Was Yeshua three days and three nights in the grave, as He said in Matthew 72:40? Can you figure three days and three nights between sunset "Good Friday" and sunrise Easter Sunday?
IT IS COMMONLY supposed today that Yeshua was crucified on FRIDAY, and that the resurrection occurred about sunrise on Easter Sunday morning.
Tradition No Evidence
The Significance of the Sign
It would seem that no one, until recently, ever thought to question or to prove this "Good Friday-Easter" tradition. Yet the Bible tells us to prove all things. And you will be literally astounded by this proof.
For PROOF there is but one dependable authority, a sole historical record - the Bible.
What are the recorded facts?
The doubting Pharisees were asking Yeshua for a SIGN - supernatural evidence - in proof of His Messiahship.
Yeshua answered: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:39-40).
Now consider, please, the tremendous import - the overwhelming significance - of Yeshua' statement.
He expressly declared that the ONLY SIGN He would give to prove He was the Messiah was that He should be just THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the rock-hewn sepulcher in the "heart of the earth."
Think what this means! Yeshua staked His claim to being your Saviour and mine upon remaining exactly THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS in the tomb. If He remained just three days and three nights inside the earth, He would PROVE Himself the Saviour; if He failed in this sign, He must be rejected as an imposter!
No wonder Satan has caused unbelievers to scoff at the story of Jonah and the "whale"! No wonder the devil has set up a tradition that DENIES Yeshua is the Messiah! ....
IT IS COMMONLY supposed today that Yeshua was crucified on FRIDAY, and that the resurrection occurred about sunrise on Easter Sunday morning.
Tradition No EvidenceThere were no eyewitnesses to the resurrection. Even so-called "apostolic fathers" had no source of information save that record which is today available to us. Tradition, then, must be dismissed.
The Significance of the SignThese Messiah-rejecting Pharisees demanded PROOF. Yeshua offered but one evidence. That evidence was not the fact of the resurrection itself. It was the LENGTH OF TIME He would repose in His grave, before being resurrected.
Matthew 12:38 shows some of the scribes and Pharisees asking Yehoshua for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. Yehoshua told them that the only sign He would give was that of the prophet Jonah: "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 12:40).
But can we fit "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" between a Friday-afternoon crucifixion and a Sunday-morning resurrection? The traditional view of the crucifixion and resurrection only allows for Yehoshua to have been entombed for a day and a half.
Some try to reconcile Messiah's words with their belief in a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection by rationalizing that Messiah's "three days and three nights" statement does not require a literal span of 72 hours. They reason that a part of a day can be reckoned as a whole day. Hence, since Yehoshua died in the afternoon—around "the ninth hour" after daybreak, or about 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:46-50)—they think the remainder of Friday constituted the first day, Saturday the second and part of Sunday the third.
However, they fail to take into consideration that only two nights—Friday night and Saturday night—are accounted for in this explanation. After all, the Bible is clear that Yehoshua had already risen before the daylight portion of Sunday (John 20:1). Something is obviously incorrect in this common conclusion regarding when Messiah was in the tomb.
Jonah 1:17, to which Messiah referred, states specifically that "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." We have no reason to think these days and nights were fractional. Nor is there any basis for thinking that Yehoshua meant only two nights and one day, plus parts of two days, when He foretold the length of time He would be in the grave. Such rationalization undermines the integrity of Yehoshua' words.
The reason that Friday is the day most think of as the day of Messiah's crucifixion is that Mark 15:42 states that it was the preparation day (the day before the Sabbath). In the normal weekly Sabbath cycle, Friday is indeed the preparation day. But in this case, there were two Sabbaths during that week. The Sabbath referred to in Mark 15:42 was an annual Holy Day—the First Day of Unleavened Bread. John 19:31 confirms this by specifically stating that it was a high day, or annual Holy Day. Then two days later was the weekly Sabbath, which is the one referred to in Luke 23:56.
When did Yehoshua die and when was He resurrected?
Here's the timeline: Yehoshua was laid in the tomb in a hurry, as sunset (the beginning of the Holy Day) was approaching (Mark 15:42). Joseph of Arimathea, wanting to properly bury Yehoshua before the beginning of the high Holy Day, took down Yehoshua' body and wrapped it in linen. He then placed the body in the tomb (Luke 23:53; Mark 15:43). Luke's account then says Yehoshua' female disciples observed that He was buried as the Sabbath drew near (Luke 23:54-55).
After seeing Messiah's body being laid in the tomb just before sunset, the women then "returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils [for the final preparation of the body]. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56). How could they have prepared these spices and oils in the very short time before sunset?
The wording of Mark 16:1-2 adds to the confusion some experience because it seems to suggest that the spices were purchased after the weekly Sabbath rather than before it on Friday? How is that possible?
By comparing details in both Gospels—where Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath and Luke relates that they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath—we can see that two different Sabbaths are mentioned. The first, as John 19:31 tells us, was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. Mark did not mention this weekly Sabbath rest in his account, but Luke, who wrote his account of these events later, did.
Thus, the women returned after seeing the burial Wednesday afternoon. They rested on the high-day Sabbath Wednesday night and Thursday. They bought the spices either Thursday night or Friday morning. They prepared them on Friday prior to sunset and then rested on the weekly Sabbath from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Then, early on Sunday, before dawn, "while it was still dark" (John 20:1), they went to the tomb to apply the embalming mixture. They discovered that Messiah had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-6; Luke 24:1-3). The only plausible timeline for the events of the crucifixion week is that Messiah was in the grave three full days and three full nights, from late on a Wednesday until late on a Saturday.
Now, consider Messiah's promise that He would be in the grave for the same length of time that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish in conjunction with this historical record. What is the correct way to understand "three days and three nights" in both Matthew 12:40 and Jonah 1:17? It means three literal days and three literal nights—72 full hours....
Winston Churchill once said, “People often stumble over the Truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry on as if nothing had happened.” How true!
People are creatures of habit. Once set in a belief or habit—once our belief system is comfortably in place—we do not want to change. In fact, by nature, we tend to fight and argue to defend our previously held beliefs even when confronted with facts to the contrary.
Have you ever wondered why you believe the things you believe and do the things you do? Perhaps you have never stopped to ask yourself that question. Because of the “sheep instinct” in man—the tendency to go along with what everyone around them believes—most people believe many things that are not true. For example, most professing Christians are shocked when someone points out that there is no biblical command to celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua Messiah, but on the contrary, we are solemnly commanded to commemorate His death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)! Further, because of muddled tradition, most are biblically mistaken about when Yeshua really died and when He was resurrected.
Elohim’s inspired Word, the Bible, invites us, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith Yehovah” (Isaiah 1:18). Let us “prove all things” by the Bible, not the contradictory, unsubstantiated, or pagan traditions of men (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is time to set aside the shackles of tradition and look into your own Bible. Messiah said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Free? Free from what? Free from error, free from false doctrine, and free from the manacles of manmade tradition. Truth is what is, not what we would have it be.
A Satanic Conspiracy
Your Bible says Satan the devil is deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9). This includes the churches of this world. Unfortunately, most people today are biblical illiterates. The Bible, it seems, is the book everyone wants to read but few do—the book nearly everyone has an opinion about based upon what others have said about it. It is high time to blow the dust off your Bible and read it for yourself! Unsuspecting, trusting, innocent people all over the world have been deceived into thinking that pagan customs, superstitions, and counterfeit doctrines come right from their Bibles, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. Your Bible reveals that Satan himself appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [yes, Satan has ministers!] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (verse 15). Messiah warned repeatedly, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Messiah; and shall deceive many.” That is, many would come saying truthfully that Yeshua is the Chris, yet, by wresting scriptures, adding false doctrines and customs, making false prophecies, and even performing great signs and wonders “in His name,” would deceive many (Matthew 24:4-5,11,24).
Satan has provoked scholars, teachers, and “free thinkers” to ridicule and deny the only sign Messiah gave that He was indeed the Messiah. Jeremiah told of the same thing: “Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jeremiah 14:14). “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jeremiah 23:2 1).
Side-stepping such false prophecies, signs, and wonders, Messiah said the only sign He would give that He was indeed the Messiah was that He would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:39-40). Read it in your own Bible. Do you believe this sign? Yet theologians and would-be scholars claim Messiah was in the grave only one full day and two nights, only half as long as He said He would be. What most of Christendom fails to realize is that wresting the Scriptures to fit this scenario actually nullifies the only sign Yeshua gave as proof that He was the Messiah. To dismiss this most important sign that Messiah gave is actually rejecting what the Scriptures plainly say! Rather than celebrating His resurrection from the dead, we are commanded to commemorate His death through the Passover (see Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, etc.). The fulfillment of this sign was a testimony not only to that generation, but also to all future generations that He was indeed the Messiah! With this in mind, can you think of any reason Satan would not want to confuse and deny the only sign Messiah gave that He was the Messiah? Certainly not! Satan is anti-Messiah, the master deceiver, Scripture-wrester, and enemy of mankind. He is in the process of deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9). We cannot trust the word of deceived men. There is only one dependable and historical record on this, the Bible itself, and any tradition that conflicts with Elohim’s Word must be summarily dismissed...
For most professing Christians, Easter is a yearly festive occasion celebrated with meals and family gatherings. Since the pagan roots of Easter are either not known, denied, or dismissed as irrelevant, these same “Christians” make believe Easter Sunday is a Messiah-centered holiday that celebrates His resurrection.
They have their children in Sunday School coloring pictures of Yeshua exiting the tomb on Sunday morning with the stone rolled out of the way and the sun rising in the background. Flowers are blooming and a bunny is hopping by. Everything is a springy pastel dreamland. Meanwhile, they’re busy worshipping a god who failed Pre-K math and singing praises to an “all powerful” god who has to rationalize his inconsistencies with idioms and semantic convulsions.
It is total darkness. The Easter story is a diabolical narrative that presumes to commemorate Yeshua Messiah’s victory over death in the name of the pagan goddess Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven, who’s name, according to Jeremiah the prophet, should not even be uttered. And if that wasn’t blasphemous enough, the classic Easter story told by almost every “Christian” organization out there makes Yeshua Messiah out to be a liar and a fraud.
Let’s compare the traditional Easter narrative to the Biblical Narrative with the following passage in mind:
“But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall be no sign given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40 MKJV).
The traditional Easter Narrative claims Yeshua was crucified on Friday afternoon, buried Friday evening before 6:00pm, and remained in the grave until He resurrected on Sunday morning.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that this is barely, if at all, 36 hours. It’s most certainly not three days and three nights!
You can’t even include Friday afternoon as one of the three days in the Easter timeline because Yeshua wasn’t in the grave until moments before Friday was over, and His prophecy said, “the Son of Man will be in the belly of the earth…” not “will be dead for….” But, disregarding the Word of Elohim, most theologians, bound in their confusion, argue that since He was technically in the ground for a portion, however momentary, of three different days, that Yeshua still technically kept His word. They insist that the phrase – “three days and three nights” – is just an idiom or figure of speech.
This is nonsense. Yehovah expects and allows us to take Him at His Word. The Truth is simple and clear. It is logical and consistent. It’s all there in the Scriptures.
Consider that the Jewish understanding of a day is sundown until sundown, as described in Genesis 1:5, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” This wording is used repetitively in Gen 1:8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 to establish Yehovah’s definition of a day. A day consists of an evening and a morning, a night and a day.
“The Biblical definition of day is confirmed throughout the Scriptures. If Yeshua wasn’t in the grave for three days and three nights, then how long were Abraham and Isaac journeying to Mount Moriah? A day and a half? It says in the Scriptures in the story of Jonah that Nineveh was such a large city that it took three days for a man to traverse it? Is that an idiom as well? Was that three days starting Monday at sundown and arriving Wednesday morning (with travel during the day and not at night – “Yeshua answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world” – John 11:9 MKJV)? If so, then Nineveh couldn’t have been that big.
I’ve never heard of anyone doubting that Jonah was in the whale for three days and three nights or doubting that Abraham travelled for a full three days with Isaac, and yet it seems very few are willing to take Yeshua Messiah at His word, even though the events with Abraham and Jonah were foreshadowings of His death and resurrection.
Another perfect demonstration of the Biblical definition of a “day” and the Master’s will concerning His death and resurrection is found in the story of Lazarus.
We read that Martha expresses concern over Lazarus’ state of decay after three days.
“Yeshua said, Lift the stone. Martha, the sister of the one that had died, said to Him, Lord, he already smells, for it is the fourth day.” (John 11:39).
Lazarus wasn’t in the grave for two full days and a portion of two others, otherwise Martha wouldn’t have been concerned about him stinking. Decay takes time.
Lazarus had been in the grave for three days and three nights. There was no room for misunderstanding. He was dead. He wasn’t in a coma nor was he asleep. There are even records of some Talmudic Jews periodically observing the dead during the first three days so that they could be sure it was not a case of “pseudo-death.” That’s why Yeshua intentionally delayed His arrival in Bethany, so it was very clear that Lazarus was dead.
Yeshua had already raised two people who were dead for a short while but He was about to prove He could raise a man who had been undeniably dead for some time. Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead even after he had been dead for a full three days and three nights.
It’s written that Elohim carefully planned the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead so “that the Son of Elohim be glorified by it” (John 11:4). Yeshua made it clear that an important aspect of Lazarus’ resurrection glorifying Him was the timeline. Lazarus had to be undeniably dead, and being in the grave for three days and three nights was an assurance of that....
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Let there be not doubt that Messiah died for our sins, was buried and He rose again! That is a 100% sure thing. But, I have to tell you, from the time I was a youngster, I could never figure out the "Good Friday" timetable, but I liked the day. Why? It was a holiday and we either had just a half-day of school or the entire day off, because, they said, Good Friday (Great Friday to the Greek Orthodox; Charfreitag or Sorrowful Friday in German) was the day of the crucifixion and death of Yeshua Messiah. However, I knew about Matthew 12:40 which says, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Try as I would, I could not get three days and three nights using the "Good Friday" reckoning. After trying to count it out on my fingers without success, I brushed aside the problem, figuring the adults knew something I didnt.
Now, as an adult, I decided to look into the matter much more seriously. There are several reasons I reject "Good Friday" as the day of death of Messiah. Here is a brief account of my findings.
Jewish Messianics in the early church continued to celebrate the Passover, regarding Messiah as the true Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7 "Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us."). This naturally developed into a commemoration of the death and resurrection of our Master because he was the true Passover sacrifice. But, while this Pascha or Passover celebration lasted three days, commemorating the death and resurrection of Yeshua Messiah, I must point out that this Passover celebration was a moveable celebration like Pentecost. It occurred on different days each year. There was NOT a "Good Friday" under this scheme! In fact, another encyclopedia stated this -- prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. So, obviously there was no "Good Friday" before this time, because Easter could be celebrated on any day and from time to time, was celebrated on Friday.
All that changed in 325 A.D. when the Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, which issued the Easter Rule, which states that Easter shall be celebrated on Sunday, but did not fix the particular Sunday. It was left to the Bishop of Alexandria to determine the exact Sunday, since that city was regarded as the authority in astrological matters. He was to communicate the results of his determination to the other churches.
But there was disagreement among the churches about doing it that way. It was not until the 7th century that the Easter matter was settled. Easter was to be on the first Sunday that occured after the first full moon, on or after the vernal equinox. However, there is still a twist I need to mention here. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation (whatever that is), where day one corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. However, I do know this. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.
Now, back to the key issue "Good Friday!" Historians can trace the development of "Good Friday" to the 4th century Catholic festivals held in Jerusalem. "Good Friday" was an evolution out of the early Pascha celebrations that took place at Jerusalem that I mentioned earlier. A procession was staged from Gethsemane to the Catholic Church Sanctuary of the Cross, in Jerusalem. The assembled group then heard readings about the death of Messiah.
Let me review briefly what I have just told you. "Good Friday" is a man-made invention. It evolved after 325 A.D. because prior to that, there was no set day for Easter and therefore there would not have been a "Good Friday." It is the invention of the Roman Catholic Church. So where did Rome come up with the idea? It comes from a misunderstanding of Mark 15:42 "And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath" We will unravel the mystery a bit later in this article....
E. W. Bullinger and his assistants published the Companion Bible over a century ago. That Annotated Research Bible has stood as a bulwark of Biblical Scholarship ever since. In Appendices 144 and 148, Bullinger puts forth his study on the three days and three nights that Messiah was buried to prove that he could not have died on “Good Friday” and arose early Easter Sunday morning. One cannot get three days and three nights between “Good Friday” afternoon and early Easter Sunday morning, no matter how one counts. Consequently, Yeshua absolutely could not have been crucified on Friday. He actually died on Wednesday and was raised Saturday near Sunset. Knowing this fact will cause all the rest of the events that we know so well to re-shuffle into proper order in that momentous week that affected all time.
But after Bullinger made known his findings, instead of changing to shed error, modern Denominational Christianity has retrenched and sought to refute his conclusions and hold on to their tradition. In this appendix, I will outline Bullinger’s work, discuss some of the opposition’s attempts to refute it and add some other layers to bolster his conclusions. But my goal is not to shame others who believe differently than I. That would violate the spirit of Romans 14 “Who am I to judge another man’s (Yeshua’s) servant?” I just want to clearly portray the truth so believers can make informed decisions. I also want to demonstrate that the Bible is accurate and when you put together all the accounts of an identical incident, they will fit. This information is also necessary in order to establish an accurate chronology for the events portrayed in this book.
This topic has been discussed at length in several books, so I am not going to present all the details of discussion here, but enough to prove my points. The foundational scriptures that this study is based upon are the Scriptures in which Yeshua declared that he would be buried in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights and that he’d arise the third day
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Three entire days and nights, periods of 24 hours, equals 72 hours. This period of time also was the official time period to finally declare someone dead. The Talmud mentions that graves were “watched” for this period to avoid the possibility of “pseudo-death.”
31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
Matthew 12:40 contains the phrase “three days and three nights,” while Luke says “on the third day.” Are these contradictory or is there a way they harmonize? Since Matthew gives the more complete expression of the duration, Luke’s account adds that when he did arise it was still during the “third day.”...
How can we fit three days and three nights between a Friday afternoon crucifixion and an Easter Sun- day sunrise? The fact is, we can’t. So what is the truth about when Yeshua was crucified and resurrected? by
About one billion Protestants and another billion Catholics believe that Yeshua Messiah was crucified and entombed on a Friday afternoon—“Good Friday”—and raised to life again at daybreak on
Easter Sunday morning, a day and a half later.
Yet when we compare this to what Yeshua Himself said about how long He would be in the tomb, we find a major contradiction. How long did Yeshua say He would be in the grave? “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 12:40, emphasis added throughout).
The context in which Yeshua Messiah said these words is important. The scribes and Pharisees were demanding a miraculous sign from Him to prove that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah’” (verse 39).
This was the only specific sign Yeshua gave that He was the promised Messiah: “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.”
Traditional timing doesn’t add up
The Gospels are clear that Yeshua died and His body was hurriedly placed in the tomb late in the afternoon, just before sundown marking the beginning of a Sabbath (John 19:30-42).
By the traditional “Good Friday–Easter Sunday” timing, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown is one night and one day. Saturday night to Sunday daybreak is another night, giving us a total of two nights and one day. So where do we get another night and two days to equal the three days and three nights Yeshua said He would be in the tomb?
This is definitely a problem. Most theologians and religious scholars try to work around it by arguing that any part of a day or night counts as a day or night. Thus, they say, the final few minutes of that Friday afternoon were the first day, all day Saturday was the second day, and the first few minutes of Sunday morning were the third day.
Sounds reasonable, some conclude.
The trouble is, it just doesn’t work. That only adds up to three days and two nights, not three days and three nights.
Also, John 20:1 tells us that “on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”
Did you catch the problem here? John tells us it was still dark when Mary went to the tomb on Sunday morn- ing and found it empty. Yeshua was already resurrected well before daybreak. Thus He wasn’t in the tomb any of the daylight portion of Sunday, so none of that can be counted as a day!
That leaves us with, at most, part of a day on Friday, all of Friday night, a whole daylight portion on Saturday, and most of Saturday night. That totals one full day and part of another, and one full night and most of another— still at least a full day and a full night short of the time Yeshua said He would be in the tomb!
Clearly something doesn’t add up. Either Yeshua mis-spoke about the length of time He would be in the tomb, or the “Good Friday–Easter Sunday” timing is not biblical or accurate.
Obviously both cannot be true. So which one is right?