jesus in this episode. Both said, "if You had been here, Lazarus would not have died." So they knew that Jesus had healing power. But Jesus says, no, I am more, "I am RESURRECTION and LIFE".
Lazarus was ‘sick unto death’ when they sent for Jesus. But Jesus delayed purposely, and by the time Jesus arrived from the trip that should have just been hours, it was four days after Lazarus’ death. Jesus knew beforehand what had happened (John 11:14). It was a sorrowful meeting for Mary and Martha, for their hopes were faded, following the death. They had faith enough that Jesus could have handled it, had He arrived before death. But death to them was greater than Jesus.
When Jesus told Martha, that He is Resurrection and Life. She expressed a belief in the resurrection of the last day. (John 6:39, 44-45) Martha said that perhaps God would do the miracle of resurrection, if Jesus prayed, But Jesus said, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
Resurrection is more than a tenet of our faith. It is a fact, and better than that, it is a Person.
Jesus did not say, "I raise the dead" though He did at times raise the dead. (Luke 7:12-14, 8:49-50), but said, "I AM... resurrection and life". Man becomes immortal, when he comes into union with this Jesus.
Jesus in not just ‘resurrection’ for resurrection pre-supposes death. Before one can be resurrected, one must die. But Jesus said, also, that "I am ... LIFE". Once we come into Jesus, and He abides in us, we already have eternal life. Our spirit will live forever. Our body may die, but we have life, and our spirit lives eternally.
Even when physical death claims the body. Our spirit continues in Life, for we have Jesus. Resurrection is triumph over death, but Life continues to maintain our spirit, and it is not affected by the temporary cessation of life in the body.
All believers have a promise of both resurrection and life. Resurrection for the body. Life for the spirit. The spirit is untouched by death. Even the ‘second death’ which is separation from God. And only those without Jesus suffer it. We, when death takes the body, actually come into new life. For we are even closer to God, we are ushered into His presence.
II Corinthians 5:6-9
‘...To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
Now, we have Jesus as ‘Emmanuel’ (God with us). But death of the body, means greater ‘Emmanuel’ presence. For we go literally to His manifest presence. All true life is in Christ. Without Him we are really dead. There are many corpses walking about. Some in churches. For they are ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ and that death is more real and actual, than for a saint to have his/her body die.
We have, as Christians, live spirits that live, in a real, true way. In contrast to sinners, who are dead spiritually. Every believer is in reality and forever in life. And this life is ever increasing. Our bodies start to die, once life has come to them at birth. But our spirits continue to increase in LIFE as we maintain relationship with Jesus.
The Bible shows us that two companies participate in the rapture:
I Thess. 4:13-18 says that (Vs. 16) ‘The dead in Christ shall rise first"
This speaks of the ‘dead bodies’, for the spirits do not have to rise, they are with the Lord. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. And proved that this will occur as promised. For He is the resurrection, and these atoms that make up the body of a believer in Jesus, have something different about them. They may be dust and scattered to the wind, but those atoms have been permanently marked by the One we call the Resurrection.
When Jesus calls "Come up hither" those atoms will unite again, and be changed from mortal atoms to a resurrected body to be reunited with the spirit that has already been with Jesus.
The second group at the rapture. Are those who ‘are alive and remain’. And they or we, in our mortal body will likewise hear ‘come up hither’. And the LIFE Who is in us, Jesus, Who has transformed our spirit to immortality will transform this mortal body, and in a moment, one split second, will die and instantly almost become a new immortal body. And we will be caught up into the clouds, catching up with the ‘dead in Christ’ who had a head start. (Praise the Lord.) If you do not feel like jumping right about now, you are dead. Quit reading, and roll over in your casket.
"In Christ shall all be made alive."
I Cor. 15:52
The dead bodies, awake from the dust to redemption of resurrection, the live bodies at that moment, will find the body joins what the spirit already has gotten from Jesus... LIFE.
"When Christ, Who is our LIFE, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."
When a sinner accepts Jesus as Savior, he/she becomes one with Him, and is partaker of His LIFE. We are grafted as a branch into the Vine.. That Vine has life flowing from it, into us. We are connected, and share what He is, and He is RESURRECTION AND LIFE.
John 15:1-8, Gal. 2:20.
We are in union with Him.
I Cor. 15:45
"the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."
I John 5:11-12
"He that hath the Son hath LIFE, He that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
Paul described the church at Sardis, and said,they ‘had a name that they lived, but were dead." (Rev. 3:1)
Jesus called the pharisees to be ‘whited sepulchres full of dead men’s bones’
I Timothy 5:6
"She that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth."
If Christ Jesus is RESURRECTION AND LIFE, then for us to ’die is gain’ for it opens up the door of even more life for us. Death has not only lost its sting, it has lost its fear, its dread. We see death of the body as a step into more life. We look forward to the rapture, as a triumph of LIFE AND RESURRECTION.
One of my favorite songs right now is:
‘I’m gonna live forever,
I’m gonna die, no never,
Jesus died on a tree for me,
and I’m gonna live forever.’
I am going to live forever. For I have the One Who is the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. And in union with Him, death has already lost the battle.
The Lord Jesus went to paradise, and there ministered to those saints there, what He had been trying to describe to the disciples, and is still trying to get across to us today. This is a great message of Life and Resurrection. This ‘gift’ to us is beyond measure.