Where Does It Refer To Christ's Bodily Resurrection In The Old Testament On The Third Day?

1 Corinthians 15:2-3 states: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

This is a very important question. We know that there were prophecies in the Old Testament that foretold of Jesus' bodily resurrection such as Psalm 16:8-11, which was corroborated by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:24-28. Jesus stated that Jonah being inside the big fish for three days and three nights was a typological foreshadowing of His resurrection in Matthew 12:40. Where does it say though that He would rise again the third day according to the Scriptures?

It is very possible that Paul is referencing Hosea 6:1-2. It states: “Come and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

The historical context that is surrounding the book of Hosea is that the northern kingdom of Israel was committing spiritual adultery against God, their spiritual Husband, by clinging to idolatry. God's love is shown over and over again because He desires them to return to Him and be in faithful fellowship. If they choose not to return, then once their cup of iniquity is full (compare Genesis 15:4), God, because He is just and holy, must punish them by allowing a foreign nation (such as the Assyrians) to conquer them (which did indeed occur in 722 B.C).

In the historical context of Hosea 6, a remnant of the northern kingdom of Israel is crying out to God for help. There will be a faithful remnant who have a contrite and broken spirit who recognized they are in spiritual bankruptcy (who are nothing without God – Matthew 5:3). They realize they have been in physical and spiritual exile from God because they have been taken away from their homeland by the Assyrians and have forsaken their spiritual relationship with God. They realize that God is just and they need to be chastened for their immoral behavior (Proverbs 3:11,12). Some of them desire to show true repentance and a steadfast desire to live right in God's sight. They will undergo and experience what we would recognize later as a two-fold resurrection – a spiritual and physical resurrection.

Notice that it is Israel who is crying out that they might be resurrected. How does this have any connection to the bodily resurrection of Jesus?

In Isaiah 49:3-6, the Bible states: “And He said to me, ‘You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ Then I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the LORD, and my work with my God.’” And now the LORD says, ‘Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, And My God shall be My strength),’ Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

The nation of Israel was to be a faithful servant unto God by being a light to the Gentiles but failed in their task (Romans 2:21-24). God, in this prophecy, reveals that there is the Suffering Servant (whom we come to know as Jesus who will not fail God's mission) who would restore a remnant of Israel unto God. Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14). He is a true Israelite who was faithful to God throughout His life (Hebrews 4:15) because He never sinned. He underwent the experiences that the nation of Israel had gone through, such as being baptized in the Jordan river (Matthew 3:13-17; the nation of Israel was baptized in the Red Sea,1 Corinthians 10:1-4). They experienced temptations in the wilderness; whereas Jesus experienced temptations and did succeed in not yielding to temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus died on the cross of Calvary as a sin sacrifice (Hebrews 10:5-10) and rose again on the third day to never die physically again (Matthew 28:1-7). Jesus had come to bring men back into spiritual fellowship with God (Ephesians 2:1-2), but also to bring about a physical resurrection from physical death, the great enemy, that had long reigned over men (1 Corinthians 15:26,55,56; Hebrews 2:9; Hosea 13:14). We can know that God is faithful in His promises (Titus 1:2) because if He is able to bring about spiritual life to those who have obeyed the gospel, then He is capable of bringing about a physical resurrection at the end when the Lord returns again (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; John 5:28,29).

It was Jesus who was given the task of granting spiritual life – a spiritual resurrection – to those who desired to come back to God with a contrite and broken spirit by being obedient to the gospel of Christ (John 5:25-27; Romans 6:3,4,17-18). This fulfills part of Hosea 6:1-2 to those who were Jews who desired to return from spiritual exile unto God in being restored into fellowship with Him by identifying themselves with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3,4). The Suffering Servant had indeed come to bring a restored relationship to both Jews and Gentiles to those who identify with Him because He is the way of salvation (John 14:6; 2 Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 5:8,9). God also expects to bring both Jews and Gentiles who are obedient and faithful to God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), from physical exile (1 Peter 1:2; 2:11,12; Romans 8:18-25) and transform their physical bodies (since Jesus was the “firstfruits” of those who had fallen asleep – 1 Corinthians 15:20,23) so that they will be able to inhabit “the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

This is why it is the case that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is connected to Hosea 6:1-2 because the Lord resurrected on the third day. And those who identify with Jesus can also claim the same words of Hosea 6:1-2 states by living spiritually in fellowship with God, and one day (John 6:44,54; 11:24; 12:48), if we remain faithful, experiencing a physical resurrection where we will experience eternal life.



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