And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. Luke 24:15-16

The scene is exquisite. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women with them had come back from the empty tomb to tell the apostles and disciples gathered together that Jesus is risen. The men didn’t believe them and took their testimony as mere idle talk. Unfortunately, misogyny has a long history! Even though Peter and John had raced to the tomb and confirmed the report, they came back scratching their heads unsure of what had transpired.

Now, two disciples – Cleopas and his friend – are walking to Emmaus and discussing the week’s events. In particular, they were attempting to comprehend the testimony of the women in light of the apostolic perplexion concerning the empty tomb. And Jesus ambles alongside them and says, “What are you discussing with such sadness on your journey?” Have you ever been entertained in a book or movie by the mysterious character, the man with no name who ventures in with impeccable timing seemingly ignorant yet full of wisdom beyond others as the story develops and reveals his true identity? Meet the master of this in reality!

Luke 24:17-21
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass therein these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. KJV[1]

What things, he asks. After all he had been through, I can’t help but feel that he’s enjoying himself. Jesus pressed through the Garden, was pounded to the cross, pushed through the depths of hell and back and now he walks with two disciples who can’t recognize him and asks with a straight face: What things? Priceless!

Note the disciples’ consternation in verse 21. To top it all off, they say, it’s been three days since all this happened! “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” Proverbs 25:2 tells us, “but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.” Whenever one happens upon three days or a third day in Scripture, one would do well to search the matter out because Jesus is concealed therein.

Luke 24:25-27
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Undoubtedly, this had to have been one of the most exciting Bible lessons in recorded history. There were no pews or cushioned chairs, no handouts or slideshows, not even a scroll between them; just Rabboni walking with two disciples and expounding the Scriptures about himself. Consider Jesus’s commitment to the written word of God from this juncture in his history. His answer to doubting disciples struggling with the reality of his resurrection wasn’t the big reveal of “It’s me, fellas! Check it out!” It was a deliberate walk through the testimony of Scripture in order for their hope to reside first and foremost in the truth of the word of God and only secondarily on experience.

Luke did not give us the particulars of the discussion, but he did point us in the general direction. Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he reports, Jesus expounded the Scriptures to them. I can’t help but to think that at some point he reminded them of his own pre-crucifixion teaching on this from Jonah.[2] In that spirit, I would like to focus on three third days in Moses.

The witness of the resurrection begins early in Scripture. One doesn’t get out of the first chapter of Genesis before this principle appears. The creation is a flooded, formless void. God speaks forth light, divides it from the darkness, names the light Day and the darkness Night and calls a close to day one. Within the next evening and morning, He puts in the expanse of heaven and gathers the waters below it to one place and the work of the second day is done.

Genesis 1:9-13
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

On the third day, the ground (Adam’s body) came out of the deep (death) and brought forth living plants (“I am the vine”; “Except a corn of wheat fall”) that yielded fruit (“Behold, I and the children which God hath given me”). All this work was completed at the close of the third day.

From the creation account we move to perhaps the most seminal type[3] for Christ’s crucifixion: the offering of Isaac.

Genesis 22:1-4
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

A paradigm that might interfere with our understanding of prophecy is our Western predilection to viewing it in the Greek construct of foretelling-fulfillment. Though there is a substantial amount of this type of prophecy in the Scripture – whole books of it even – the majority of it is presented in the Hebraic construct of type-antitype. From the Hebraic perspective, prophecy is pattern; history repeating itself for the instruction of man about what is to come. The Akedah, the biding of Isaac, is the classic example.

Isaac is the son of promise. Jesus is the Son of Promise. Isaac is beloved of Abraham. Jesus is the beloved of the Father. Abraham is to offer up Isaac as the Father will offer up the Son, except in the case of the Son no ram was found in the thicket. From the day that Abraham saddled his ass, Isaac was a dead man; much like the death row inmate who is considered a “dead man walking” on his way to the execution chamber.

Hebrews 11:17-19
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Isaac was a figure, a type, of him who was to come. When God told Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him, Isaac was dead. When the angel restrained his hand and Isaac was brought from the altar alive, he was figuratively resurrected. The intervening time frame between the two events was three days.

Our next story includes both pattern and prediction. Joseph is serving as the head trustee in Pharaoh’s prison for refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. While there, he’s given the task of tending to Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker. One man is in charge of the king’s wine, the other of his bread. Anytime one sees wine and bread in the same section of Scripture, Jesus is sitting just behind the veil.

Genesis 40:5
And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.

Both of these men had their dreams on the same night. Though the outcomes are exactly opposite, their occurrence can be seen as concurrent. The butler – the king’s cupbearer – dreams of a vine with three branches that budded, blossomed, and bore fruit (Gen 40:9-10). This image is repeated in reality on Aaron’s staff that alone of all the tribal elders’ emblems budded, blossomed, and bore fruit bearing testimony that Aaron was the chosen high priest (Num 17:8).

In the dream, the butler holds Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, crushes the juice into it, and presents it to Pharaoh (Gen 40:11). Jesus is the true vine (John 15:1, 5) who held the Father’s cup (Matt 26:27-28, 42) and was crushed from Gethsemane through Calvary (Luke 22:44; John 19:34) to bring the offering of his blood all the way into the holy of holies in Heaven (Heb 9:11-12, 23-24).

Gen 40:12-13
12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

The butler is promised a return to his post, a rising out of the pit of his prison to a position of his former glory. This stands as a type of the resurrection bound to a symbol of the blood of the covenant: the wine from the vine.

Their dreams being similar and the butler’s interpretation fortuitous, the baker is emboldened to share his dream in hopes of a good outcome. Three baskets full of white bread and baked goods sit atop his head, he says, when birds swoop in and begin to pick the food out of his basket. No doubt, this had happened to him on numerous occasions in the course of his occupation. What could possibly go wrong?

Genesis 40:18-19
18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.

As the cup bore the blood of the new covenant, the bread was representative of his body which was broken for us (1 Cor 11:24). Appropriately, it is the baker who is consigned to death. Like Isaac, the baker was a “dead man walking” from the moment of the prophetic announcement. Should we miss the point the Holy Spirit is making in the narrative, the baker is lifted up and then impaled on a stake.[4] Anytime anyone is hanged on a tree in Scripture, look for Jesus.

John 12:32-33
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Galatians 3:13
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Like the living and dead goats on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:7-10, 15-22) and the living and dead doves in the cleansing of the leper (Lev 14:1-7), it took the dead baker and the living butler to represent the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day.

These three narratives – the first three days of the creation account, the offering of Isaac, and the dreams of the butler and baker – are just a few of the prophecies of Jesus Christ written in Moses, let alone the prophets. It is my sincere hope that this taste of them draws you into the text to find more. May the honor of kings be yours as you search out the treasures God has buried in the Old Testament.

Hebrews 10:19-23
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new [Greek, prosphatos, freshly slaughtered] and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

[1] All Scriptures are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
[2] Jonah 1:17-2:10; Matt 12:38-40
[3] A type is a historic happening with prophetic import, such as Israel’s deliverance from Egypt being prophetic of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus leaving Egypt and returning to Nazareth. See Matt 2:14-23.
[4] “Impaled you on a pole” is the alternate translation given in the NIV margin and most in tune with historical actuality. The impaling of a corpse for disgraceful display of a convicted convict was turned into the live impaling of prisoners by the Persians. The Romans refined this punishment to a more painful execution, namely crucifixion.