The Third Day
Having led the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses was instructed to stop at the foot of a mountain in the Sinai desert. There he was told to gather all the tribes of Israel together in a single body so that God could come before them personally and give them His laws face to face. This was a momentous event, and it crystallized the Hebrew religion.
At first the Israelites were excited at the thought of God's appearance before them and their hearts swelled with anticipation. But as God began to approach the people, this expectancy gave way to grave apprehension, and soon a feeling of terror overwhelmed them all. The mountain erupted in fire, the earth began to quake violently and the sky blackened with intense clouds like smoke from a furnace. Out of the clouds great flashes of lightning spewed. Peals of thunder rolled across the desert together with the sound of a great trumpet whose blast grew louder and louder the closer God came to the terrified Israelites. (Ex.19:16-20).
Suddenly realizing that many of them were going to die during God's visitation the Israelites' ran to Moses and begged him to have God send an intermediary in His place. (Ex.20:18-20). God agreed to their request and it is this event which structured Jesus Christ into the Law.
The reason why the Israelite religion demands an intermediary stems from this legal compromise at Sinai. At first the people thought that Moses was to be the intermediary (Ex.20:19), but he said no, explaining that the intercessor was to be someone else. (Dt.18:14-16). Moses told them:
"The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; To him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. 'Do not let me hear again' you said, 'the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die'; and God said to me, 'All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him to say." (Dt.18:15-19).
The compromise at Sinai not only deferred God's visit, it left a void as far as the Testimony of heaven was concerned. Most of the Lord's commandments remained unstated. There were always meant to be more than ten, but the balance of God's commandments had to await the voice of heaven's intercessor.
The proof that the Israelites fully understood all of this was revealed by their consuming expectation ever afterward of the coming Messiah. The entire Hebrew religion was built on the promise of this holy Intermediary defined at Sinai. That is why the people of Jesus' time were so astir -- they were waiting in fervent expectation of the Christ predicted by Moses.
When Moses said, "God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves...to him you must listen." (Dt.18:15), he bound the Israelites to the obedience of Jesus, who was the prophet of God that these words were written for.
But when he appeared, Jesus turned out to be more than a prophet and more than an intermediary. He came as Divinity. He came as God Himself, clothed in flesh. This was the meaning of the Trinity, and it freed the world from the Law's stipulation for an intermediary because the moment Jesus was glorified in heaven, the intermediary became our ruling God. At that instant of glorification, the master of the Law of Moses became the Master and Lord of all creation. This meant that Jesus' words were far more than mortal inspiration; they were, in fact, the direct Testimony of God. This put his Gospel on the same level as the Ten Commandments.
"He who comes from above is above all others. He who is born of the earth is earthly himself and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven...speaks God's own words." (Jn.3:31-34).
Jesus brought the missing Testimony which the compromise had blocked at Sinai. Jesus brought a peaceful visitation by God. There was no theophany associated with His appearance. The sky did not cloud over. The earth did not heave and roll. There was no lightning; no thunder. He did not bring words of judgment. Instead He brought an offer of peace and salvation -- an olive branch.
Accompanying this offer of reconciliation Jesus issued a stern warning of what would happen if that peace was rejected. The theophany of God, He said, would return in a world display that would bring Judgment. We can see in the great event at Sinai all the overtones of that final day at the end of the world when, again, because of God's personal appearance, dark clouds will cover the land and terrifying signs will signal the termination of all who have not obeyed God's Messiah and broken with sin in His name.
John decreed one millenium (a thousand years) for the mercy to reign, and the window of reconciliation to stay open (Rev.20:1-8); but faith has almost doubled Christ's offer of Atonement, pushing it in our time very near the outside limits set by scripture. (Joshua 10:13-14). This has brought it within just a few years of the beginning of the 'third day', a date which arrives January 1st, 2001.
The 'thousand-year' prophecy for the reign of mercy in the Book of Revelation points us to the Bible's only definition regarding God's intent with respect to days and dates. Scripture dictates that a thousand years on earth are only a day as far as God is concerned:
"To you, a thousand years are a single day" -- Ps.90:4.
This definition in the Old Testament was reiterated in the New Testament book of Peter (2 Peter 3:8). Prophecy's conclusion, therefore, is that the three days referenced involve three thousand years. The first two of these days in God's statement to Moses involve 'washing and cleaning'. If we see this with respect to baptism and conversion from sin to righteousness in Christ, an event almost 2000 years in process, we encompass almost 2 of those 3 days. The third begins January 1st, 2001.
Two dates in scripture are momentous. One is the 'third day' and the other is the 'seventh day'. Both of these dates (the third day and the seventh day) are now imminent. They define two moments coincident by less than 250 years. One defined by the Gregorian calendar and the other by the Hebrew calendar. Both dates define an open chronology of the 'Second Coming '.
"Go to the people and tell them to prepare themselves today and tomorrow. Let them wash their clothing and hold themselves in readiness for the third day, because on the third day God will descend on the mountain...in the sight of all the people." (Ex.19:10-11).
The prophet Hosea has indicated that this 'third day' is also the date set by God for the rescue of the Jews:
"Come, let us return to God. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has struck us down, but he will bandage our wounds. After a day or two he will bring us back to life, on the third day he will raise us and we shall live in his presence." (Hos.6:1-2).
So the two dates for the conclusion of the world set forth by scripture have dovetailed and both dates have a common focal point with the advent of the coming Christian millenium. The reign of Christ on earth (the Day of Atonement) will end, the Bible tells us, when the world's governments and people reject Jesus as God. This occurance, in progress now, will be followed by the Great Tribulation.
Because the wrath associated with the the end of the world will be so severe, the days of terror have been cut short. We can see evidence of that already.
Because God is going to rescue the Jews in a spectacular theophany that restores their sight just before the End occurs, we must accept that the Jewish calendar has the imprint of the Holy Spirit; and for this reason, has a specific purpose in the plan of God.
Although since altered by Christ, Hebrew chronology originally formed an integral part of the official calendar of the Mosaic Law. That law, as we have seen, is a template God has followed from the beginning, superimposing date for date and precept for precept. The Christian year 2000 (Gregorian calendar) is the Hebrew year 5761. The Hebrew year 6000 begins the 'seventh millenium' in that calendar, a date scheduled to arrive in about 240 years. Scripture shows us that the seventh millenium is seen by God as the 'seventh day'.
Following the Hebrew calendar to its end, then, it is possible to conclude that a likely outside limit for the original date of the end of the world was probably the year 2240 A.D., the advent of the Hebrew 'seventh day'. God, however, changed everything when He sent Jesus to earth. He announced that the time must be cut short; otherwise, faith could not survive. At some unknown point, then, within the time frame alloted between these two dates, the theophany withdrawn by God at Sinai will re-occur, synchronizing itself with the conversion of the Jews.
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E.C.S.Leavenworth III; Goodnews Christian Ministry.