Three Days and Three Nights In The
Heart of The Earth
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights
in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew
Sometime during the month of April, or on a rare
occasion in late March, there is an enjoining by multiplied millions
throughout the world commemorating Easter and/or Passover. Regardless
of which it is called, each has a special place in the hearts and
lives of those who recognize them as special holy days. Much could be
said about them; but this is not what we wish to address today. It
is, rather, the heart of the earth wherein Jesus spent
His last three days before His resurrection that we want to look at.
Since Jesus compared Jonah's account of being in the
belly of the whale for three days and three nights with what
lay ahead for Him, I believe we can say Jonah was also in the heart
of the earth; but his earth was called a whale/fish/sea monster,
depending on the translation being used. In Jonah's earth, as it is
in the belly of all living creatures, there was constant churning,
grinding, acoustic acids that digested everything that entered
therein, reducing it all to its lowest state of formless existence.
The unidentifiable mass of contents would then be absorbed into the
body of that great leviathan; which, of course, is to become its very
image. However, Jonah could not be digested to become a permanent
part of that earthy creature from the abyss, that which was from
neither could Jesus become one with the earth from beneath while in
the center of its heart. *"And
he said unto them, Ye
are from beneath; I
am from above: ye are of
this world; I am
not of this world." John
Jonah fled from his calling and was swallowed by a
prepared sea creature. He found himself in the heart of an
inescapable, living earth. In contrast, Jesus walked straight into
the heart of His destined earth, and there he abode for three days
and three nights! Not a day and a half, not parts of three days
and nights—but three days and three nights, as did Jonah!
Was Jesus In The Tomb For Three Days
and Three Nights?
The New Testament tells us around two dozen times
that Jesus would be raised on "the third day." Yet, none of
those verses say anything about three days and three nights.
Only one verse mentions this: "For just as Jonah was three
days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall
the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth" Matthew 12:40 (NAS).
It is believed by most that Jesus described how many
days He would be entombed beneath the crust of the earth. However, if
Jesus was indicating how long he would be buried, we have a grave
There are several explanations that have been
promoted with attempts to reconcile that which seems to be a conflict
of scriptures. One line of thought is that parts of days and parts
of nights can mean full days and full nights. You see, as it is
maintained, since Jesus spent parts of two days/nights and one whole
day and night in the tomb, this means three days. Out of necessity in
connecting the dots, it is said that any part of a day must represent
a full day; otherwise, Jesus would have been mistaken, and they know
that such an error would be impossible. This reasoning, however,
would be like saying that a fourteen month old baby who was born in
December of 2012, lived through the entire year of 2013, and then
into January of 2014 would be three years old. Simply by having lived
in parts of three different years would qualify the baby to be three
years old. Folks, this type of math does not add up!
Notwithstanding, we should not be too critical on
those who embrace this reasoning, for I was of the same persuasion
for quite a number of years, along with many of you. We assumed the
Hebrew idiom was in play, and any part of a day can be considered a
full day, or any part of a year can be a full year. This would be a
fact if, indeed, what Jesus said was an idiom. However, according to
that which E.W. Bullinger wrote in his Appendix 144 of the Companion
Bible, it cannot be an idiom. He said: "...When the number of
‘nights’ is stated as well as the number of ‘days,’
then the expression ceases to be an idiom, and becomes a literal
statement of fact." And this stands to reason; for since Jesus
compared what he was facing with Jonah who spent 72 hours in the
heart of hell, 48 hours for Him would not work.
The partial days thought must have troubled others
as well; for to have Jesus in the tomb three full days and three full
nights, some of the Bible scholars moved His crucifixion back in
order to fit the three days and three nights as it is in Matthew
12:40. Therefore, the crucifixion was set back to Wednesday. They
indicate that Thursday must have been a special Sabbath, the Passover
Sabbath, and not the usual Saturday Sabbath. This could be possible,
but only if the Passover Sabbath, Nisan 15, was on Thursday of
that year when Jesus was crucified.
We know that the Passover lamb was to be slain on
the 14th of Nisan (April), the day before the Passover, and we know
that Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem during the time of
that feast. But the question remains, upon which day of the week did
the 14th of Nisan fall? Was it Wednesday or was it Friday? Or was it
perhaps one of the other days of the week? Do we know? The only way
of being sure is to know the year in which He was crucified. When
this is known, the day of the Passover can then be rightly
determined. So let us see if the year can be established.
The destruction of Jerusalem helps in this matter,
as well as a verse concerning Ezekiel: "Lie on thy right side,
and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days:
I have appointed thee each day for a year." Ezekiel
4:6. Most Biblical authorities say that this speaks of
the forty years of rejection of their Messiah after His
crucifixion. And it is certainly by no coincidence that the
Romans began their siege on Passover, which was 70 A.D.,
exactly 40 years to the day after the crucifixion of Jesus
according to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his book, Wars
of the Jews (Book V, Chapter 13, Verse 7. Of course, with 40
YEARS SIGNIFYING A GENERATION brings to mind something Jesus said
concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, "...THIS GENERATION
SHALL NOT PASS AWAY, TIL ALL BE FULFILLED." Luke
Many Bible historians follow this timeline:
1. Jesus was born — 2-4 B.C. [Stephen
Jones puts His birth at 2 B.C. while
Ernest Martin has it as 3 B.C.]
2. After being baptized His ministry began — 27 A.D.
[In the 3rd chapter
of Luke, the Bible gives us a time marker. The 15th year of the Roman
Emperor, Tiberius, is specified as the year of Jesus’ baptism,
and of His anointing with the Holy Spirit.
relevant point is that Augustus’ health had been failing for
some years, and he was "an invalid at sixty [2 B.C.]" (See,
Durant vol.3, p.231). Augustus made Tiberius his co-regent, and in
Judea, the reign of Tiberius was dated – not
from the death of Augustus (as
would normally have been the case) – but from
that time, two years prior to the death of Augustus 12 A.D.),
when Tiberius was given legal equality with Augustus. Legally, and
for all practical purposes, Tiberius was Emperor over the province of
Judea even while
Augustus was still living.
His reign began in 12 A.D., and so the
15th year of Tiberius was 27 A.D., the same year Jesus’
ministry was initiated.]
3. His Ministry lasted — 3 to 3 ½ years
4. He was crucified — on Friday the 14th
day of Nisan, or April 7, 30 A.D.
5. The destruction of the temple — 70 A.D., 40
Friday is the most accepted view as to the day of
the crucifixion, and one of the reasons has been due to the Roman
Catholic Church having instituted the "Good Friday"
crucifixion. The "Holy Week" observances as we have them
today were established by Rome in the fourth century A.D. when they
invented the Easter Sunday resurrection. Even after the Reformation,
quite a number of Protestant church organizations carry on with a
good amount of the Catholic beliefs and traditions, with some of them
being in truth and some not. Such as, the Protestants have rejected
the Catholic tradition of the cult of saints and the veneration of
Mary. But they continued to embrace the truth that Jesus is the
Son of God and died on behalf of the sins of the world. Knowing this
to be a sound doctrine, we will not reject it simply on the grounds
that the Church of Rome believes it.
There are other substantial reasons why Friday is
popularly held as the day of our Lord’s crucifixion. For
instance, Matthew 28:1 supplies us with some evidence. This verse
says that there were two Sabbaths. Most versions of the Bible
render this word "Sabbath" [óá
Üôù], that is, in the singular, and this
could have been because the translators believed the traditional
Saturday/Sabbath premise, even though the Greek manuscripts have
it as being plural. This can be verified by anyone with a Greek
interlinear translation or a Greek lexicon. Matthew 28:1 therefore
should read, "Now after the sabbaths [óá
Üôùí], as the first day of the week
began to dawn...." That is, "Now after the Passover
Sabbath together with the Saturday Sabbath, and
as the first day of week began to dawn...."
Those who embrace the Hebrew idiom of partial days
being counted as full days are right about one thing, that Friday was
the day of the crucifixion; but I believe they erred by assuming "the
heart of the earth" was "the grave," rather
than it being "Jerusalem." If they had known this, I
don’t think so many would have used the partial days line
The heart of something usually speaks of its worth,
the most valuable part of a thing. The Greek word for heart is
something that is all important to people, and the grave is certainly
none of these. The heart is often used as a metaphor, a figure
of speech that relates to a thing by its very nature; such as, the
heart of a matter, the heart of a novel, as a man thinks in his heart
so is he, she has a pure heart, or the central heart of a thought.
Although, it can speak of a locality, such as the heart of a
watermelon, yet, this is usually not the case whether in the natural
or with spiritual matters. Most know that the Heart of Dixie is
not a geographical location, but is the intrinsic feeling of the
South, or Cigars are said to be the Heart & Soul of Cuba.
And Stephen Jones wrote in reference to this: "The phrase, 'heart of the earth,'
was understood to be Jerusalem. Moslems believe Mecca to be the earth’s center.
The Greeks believed this about Delphi on account of its oracle there. Jerusalem,
however, has greater claim to being the 'heart of the earth,' because it is
situated at the midpoint of the land mass of Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The people living in Israel had good reason to
believe that JERUSALEM was "THE
HEART OF THE EARTH"; for Ezekiel even made a couple of
similar references to this: "Thus says the Lord GOD, "This
is JERUSALEM; I have set her AT THE CENTER OF THE
NATIONS..." Ezekiel 5:5. "...And
the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired
livestock and goods, who dwell AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH."
Ezekiel 38:12 (ESV). This would be the
intrinsic center of the earth’s inhabitants, in the center of
the nations. We know, of course, they were not located geographically
in the dead center of the nations, and they did not live four
thousand miles down in the central core of the earth, nor did they
live in caves or graves six feet beneath the earth’s surface.
They lived in the heart of the earth,
was with Jonah in the belly of that great devouring sea creature.
They lived in its heart, in its belly where there was constant
churning and grinding, where there were caustic political, religious
and social acids that digested all who entered and remained therein.
They were reduced to the lowest state of existence to be assimilated
and absorbed into the body of that great leviathan—Jerusalem.
When something cannot be digested, however, the devourer becomes very
uncomfortable, in pain, distraught, ill, even unto death and vomits
out the indigestible source of indigestion; thus the great fish with
Jonah and the religious and political hierarchies of Jerusalem with
Jesus. The vomiting out of Jesus, of course, was to crucify Him
before their world was destroyed. They could not let His indigestible
presence remain in their midst. For that matter, they were so driven
by their religious determination, that they were not only conspiring
to kill Him but Lazarus as well, the one He had raised from the dead;
for they both posed a threat to their existence. It did not matter
that they knew Jesus was sent by God, they wanted Him out of there,
and by any means possible, especially unto death.
Jesus continually pointed to Jerusalem as the place
where He would be swallowed alive, betrayed and crucified:
"From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He
must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders
and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised
on the third day." Matthew 16:21.
There is something to consider concerning Him having
been "raised on the third day." For
clarity, it is essential to know the starting point of those three
days, and we believe it was when His suffering began. Mark quoted
Jesus, saying: "...and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge
Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him, and the third
day He shall rise again." Mark 10:34.
In other words: Three days after He suffers, is mocked, scourged,
spat upon, and finally killed, He shall rise again, which will be
three days from initial passion of the Lamb.
You see, it was not three days from the time they
killed Him, but from the time He began to suffer until he was raised
from the dead. Jesus became the sin offering on the night it was
determined that He should die, and as a Lamb being led to slaughter,
he committed Himself inwardly, soul and spirit, to be slain, and
outwardly when He submitted His body and was arrested in the Garden
of Gethsemane. As a sin offering he experienced excruciating mental
anguish, enough to sweat as great drops of blood, as well as
torturous physical suffering to His body, and ultimately the
humiliation of hanging naked for every eye to look upon, even His
friends and mother whose heart was breaking. But then, after one more
day, His resurrection—totaling three days and three nights in
the heart of the earth called Jerusalem.
The suffering, the beginning of the three days
and nights, began in Jerusalem—the Heart of the
Earth. "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and
the Son of Man will be delivered up to the chief priests and
scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and
will deliver Him up to the Gentiles to mock and scourge
Him, and ON THE THIRD DAY HE WILL BE RAISED"
Let us notice a timeline which starts six days
before the Passover, or five days before he was sacrificed, which
would have been on a Sunday. This would be the case if Jesus was
crucified in 30 A.D. as it is proposed by many biblical scholars and
what I believe to be from my own research:
"Then Jesus six days before
the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been
dead, whom he raised from the dead." John 12:1.
With Jesus having been crucified in 30 A.D., the
Passover would have been on a Saturday and six days before would be
Sunday when he was in Bethany which was walking distance from
"On the next day much people that were
come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to
Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him,
and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the
name of the Lord." John 12:12-13.
On the next day would have been Monday,
not Sunday as Catholicism practices, that is, Palm Sunday.
After entering Jerusalem riding the colt upon palm
branches, He went to the Temple and looked round about, He returned
to Bethany, according to Mark 11: 11. "And
on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany..." Mark
This would have been Tuesday after he cursed
the fig tree, went back to the Temple, turned over the money changers
tables, cleared the courtyard of the animals that were being sold for
sacrifice, and accused them of making His Father’s house a den
of thieves. (ref. Mark 11:12-17).
"And when even was come, he went out of
the city," Mark 11:19, presumably back to
Bethany where he was staying.
"And in the morning, as they passed by,
they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots." Mark
This would have been Wednesday, and through
the rest of the 11th chapter of Mark and chapters 12 and
13, Jesus is speaking in parables, answering questions, and tripping
up the Pharisees who were out to kill him. He had a full day before
returning to Bethany Wednesday evening, as the first three
verses of Mark 14 indicate:
"It was now two days before the feast of the
Passover and the unleavened bread: and the chief priests
and the scribes made designs how they might take him by deceit and
put him to death: But they said, Not while the feast is going on, for
fear there may be trouble among the people." Mark
14:1-2 (BBE - Basic Bible English Translation).t
Now, from Wednesday close to or after sundown
to the same time Thursday was one (1) day (24 hours); from
sundown Thursday to sundown Friday made two (2) days
(48 hours); and from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday was
three (3) days—72 hours!
And after three days, Jesus said, the son of man
would be raised up. Therefore, that raising was most likely at
Saturday’s sunset or shortly thereafter. It could not have been
Sunday morning; for that would have been three and a half days in the
heart of the earth.
The Greek word for earth is "ge"
and can mean either "land" or "earth,"
and Jesus said that Jonah is a sign Matthew 12:39.
Jesus was a Jonah to Jerusalem. As Jonah was to the sea monster,
Jesus was to Jerusalem. Neither was Jonah nor Jesus good for their
hosts, and neither were their hosts good for them. And as Jonah was
swallowed and suffered for three days and three nights in the belly
of that great fish, the heart of the earth, Jesus went into the
belly of another fish, "the heart of the earth" called
Jerusalem, and His suffering began. Jesus came to His own, to
those who lived in the center of the earth, and those who were His
own did not receive Him, as we note in John 1:11.
There are many symbolic metaphors and analogies in
the Bible. By and large, if this is not known, a vast wealth of
understanding will go unnoticed. It can be like a first-time voyager
crossing the sea, and the only things he can perceive as real are the
winds, a lot of water, the waves, the sea spray, a vast horizon,
perhaps a few wayward seagulls, and the splash of a fish now and
again. He sees such a minuscule part of what resides beneath. The
fathomless depths are teaming with life and death and unfolding
beauties of floral and unbounded unity of schools of fish and
indescribable creatures of the deep; but he is unaware of any of it.
To read the Bible intellectually alone is like that
lowly sailor in his frail catamaran facing almost impossible odds. It
is sailing upon the surface, upon knowing only the letter of the
word, and not plumbing deep into its mysteries. We may enjoy the
voyage, but we will be just as oblivious to the deep things of God as
the day we embarked. Let us, therefore, not only venture forth across
the sea of scriptures, but let us also plumb the depths so as not to
deprive ourselves of easily accessed mysteries that are daily round
about us that may pass us by. Let us not forget, "It is the
glory of God to conceal a thing (Heb. a word):
but the honor of kings to search out the matter (Heb. a
word)." Proverbs 25:2.
One of those mysteries that has gone unnoticed
actually abides on the surface. It is found in Psalm 16:10 and it is quoted in
the Acts of the Apostles in Acts 2:27 as well as
he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt
not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and
was laid unto his fathers,
and saw corruption:
whom God raised again, SAW NO
Greek, diaphthora; decay. Strong’s Exh. Conc. The Hebrew of Psalm
16:10 shachath; "...go to ruin, decay, be spoiled...be ruined, be
rotted." Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions
You see, "Thou
shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption," and "He...saw
no corruption” signifies that the body of Jesus
would not be left dead long enough to decay. If Jesus had been in the grave for
three days, His body would have seen corruption. The decaying process would have
started; but by being there for only a day, there was no decomposition to His
body. He was in Jerusalem for three days and three nights, but not
in the grave for that amount of time. He suffered in Jerusalem for two days and
was in the grave for one day, which was a total of three days and three nights
in Jerusalem; that is, in the Heart of the Earth.
Two thirds of the time, He was alive and suffering, the other third He was in
the tomb. And His uncorrupted body was raised anew after the third day, which
would have been shortly after sundown Saturday, not during the dawn Sunday
morning. That was when two of the Marys went to the tomb to anoint Him with
"And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene,
and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices,
that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning
the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising
of the sun." Mark 16:1-2.
These two verses help a great deal in placing the
crucifixion on Friday afternoon rather than Wednesday. For instance:
The spices were bought after the Sabbath, which
could have been ten or eleven hours later just before going to the
sepulcher early Sunday morning, or perhaps just after sundown
Saturday when the Sabbath ended; that is, if businesses opened for a
while after the Saturday Sabbath ended. They may have also known a
dealer of spices and had gone to his home to buy them. We are not
told where or the hour they were bought, but it is clear from Mark,
it was after the Sabbath.
It is very unlikely that they would have gone to
anoint Jesus if He had been dead for three days, plus twelve more
hours from sundown Saturday to sunrise Sunday morning. For as it
was said of Lazarus after he had been dead for four days —
We do not think that these women would enter the
tomb of a decomposing body to anoint it. To my knowledge, such was
And "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in
hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
Therefore, since His body was not in repose long
enough to see corruption, and the two Marys surely did not expect His
body to be stinking, they went to anoint Him around 39hours after His
death, i.e. from 3:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning is
Let us close by saying this. Although Jesus suffered
greatly in that ancient city of Jerusalem, the Heart of that
Earth—we praise God that He submitted Himself to it. For as
Margit mentioned after proofing this article: "He now dwells
FOREVER in the Heart of another Earth, another Jerusalem; that is, IN
THE HEART OF HIS BODY, IN THE HEART OF YOU AND ME."
Before His time of three days and nights in
Jerusalem, when His passion began, Jesus knew that He would not only
be temporarily in the Heart of the Earth; but He would be dwelling in
the hearts of His own. For He told his disciples:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in
God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions (Grk.
abodes, living places): if it were not so, I would have told
you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place
for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I
am, there ye may be also....And I will pray the Father, and he shall
give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even
the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth
him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth
with you, and shall be IN YOU." John 14:1-3
& John 14:16-17.
For three days and three nights, He suffered and
died in the old Jerusalem, but the most important
matter of all this is that He now rejoices together with you and with
me, as He lives forever in the Heart of another Earth, in the
New Jerusalem of His many membered body! Praise God!
Elwin R. Roach
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