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Does the OT predict that the Messiah
Would be resurrected on the third day? Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We continue our examination of the OT writings in order to find prophetic parallels to the Messiah which hint at or point to his being resurrected from the dead on the third day.

The next prophecy by analogy and/or similarity comes from Israel’s relationship to God. We are told all throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that the nation of Israel is God’s son, even his firstborn, whom he loves and protects:

"And you must say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my firstborn son, and I said to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me, but since you have refused to let him go, I will surely kill your firstborn son!"’" Exodus 4:22-23

"You have forgotten the Rock who fathered you, and put out of mind the God who gave you birth. But the Lord took note and despised them, because of the provocation of his sons and daughters. Deuteronomy 32:18-19

"His people remembered the ancient times. Where is the one who brought them up out of the sea, along with the shepherd of his flock? Where is the one who placed his holy Spirit among them, the one who made his majestic power available to Moses, who divided the water before them, gaining for himself a lasting reputation, who led them through the deep water? Like a horse running on flat land they did not stumble. Like an animal that goes down into a valley to graze, so the Spirit of the Lord granted them rest. In this way you guided your people, gaining for yourself an honored reputation. Look down from heaven and take notice, from your holy, majestic palace! Where are your zeal and power? Do not hold back your tender compassion! For you are our father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, Lord, are our father; you have been called our protector from ancient times." Isaiah 63:11-16

"However, in the future the number of the people of Israel will be like the sand of the sea which can be neither measured nor numbered. Although it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are children of the living God!’" Hosea 1:10

"When Israel was a young man, I loved him like a son, and I summoned my son out of Egypt." Hosea 11:1

As God’s son, Israel was tested in the wilderness in order to learn to depend on God alone for their sustenance:

"You must keep carefully the entire commandment I am giving you today so that you may live, multiply, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised to your ancestors. Remember the whole way by which he has brought you these forty years through the desert so that he might, by humbling you, test to see whether deep within yourselves you would keep his commandments or not. So he humbled you by making you hungry and feeding you with unfamiliar manna to make you understand that mankind cannot live by food alone, but also by everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth. Your clothing did not wear out nor did your feet swell all these forty years." Deuteronomy 8:1-5

What makes this rather interesting is that the prophet Hosea prophesied that God would raise his son Israel from the dead on the third day!

"After two days he will revive us; ON THE THIRD DAY he will raise us up, that we may live before him." Hosea 6:2 RSV

Hosea isn’t the only prophet who spoke of God resurrecting his people:

"The Lord who leads armies will hold a banquet for all the nations on this mountain. At this banquet there will be plenty of meat and aged wine— tender meat and tasty wine. On this mountain he will swallow up the shroud that is over all the peoples, the woven covering that is over all the nations; he will swallow up death permanently. The sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from every face, and remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. Indeed, the Lord has announced it. At that time they will say, ‘Look, here is our God! We waited for him and he delivered us. Here is the Lord! We waited for him. Let’s be happy and celebrate his deliverance!’" Isaiah 25:6-9

"Your dead will come back to life; your corpses will rise up. Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits." Isaiah 26:19

“At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress unlike any other from the nation’s beginning up to that time. But at that time your own people, all those whose names are found written in the book, will escape. Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. But the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavenly expanse. And those bringing many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3

The prophet Hosea further tells us that God will redeem Israel from Sheol, which in Greek is translated as Hades:

"Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hid from my eyes." Hosea 13:14 RSV

We even find the Talmud stating that Hosea 6:1-2 will be fulfilled during the Messianic era, the time when the Messiah comes to restore Israel:

Our Rabbis taught: For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself of his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left:28 the son of David will not come until denunciators are in abundance.29 Another interpretation [of their power is gone]: until scholars are few. Another interpretation: until the [last] perutah has gone from the purse. Yet another interpretation: until the redemption is despaired of, for it is written, there is none shut up or left, as — were it possible [to say so] — Israel had neither Supporter nor Helper. Even as R. Zera, who, whenever he chanced upon scholars engaged thereon [I.e., in calculating the time of the Messiah's coming], would say to them: I beg of you, do not postpone it, for it has been taught: Three come unawares:30 Messiah, a found article and a scorpion.31

R. Kattina said: Six thousand years shall the world exist, and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.32; Abaye said: it will be desolate two [thousand], as it is said, After two days will he revive us: in the third day, he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.33

It has been taught in accordance with R. Kattina: Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,' and it is further said, A Psalm and song for the Sabbath day,34 meaning the day that is altogether Sabbath — 35 and it is also said, For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past.36

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation;37 two thousand years the Torah flourished;38 and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era,39 (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 97a; bold emphasis ours)

Thus, according to the OT God will resurrect his son Israel from Sheol on the third day!

To highlight some of the key points concerning Israel’s relationship to God, we discovered that:

  1. Israel is God’s son, his firstborn.
  2. God called his son out of Egypt.
  3. God tested his son in the wilderness.
  4. God will raise his son from the Grave/Sheol/Hades on the third day.

We now turn to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ to see if we can find any parallels between him and the nation.

To start off, it may come as a surprise to discover that one of the names of the Messiah according the Hebrew Scriptures is Israel!

"Listen to me, you coastlands! Pay attention, you people who live far away! The Lord summoned me from birth; he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the hollow of his hand; he made me like a sharpened arrow, he hid me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘You are my servant, ISRAEL, through whom I will reveal my splendor.’ But I thought, ‘I have worked in vain; I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.’ But the Lord will vindicate me; my God will reward me. So now the Lord says, the one who formed me from birth to be his servant— he did this to restore Jacob to himself, so that ISRAEL might be gathered to him; and I will be honored in the Lord’s sight, for my God is my source of strength— he says, ‘Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of ISRAEL? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.’ This is what the Lord, the protector of Israel, their sovereign king, says to the one who is despised and rejected by nations, a servant of rulers: ‘Kings will see and rise in respect, princes will bow down, because of the faithful Lord, the sovereign king of Israel who has chosen you.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you; in the day of deliverance I will help you; I will protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, to rebuild the land and to reassign the desolate property. You will say to the prisoners, "Come out," and to those who are in dark dungeons, "Emerge." They will graze beside the roads; on all the slopes they will find pasture. They will not be hungry or thirsty; the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, for one who has compassion on them will guide them; he will lead them to springs of water.’" Isaiah 49:1-10

Here, God’s servant Israel is sent to restore and gather the nation of Israel as well as bring God’s salvation to the nations! It is, therefore, apparent that we have two distinct entities that are called Israel, namely Yahweh’s Servant and the nation whom he is sent to save. In the words of the NET Bible:

This verse identifies the servant as Israel. This seems to refer to the exiled nation (cf. 41:8-9; 44:1-2, 21; 45:4; 48:20), but in vv. 5-6 this servant says he has been commissioned to reconcile Israel to God, so he must be distinct from the exiled nation. This servant is an ideal "Israel" who, like Moses of old, mediates a covenant for the nation (see v. 8), leads them out of bondage (v. 9a), and carries out God’s original plan for Israel by positively impacting the pagan nations (see v. 6b). By living according to God’s law, Israel was to be a model of God’s standards of justice to the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6-8). The sinful nation failed, but the servant, the ideal "Israel," will succeed by establishing justice throughout the earth. (*; *; bold emphasis ours)

Keeping the foregoing point in mind, it is little wonder that we find Jesus encountering similar experiences to that of national Israel.

For instance, like the nation before him Jesus was also called out of Egypt:

"After they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph saying, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.’ Then he got up, took the child and his mother at night, and went to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt.’" Matthew 2:13-15

And much like Israel, Jesus went through the waters before entering into the wilderness in order to be tested:

"After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.’" Matthew 3:16-17

The NET Bible translators state concerning this passage that:

Grk "my beloved Son," or "my Son, the beloved [one]." The force of agapêtos is often "pertaining to one who is the only one of his or her class, but at the same time is particularly loved and cherished" (L&N 58.53; cf. also BAGD 6 s.v. 1). (*; *)


"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread. But he answered, ‘It is written, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, "He will command his angels concerning you" and "with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once again it is written: "You are not to put the Lord your God to the test."’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all these things if you fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go away, Satan! For it is written: "You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him."’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs." Matthew 4:1-10

Here, the Lord Jesus cites Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16 and 13, which are all taken from Moses’ last discourse to the nation of Israel who were still wandering in the wilderness or desert as punishment for failing to trust God completely.

Thus, national Israel failed their period of testing in the wilderness whereas ideal or true Israel, i.e. the Messiah, perfectly passed his testing due to his perfect obedience to and complete trust in God.

Other similarities between the two include:

"From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." Matthew 16:21

"But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power. For David says about him, ‘I saw the Lord always in front of me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body also will live in hope, because you will not leave my soul in HADES, nor permit your Holy One to experience decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of joy with your presence.’ Brothers, I can speak confidently to you about our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to HADES, nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it." Acts 2:24-32

"You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)— you know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced: with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him up ON THE THIRD DAY and caused him to be seen, not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead." Acts 10:36-42

“because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29

"He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him — all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers — all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross — whether things on the earth or things in heaven." Colossians 1:13-20

“But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all the angels of God worship him!’” Hebrews 1:6

Let us review what we have learned thus far:

  1. Jesus is called Israel.
  2. Jesus is God’s Son, his firstborn.
  3. God called Jesus out of Egypt.
  4. God tested Jesus in the wilderness.
  5. God raised Jesus out of the Grave/Sheol/Hades on the third day.

It is now time to proceed to the final part of our analysis.