A question was posed to me a few weeks ago that I have been pondering ever since. Do you ever have those biblical questions that you just want to sit on for a while and contemplate, wondering what it really means. You think you know, but you are not sure, so you seek the Holy Spirit to guide you to an answer because it is He that will guide you into all truth. You ask God for wisdom and your faith doesn’t waver so you know He will give you the wisdom you asked for. This was one of those questions. I gave my friend a quick thought, and the more I ponder it, the more I think the Holy Spirit spoke tome in an instant and gave me those words I shared with him.
In Matthew 12:38 the Pharisees come to Jesus and ask Him to show them a sign. I found this a little funny, since he has already been ministering for over a year, healing the sick, opening blind eyes, making the lame to walk and the dumb to speak. Certainly they had heard of these deeds and maybe, upon giving them the benefit of the doubt, they had never been present to witness one of these miracles. They wanted to see for themselves, much like Thomas did the night of His return from the dead. After all, it would be much easier to believe Him if they could see and actual sign!
Jesus knows their hearts though. He tells them an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. WOAH! Wait a minute! How often do we seek signs? How often do we need a miracle to happen in our lives in order for us to believe he is the good and merciful God we have heard about? I hear a lot of people praying to God for miracles all the time and when they don’t get them, they question God. They wonder if He really hears their prayers, if He really cares about them. Even though His word tells us He does, they still question. Does that make us an evil and adulterous generation? We should worship God for who He is, not for what He will do for us. There is a huge difference there, and we should make sure we are praising Him for the right reasons. That way our praise can be unceasing and our love will never die. But that is not the point I am writing this about.
The next thing Jesus says is even more intriguing. In Matthew 12:40, He 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.
Let me check my math here. Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday, right? Friday, Saturday, Sunday – that’s three days. But Friday night and Saturday night are only two nights, right? He says three nights. My friend misquoted the verse by saying Jesus was three days in the heart of the ground. But it says earth here. So, what happened to the third night?
I think Thursday night was the third night – the night of the Last Supper and the Garden, the several trials also. It was then that He gave Himself up, that he was no longer a man of this earth. How could any earthly man endure the suffering he went through? How could anyone not want to atop Jonas from leaving the upper room and betraying Him? How could any man not call upon all the power He had to dispel the Roman guards that came to take Him away? How could He face the Sanhedrin and Pilate without defending Himself before the sun even came up? My thought is that no living human could. Only a person who had fully died to himself could go through this chain of events that happened Thursday night into Friday morning. For all intents and purposes, Jesus really died Thursday night. His power, His anointed preaching, His ability to call on His Father – all gone. From that moment on, nothing could kill Him because he had already consigned himself to death. Three nights in the heart of the earth.
We can learn a valuable lesson from this. This world is going to come at Christians more and more in these last days. We are seeing it now and will continue to see the persecution rise. It started back in the 70’s, with the Bible and prayer being taken out of our schools. But today it is so much worse. Today, there is an all-out assault on the church by the LGBTQ+ coalition. They are splitting churches wide open and are perverting the scriptures with their misinterpretation. They are winning even the dearest of saints over to their side and indoctrinating our children even as young as kindergarten age. Free speech will be next as they seek to stop us from reading certain parts of the Bible. Oppression will hit us all eventually, and we must be prepared.
In my mind, the only way to be prepared is to die to ourselves. We are supposed to crucify this flesh, let it die, so the Spirit can live within us in this world. We are supposed to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If my body can be offended and made weak by the attack of the enemy, what good will I be to the Kingdom of God? We cannot allow ourselves to be offended, but rather to stand on the word of God when the enemy comes roaring in like a lion. And he will come, you can depend on that. He came against Jesus! He certainly has no fear coming against us. If we react in the flesh, we are doomed. But if we react in the Spirit, as Jesus did, we will be victorious every time. Jesus trusted God in the middle of the assault, and we should as well. The third night shows us that. It was in the third night, which actually came first, that all the enemy’s arsenal was used against Jesus. He did not flinch. He did not get offended. He did not complain. He just did what God called Him to do. And we should do the same!