On Sunday, we looked at the meaning behind the Lord choosing the third day for Christ to rise. Christ did not die and then have to fight through the grips of death or the armies of Hell to finally escape death on the third day. He could have risen on the first day, the second day, or the hundredth day. There was a reason for choosing this day. The third day is a significant day in Scripture. Can you think of other days when something significant happened on the third day? (Possible answers below, but there are more.)
- The Trinity
- Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac after a three day journey
- Moses was hidden by his mother for 3 months
- Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days
- Jesus was lost in Jerusalem for three days
Because God chose the third day, and it was on purpose, the first thing we see is that God is working through a sequence of things. In other words, before one thing can happen, something else must happen first. We also see this in the Creation account in Genesis. It wasn’t that God needed six days to do everything. He chose to separate the work into a sequence of events. Do you see that God does much of His work through systems of sequence? Why or why not? (If someone answers yes, see if they have examples.)
Here are some examples:
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (NIV)
- Christ had to come first, then die, then ascend into Heaven before the Holy Spirit could come in the manner that we now know Him.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. (NIV)
2 Chronicles 7:13-15
- After God’s people humble themselves which leads to prayer with right attitude, then turn from their wicked ways, it will prompt the Lord to then forgive sin, heal the nation, and hear the prayers of His people from the Temple. The Lord does nothing until these other things are done first.
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! (NIV)
- From this passage, we know that God was not going to make salvation available to gentiles until after Israel, as a whole, rejected Him first.
Is it possible that when we are waiting for prayer to be answered, there are other steps that must take place first? Does this mean that God is not going to answer the prayer?
Keeping in mind that the Lord works through steps in His work, let’s go back and look at the Third Day. The Third Day, the day Christ rose, was Sunday. The first day, then, was Friday when Christ was crucified. The Lord is signifying unto us that when everything looks bad, it is not the end for those who believe, but the beginning, the first day. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
According to the Creation story, the first day was the day that the Lord separated light from dark so that each could be seen. When you go through a Day 1 type of situation, it is the Lord’s purpose that through that situation, we would be able to distinguish light from dark. Do you use these times to assess your own heart to see if you are being led by the light or darkness? Do you assess others in your life to see if they are being led by light or darkness?
Would you be able to assess your own soul or that of others without Day 1? Why or why not?
Day 2 was a day that Christ laid in the tomb, unseen, hidden. Day 2 of the Creation was when the Lord separated the Heavens and the Earth, using the sky to hide the Heavens. When we go through the Day 1’s of life, the purpose is to see where we are spiritually and get ourselves right. What is the purpose of Day 2 when we can’t see God doing anything to help?
Day 2 of the crucifixion was Saturday or the Sabbath which is to be a day of rest. The Lord is signifying to us that the next step of this process is to learn to be at rest or peace when we can’t see God doing anything to help. How do we accomplish this? Have you gone through anything where you had to live by faith because you couldn’t see God working?
Day 3 is the day of resurrection, victory, overcoming. Can you get to this day without going through Day 1 or Day 2? Can we overcome if we don’t assess where we are and get things right if needed? Can we overcome if we don’t learn to live at peace by faith? Can anyone share a time when you wanted Day 3 to come, but you had not gone through the steps of Day 1 or Day 2?
Read the following passage:
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV)
What is the definition of the word ‘bury?’
Read the following passage in the King James translation and the NIV:
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (NIV 1984)
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (KJV Strong's)
Notice that verse 4 says we are buried, then verse 5 says we are ‘united’ or ‘planted together.’ The Scripture is teaching us that the Day 1’s of life feel like something is dying, but really something is being planted. How should this change our perspective during these really difficult times of life?
If we can fulfill God’s purpose of Day 1 and Day 2, like a seed planted and watered, Day 3 will surely come no matter how bad Day 1 is. On the Third Day, we will rise.
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.” (NIV)