The Anti-Missionary’s Charge:
In Luke 24:46-47, Luke tells us that Jesus rose on the third day:
“Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:4:
“…and Jesus was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”.
However, the Jewish Scriptures say something quite different. Hosea 5:15 sets the scene and explains the situation very clearly:
“I (God) will go, I will return to My place until they will acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their distress they will seek Me.”
Hosea explains in verse 15 that God sent a clear-cut message to Israel through His prophets; you heard and refused to repent, so My offer resulted in your death sentence. How could I vindicate you after such defiance? Then Hosea says in Hosea 6:1-2:
“Come let us return to God for He has mangled us and He will heal us; He has smitten and He will bandage us. He will heal us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up and we will live before Him.”
We, of course, refers to the nation of Israel.
The anti-missionary is absolutely correct.
We do not believe for a moment that Paul or Luke was referring to Hosea 6:2 when he wrote, “…and Jesus was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” The Hosea passage is not related to Yeshua‘s (Jesus) resurrection on the third day. This is an example of a “straw man” argument. What is a “straw man” argument? A “straw man” argument is an argument deliberately set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated. Instead, Paul and Luke are referring to the book of Jonah, chapter 2:1-11 in the Hebrew Bible (Jonah 1:17-20 in the English Bible). There Jonah drowned, is in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, was resurrected and then regurgitated. He went through an experience similar to the experience that Yeshua went through. This is an example of Literal Prophecy plus Typical Fulfillment (Remez).
Jonah is a type. The word “type” is generally used to denote a resemblance between something present and something future. The future item is called the “antitype.” Chapter 2 of Jonah is where we should look to find the reference made by Paul and Luke, “written … according to the Scriptures.” This would be Jonah 2:1 in the Hebrew Bible or Jonah 1:17 in the English Bible.
“And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.”
Paul and Luke handle Jonah in this manner because this is exactly how Yeshua used the verse in Matthew 12:40:
“…for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
In addition, note Yeshua’s words recorded in Luke 11:30:
“For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation.”
The sign that Yeshua is referring to is the sign of resurrection. The resurrected Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites. The resurrected Jesus was a sign to Israel. In summary, Paul was right on track when he made his comment “according to the Scriptures.” The objection misses the mark because the objection goes to the wrong Scripture verse. We should take our direction from what the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) has to say about the “third day.” The Brit Chadashah directs us to Jonah and not to Hosea.