Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Final Verses of Daniel 11

The Final Verses of Daniel 11

In Manuscript Releases page 394 Ellen White writes:

We have no time to lose. Troublous times are before us. The world is stirred with the spirit of war. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place. The prophecy in the eleventh of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment. Much of the history that has taken place in fulfillment of this prophecy will be repeated. In the thirtieth verse a power is spoken of that “shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.” [Verses 31-36, quoted.]{13MR 394.1}
Scenes similar to those described in these words {in Daniel 11:31-36} will take place. We see evidence that Satan is fast obtaining the control of human minds who have not the fear of God before them. Let all read and understand the prophecies of this book, for we are now entering upon the time of trouble spoken of: [Daniel 12:1-4, quoted.]{13MR 394.2}

The purpose of this blog is to explain the prophecy of Daniel 11:40-45. As we study this topic it is important to establish a few principles. First Daniel 11 follows the same basic sequence of kingdoms found in the visions of Daniel 2, 7, and 8. This is illustrated in the following table:

Daniel 2 Daniel 7 Daniel 8
Head of Gold = Babylon Winged Lion = Babylon

Arms of Silver = Medo-Persia Bear with Ribs = Medo-Persia Ram = Medo-Persia
Thighs of Bronze = Greece Leopard with Four Heads = Greece Goat = Greece
Legs of Iron = Pagan Rome Terrible Beast with Iron Teeth = Pagan Rome Horizontal Little Horn = Pagan Rome
Feet of Iron and Clay = Papal Rome Feet of Iron and Clay = Papal Rome Vertical Little Horn = Papal Rome

Because Daniel 2,7 and 8 follow the same sequence we would expect Daniel 11 to follow the same sequence and that is what we find. Please see the table below:

Daniel 11
Verses 1,2 = Medo-Persia
Verses 3-19 = Greece
Verses 20-29 = Pagan Rome
Verses 30-45 = Papal Rome

While Daniel 11 follows the same sequence of kingdoms as Daniel 2,7 and 8 there are some differences. First Daniel 11 uses more literal language than Daniel 2,7, and 8 and second Daniel 11 introduces an antagonist to the kingdoms mentioned in the form of the opposing kings or kingdoms of the South. With these basic principles we come to our study of Daniel 11:40-45. 

Daniel 11:40 begins:

40   “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; 

In order to understand who the king of the South is in verse 40 we need to understand what the bible means by the term “at the time of the end.”

Daniel 11:33-35 states:

33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.  34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue.  
35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. Daniel 11:33-35

According to these verses some of those who have understanding will fall by the sword and flame and by captivity and plundering for many days. This will continue according to verse 35 until the time of the end. In order to determine when the time of the end occurs we need to understand more about who the people are that fall, are refined and are purified until the time of the end. 

As we have seen Daniel 7 uses beasts to describe the same sequence of kingdoms found in Daniel 11. In Daniel 7 we learn that the little horn power papal power which grows up out of the terrible beast or pagan Rome persecutes God’s people. The bible says:

He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time. Daniel 7:25

Here we see Daniel 7:25 speaking about the same events in Daniel 11:33-35 with a few additional pieces of information including but not limited to the duration of this persecution of a “time, and times and half a time.” This tells us that the persecution of Daniel 11:33-35 that concludes at the start of the period known at the time of the end will continue for a “time,  and times and half a time.” If we can determine how to interpret this time frame and gain a starting point we can conclude when the time of the end begins and when the king of the South attacks the king of the North. In order to understand this time frame we must turn to Revelation 12:14 which says: 

14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. Revelation 12:14

When we look at a parallel passage in Revelation 12:6 we learn that the time frame of a time and times and half a time is 1260 prophetic days. Revelation 12:6 says:

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Revelation 12:6

According to Ezekiel 4:6 and to some degree Numbers 14:34 we learn that a prophetic day is equal to one year. Thus the 1260 days is equal to 1260 years. As a result we can determine that this 1260 year period corresponds to a time period when papal Rome was in power from Daniel 7:25 and from Revelation 12 we can determine that this period was 1260 years. This helps us to identify when this period of persecution began.

The 1260 years began in 538 when the Roman Emperor Justinian self-entitled Justinian’s code went into effect and made the bishop of Rome the supreme ruler of the church and established him as a civil authority. Notice the following words from Justinian’s code: 

Among the conspicuous reasons for praising your wisdom and gentleness, Most Christian of Emperors, and one which radiates light as a star, is the fact that through love of the Faith, and actuated by zeal for charity, you, learned in ecclesiastical discipline, have preserved reverence for the See of Rome, and have subjected all things to its authority, and have given it unity… 


This See is indeed the head of all churches, as the rules of the Fathers and the decrees of the Emperors assert, and the words of your most reverend piety testify. It is therefore claimed that what the Scriptures state, namely, "By Me Kings reign, and the Powers dispense justice;" will be accomplished in you…

From this decree we can see how Papal Rome proceeded from pagan Rome when the Emperor Justinian gave authority and power to the bishop of Rome. Knowing this we can determine that the 1260 year period of persecution began in 538 when Justinian’s code went into effect and concluded in 1798.

Now that we have established that the time of the end began 538 and concluded in 1798 we can determine when the king of the South attacked the king of the North. Again the bible says:

40   “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; 

In 1798 at the conclusion of the 1260 years of Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 we see that the king of the North or papal Rome was attacked by the king of the South. Historically this happened when Napoleon sent his General Berthier to take Pope Pius VI captive. This captivity disrupted the civil authority that papal Rome had enjoyed for 1260 years. Jesus declares to His disciples:

...all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Matthew 26:52

The papacy had pointed the sword of the state at the people God for 1260 years and now the papacy found itself staring at the blade of the state.

Revelation 13:3 describes this attack on the papacy from the perspective of the past saying:

I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. Revelation 13:3

This verse agrees with the context and choice of words used by Daniel in Daniel 11:40 when we consider the fact that the word translated as “attack’ in verse 40 is the Hebrew word “Nagach” which is a word that literally means “to but with the horns or gore.” In other words the king of the South gores the king of the North. The dictionary defines the word “gore” to mean:

…to pierce or wound with something pointed, as a horn or knife: i.e.gored by a bull. Merriam Websters Dictionary

Thus the king of the South gored the king of the North and wounded him.This tells us that the king of the South in 1798 can be identified as the power of the French Revolution. This power of the French Revolution lead by Napoleon wholly abandoned the Catholic Church and religion altogether. At the Festival of Reason in 1793 French citizens declared reason to be their only God while women provocatively dressed up in white Roman robes with tricolor sashes. It was in this spirit of rebellion and godlessness that the French government threw off the church. 

In the latter half Daniel of 11:40 we find the king of the North’s response to the mortal wound inflicted by the king of the South. The bible says:

40   “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. Daniel 11:40

Immediately following the mortal wound inflicted in 1798 with the imposed captivity of Pope Pious VI and the subsequent loss of civil authority the king of North heretofore referred to as the Papacy was unable to respond to the threat of the the French Revolution for more than 100 years. This was because the Papacy found itself in exile until 1929 when the Italian president Mussolini recognized the right of the Papacy to be an independent government defined as Vatican City. Even at this point the Papacy found itself with limited power with other world governments ignoring its supposed independent status. It was only in 1984 when the United States established William A. Wilson as the first U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican did the Papacy have the political influence to respond to the mortal wound inflicted by the king of the South in 1798. 

By 1984 the Papacy found that the threat of atheistic France had developed into the communistic powerhouse of the Russian Revolution. Building on the principles of the French Revolution Russians leaders like Vladimir Lenin incorporated the teachings of Karl Marx: himself an apostle of the ideals set for the in the godless age of reason. Culminating in the Russian federation known as the United Soviet Socialist Republic or the Soviet Union the communist U.S.S.R set itself up against the capitalism and catholicism of the west. 

Clearly a formidable threat to the expansion of Catholic influence the Pope in the 1980s known as John Paul II determined to bring the communistic atheistic empire of Russia to an end and thus respond to the mortal wound that atheistic France had inflicted. However despite the growing political influence of the Catholic Church and the Papacy the Vatican found itself with only limited power. It therefore needed an ally with political, economic and military might to respond to the growing threat of communist and atheistic Russia. It found that ally in the United States and in the leadership of U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Together Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II worked for the destruction and dismantling of the communist empire. This was accomplished by building up the United States military and economy. This buildup was a fulfillment of Daniel 11:40 particularly the portion that says:

…and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. Daniel 11:40

In the bible the use of whirlwind, chariots and horsemen refer to a quick military attack. Notice what the bible says in Isaiah 5:26,28:

26 [The Lord} will lift up a banner to the nations from afar,
And will whistle to them from the end of the earth;
Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly…
…28 Whose arrows are sharp,
And all their bows bent;
Their horses’ hooves will seem like flint,
And their wheels like a whirlwind. Isaiah 5:26,28

Jeremiah adds to the idea that a whirlwind of horses refers to a swift military attack saying:

“Behold, [The Lord] shall come up like clouds,
And his chariots like a whirlwind.
His horses are swifter than eagles.
Woe to us, for we are plundered!” Jeremiah 4:13

From these passages we can see that the latter half of Daniel 11:40 refers partially to a rapid military advance. But Daniel 11:40 also mentions that the king of the North would come against the king of the South with many ships. In biblical symbolism the use of many ships implies economic might. Notice Psalm 107:23 that says:

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters, Psalm 107:23

And Ezekiel 27:9:

Elders of Gebal and its wise men
Were in you to caulk your seams;
All the ships of the sea
And their oarsmen were in you
To market your merchandise. Ezekiel 27:9

Taken together with the reference to the swift whirlwind of the military Daniel 11:40 refers to a response by the Papacy to the king of the South that includes both military and economic components. These elements found their fulfillment in the rapid expansion of the U.S. military and economy under the Reagan administration of the 1980s culminating in the seemingly overnight overthrow of communist Russian in 1989 as it failed to cope with the growing arms race, economic expansion and political pressure of the west. Together with Pope John Paul II the policies of U.S. president Ronald Regan ended the atheistic threat behind the iron curtain of communist Russia. 

With the the king of the South itself overwhelmed by the expansion of the western coalition of capitalism and communism it found itself in retreat leading to the events that would find fulfillment in Daniel 11:41-45. It is at this point that the reader must realize that final verses of Daniel 11 are unfulfilled prophecy. And as such we must tread carefully according to Jesus who said in John 14:29:

And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. John 14:29

In this verse we learn that prophecy is given to God’s people when it is fulfilled and with this in mind we must proceed carefully when interpreting events that have not yet been fulfilled. Even so there are principles that we can use to understand the basic elements of the events foretold in Daniel 11:41-45. Turning to Daniel 11:41 the bible says:

41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. Daniel 11:41

After the alliance with the United States has begun and the Papacy continues to gain political power it enters into the glorious land. The glorious land is another name for the land of Israel. But the specific use of the term glorious land implies more than just the physical land of Israel. Beginning in Ezekiel 20:6 God says of ancient Israel:

On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, “flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands. Ezekiel 20:6

Why was Israel called the land of glory? Psalm 85:9 says:

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land. Psalm 85:9

This verse explains that the glory dwelled in the land of Israel when the Israelites feared God. The bible tells us that fearing God means to keep His commandments saying:

Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. Deuteronomy 8:6

And in Ecclesiastes 12:13:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all. Ecclesiastes 12:13

To fear God is to keep His commandments. When the ancient Israelites feared God by keeping His commandments they brought glory to the land of Israel. This tells us that the Papacy in Daniel 11:41 must be entering a land where God’s people keep His commandments. It is tempting to designate this land as the current state of Israel, but on closer inspection of biblical prophecy we find that there is a specific group of people at the end of time that keep God’s commandments whose home extends beyond the borders of ancient Israel to the entire world. 

Revelation 12:17 says:

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:17

The remnant described in Revelation 12:17 are also described in Ezekiel 6:8 which says:

Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. Ezekiel 6:8

This remnant keep the commandments of God but are scattered through the countries. This tells us that the glorious land cannot refer to the physical land of Israel but rather the places or countries where God’s people live in the last days; for according to the bible wherever God’s commandment keeping people are they bring glory to the land. With this in mind let’s reread Daniel 11:41 which says:

41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. Daniel 11:41

The Papacy enters into many countries where God’s people bring glory to His name when they keep the commandments. Sadly however the bible tells us that many of the lands where God’s commandments are kept will be overthrown and the people of God will choose to follow the Papacy and disobey God’s law. There will be some however that escape from the Papacy and these the bible tells us are Edom, Moab and the prominent people of Ammon. At this point it is important to point out that Edom, Moab and Ammon are no longer actual countries in the world and so in order to understand who or what these countries are we must go back to their previous usage in the word of God. Notice what the bible says in Isaiah 11:10-12,14

10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.  11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 


14 But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. Isaiah 11:10-12,14

In Isaiah 11:10-12 we see that at the end of time God will recover the remnant of His people from all over the earth. And as we have seen the remnant are those that keep the commandments of God and bring glory to the land. In verse 14 we see that the remnant will lay their hand upon Edom, Moab and the children of Ammon who in turn will obey the remnant. When we couple this passage with Daniel 11:41 we can see that Edom, Moab and the children of Ammon will escape the Papacy because they obey the remnant. In other words they obey the teaching of the remnant concerning the word of God. This call to obedience can be found in the 14th chapter of Revelation that says:

6   And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,  7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.  8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.  9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, Revelation 14:6-9

Edom, Moab and Ammon are those that obey the call of the remnant to fear God and worship Him, leave Babylon and avoid receiving the mark of the beast. At this point in the prophecy of Daniel 11 we see the Papacy known as the great harlot that sits on many waters or peoples as in Revelation 17 causing the world to worship itself instead of the true God. In order to bring about a worldwide unity the Papacy employs the United States as outlined in Revelation 13 which says:

11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.  12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. Revelation 13:11,12

The Papacy along with the political power of the west causes everyone in the world both great and small to abandon the true worship of God and to abandon keeping God’s commandments. It enforces its authority by causing the world to worship on the spurious Sabbath called Sunday. In doing this it sets up the mark of the beast in the form of a Sunday law. From the context of Daniel 11:41 it is clear that the majority of the world will succomb to the authority of the Papacy as it states in Daniel 11:41:

41 He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. Daniel 11:41

Many countries will be overthrown but a few represented by Edom, Moab, and Ammon will escape when they obey the remnant and keep the commandments of God and biblical Sabbath. In addition to what we have learned in Isaiah 11 about Edom, Moab and Ammon’s role in end time events there is also the geographical significance of Edom, Moab and Ammon. These countries where border countries of ancient Israel and shared not only a common history but a common ancestry with the ancient Israelites. Edom was the national name of the descendants of Esau who were related to Jacob the father of the Israelite tribes. Moab and Ammon were the descendants of Lot the nephew of Abraham the progenitor of the promised child Isaac. As such the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, while no longer a physical and geographical people, represent the people of the earth that share a history with the remnant church. Examples might include protestants and evangelicals that share much of the common beliefs of the commandment keeping remnant of Seventh-day Adventists raised up in the last days. Many of these people will recognize the usurpation of spiritual authority by the papacy in the last days and recognize the remnant as God’s true people. 

Not content with just the majority of the earth’s inhabitants the papacy proceeds from overthrowing many who keep the commandments of God as he invades the glorious land. While many commandment keeping Seventh-day Adventists and Sabbatarian Christians succumb to the papacy many more protestants will come out of Babylon and receive the three angel’s messages, keep the commandments of God and the biblical Sabbath. 

At this point the papacy continues its march towards total worldwide allegiance. We read in Daniel 11:42:

42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.  Daniel 11:42

As the papacy proceeds he stretches out his hand against the whole world and goes after what is left of the land of Egypt. In the bible Egypt is the prophetic symbol of atheism. In Daniel 11:42 the power of the French Revolution in the form of atheistic communism has been broken. The last holdouts of atheism find that they cannot put up a resistance. The bible explains how Egypt is the symbol for atheism in Revelation 11 saying: 

7   When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.  8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Revelation 11:7,8

In this text the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pitt refers to the political power of atheistic France that destroyed and killed God’s word and left it dead in the streets. Referencing Sodom and Egypt as the symbols of this atheistic rebellion we remember the history of the godless and immoral ancient sodomites and the rebellious and and atheistic Pharaoh of Egypt that said:

Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go. Exodus 5:2

In the final vestiges of this atheistic revolution that has it’s beginning in ancient Sodom and Egypt the papacy finally exterminates any and all atheistic opposition as the bible tell us that land of Egypt does not escape. Even the atheists are subsumed into the Catholic confederation and the world wonders after the beast. Not content with just the allegiance of the modern atheistic Egyptians the papacy goes after their resources as described in Daniel 11:43 which says:

43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. Daniel 11:43

This verse concerning the acquisition of the gold and silver and precious things of Egypt finds its parallel in the description of the papacy found in Revelation 17:4:

4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. Revelation 17:4

The papacy described here as the woman of Babylon absorbs the wealth of the world. The papacy then uses its control of the currency of the world to enforce its authority. The bible says that the beast proclaims through it’s agent the United States:

…no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Revelation 13:17

It seems as if everyone and everything is under the authority of the papacy. But just when the papacy thinks its victory is complete it hears disturbing news. Daniel 11:44 says:

44 But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. Daniel 11:44

This news from the east is in fact the gospel being preached to all the earth. It is the glory of God shining forth from God's people. Revelation 18:1 prophesies of this saying:

18 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. Revelation 18:1

When God's glory shines forth from God's people as they keep His commandments the papacy will be greatly troubled and attempt to annihilate the remnant that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. The papacy reals from its position in atheistic Egypt as it hears the growing cry from a not too distant mount to the north and the east. With a fury and ferocity unmatched by previous world powers it goes to surround and destroy its last surviving enemy. The enemy of the papacy is described in Daniel 11:45 which says:

45 And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him. Daniel 11:45

The papacy plants the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain. The seas are the people of the earth for Revelation 17:15 tells us:

The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. Revelation 17:15

The glorious holy mountain is the symbol for the remnant. Joel 2:32 says:

32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. Joel 2:32

As the remnant proclaim the truth about Babylon and its sins as described in Revelation 18 the papacy reals with rage and attempts to destroy this last holdout of God’s people by surrounding the people of God. At the mount of congregation God’s people remain firm. Fixed and sealed they will not bow to the beast and receive his mark. Acknowledging the true God as they worship Him on His Sabbath they stand apart from a world of Sunday worshippers who submit to the authority of the papacy. With a final declaration of earthly power the papacy declares that this isolated enemy be exterminated from the earth. A death decree is declared and set for a certain day just as ancient Persia pronounced doom to the Jewish people. But type is exceeded by antitype as God fights for His people. The bible says:

1 “At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book. Daniel 12:1

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Heart of the Earth

There are many bible believing Christians that have a high view of scripture that have come to believe that Jesus did not die on Friday and also was not raised on Sunday morning. There are a few texts that they use to support this belief but the most often cited text is Matthew 12:40. The reason for this is that Matthew 12:40 clearly uses the phrase three days and three nights. If this time period began on Friday there is no way that a person could logically come to the conclusion that there are three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. When we take the phrase three days and three nights in Matthew 12:40 at face value we are presented with a challenge to the traditional understanding of the Friday crucifixion. How do Christians reconcile this phrase and other phrases in Matthew 12:40 that seem to indicate a different time period between Jesus' death and resurrection? To answer this question we must first look at the the different types of texts in the bible that deal with this time period. 

There are three other phrases used in the gospels that are used to describe the time period between Jesus' death and resurrection. An example of the first expression can be found in John 2:19-21. The bible says:

19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20   Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21   But He was speaking of the temple of His body. John 2:19-21

The phrase used here is “in three days.” An example of a second type expression that describes this time period is found in Mark 8:31. The bible says:

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31

Here the bible says that “after three days” Jesus would rise again. The third type of expression can be found in Matthew 16:21:  

From that time Jesus began to show to 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 the third day.  Matthew 16:21

The expression here is the third day. However in the original language the phrase is actually on the third day. There is another use of this phrase outside of the gospels in 1 Corinthians 15:3,4. Paul says:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ 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.

Again the phrase is translated the third day while in the original Greek, just as it was in Matthew 16:21, the phrase is actually on the third day. So far we have seen three time phrases that describe the time period of the passion of Jesus. They are: in three days, after three days, and on the third day. 

When we examine the example given in each of the three types or expressions that describe the time period between Jesus' death and resurrection we can see that if we apply a strict chronology to these expressions it is impossible to reconcile them. This is because the first expression “in three days” if applied strictly would mean that Jesus would be raised within the time period of three days. However the next expression “after three days” would strictly mean sometime after three days or on the fourth day Jesus would be raised. Lastly  the expression “on the third day” would mean anytime during the third day. It is clear that when a strict chronology is applied to these texts and expressions they become impossible to reconcile. 

How then do we resolve the apparent discrepancy between the aforementioned texts? The answer to this comes when we understand that ancient peoples did not always calculate the chronology of days in the strict way that we often do. We can find examples of this from scripture. First let’s go to Genesis 7:6. It says there “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters were on the earth.” But he was not fully six hundred years old. Verse 11 says: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life.” According to the ancients reckoning a person was considered to be in the next year after they had their birthday. For example on the day immediately after Noah had his 599th birthday he began his six hundredth year of life. So in biblical thinking on the day after Noah’s 599th birthday he was in his six hundredth year. This is why Noah was reckoned to be 600 in Genesis 7:6 even though he was actually still only 599. This is an example of how the bible uses inclusive reckoning.

Let’s go to Leviticus 12:3. It says: “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” Let's compare this with Luke 2:21 which says: “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” Leviticus says on the eighth day and Luke says when eight days were completed. The only way to explain this is if any portion of the eighth day counts as a full day. 

Notice that Jesus Himself used the idea that “three days” means the “day after tomorrow.” Luke 13:32,33 says:

32 “And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, (This refers to Herod Antipas) ’Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ (This refers to Christ’s death.) 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.” Luke 13:32,33

According to Jesus the third day does not refer to exactly 72 hours. Jesus was speaking on a certain day and He said today, tomorrow and then the next day would be the third day. Jesus was not referring to a literal 72 hours. There is the portion of the day when Jesus was speaking. Then you have the full next day and finally you have a portion of the day following which would be the third day. Jesus used inclusive reckoning when He used the expression the third day. 

There is another interesting expression we find in Luke 24:13,21 that deals with the time period between Jesus' death and resurrection. Before we look at this text let’s ask the question “What day did Jesus resurrect?” The bible says He resurrected very early on the first day of the week. This was the third day since He was crucified. With this in mind let’s look at Luke 24:13 which says:

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. Luke 24:13

This even took place the afternoon of the resurrection. The bible says that when these two disciples arrived with Jesus in Emmaus Jesus raised His hands and showed them the wounds in His hands. They saw the wounds on His hands and immediately they turned around and went back to Jerusalem and when they came to Jerusalem it was night time. This means that the conversation described in the next verse took place on the afternoon following the resurrection. Let’s look now at verse 21.

But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Luke 24:21

 This text is important because it shows that an actual 72 hour period for Jesus death would be impossible because the disciples on the road to Emmaus placed their conversation within the third day. According to the bible the afternoon of the resurrection was still the third day. The only way to reconcile the expressions used in John 2:20, Mark 8:31, Matthew 16:21 and Luke 24:21 is to use inclusive reckoning. 

Now let’s look at the more difficult passage in Matthew 12:39,4: specifically the phrase three days and three nights. The bible says: 

39 “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. 40 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 12:39,40

The words as and so illustrate that this passage references a biblical type that pointed to Christ. So how do we explain this passage? There are two possible options to explain this passage. First we could place the time of Jesus’ crucifixion on a different day. For example the World Wide Church of God taught that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday. It is true that if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday He would have been in the grave three days and three nights. However it is important to note that Jesus did not actually say that He would be in the “grave” three days and three nights. To illustrate this we need to understand that Jesus did in fact use the term “the grave.” In John 5:28 Jesus said: 

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice.” John 5:28.

This illustrates that Jesus was familiar with the term “grave.” But He did not choose the term “grave” in Matthew 12:40. Notice that Jesus says that the Son of Man would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights when He could have used the term “grave.”

But even though Jesus did use the term grave elsewhere and did not use it in Matthew 12:40 for many the phrase “the heart of the earth” seems to imply that Jesus was resting in the tomb for three days and three nights. Is this actually what it means? The answer to this requires a study of the term “heart of the earth” as well as a study of both Jonah’s experience and Jesus’ experience. If we take the term “heart of the earth literally” we would have to conclude that Jesus was going deep into the earth. After all the term “heart” implies the core or center of something. Of course we know that if Jesus physically did go to the heart of the earth He would have to travel through thousands of miles of earth to get there. But when we compare the expression “heart of the earth” in Matthew 12:40 with a very similar expression in Ephesians we begin to understand more of the intent of Jesus’ words. In the book of Ephesians 4:8,9 Paul says:

8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? Ephesians 4:8,9

Here Paul contrasts how Jesus ascended up on high with the fact that He also descended in the lower parts of the earth. It is in the phrase “the lower parts of the earth” that we find a similar expression to the phrase that Jesus Himself used saying “the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The context dictates that both of these expressions in Matthew 12:40 and Ephesians 4:9 refer to the same event or experience. This helps us to understand more about the the “heart of the earth” and the “lower parts of the earth” because we know that they are contrasted with ascending up on high. As a result it is helpful to understand what Jesus means when He Himself refers to ascending. In John 3:12,13 Jesus tells Nicodemus:

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:12,13

Jesus justifies His ability to tell Nicodemus about heavenly things because He has ascended up to heaven. However we know that Jesus had not yet physically ascended to the Father because He says this Himself to Mary later in the same gospel saying in John 20:17:

Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. John 20:17

This tell us that when Jesus tells Nicodemus that He had ascended to heaven in John 3:13 He was not talking about physically ascending. If this was true what then did He mean? The answer to this can be found in Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 when He says:

 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Jesus could say this because He had overcome the world. He says in John 16:33:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Jesus said this before He was crucified. Jesus had been tempted by the devil and He had emerged victorious. He had already overcome the world and as a result He had access to heaven. Jesus explained this when He said in John 1:51:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John 1:51

He had access to heaven because He had overcome the barrier of sin that separates sinners from God. However because human beings were enslaved to sin humanity was cut off from God. The bible says:

The wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23

This reality of the human condition meant that if Jesus was going to save fallen humanity He must take upon Himself the very thing that separates human beings from God. He must take upon Himself sin. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus became sin so that we could be made righteous. In doing this Jesus was cut off from God. Daniel 9:26 says:

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,..Daniel 9:26

It was this total separation from God that Jesus described in Matthew 12:40 when He said:

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

Just as Jesus had not yet ascended to heaven when He spoke to Nicodemus about ascending to heaven Jesus also did not actually go into the heart of the earth when He descended to the lower parts of the earth. Both the ascension mentioned in John 3:13  and the descending implied in Matthew 12:40 and clearly stated in Ephesians 4:9 refer to spiritual experiences. In John 3:13 Jesus was referring to His ability to access the throne of God: an ability that He bequeathed to us. And in the case of His experience in the heart of the earth or descending to the lower parts of the earth He is in fact referring to His experience of being cut off from God. This is why He referenced Jonah’s experience, which itself was a type of Christ’s experience. In both cases Jonah and Christ were cut off from God through their experiences. Jonah was cut off because of his own sin as he fled from God’s presence only to find himself in the belly of a great fish. Jesus was cut off from heaven because of the sins of the world. This separation began when He took the cup of the New Covenant. 

It was during the last supper when Jesus drank the actual cup of wine or grape juice that signified the shedding of His blood that Jesus began to experience separation from His Father. This is why Jesus just a short time later would cry out to God saying:

... O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39

It was the agony of separation from God when He began to take upon Himself our iniquities that was foreshadowed by the experience of Jonah in the belly of the great fish. Jonah’s like Christ prayed:

I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me;
Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. Jonah 2:2

Both men, separated by hundreds of years, felt cut off from God and alone. It is clear that Jesus’ connection to Jonah began before He was buried in the grave. It is clear that Jesus was in the heart of the earth when He was separated by our sins in the garden of gethsemane. On that Thursday night so long ago Jesus cried out to God for some relief from the torture that His soul felt. But instead of relief Jesus chose to drink the cup and be separated from His heavenly Father. The choice to allow the weight of the world’s sins to separate Him from His Father was a choice that He began to make at the last supper and a choice that He firmly embraced in the garden of Gethsemane. Beginning on Thursday night Jesus was in the heart of the earth cut off from God so that one day you and I could follow Him to heaven. Three days and three nights later Jesus rose early on Sunday morning triumphant. He had broken the powers of darkness once for all and in doing so had given you and I eternity.