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Up Way Publications 35th Anniversary
Message of the Month
Volume 04 No. 01                                                                                            March 17, 2002
No Sign But The Sign of the Prophet Jonas
This message was first written  by Samuel M. Smith March, 2002 ©2002 Up Way Publications. 
Most Christians, today, whether real born-again Christians, or just those who think they are Christian because of their family or heritage, accept unquestioningly that Jesus Christ was crucified on "Good Friday" at the noon hour buried that evening and arose on Sunday morning before daybreak.

But does this make sense in the light of not just one, but eight prophecies by Jesus Christ, Himself, that He would be in the "...heart of the earth..." or "... As Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights..." and not only did He say so once, but no less than eight (8)  New Testament scriptures refer to this time length.

Some people will say, "Why do you insist on making this point?  It's not a salvation issue."

Really? Consider this: As many times as Jesus and other prophets declared the fact that Jesus would be in the grave three days and three nights, if He was in the grave any less or any significant time more, then He was not who He said He was. If He not in the grave three days and three nights, then He was and is not the Messiah, the Son of God, and his death and burial could not therefore have paid for your sins and mine! So since He, Himself, declared that the ONLY SIGN that would be given to that wicked and adulterous generation was the three days and three  nights in the grave, then if He was not telling the truth, if He was not the Messiah, then He was not the sacrificial Lamb of God, the disciples stole His body as the guards were bribed to say so here really was no resurrection  and we are none of us saved. So is it important? It is absolutely VITAL that He really did fulfill that prophecy! 

Now when you consider how people in the Middle East, particularly the orthodox  Jewish or Israelite people, reckon their days, it becomes instantly apparent that there is no way to get three days and three nights into the time frame from noon Friday to before dawn 

Sunday.  From noon Friday until noon on Saturday is only one 24-hour day no matter how you try to count it as two days.  And since the scripture is clear that He had already arisen from the grave before dawn of Sunday morning,  then if His crucifixiontook place on Friday and He was buried at about sunset Friday, then from Sunset Friday to sunset Saturday was only one day  and according to Matthew 28:1-4, it says that just before dawn, a gleaming presence of an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to the keepers (Roman or Jewish Temple? guards). The account goes on to relate how the guards came to the chief priests and were assured that if they accepted a large bribe to not tell what really happened, the priests would defend them against Roman punishmet for sleeping on guard duty. 

The reason for indicating an uncertainty about whose guards were at the tomb, we need to read Matthew 27:63-66 where we see that Pilate, the Roman governor says in verse 65, that the priests "have a watch" and tells them to go their way and set their watch. Based on what is known of Roman law, it would not seem likely that Roman soldiers would be placed under the direction or command of leaders of an enslaved nation nor that nation's religion.  Yet we see the priests "So they went, andmade the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch." (v.66)

We often hear about the dire consequences if a Roman soldier slept while on guard duty, and yet most preachers and teachers seem to think the Jewish priests had enough power to prevent Roman law from punishing Romans for breaking Roman law. This has to be a stretch of the imagination. The guards of the watch must have been Jewish Temple Guards detached to this special assignment. There obviously had to be temple guards, since there was a great deal of gold and other wealth in the temple which needed to be protected. The religious sacredness of the place was already offset by the fact that 

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this was not the original Temple built by King 
Solomon hundreds of years earlier, but Herod's Temple, built much more recently by a man whose religious inclinations were, at best, suspect. Therefore, after centuries of backslidden and often idolatrous attitudes and beliefs, the people were not considered to be as awed by the holiness of the place as they would have been in Solomon's time.

To understand the importance of when Jesus was crucified and when He arose from the grave, we need to take serious note of His word to the Pharisees: 
Matthew 12:38  Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
39  But he answered and said unto them, 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:40  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.
41  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
42  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." and in Chapter 16, still in Matthew, apparently on a second occasion, Jesus declares: "1  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. 2  He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3  And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4  A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed." The event, or one of them is reported also in Luke 11:29-32 where we read:  "29  And when the people were 

gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
30  For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
31  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
32  The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." 

Even if there were no other scriptures to affirm the need for three days and nights to be fulfilled between Jesus burial and resurrection, these are more than enough to establish the fact that either Jesus knew and correctly prophesied how long He would be in the grave as a sign to the unbelievers as well as the believers or else He didn't know or He lied.  If He was the real and genuine Son of God as well as Son of man, then He had to know and what He said must take precedence over all the teachings of men.

Jesus established that the length of time He would be in the grave would establish the authenticity of who He was. He also made it clear that He was greater than the revered King Solomon or the Queen of Sheba or the prophet Jonah. This, of course rankled the Jewish religious leaders who realized full well who He was declaring Himself to be. But they wanted none of Him. Like far too many religious leaders of today, they had their own little good thing going and He, if He really was the Messiah, would upset their proverbial apple carts, just as He had uposet the tables of the money changers in the temple. 

So for so-called Christians to teach that Jesus was only in the grave a day and a half,  when calculated by the time measurement standard in that era, is to say that Jesus was wrong. It says that we know better than He did.
 

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This teaching is not original with me. I first learned of it from a former Assemblies of God missionary to Palestine who served more than twenty (20) years on the field. Sister Serena Hodgen was my New Testament Survey teacher at Bible College.  She pointed out the total impossibility of getting three days and nights from after noon or more accurately just before sunset Good Friday to pre-dawn Sunday. 
She was also quite positive as to the day of the week the Passover fell on the year Jesus was crucified. While many modern English and American theologians argue over the exact day and date, the Bible specified repeatedly beginning with Exodus 12:18 whereGod tells Moses, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." Preceeding verses establish that the Passover was to be like a seven day Sabbath in which no work was to be done.  The faithful Orthodox Jews know exactly the day and year of the crucifixion.

Many times later in Exodus as well as Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, specifics of the Passover are repeated. Always it is the fourteenth day of the First month which is elsewhere identified as Adar. To be accurate by date, then, we should celebrate the crucifixion on the day before the Jewish Passover which, because of a slightly different method of calculating dates between the Jewish and our own Gregorian calendars, does not always fall on the same day of the modern month. Crucifixion day is rightfully always the thirteenth day of the Jewish month Adar. And since the days always begin at sunset and we know that Joseph of Arimethea came to Pilate "at even(ing)" and begged permission to take down His body from the cross and place it in his own tomb. Thus, we know by scripture that Jesus was buried at about sunset of the day before the official date of Passover, the fourteenth (14th) and therefore the thirteenth (13th). Since we know that the passover that year fell on our Thursday, the Crucifixion had to have been on Wednesday. Sunset wednesday to sunset Thursday equals one day. Sunset Thursday to sunset friday is the second day and sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is three days. Before dawn of Sunday, Jesus had arisen. In fact there are those who believe that the dawn spoken of in one of the Gospels actually meant 

before the sunset Saturday issued in the new day of the week or the dawning of the new day's name. However, I believe this is nearly as much a stretch as those who overlook the fact that the whole week of Passover was actually considered to be a High or Holy Sabbath. Contrary to the Catholic Church's teachings on the subject, it was the week that BEGAN with Passover that was considered the Holy Week of Passover. Of course we can view it from the standpoint of the momentuous events in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ from His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem until His Resurrection as our new Christian "Holy Week" but then where does the "Lenten" season come into it? The Jews and earlier Israelites abstained from anything with "leaven" in it during the week following the passover, not preceeding it.

The whole point, or points I am making or attempting to make here is that we need to look at what the Bible really does say and teach rather than what tradition or dear old Pastor Jones or the learned Dr. Stephens says or said about it. True, we do need the definitions of words and the understanding of Bible days customs and sometimes we must rely on such men, but if a clear and definite scripture directly contradicts the supposed fact taught by our more recent "expert," we need to go back to the Bible. If we truly study God's word, nearly every one of these points will be explained somewhere. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee...." (Hosea 4:6). We need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10,11 and study whether these things be so, and to obey the Apostle Paul's exhortation to Timothy to Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Yes, it is important when Jesus died and when He arose again because to put any length of time on that period is to say He is not true to His word which is blasphemy. 

The Friday teaching began with a religious leader who said if it was the day before the Sabbath, obviously, it had to be Friday, either  forgetting the three days and nights prophecies or intentionally pointing people into unbelief.

But as we have already established, the entire week of the Jewish Passover, BEGINNING with the Day of Passover was considered to be the highest of all High Sabbaths. While the Gospel of John is the only one that specifies this 


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 fact, "(for that sabbath day was an high day,)..." (John 19:31), the fact is pretty well established in the other gospels though not stated so clearly.
I would urge each of you who reads this Message to pray about what I have said here, then decide for yourself, "Will I go along with the crowd and be a part of the Good Friday heresy, or will I stand up for Jesus' word that three days and nights would be the only sign given to a wicked and adulterous generation?"
 

--S.M.S.
UP WAY PUBLICATIONS
P. O. Box 1015
Kailua, HI 96734-1015 U. S. A.

ENDNOTES:

(See Matthew 28:11-15.) 11  "Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12  And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13  Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14  And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15  So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. "

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