The God of the Third Day

by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

When Joseph was in prison he had a dream about two of his fellow prisoners; when he recounted it, he told them that – on the third day – one would be set free and the other killed (Genesis 40:1-23).

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After Israel had traveled through the desert for forty years because of their disobedience, they had two days to pack up and get ready, for they would enter the Promised Land on the third day (Joshua 1:10).

When Mordecai told Esther about the plans of Haman to kill all the Jews, she told Mordecai to gather the Israelites to fast and pray for three days before she would dare break the law of the King to approach him. On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes, and went to the king to secure, for herself and the people of Israel, deliverance from death (Esther 4:16).

The Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the temple of Dagon, their god. Every morning they discovered the statue of Dagon facedown in the dirt before the Ark, and on the third day they found that the statue of Dagon had been destroyed (1 Samuel 5:1-5).

The prophet Hosea said, “Come and let us return unto the Lord and after two days He will revive us and on the third day He will restore us that we may live in His presence.” (Hosea 6:2)

Well, and then of course there’s Jonah.  ‘Nuff said.

Jesus spent much of the last days of His earthly ministry preparing His disciples for what was to come, but when the disciples were with Jesus, it seemed they never quite “got it” when Jesus was alive.  So many times He taught them, and their response was “…and they understood none of these things… and this saying was hidden from them… and they did not understand the things which were spoken”.

That first Holy Week? On Friday – the first day – Jesus was crucified, and I imagine everyone mourned in airless shock because, as far as they were concerned, the hope of Israel was gone and they had nothing left to hope in. The second day was their Sabbath, so they likely huddled together, silently and tearfully remembering all the amazing things Jesus said and did, what He taught and how all their dreams were crushed, numbly reflecting on how badly everything had turned out, and maybe even pondering – what now? 

And then – on the third day – everything changed. Because Jesus rose from the grave and nothing was ever the same again. Or ever will be.

So for us, let’s face it: we never know what God is going to do on the first or second day.  In all 3-day stories, days 1 and 2 are days of preparation and waiting, painful and uncertain. 

But. God is the God of the third day. The problem is, most people quit when they face that first or second day. But. The third day?

The third day is always the key.  But. You can’t have the third day unless you have faith through the first and the second day.

Have a most blessed Easter.  He is Risen!