For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:4)
I had the misfortune of having a christian try to convert me by means of a missionary called Chuck Missler. Why was it a misfortune? Because … well … let’s just say he is a perfect student of the Paul in that he is excellent at misquoting scriptures, using mistranslation, ripping texts out of context to make a point. He takes it a few steps further by trying to use quaint little patterns in the Jewish Bible and interpret in his special way to point to his Jesus. Throughout his 2-hour talk I would shout out in disbelief with regards to his hatchet job on the Jewish Bible or wince at his awful misrepresentations of texts that had no sign of Jesus yet were stuffed to contortion with his belief that Jesus is supposed to be on every page. Of course this belief leads to painting Jesus into places he never was. But does he give a damn? Hell no!
Anyway, one great example is how he deals with Paul’s statement above, a statement echoing something said in the gospels. Paul claims that Jesus’ being resurrected on the third day is “according to Scripture.” Having read all of the Jewish Bible, I already know there is no such prophecy, nothing that relates to the messiah having died and getting resurrected.
Do you want to see how Chuck Missler handles it? Do you have a choice?
So here’s how he deals with it: he looks for any place in the Jewish Bible that talks about or even supposedly insinuates three days! That’s it. Find a place that refers somehow to three days and that is his evidence for a prophecy of a third-day resurrection!
You don’t believe me, do you?
OK, the DVD was called “Footsteps of the Messiah” and, on that DVD, there is a PDF that has notes of his talk. Let me quote you the relevant part.
Christ (in the tomb)?
1) Abraham (Isaac dead to him); Gen 22:4, Heb 11:19.
2) Joseph (dreams in prison); Gen 40.
3) Esther (fasted 3 days); Est 6:16.
4) Jonah (in the fish); Mt 12:40.
5) Nation Israel (asks Jesus to return); Hos 6:2.
6) Tola worm; Ps 22:6.
7) Rahab’s cord; Jos 2:15-18. (emphasis mine)
Now before I discuss the one that I highlighted, is it ok if I state the obvious? Oh yeah, you can’t really talk back. Well, I’m talking to myself in a way, so it’s all good. So yes, David, state the obvious! Why thank you, David. Here’s the obvious: not a single one of the “old testament” passages, not one, is a messianic prophecy. Even Hoshea 6:2 has no sign of messiah or a Davidic king in its context.
[ASIDE: You may have heard the christian rejection of understanding Isaiah 53 to speak of the nation of Israel despite the fact that Isaiah himself identifies the servant of God as the nation Israel. To quote Isaak Troki in his book, Hizzuk Emunah (or Faith Strengthened), chapter 22,
The words, “Behold my servant shall prosper,” to the end of the 53rd chapter, concern the people of Israel, who are still bearing the yoke of this captivity, and are termed my servant in the singular number, which expression is used in many other places; for example, Isaiah 41:8-9, “And thou, O Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend.” Again, “And I say unto thee, Thou art my servant.” In chapter 44:21, Isaiah says, “And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen;” and further on, “Fear not, my servant Jacob;” and “Remember these things, O Jacob and Israel, for thou art my servant.” “I have formed thee to be my servant.” Ibid 45:4, “For the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen one.”
That’s not all the Israel-servant references in Isaiah just before chapter 53 but it’s some of them.
So despite Isaiah calling the servant of God Israel, some christians will complain that Isaiah 53 can’t refer to Isaiah because the language is just oh so singular and Israel is a nation of many. Now I’m not going to refute that here. I’m just going to compare that argument with Hoshea 6:2. Now Hoshea chapter 6 verses 1, 2 and 3 uses the langauge of “we.”
“Come and let us return to the Lord; because he has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck, and he will bind up [our wounds]. He will revive us after two days: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his presence. And let us acknowledge it, that we may pursue to know the Lord; bright as the morning-dawn is his rising; and he will come as the rain to us, as the latter rain that makes the earth fruitful.”
If they were consistent (that can be asking a lot, I know) then that use of “we” alone (apart from the messiah-free context) should eliminate this verse from any proof that it’s about the promised Davidic king. Well, I can hope. I ain’t holding my breath.
Anyway, back to that list! Absolutely none of them are messianic prophecies, and all but one are historical narratives, telling something that happened in history with no hint that it’s some sort of type or allegory for a responding anti-type.
So essentially there is no third day prophecies. In fact, Chuck Missler is making stuff up, just basing his link on the notion of three days regardless of context.
But let’s look at this one I highlighted. Let’s look at this proof for Jesus being resurrected in three days.
Abraham (Isaac dead to him); Gen 22:4
Do you know what exactly happens in Genesis 22 verse 4?
On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
… *deadpan stare*
Yes, absolutely diddly squat about a resurrection on the third day.
So apparently Abraham considered Isaac dead, right? Here are a few simple question. Was Isaac really dead? Nope! Did Isaac even die? Nope! Does the text even say that Isaac was dead to Abraham? Nope! Textually this has nothing, nothing to do with a resurrection after three days or on the third day. Yet that is Chuck Missler’s superficial methods of hermeneutics: throw enough verses at a subject and hope something sticks. Here’s the problem though: nothing sticks.
What this dude has done is the exact opposite of what he sought. He wanted to show that the prophecy that “Christ should resurrect in three days” is truly according to scripture. What he has in fact done is show that such a prophecy is absent, and the best a person can do is follow the example of Paul: twist scripture until it breaks to make it seem as if it accords your point. But it doesn’t accord with the point they want to make. So there is no point!