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    WERE THE DISCIPLES ABLE TO COUNT THREE?

    ...for they have located for us this “third” day. The two disciples on their way to Emmaus after the resurrection of Christ. (Luke 24:21), said, “To-day is the third day since these things were done.” And this day is particularly specified as “the first day of the week.” Verses 1, 13. Here we have a plain and immovable waymark to guide us in our reckoning; the first day of the week was the third day, - a remark evidently brought in here with design to identify the fulfillment of the numerous predictions that he should rise on the third day.DCRC 5.3

    But from what events did they commence their enumeration? How much was embraced in “these things?” Verse 20 answers. After stating what kind of person Jesus of Nazareth was, a prophet mighty in word and deed, they begin the enumeration of the “things” to which they refer. They say, “And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel, and besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done.”DCRC 6.1

    “These things” certainly include the trial of Christ as well as the crucifixion; and the first day of the week was the third day since this work commenced. Let us then count back and find the beginning. If the first day of the week was the third day since these things were done, the day preceding, or Sabbath, was the second, and the day before that, or Friday, was the first. But if, on account of the word “since,” any say that we must go back further still, we can go back only another day, which would carry us to Thursday; and this is as far as it is possible to go; and that, too, for the trial of Christ, and not merely for his crucifixion.DCRC 6.2

    This circumstance and this positive declaration of the disciples, evidently staggers Mr. Wardner in his argument. He meets it by saying: “Is it proper to make an incidental remark of an uninspired man, outweigh and set aside a carefully written statement of an inspired penman?” This raises again our question, “Were the disciples able to count three?” We do not imagine it would require a great deal of “inspiration” to enable the disciples, under their circumstances, to keep the count, of three or four days at least, after the crucifixion; and we believe they stated it with exact correctness, and Christ did not accuse them of wrong reckoning. No inspired writer, as we shall see, has prepared any carefully written statement which contradicts this.DCRC 6.3

    Not quite satisfied to leave it on that ground, Mr. W. hunts around to find some “prominent item” from which they might have reckoned, and fixes upon the setting of the watch at the sepulcher, as the great desideratum. He says:DCRC 6.4

    “Hence the setting of that watch would naturally be a prominent item among ‘all these things’ that they were talking over; and this was the third day after it”!!DCRC 7.1

    How much weight this is entitled to, may be estimated by reading again the words of the disciples to Christ, who say not one word about the setting of the watch, but dwell upon the trial and the crucifixion. A position which drives its adherents to such make-shifts as to try to discredit the statement of the disciples because they were not inspired (as if they could not keep track of time for three days), and then set up an artificial starting-point from which to reckon, of which the disciples make no mention whatever, sufficiently betrays its inherent weakness.DCRC 7.2

    We have two notable instances which show us how both Christ and the apostles reckoned “the third day.” When it was feared that Herod was plotting the destruction of Jesus, and he was desired to depart out of Herod’s jurisdiction, he made reply: “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.” Luke 13:32. Here the day then current when the conversation was held, though a portion of it had of course passed, was counted as one, the morrow as two, and the third day after the morrow, as three.DCRC 7.3

    Again in Acts 27:18, 19, Paul, in giving an account of his shipwreck, says: “And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; and the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.” Here, also, the day on which the event first mentioned occurred, is reckoned as the first, the day following as the second, and the next the third.DCRC 7.4

    Applying the same rule to the time of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have the day on which the events first spoken of occurred, the trial and crucifixion of Christ, as the first day of the series; the day which he passed in the tomb as the second day; and the day on which he arose and appeared to his disciples, the third day. And such a period the people of that time were accustomed to speak of as “three days,” “after three days,” the “third day,” “three days, night or day,” “three days and three nights,” as is clearly shown by the passages already referred to. Elder W. may, if he chooses, call the method by which Christ and his apostles reckoned time, “loose interpretation.” We do not so regard it. But whether it was or not, our duty is to follow the same rule when interpreting their words.DCRC 7.5

    A portion of our first proposition (namely, that the view that Christ was crucified on Wednesday and arose on the Sabbath, rests on assumption) is now proved. The claim that the expression, “three days and three nights,” means just seventy-two hours, no more, no less, is an assumption. It cannot be proved. All the evidence goes to show that it means, or at least may mean, a less period than that; for the use of equivalent expressions in the Scriptures, demonstrates that it was the custom of Bible writers to use the phrase “three days and three nights” to signify a period less than seventy-two hours; and the fact that they so used it, utterly destroys it as proof that Christ must lie in the tomb just seventy-two hours.DCRC 8.1

    The other leg of the seventy-two hour theory, namely, that the expression, “heart of the earth,” means the grave, is an equally unwarranted assumption. If it does not mean that, then the structure built upon their main proof text (Matthew 12:40) suffers an utter collapse. If “three days and three nights” do not mean seventy-two hours, as we have shown that they do not, and “heart of the earth” does not mean the grave, as we will show that it does not, what ground is left for the seventy-two hour theory? - None at all. But we ask, Where is the proof that “heart of the earth” means “grave”? We have, time and again, called for proof on this point, but have never yet succeeded in securing any response. We have carefully searched through a dozen arguments on that side of the question, and not the first attempt do we find to prove that “heart of the earth” means the “grave.” The quiet assurance with which all these writers take this point for granted, the imperturbable indifference and obliviousness with which they pass it by, is astonishing. What can be said to awaken in their minds the idea that here is a point that must be proved, before their theory will stand?DCRC 8.2

    The expression “the heart of the earth,” has no more reference to the grave, than it has to the moon.DCRC 9.1

    The word “heart” primarily means the organ by which the circulation of the blood is kept up in the body. Of course it is not here used in that sense; nor is it used in its secondary sense of the “seat of the affections;” nor yet in its third meaning, as “the part nearest the center,” as the “heart of a tree” the “heart of a country,” etc.; for Christ was not buried in the center of the earth. Evidently the sense in which it is used is a figurative one; but what is there about the grave to make such a figure appropriate, as applied to it? - Nothing whatever. But if the heart of the earth does not mean the grave, then, even if three days and three nights mean absolutely seventy-two hours, it is not proved that Christ was to lie in the tomb that length of time. These are the two main pillars of the seventy-two hour theory; and both of these are assumptions.DCRC 9.2

    That this view has been adopted by the few who entertain it, with a good motive, we have no question. It has seemed to them a masterly stroke of policy to destroy the Sunday error at one blow. They say, “if the principal and fundamental premise of Sunday-keepers - ‘Jesus rose on Sunday’ - appears uncertain, or is false, than all arguments, premises, and conclusions of Sunday advocates are ruined at once. It supersedes the necessity, on our part, of following them through all their arguments of assumption, etc., and compels them to acknowledge that the weapon they hold in their hand is only an illusion.”DCRC 9.3

    This would be true only on one condition, and that is, that the Sunday-keeper would acknowledge that the position of the Sabbath-keeper was correct, that Christ did not rise on Sunday. But this is just what he will not do, and what the Sabbath-keeper cannot prove. Then what advantage is gained?DCRC 9.4

    Let us imagine an attempt to meet a Sunday-keeper on this ground. The Sunday-keeper says, “I keep Sunday because the Lord arose from the dead on that day.” The Sabbath-keeper replies that he is wrong to keep it for that reason, because Christ did not arise from the dead on that day. He must have arisen the evening before the first day; for he was put into the tomb near the close of some day, and was to remain in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, just seventy-two hours, hence his resurrection must have taken place at about the close of the Sabbath, and not on Sunday at all. And his crucifixion was on the preceding Wednesday. The Sunday-keeper asks him to prove that the phrase “three days and three nights” means just seventy-two hours, confining the resurrection to the close of the day; and that the “heart of the earth” means the “grave.”DCRC 9.5

    By raising these questions, the point of the controversy is at once shifted from the Sabbath question proper to that of the time of Christ’s resurrection. And giving it such a turn is a virtual confession that the resurrection of Christ has a decisive bearing on the question as to which day is the Sabbath; but this is wholly untrue; it has no bearing on the Sabbath question whatever; the Sabbath-keeper takes upon himself propositions which it is impossible for him to prove, and the vantage ground every way is given to the Sunday-keeper. Such is the position a person puts himself in, who undertakes to work the Sunday question on this line of argument. The Sunday-keeper retires from the field triumphant, confirmed in his conviction that the resurrection of Christ determines the day of the Sabbath, and that that day is Sunday. It must, therefore, inevitably prove a damage, rather than a help, to the Sabbath cause. This is the second indictment we hold against this view.DCRC 10.1

    We believe it is acknowledged to be a sound principle in all discussions, to go as far as possible with an opponent, reducing the issue to as small a compass and as few particulars as practicable; for in this way can questions be the soonest and most satisfactorily settled. But the seventy-two-hour theory enlarges, rather than contracts, the field of discussion, and that, too, on an issue for which there is no foundation whatever. When the Sunday-keeper claims the first-day institution on the fact of Christ’s resurrection upon that day, grant him his supposed fact, even if only for the sake of the argument; and then show him that though this was the case, it has not the remotest bearing on the question of which day is the Sabbath, and affords no ground whatever for the observance of the first day of the work. And this can be done a thousand-fold more easily than the average Sunday-keeper can be convinced that Christ did not rise on the first day of the week, and the desired object would be as fully gained by this method as by the other. Under these circumstances, why take the impossible side?DCRC 10.2

    Before proceeding to the direct testimony of the Scriptures on the subject before us, a few thoughts concerning that peculiar phrase, “the heart of the earth,” will be in order. We have already noticed some things to which it cannot refer. Let us now consider what it may mean. It is here to be carefully borne in mind that the comparison is between the experience of Jonah and that of Christ. Jonah was for a time in a condition that illustrated a condition which Christ would for a time be in. And what part of Jonah’s experience is taken? - The time when he was inside the great fish by which he was swallowed. His condition then represented Christ “in the heart of the earth.” The point of inquiry then is, What, in Jonah’s case, corresponded to “the heart of the earth” in Christ’s case? The answer is, The living fish which had actively taken Jonah into its own power, and under whose control he was till he was cast forth upon the dry land. Jonah was not in the bottom of the sea, nor laid in some submarine cavern, nor in dead earth anywhere, but was in a living monster which bore him whithersoever he would. So when Christ was in a corresponding condition “in the heart of the earth,” we must look for him not merely in the embrace of the lifeless grave, the inert tomb, but under the dominion of some living power. We must not do violence to the comparison; the living fish is no fit symbol of the grave. But it will be asked, Does not Christ refer to the time he would be in the grave? That time is of course included; but that is not the condition to which he especially referred. He was not in the heart of the earth because he was in the grave; but he was in the grave incidentally, because he was in the heart of the earth; that is, he was under the control of a power which put him in the grave - a power corresponding to the living fish which swallowed Jonah.DCRC 11.1

    It will be conceded by all that the expression “the heart of the earth,” is a figurative one, because there is no literal sense in which the application can be made. Now, taken figuratively, in what sense is the word “earth” most frequently used in the Scriptures? - It is used in such a sense to represent the inhabitants of the earth. It is so used in Revelation 12:16: “And the earth helped the woman;” also in Isaiah 1:2: “Give ear, O earth;” and in Jeremiah 22:29: “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.” Here the word is used to denote the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Satan is the god of this world, the head of its prevailing multitudes, who constitute the children of the wicked one. Into the hands of these the Son of man was to be for a time delivered. Christ often makes a special point of this: “The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men.” Matthew 17:22. The Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Matthew 26:45. And this is what we understand he meant by declaring that he should be “in the heart of the earth;” that is, under the full control and power of wicked men and devils, so that they could accomplish the evil desires of their hearts concerning him. And when he was thus delivered over to them, he declared plainly, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.Luke 22:53.DCRC 12.1

    In nine instances where it is declared that he will rise on the third day, the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion are specified as included in the events to occur during the three days; and from the first of these, and not from the burial, the period is to be reckoned. Thus: -DCRC 12.2

    Matthew 16:21: “From that time forth, began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”DCRC 12.3

    Matthew 17:22, 23: “The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.”DCRC 12.4

    Matthew 20:18, 19: “The Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”DCRC 13.1

    Mark 9:31: “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.”DCRC 13.2

    Mark 10:33, 34: “The Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: and they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him; and the third day he shall rise again.”DCRC 13.3

    Luke 18:32, 33: “For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again.”DCRC 13.4

    Luke 24:7: “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”DCRC 13.5

    Luke 24:20, 21: “And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done.”DCRC 13.6

    Luke 24:46: “Thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”DCRC 13.7

    In all these scriptures it will be noticed that his being given over “into the hands of men,” “the hands of the Gentiles,” and “the hands of sinners,” is made equally prominent with the other events; and the trial and condemnation and crucifixion are inseparably connected with the resurrection, as coming within the three days. During all this time he was “in the heart of the earth” - that is, under the dominion of sinful men. This idea corresponds much better with the case of Jonah. He was in the stomach of the fish, under the control of a living monster, not buried in dead earth; so Christ was under the domination of living men and devils. He was no more in the heart of the earth when in the grave, than he was when hanging upon the cross; no more in the heart of the earth when in the tomb, than he was when the mob had secured actual control over him, after his betrayal by Judas.DCRC 13.8

    Reckoning from this standpoint, how much time have we? Near the close of the day on Thursday, he prepared to eat the passover with his disciples. The evening following (Thursday night as we would now call it; Friday, or sixth day, night as it was then), Judas and his mob came out with torches, and swords, and staves, and he was betrayed into their hands. All that night and the next day till the third hour, was occupied with the trial; from the third to the ninth hour, with the crucifixion. From about the ninth hour to the beginning of the seventh day, the burial was attended to. All that night, the day following, and the succeeding night were passed by him in the tomb. Early on the morning of the first day of the week, he arose. This gives us three full nights, two full days, and a portion of the third day, making it strictly true that on the third day he arose. The following diagram will illustrate these points: -DCRC 13.9

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