Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.
The number four and its use in Scripture were exhaustively studied in a previous article. The number four was connected to the physical, natural, created realm, and transformation processes. Things that are subject to change and transition were discovered to be associated with this number.
In contrast, this study will expound on the number three, its use in Scripture, and its association with spiritual and eternal themes. This number will be shown to express things and events associated with things that don't change and are solid, real, and dependable.
That is what I genuinely love about God's Word. He has made His truth so consistent in so many ways, and if you question the literary presentation, He will confirm it in a mathematical or even geometrical conclusion.
Studying Biblical numbers in no way supports any form of numerology that looks to numbers for personal private future foretelling. These kinds of practices are, clearly, forbidden in the Scriptures. We seek God alone for our daily guidance. Studying Bible numbers is simply a useful tool that God has provided to categorize and confirm themes easily.
A word of caution is that this article is an exhaustive study, meaning that every number three that I discover will be included. I will try to keep the flow in Biblical order, but if it breaks up a theme, you might find some Old Testament in the New Testament section. So feel free to skip around, save your place or however you will digest best, and by all means use it for your own personal study.
The Geometry of Three
Three is the first number that can form a geometrical figure, that being a triangle. It takes at least three lines to enclose a space.
We will begin by looking at how geometry, in terms of a triangle, illustrates the number three and connects us with its Biblical usage and application. It expresses themes of strength, durability, dependability, and spiritual things.
The above video demonstrates why triangles are such a stable, dependable figure and heads-up this connection with the characteristics of God, His Spirit, and His Word.
It is also relevant in terms of space. God begins the relational aspect of creation in a tri-part way.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
— Genesis 1:27
God, Male, and Female are a three-part union that supports a sacred space for His Spirit to dwell among them.
The Bible text, in its original languages, can be expressed numerically in equations that form geometric patterns, including triangles. A quick example is demonstrated in the phrase "Spirit of God." This phrase, in its Hebrew numeric translation, equals 300. Not only is 300 a multiple of three, but it also is a number that, if represented by dots, can be arranged into a triangle. The triangular pattern represents the dependability and stability of the Spirit of God. As we shall study in greater depth later, the number three also represents spiritual things as being much more real and substantial than created things.
The Triangular Truth—Its Stability and Eternality
A triangle, a polygon with three angles and three sides, is the only stable figure with straight lines in plane-geometry. This fact connects us with three stable things in Scripture, wisdom, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord.
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times,
And the strength of salvation. The fear of the Lord is His treasure.
— Isaiah 33:6
The prophet continues his discourse, describing how everything else is subject to change in the rest of the chapter.
The Hebrew word translated "stability" in the above verse is "emunah" אֱמוּנָה. Its numeric interpretation (letters expressed as numbers) is 102, which can also be expressed as 3x34.
Also, this trio is expressed three times in Scripture in connection with the stability of God.
The fear of the Lordis the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The above expression informs us that a stable life is central to these three.
— Proverbs 9:10
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
— Isaiah 11:2
Notice also in the Isaiah verse that "The Spirit of the Lord" is expressed in three doublets.
- wisdom and understanding
- counsel and might
- knowledge and the fear of the Lord
Spiritual things will be a central theme connected with the number three and will be addressed more specifically later in this article.
Once assembled, a triangle's angles cannot change. This unchangeability is why triangles are commonly used in architecture when building specific structures such as bridges and domes.
This facet of the number three reflects the unchangeability of God.
“For I am the Lord, I do not change"
— Malachi 3
"It is indeed wonderful that so simple a figure as the triangle is so inexhaustible in properties . . ." (Wells 1991, p. 21).
— August Leopold Crelle10
A fascinating fun fact that includes the number three and eternity, or could we say infinity, is the fraction 1/3 is also expressed as .33333333333 . . . infinitely.
Three is Solid
Three is the number of spatial dimensions needed to mathematically describe a solid (length, width, and height) and therefore expresses that which is solid, real, and substantial.
Jesus Christ is the same
- today, and
— Hebrews 13:8
How this relates to spiritual matters is the consideration that the realm of spiritual things is more real and substantial than that of the physical. As discovered in the study of four, the physical is ever-changing and transforming, but the spiritual things are eternal.
. . . while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
— II Corinthians 4:18
E.W. Bullinger, biblical scholar and theologian, who specialized in the study of these number themes, also noted that
". . . three is the symbol of the cube, or solid contents."
J Preston Eby of Sigler Ministries observes something significant and relatable to the cube, a three-dimensional figure, as it is used in Scripture.
"There are only two cubes described in Scripture. One is the Holy of Holies . . .
And he prepared the inner sanctuary inside the temple, to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high . . .
. . . and the other is the New Jerusalem . . .
The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
— Revelation 21:16
The perfect cube in the Holy of Holies finds its fulfillment in the City of God. A cube is the most perfect figure, being equal on all sides = finite perfection. It is the most comprehensive and holds the most. Nothing contains as much as a cube. It speaks of perfection and fullness. It was in the Holy of Holies where God was met and the High Priest was in His presence. It is God's presence that is perfect and fulfilling and nothing can contain as much as His presence does."
— J. Preston Eby
Three is the first odd prime number. It is indivisible. Spiritual things are indivisible.
The Dependability of Three
The Preacher in Ecclesiastes understood the strength and dependability of three.
. . . a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
— Ecclesiastes 4:12
Silk will demonstrate this in the next section.
As Strong as Silk
Silk is a substance produced and used by some worms and spiders to make webs and cocoons. This substance is said to be stronger than steel, pound for pound. Silk strength is due to the prism-like triangular structure of its fibers.
In the Bible, the dependability of a believable witness was primarily supported by three.
“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
— II Corinthians 13:1
With God using His own standard
. . . there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
— I John 5:7-8
The truth is expressed as being stable and dependable, as well as it is used three times in the following verse in a description of the Lord Himself. Notice also the reference to eternity.
. . . we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is (1) true; and we are in Him who is (2) true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the (3) true God and eternal life.
— I John 5:20
The three pillars or foundations of Jewish society consist of the Torah, divine service to God, and acts of service to man. Sound familiar?
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind This is the first and great commandment. And thesecond is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
— Matthew 22:37-40
Three Points of Contact
Many safety training tutorials include the "three points of contact" rule for climbing up or down objects or equipment to prevent injuries from falls. This rule is also a helpful tool when hiking or rock climbing. This means that ultimate stability and support in these activities are best achieved when three out of four limbs are in contact with stable objects and the ground. The above video details this further. Three is about stability and support.
A Tripod of Truth
Tripods are also noted for their stability, and they are commonly used by photographers and surveyors to keep their equipment level and steady. They are much more stable than something supported by four legs.
The Old Testament Hebrew word for truth is "emet" and consists of three Hebrew letters. "Aleph" is the first letter of "emet," as well as the first letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. "Mem" is the middle letter of the word "emet" and the very middle letter of the aleph-bet when considering the sofit letters. Sofit letters are different forms of specific letters when used at the end of a word, of which there are five. "Tav" is the last letter of "emet," as well as the last letter of the aleph-bet. These first, middle, and last letters are like a tripod upon which all the other letters stand.
Additionally, the gematria (Hebrew numerical value associated with the letters) for "emet" adds up to 441, 3x7x7. The number of Hebrew aleph-bet letters, including the sofit letters, is 27, which equals 3x3x3.
The Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament in Christian Bibles) consists of three sections known as the Torah: the first five books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Old Testament itself consists of 39 (3x13) books. The New consists of 27 (3x3x3) with a total of 66 (3x22). His Word and Truth are reliable, trustworthy, dependable, and even eternal.
In the Christian Bible, the Old Testament consists of 39 (3x13) books. The New consists of 27 (3x3x3) with a total of 66 (3x22) books. His Word and Truth are reliable, trustworthy, dependable, and even eternal.
Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.
— Psalm 119:89
The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.
— Psalm 119:160
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
— Isaiah 40:8
I will end this section with a word of wisdom as it concerns three and truth from the book of Proverbs.
- Incline thine ear, and
- hear words of the wise, And
- thy heart set to my knowledge,
For they are pleasant when thou dost keep them in thy heart, They are prepared together for thy lips.
A) That thy trust may be in Jehovah, I caused thee to know to-day, even thou.
B) Have I not written to thee three times With counsels and knowledge?
A) To cause thee to know the certainty of sayings of truth, To return sayings of truth to those sending thee.
— Proverbs 22:19-21 (Young's Literal Translation)
The mention of three as shown in the "B" verse is framed by "trust" in the first "A" verse and "truth" in the second "A" verse, above.
The number three represents the stable truth of God's Word.
The Word of God—Alpha and Omega—Stable From Beginning to End
This section will observe how the number three categorizes the themes of stability and truth as it concerns God's Word.
Let's begin with the fact that there are 66 (3x22) or (3x2x11) books in the Word of God. 66 is also the 11th triangular number. Sixty-six dots can be arranged into a triangle with none leftover or missing. In arranging 66 dots into a triangle, there will be 11 on every side.
The 66th (3x22) chapter of the Word of God concerns the giving of Manna in the wilderness. Manna is symbolic of the Word of God.
The 66th word of the Bible in Hebrew, The original language of the Old Testament, is "et," which is also the third word in the very first sentence of the Bible. "Et" is a, yet to be defined, untranslated word that consists of an "aleph" and a "tav," which are the first and last letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet. Think Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a well-known title of the Word of God Himself.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city
— Revelation 22:13,14
The book of Isaiah is a miniature Bible in a sense, as it consists of 66 chapters. The first 39 (3x13) chapters represent the Old Testament that contains 39 books. Therefore, the fortieth chapter would represent the beginning of the New Testament, consisting of 27 (3x3x3) books. Let's look at chapter forty and see what it says.
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way(literally turn your face to the way) of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God
— Isaiah 40:1-3
It begins just as the New Testament does with a pardoner of sin that comes on the scene and a voice of repentance (John the Baptist) crying in the wilderness. The concept of Alpha and Omega, Aleph and Tav, First and Last, is used three times in the book of Isaiah.
‘I, the Lord, am the first;
And with the last I am He.’”
— Isaiah 41:4
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
— Isaiah 44:6
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
— Isaiah 48:12
"Alpha and Omega" combined with "Beginning and End" is found three times in the book of Revelation.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,”“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
— Revelation 1:5-8
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
— Revelation 21:5-7
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
- I am the Alpha and the Omega,
- the Beginning and the End, the
- First and the Last.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
— Revelation 22:12-14
Notice in the third account all three phrases are used.
The Bible itself in original languages consists of Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New as represented by both this revelation of "et" and Alpha and Omega.
An interesting note is that Biblical Hebrew is actually three languages in one.
- It is a language expressed in pictographs.
- It is a language expressed with numbers.
- It is also the oldest phonetic language.
The Bible Wheel
Rolled Like a Scroll
If we lined up all the books of the Bible and then rolled them up three times, each roll would contain 22 books each. If we thought of this as a wheel with spokes, each spoke of that wheel would include three books. Considering that there are 22 letters in the Hebrew aleph-bet, we could title all the spokes with each of them. Fascinatingly when viewing the three books from each spoke and their headed letter pictograph, meaning all are consistent in theme and language.
If you take a look at the wheel example to the right, you can see how the first and last letters meet at the top of the wheel and form the word "et," as was discussed earlier in connection with Alpha and Omega.
The 22 Degree Halo
22's relationship to three is exhibited in a phenomenon known as the 22-degree halo. A halo forms around the sun or moon when the light gets refracted through "hexagonal" (6 - 3x2 sided figure) ice crystals.
This phenomenon visualizes God's light refracting through the wheel of His Word, illuminating the darkness.
The writer of Proverbs made this connection between words and wheels when viewed in a literal translation.
A word fitly (ophan - wheel or to revolve like a wheel) spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.
— Proverbs 25:11
The word "fitly" in the above verse is translated from a Hebrew word for wheel or to revolve like a wheel.
A word for word literal rendering of this passage of scripture would be "apples of gold (Godliness) in setting silver (Redemption) words spoken upon the wheel."
As it Pertains to Rainbows
"The pure white light of the sun appears to be absolutely uniform; however, when passed through a prism, it is manifest to be composed of three colors of equal length in the spectrum of light; red, yellow, and blue. The rest of the colors of the rainbow result from the overlapping of these three primary colors . . . Equal amounts of red, yellow, and blue blend together into one to make a pure white light"
— John D. Garr, Ph.D. "God's Lamp Man's Light"
Light is the topic of the third verse of the Bible and the first command God spoke.
God said, “Let there be light.
— Genesis 1:3
It is also the first three days that are governed by this light before the sun, moon, and stars that arrive on the scene on day four.
The beginning of the Gospel of John gives us three confirmations of this connection in verses 1-4 and fitly titles this section in the NKJV as "The Eternal Word."
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.. (verse 14 connects us with the "Word" and truth) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:1-4,14 (Three occurrences of Word)
In the temptation of Jesus, who was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, quotes "It is written" three times
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
— Matthew 4:4
“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
— Matthew 4:7
it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
— Matthew 4:10
Luke puts them in a different order but sandwiches these events by three mentions of the Spirit. The first two before the temptation
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
— Luke 4:1
and ends the account with
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.
— Luke 4:14
Light is strongly associated with the Word of God in the book of Psalms as well.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
— Psalm 119:105
This link between Light and God's Word occurs in Proverbs chapter six, where a father counsels his son about preventing the pitfalls of adultery. It is excellent advice concerning our human relationships, but I think the message goes much deeper in that it images for us how to be faithful to God, and that is by staying near in thought and obedience to His Word.
My son, keep your father’s command (Mitzvot),
And do not forsake the law (Torah/instruction) of your mother.
Bind them continually upon your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
- When you roam, the will lead you;
- When you sleep, they will keep you;
- And when you awake, they will speak with you.
For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life
— Proverbs 6:20-23
Three is the number of solid spiritual things as is numbered in what these commands and instructions will do. The light of God's Word, Commands, Laws, and Instructions are very real, substantially solid, and spiritual. God illustrates for us, in this Proverb, His loving commands and our faith in His goodness. Our belief is exhibited through our obedience. He uses the context of a parent-child relationship to communicate this idea.
The prophet Isaiah foretells of the coming Messiah using the metaphor of light (oor - Hebrew) three times and to spray or scatter light (zarach - Hebrew) three times
Arise, shine (oor - Hebrew);
For your light (oor - Hebrew) has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen (zarach - Hebrew) upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise (zarach - Hebrew) over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light (oor -Hebrew),
And kings to the brightness of your rising (zarach - Hebrew).
— Isaiah 60:1-3
The Lamp in the Tabernacle of Moses
Light, the Word of God, and the number three are threaded together at the Golden Lampstand, one of three pieces of furniture, in the Tabernacle of Moses, which consisted of three parts (outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies). This section's details have been borrowed from a book titled "The Tabernacle of Moses" by Kevin J. Connor11. We will begin with the instructions for its making in the book of Exodus.
“You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold (tried tested and dependable such is the Word of God - Ps 12:6); the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches,
- its bowls,
- its ornamental knobs, and
shall be of one piece (3 in one). And six (3x2) branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like (three used three times)
- almond blossoms on one branch,
- with an ornamental knob
- and a flower,
and three bowls made like
- almond blossoms on the other branch,
- with an ornamental knob
- and a flower
—and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. On the lampstand itself four bowls (center) shall be made like
- almond blossoms, each
- with its ornamental knob
- and flower. (third mention of these items)
- there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same,
- a knob under the second two branches of the same,
- and a knob under the third two branches of the same,
according to the six (3x2) branches that extend from the lampstand...It shall be made of a talent (3000 shekels) of pure gold
— Exodus 25:31-40
It has been speculated that the original tabernacle menorah may very well have had a tripod base to it. The one depicted in the "Arch of Titus" consists of a double hexagonal (6 triangles) base that would have given it even more stability.
Rashi, a medieval French Rabbi, said that menorahs' base, yerekh in Hebrew, means a plate with three legs.
The branches were pictured to have been three semi-circular branches on both sides of the central shaft.
The tabernacle menorah was titled the pure (ceremonially, morally, and ethically clean - unmixed, unalloyed) Menorah three times.
the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand
— Exodus 31:8
the pure gold lampstand with its lamps (the lamps set in order), all its utensils, and the oil for light
— Exodus 39:37
He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually.
— Leviticus 24:4
The light of His truth is stable and can be trusted!
The light of the Menorah was fueled by three elements oil, wick, and flame.
This particular lamp burned oil, not wax candles. This distinction is important because oil is a type of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity, and will be a significant theme in this study. Oil is associated with anointing and empowering in the Bible as well as the Word of God.
. . . the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
— John 6:63
This statement occurred after discussing Christ as Manna (Table of Bread in the Tabernacle). Manna is an image of His Word.
The Eternal Olive Tree
The pure oil used in this lamp was from the olive tree and is considered evergreen. The ancient world considered olive trees eternal. It is fascinating that there are existing olive trees today thought to be about 3000 years old, making them a fitting symbol of eternal things.
Along these same lines, John D. Garr, in his book "God's Lamp: Man's Light, writes.
" . . . even when the trunk of an olive tree is cut down, new life springs forth from its roots"
Garr also notes that
". . . the menorah also speaks of eternal life through resurrection...Job observed: For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail...at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (Job 14:7,9) In what is likely the oldest of biblical texts, Job used the imagery of the [olive] tree to express his personal hope in the resurrection."
John's Gospel references Christ Himself as the Word in three expressions, represented by the menorah, from the beginning.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
— John 1:1-5
John's Gospel also uses the phrase "Light of the World" three times, referring to Jesus and The Word, and connects this with resurrection.
The first mention is in connection with the woman caught in adultery. The scene exposed the Pharisee's faithlessness to God and His truth.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
— John 8:12
The second time occurs at the event of Jesus healing the man born blind.
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”. . . and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.
— John 9:5-6
The third occasion is just before Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. His disciples are questioning him about returning to
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
— John 11:8-11
John witnesses that Jesus is indeed the "Light of the World" from the beginning with three mentions of "light," referring to Jesus as "the Light," "that Light," and "the true Light."
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
— John 1:1-9
". . . the light of God is manifest from the life that is written, spoken, and living Word."
— John D. Garr
If we combine these stories, we can see the Gospel compacted. We have an act of adultery (forsaking God and the tree of life for another at the tree of knowledge of good and evil — Adam and Eve), resulting in spiritual blindness. We then see a Messiah (light of the world - the Word) who is sent to heal and resurrect us.
This thought fits with the almond blossom in the description of this lamp. The almond tree is the first to blossom and be resurrected from the dead of winter. Its blossoms appear even before its show of leaves. The almond has three stages of maturity; buds, blossoms, and mature almonds.
The Menorah and the Tree of Life
The Menorah has also been long associated with the tree of life first mentioned in Genesis chapter two and, in its construction, can look a bit like a tree. "Tree of life" is used three times in Genesis.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
— Genesis 2:8-9
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.
— Genesis 3:22
So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
— Genesis 3:24
"Tree of life" is used three times in Revelation as well.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’
— Revelation 2:7
In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life. . .
— Revelation 22:2
Blessed are those who do His commandments,that they may have the right to the tree of life . . .
— Revelation 22:14
Genesis and Revelation are the bookends of the entire Word of God.
The Menorah, Israel's Resurrection, and the Arch of Titus
In 70 AD, the Roman emperor Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem. He destroyed it, and what is estimated to be about over a million people perished, most of them Jews. The temple was burned and destroyed. The remaining Jews were dispersed throughout the world, an event that is known as the diaspora.
In memorial of this victory, in 81 AD, Titus's brother Domitian had an arch of triumph designed to display this conquer's spoils. This event was engraved on the inner arch. One stand out item is the Menorah.
In 1948 Israel was reestablished, or could we say resurrected in a day, and the Jewish people began to return to their promised land after nearly 2000 years.
Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord.
“Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem,
And be glad with her, all you who love her;
Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
That you may feed and be satisfied
With the consolation of her bosom,
That you may drink deeply and be delighted
With the abundance of her glory.”
— Isaiah 66:8-10
Israel selected the Menorah as their emblematic identification during their reestablishment as a nation. But, because no one was sure exactly what it looked like, they relied on Titus's arch's carved emblem. How ironic that the symbol of their death and destruction would also become a symbol of their rebirth and resurrection. Isaiah fittingly prophesies the following statement.
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.
— Isaiah 49:6
A Little Bit of Math
This Menorah consisted of a central shaft with three branches on each side. Sixty-six bowls, knops, and flowers ornamented the shaft and branches and separated into three groups. The main shaft contained 12 (3x4) of these bowls, knops, and flowers (3)—3x12 equal 27 or (3x3x3) on each side. If we add one side with the middle shaft included (12+27), this equals 39 (3x13). This is the exact number of books in the Old Testament. This calculation leaves 27 on the other side, which is the precise number of books in the New Testament. The total of Bible books is 66, the same number as bowls, knops, and flowers on the lamp.
If we add the blossoms three parts combined (bowl flower and knop), counting each set as one, the total number of blossoms is 22. if you took all 66 books of the Bible and rolled them up three times equally, there would be 22 books in each roll. These 22 blossoms are distributed on seven branches. 22/7 equals pi, which is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.
π or pi is a mathematical expression of the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It is approximated as 3.14159 . . . infinitely. Infinite things can be expressions of eternal things. If we were to round off this number, it would be 3
The Spirit and the Menorah
The sevenfold Spirit of God is fitting with the Menorah branches. Each fold is described in three sections connected to a central stem. The above image displays how three arches are connected to the central stem.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him (central stem)
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, (first arch)
The Spirit of counsel and might, (second arch)
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (third arch).
— Isaiah 11:1-2
Nine Attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit
As it concerns the number three, another layer of understanding derived from this connection is that nine (3x3) is the number of the fruit of the Spirit.
the fruit of the Spirit is
— Galatians 5:22-23
Jesus refers to the responsibility of the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit to exhibit His light when He discusses the Beatitudes, which contain and mention heavenly themes heaven is mentioned three times in this discourse, within nine (3x3)"blessed's."
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
— Matthew 5:3-10
He then says a few verses later.
A) “You are the light of the world.
B) A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
central axis: Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand,
B) and it gives light to all who are in the house.
A) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14-16
The literary structure of the above passage is revealing. When we view this through the parallel themes that echo each other on both sides of the central axis, it emits a beautiful revelation.
The A's unified theme is that we are supposed to be light and are obligated to display it. The B's reveal that we are to be like a city on a hill that gives light to all who are in the house. The central axis drives home all of these elements of not dampening the light of God in our lives by prideful works of the flesh.
Paul also ties these things together in his letter to the Ephesians, summarizing light, Spirit, and fruit with three reasons to walk in the light, g us a beautiful application.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth).
— Ephesians 5:8-9
He concludes the section on light with three things.
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.
— Ephesians 5:14
An Old Testament connection with this thought is when Abram was 99 (3x33) years old, and Sarai was 90 (3x30), God told Abram the following.
I will make you exceedingly fruitful.
— Genesis 17:6
Their ages are mentioned three times. It is at this point that their names are changed to Abraham and Sarah. The name change significantly adds the Hebrew letter "hey" to each of their names. This particular letter connects with the sound a breath makes when exhaled and occurs twice in God's very own name. Breath and Spirit are synonymous in Scripture. It is God's "breath" and Spirit that enables them to be fruitful.
After this conversation, Abraham is visited by three visitors who begin to prepare the way for a promised son to be born.
More On the Nine (3x3) Attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-24 records nine fruits of the Spirit. C.I. Scofield, Bible scholar, and commentator categorize them for us in three sets of three.
Christian character is not mere moral or legal correctness, but the possession and manifestation of nine graces:
love, joy, peace--character as an inward state;
long suffering, gentleness, goodness--character in expression toward man;
faith, meekness, temperance--character in expression toward God.
Taken together they present a moral portrait of Christ, and may be taken as the apostle's explanation of Gal 2:20 "Not I, but Christ," and as a definition of "fruit" in Jn 15:1-8 This character is possible because of the believer's vital union to Christ Jn 15:5 1Cor 12:12,13 and is wholly the fruit of the Spirit in those believers who are yielded to Him. Gal 5:22,23.
The Old Testament gives us an image of the fruit being of the Spirit and given by grace.
And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
— Leviticus 19:23
The above depicts that fruit is of the Spirit with the mention of the three years. Fruit trees were the third created herbage and made on the third day.
But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.
And in the fifth (number of grace) year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God
— Leviticus 19:23-25
The eating of the fruit in the fifth year is symbolic of God's grace to give us His fruit.
Jesus tells a parable centering around this same concept.
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down ~ Luke 13:6-9
The first three years, recall, was for tree and fruit maturation, and the fourth year fruit was to be the Lord's, but it had not produced any at all.
How interesting that this event immediately follows
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen (3x3x2 or 9x2) years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God
— Luke 13
Since the beginning, fruit spoke of something that God caused to be produced. The produce of the field represented the works of man. Fruit production is dependent on God, and the two stories progressively show us that. We cannot produce fruit through our own works, nor can we, in any way, raise ourselves up. Both are works of the Holy Spirit.
The next portion of Scripture tells us that obedience and dwelling in God's territories are necessary to bear fruit. Notice the ninth year mention.
Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? (Sabbath and Jubilee Sabbath) behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year.
— Leviticus 25
This faith in His grace is expressed in terms of rest (Sabbath and Jubilee)
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
— Hebrews 4:11-12
Human Gestation—Fruit of the Womb
Isn't it amazing that human gestation is a nine(3x3)-month-long process? Some impressive "threes" associated with pregnancy in the Bible begins with its first occurrence in Genesis.
And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.
— Genesis 38:24
Judah was the tribe that God had assigned to bring forth the Messiah King. How could this happen with no descendants? Judah had married a foreign wife and birthed three sons, two of who died for their rebellion. Judah refused to give Tamar his third son to carry on the family name, as was the custom of their time. So she took matters into her own hands and disguised herself as a harlot and slept with Judah and bore him a child. the book of Ruth heralds her faithfulness at the blessing of marriage between Ruth and Boaz
May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.
— Ruth 4
Ruth also becomes named in the Royal genealogy of Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew.
There was another pregnancy in the New Testament that came with some misunderstandings.
Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus
— Luke 1:30-31
Mary was not married at the time. Does the one possibly foretell the circumstances of the other? In the scene that follows, notice the concepts of arising, leaping, Holy Spirit, fruit, and the trustworthiness of God's word. All elements of this study and the number three.
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!...Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord . . . And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house”
— Luke 1:39-42,45
Elizabeth's name is mentioned three times in this discourse and nine times in the chapter.
Mary sings a song of praise that includes nine things that God has done.
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
- For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
- For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
- He has shown strength with His arm;
- He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
- He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
- And exalted the lowly.
- He has filled the hungry with good things,
- And the rich He has sent away empty.
- He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke
- to our fathers,
- To Abraham and
- to his seed forever.”
— Luke 1:46-55
The Old Testament Tabernacle took nine months to construct. That Tabernacle was the replica and shadow of the Christ who would come and Tabernacle in human flesh and dwell among us.
And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14
Love is Spiritual
The first three verses of I Corinthians 13, known as the "love" chapter of the Bible, opens with three examples of spectacular things people can do. But, if they do not have love (mentioned three times), they amount to useless and unprofitable things from a spiritual and an eternal perspective.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
- but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
- but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,
- but have not love, it profits me nothing.
— I Corinthians 13:1-3
The theme continues beginning with three "loves" that define what it is and is not.
- Love suffers long and is kind;
- love does not envy;
- love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
— I Corinthians 13:4
The next three things are things love will never do because it is solid real, substantial, and eternal.
Love never fails. But
- whether there are prophecies, they will fail;
- whether there are tongues, they will cease;
- whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
— I Corinthians 13:8
The chapter ends with three of the greatest of virtues.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— I Corinthians 13:13
In His letter to the Ephesians, Paul reiterates these three attributes of love.
walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all
- lowliness and
- gentleness, with
bearing with one another in love
— Ephesians 4:1-2
The summarization of this chapter is the dependability, eternality, and spirituality of love.
Faith is Spiritual
The exact phrase "The just shall live by faith" gets a triple mention in the Word of God. The first mention uses faith three times.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
— Romans 1:17
no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
— Galatians 3:11
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
— Hebrews 10:38
Nine (3x3) Gifts of the Spirit
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he names nines gifts of the Spirit and acknowledges God in three forms: Spirit, Lord, and God.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And
there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for
- to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit,
- to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,
- to another faith by the same Spirit,
- to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
- to another the working of miracles,
- to another prophecy,
- to another discerning of spirits,
- to another different kinds of tongues,
- to another the interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
— I Corinthians 12:4-11
There are also seven occurrences of "Spirit" in this portion of Scripture. Think once again of the seven lights atop the lampstand. Fruit and gifts are the work of the Spirit that fuels our ability to shine.
Paul continues this theme into Ephesians.
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:
- “When He ascended on high,
- He led captivity captive,
- And gave gifts to men.”
...And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers
— Ephesians 4:7-8,11
He then gives three purposes for these gifts.
- for the equipping of the saints
- for the work of ministry,
- for the edifying of the body of Christ
— Ephesians 4:12
Paul also discusses gifts of the Spirt in Romans chapter twelve. He lists behaviors of Spirit-led behaviors. He begins the discourse with three "let us" statements.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,
- let us use them: if prophecy,
- let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry,
- let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
— Romans 12:6-8
In Semitic cultures, when something is done or said three times, it is considered permanent. There are four occasions in the Old Testament where words are repeated three times in succession. The first refers to God Himself.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
— Isaiah 6:3
The second records God confronting His people about thinking that they could spare the coming judgment by merely saying "the temple of the Lord" without changing their ways.
“Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’
— Jeremiah 7:4
The next verse is from the book of Jeremiah and includes a warning about what He was about to do to Coniah, the king of Judah, in judgment.
O earth, earth, earth,
Hear the word of the Lord!
— Jeremiah 22
The next is in Ezekiel, once again pronouncing judgment against the wicked prince of Israel.
I will make it overthrown!
It shall be no longer,
Until He comes whose right it is,
And I will give it to Him.
— Ezekiel 21:27
If you read them all together in succession, there is a prophetic message in it in and of itself.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!
“Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’
O earth, earth, earth,
Hear the word of the Lord!
I will make it overthrown!
It shall be no longer,
Until He comes whose right it is,
And I will give it to Him.
The Dark Side of Eternal Things
The number three strongly represents things that are eternal and don't change. The following discusses the dark side of eternity. The scene development involves the disciples concerned about some other people who were casting out demons (dark spirit beings) in Jesus's name. Jesus makes it clear that this was to be encouraged. He contrasts in the next discourse how sensitive the faith issue is.
Jesus issues a warning about the eternal consequence of causing "little ones" to stumble and lose faith. I assume that this means either through harm or temptation. This warning is substantiated with a thrice-repeated phrase.
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
1. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
2. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
3. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where
‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
This thrice-repeated phrase has its origin in the book of Isaiah, which captures the culmination of all history into eternity and is addressed to those who transgress against Him. It is a transgression to lead others astray from the faith in God.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.
“And they shall go forth and look
Upon the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm does not die,
And their fire is not quenched.
They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
— Isaiah 66:22-24
Each of the Mark chapter nine triplets involved three things; hands, feet, and eyes. We do, where we go, and how we see things should be rooted in the eternal things above. Each has eternal consequences. Matthew's rendition cutting off eyes and hands includes several examples of offending details. Jesus talks about murder, hatred, lust, and adultery. Interestingly, even before that, He discusses how we are to be the salt of the earth. It is the blatant transgression of the "Christ-follower" that leaves the world with a bad taste in their mouth and potentially destroys their faith. This issue in Matthew is addressed much later on in the book and discusses hands and feet. In this case, He addresses the issue of pride, competition, and trying to be the greatest. These things do not encourage faith, nor do they give God a good name to the watching world.
Three Signs of Biblical Covenant
The Bible's central theme revolves around the idea of covenant. A covenant was designed to be the foundation of faith, trust, and the entire principle of relationship. Covenant also has eternal roots. The Old Testament gives us three signs of the covenant between God and His people.
1. The Sabbath:
Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”
— Exodus 31:14-17
2. The rainbow
God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
— Genesis9:12-17 (rainbow used three times)
3. the circumcision
This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
— Genesis 17:10-11
In the account of Noah, we read that
I will establish (raise up) My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
The Hebrew word translated "establish" is the same word meaning "to arise" or "to raise up." This phrase is used three times in the account of Noah. The above verse occurs before the flood, and the remaining two occur after the flood
Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: “And as for Me, behold, I establish (raise up) My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish (raise up) My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth
— Genesis 9:9-11
This same pattern of three connected with God's promise through covenant is depicted with Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17. The first one occurs before the circumcision.
I will establish (raise up) My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
— Genesis 17:7
And the next two occur after.
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish (raise up) My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish (raise up) with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
— Genesis 17:19-21
The Covenant of Salt
The Covenant of Salt is mentioned in three places in Scripture, with the first of them using the word "salt" three times.
- every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt;
- you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering.
- With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
— Leviticus 2:13
A practical reason for this may have been the preserving properties of salt, as Mark Kurlansky noted in his book "Salt a World History."
"In the early Middle Ages, farmers in northern Europe learned to save their grain harvest from a devastating fungal infection called ergot, poisonous to humans and livestock, by soaking the grain in salt brine"9
Chapter two of Leviticus concerns the law of the meal or grain offering and includes nine (3x3) mentions of oil that was to accompany it. The offering itself consisted of three things.
The cakes were mingled with oil, and the wafers anointed with oil. As was discussed earlier and in concert with the number three's themes, oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
The next occurrence contains an eternal theme that also is in keeping with things categorized with this number.
“All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord with you and your descendants with you.”
— Numbers 18:19
Numbers chapter eighteen concerns the offerings and, more specifically, the "heave offering," which is noted nine (3x3) times. In Hebrew, the word translated "heave" is "terumah" and means "to lift up." It was literally the lifted up offering. Also notable is that "forever" is mentioned in three verses in this chapter, along with one mention each of "anointing" and "oil."
Both of the above portions of Scripture concerning the Salt Covenant have to do with the priesthood. The priesthood was how God in Spirit connected with His people. This observance also centered around the people and priesthood's response and acknowledgment of what God had done in, for, and through them by His Spirit.
Another theme that runs throughout this chapter is the inclusion of the priesthood's descendants, which is the physical illustration of eternal things. "Sons" accompanied by the phrase "with you" is noted six (3x2) times.
The "with you" phrase occurs three times in the verse above and is underlined to highlight the center mention of the Lord's presence with them. It also occurs three times in one other verse in this chapter.
Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness.
— Numbers 18:2
This discussion is about the portion that the priesthood would receive from the tribal offerings. The Levites were wholly dependent upon God for their provision for God was their portion and inheritance. They were given no real ownership of land. They were to illustrate the anticipation of the heavenly home and heritage.
The third and final occurrence of the salt covenant concerns the Davidic promise of an eternal kingdom established by a "Son" The Davidic Covenant centers around eternal themes.
Should you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?
— II Chronicles 13:5
Salt is a well-known preservative that prevents decay and thereby is associated with longevity, as is noted by Mark Kurlansky, where he also writes.
"Salt was to the ancient Hebrews, and still is to modern Jews, the symbol of the eternal nature of God's covenant with Israel...On Friday nights Jews dip the Sabbath bread in salt...keeps the agreement between God and His people...loyalty and friendship are sealed with salt because its essence does not change. Even if dissolved into a liquid, salt can be evaporated back into square crystals."9
In tying all three together, we see that both "priest" and "king" are represented here. Both offices foretell of the Messiah, who is both and Lord of this heavenly sanctuary and kingdom.
Chris Suitt, from "Torah Class," in his article about the salt covenant12, connects the concept of salt with its first mentions that concern both rebellion and judgment that took place at the Dead Sea or Salt Sea as the KJV translates. It was the rebellious kings that went to war first and took Lot captive. Then following it was the cataclysmic fire and brimstone event of Sodom and Gomorrah that turned the region, along with Lot's wife, to salt.
According to the prophet Ezekiel, Chris Suitt also observes that a type of resurrection or restoration of this place will occur and that it will one day be made fresh again.
Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live.
— Ezekiel 3:8-9
He discusses how the sea became salt because of the judgment of sin. The salt was a reminder of what necessitated the sacrificial system.
This thought brings new light to the meaning of "you are the salt of the earth," especially considering the context in which it is used. Jesus said this immediately after the following verse.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
— Matthew 5:13
This teaching is being issued during the discourse of the Beatitudes. In other words, He is making it clear that to follow Him in rightness and meekness is the salt that will provoke the world to agitation because they are being reminded of the judgment to come.
This conviction is also is in connection with the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me
— John 16:7-9
A perfect illustration is given in the book of Acts as Paul stands before Felix because of all the agitation produced by Pauls preaching Christ's truth.
And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
— Acts 24:24-25
The salt provokes either agitation or gratitude for what Christ has done in taking on our judgment.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
— I Corinthians 1:18
Holy Spirit—Vision—and the Number Three
Our understanding and ability to see, as it concerns the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is required to assist.
. . . when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.
— John 16:13
Sight or revelation, interestingly, is threefold - physical, mental, and spiritual. according to Thomas Newberry, English Bible Scholar, and writer who says in his book "Types in the Levitical Offerings" (highly recommended read, by the way)
"The eye gazes on the type, reason may form it's conclusions, but the Holy Ghost alone can communicate the mind of God concerning truths contained in it...but as the spirit of man alone knows the inward thoughts of man so these deep wondrous thoughts of God can only be communicated to us by the Spirit of God Himself. Moreover as the Word of God endures forever, and the heavens and the earth may pass sooner than one jot or tittle of the laws, may fail, we have in these types, in all their minuteness of detail, a record for eternity imprinted by the Spirit of God on the pages of the eternal Word, for the instruction of the inhabitants of heaven and the universe, throughout countless ages of eternity..."
— Thomas Newberry
Gimel, the third letter of the Hebrew Aleph-bet, is represented by a camel and can symbolize in some ways the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word for revelation is "galah" and begins with a gimel. One intriguing feature of a camel related to the number three, spirit, and vision is that the camel has three eyelids. Two of them have eyelashes, but the third innermost one is a thin layer that acts like a windshield wiper and clears off the eye as the camel traverses through a windy, dusty vision distracting climate. The Holy Spirit serves all of these functions that we might see with utmost clarity the things of God.
Would it be surprising that our human eye, the organ of sight designed to receive light, which is an image of revelation, consists of three layers? Fibrous tunic, vascular tunic, and nervous tunic. In human vision, the retina contains three types of color receptor cells or cones.
Newberry also comments on the "meat" or "meal" offering mentioned in Leviticus chapter two and its connection to these ideas.
"The ..."Gift offering," ...is a beautiful type, similar to that of the manna representing Christ as the Gift of God in a threefold point of view.
First, as the gift of the Father. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16); again, "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven" (John 6:32)
Secondly, as Christ's gift for the Church, for "Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25)
Thirdly, the gift of the Holy Ghost, for He takes of the things of Christ and reveals them unto us; He makes Christ ours, so that the individual believer can say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20)
The threefold purpose of the Holy Spirit is
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come,
- He will convict the world of sin,
- and of righteousness,
- and of judgment:
of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
— John 16:7-11
Back to the camel
Third Letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet
As was mentioned above, the third letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is "gimel" and is represented by a camel. The Hebrew word for a camel (gamal) is closely related and shares the very same letters.
The first three mentions of the camel are concerning the wealth and riches of the first three patriarchs Abraham (Genesis 12:16), Isaac (Genesis 24:10), and Jacob (Genesis 30:43).
"The Camel itself is an excellent metaphor of the Holy spirit who carries the children of God through the dry dessert of this world. He sustains us, nourishes us, and gives us all we need in our earthly pilgrimage. He weans and ripens (another use of gamal) the children of God as we grow into spiritual adulthood. Desert dwelling Bedouins call the camel the Gift of God because their entire substance - food, drink, clothing, fuel, and travel - depends on it."
— "The Bible Wheel" Richard Amiel McGough
A camel can drink up to 30 (3x10) gallons of water in 15 minutes. Water, by molecule, made up of three atoms (two hydrogens and one oxygen), can be another symbol of the Holy Spirit.
A camel also has three eyelids and three stomachs.
The Pictograph Interpretation
"Gimel-ג" is the third letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, and it is a picture of a camel. The camel is a bestower of blessings and benefits. The Holy Spirit can also reflect this concept.
A camel traverses through the wilderness to bestow benefits.
Just as the Holy Spirit is a bestower of Christ to man. We see this at the beginning of the creation narrative.
- The earth was without form, and void;
- and darkness was on the face of the deep.
- And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
— Genesis 1:2
Notice it is the third phrase in verse two that mentions the Holy Spirit.
We can see a vast wilderness of nothingness that is dark and deep, and the Spirit of God brooding over it.
A camel (gimel) is noted for its kneeling as well as its lifting up. The Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead and bestowed the treasures from above to us. Resurrection and its association with three will be noted later.
Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
— Acts 2:33
Some more on the benefits bestowed.
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
— Acts 10:38
This next verse ties together the Hebrew Aleph-Bet's first three letters in showing us a facet of God.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:5
It is the Love of God the Father (Aleph) poured into our hearts through His Son (Bet) by the Holy Spirit (Gimel) who was given to us (bestowed upon us).
Once again, we see the Trinity on display. John witnesses this in his experience of heaven in the throne room of God's presence where the living creatures issue their triple cry of
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!
— Revelation 4:8
Many debates surround the "doctrine" of the Trinity. Could this be a revelation of that?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
— Matthew 28:19
Paul's letter to the Corinthians concerning the third time he is going to visit ends the discourse with
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
— II Corinthians 13:14.
God is three things that pull three of these studied concepts together.
God is light.
— I John 1:5
God is love.
— I John 4:8,16
God is Spirit.
— John 4:24
God's attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
Three times is the blessing given in Numbers 6:23, 24
- "The LORD bless thee and keep thee (the Father);
- The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee (the Son);
- The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace" (the Holy Spirit). ~ Bullinger
Notice LORD is used three times.
In Genesis 18:2, the same three persons appear to Abraham. Abraham "looked, and, lo, THREE men stood by him." But verse 1 declares that it was "Jehovah appeared unto him." It is remarkable that Abraham addresses them both as one and as three . . . Abraham brought "three measures of meal" for his heavenly guest . . . in Numbers 15:9, we read, "Then shall he bring with the bullock a meal offering of THREE tenth deals of flour." This was the measure for the whole burnt offering, and also for great special occasions such as the New Moon and the New Year, etc. It was also the special measure for the cleansing of the leper (Lev 14:10). The poor leper had several gracious blessings beyond others. He alone was favored with the anointing which was given only to the Prophet, Priest, and King! He alone had the priestly consecration. It is sinners who are nowsingled out from the mass of those who are lost, and dead in trespasses and sins, to be anointed with the Spirit, and made, in Christ, kings, and priests unto God.
This word "fulness" is remarkable, occurring only three times, and in connection with the Three Persons of the Trinity:
- Ephesians 3:19, "The fullness of God.
- Ephesians 4:13, "The fullness of Christ."
- Colossians 2:9, "The fullness of the Godhead."
Daniel's Hint at the Trinity
Daniel chapter five records the account of the infamous "handwriting on the wall" experience of the Babylonian King Belshazzar, who was having a party using devoted temple items taken from the Israelite captivity approximately seventy years prior. A mysterious hand appears at the gathering and writes a message on the wall that no one can read. The king appeals to the wise men of the kingdom and makes a three-fold promise that includes a type of ruling Trinity focusing on the third member of it, which is a type of Holy Spirit third member of the Trinity.
“Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be
- clothed with purple
- and have a chain of gold around his neck;
- and he shall be the third ruler (one of three) in the kingdom.”
— Daniel 5:7
The JPS (Jewish Publication Society) version of the Hebrew Tanakh (Torah, Prophets, and Writings) translates "third ruler" as "one of three."
The promise of three things is noted a total of three times.
The word "Spirit," referring to God, is mentioned three times in this chapter. The first occurs when the queen recommends Daniel to interpret the writing.
There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father,
- and understanding
- and wisdom,
. . . like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers (notice four are mentioned here signiying unstable earthly sources.)
— Daniel 5:11
Her recommendation continues into verse twelve with a couple of sets of threes. The first is qualities.
Inasmuch as an
- excellent spirit,
The second set of three concerns abilities.
- in enigmas
- interpreting dreams,
- solving riddles,
. . . and explaining was found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”
— Daniel 5:12
The third time the king himself addresses Daniel and questions him as to whether or not this is true.
Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that
- and understanding
- and excellent wisdom
are found in you.
— Daniel 5:13-14
This party centered around the worship of other gods. At this juncture, Daniel lets them all know that this "Holy God" they refer to is the "Most High God."
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses . . . you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven . . . and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
— Daniel 5:18-24
The Hebrew word for redeemer is "goel, which begins with a "gimel." This word is used to describe a designated family member who settles accounts on behalf of the family. If a family member was sold as a slave, it was the goel's responsibility to repurchase them. If a family member was killed, it was the goel's responsibility to avenge his family member's blood. As we can see in these descriptions, Jesus is, in fact, our goel/redeemer.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”
— Galatians 3:13
. . . you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
— I Peter 1:18-19
The Hebrew word pictograph for "goel" illustrates our redeemer being lifted up and resurrected. As was discussed earlier, the first letter, "gimel," is imaged by a camel and comes with the concept of something being lifted up. The last two letters are "aleph," represented by an ox, noted for its strength and dependability, and lamed, a shepherd staff symbolizing authority. These two letters together spell the Hebrew word "el," meaning God. All taken together, we have redemption that occurs when God is lifted up. This concept was borrowed from Mark Blitz at El Shaddai Ministries as displayed in the video accompanying this section
The Bestowal of Three Gifts
Sometime after Christ was born, the Magi or Wise men came to see the King, whose birth was announced by the star in the East. They brought with them three gifts.
. . . when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him:
- frankincense, and
— Matthew 2
God announced His role as King. The frankincense announced His role as Priest, and the myrrh announced his role as a prophet or suffering servant.
As it concerns camels, resurrection, and the bestowal of gifts, a portion of Isaiah that foretells this event will help us out.
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, And your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, And your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. The multitude of camels shall cover your land, The dromedaries of
- Midian and
- Ephah; All those from
- Sheba shall come;
They shall bring gold and incense, And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord .
— Isaiah 60:1-6
Notice the three countries represented and the mention of Sheba. Where might we have heard of Sheba before, in association with wisdom, riches, and camels?
. . . when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare
- spices, and
- gold in abundance, and
- precious stones:
and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart . . .
. . . when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built.
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom:
Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard.
Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.
Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.
And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon . . .
. . . And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.
— II Chronicles 9:1-12
Solomon types and shadows the future royalty of the Messiah Jesus, the only wise God, and King of Kings full of riches and grace carried and delivered by His Holy Spirit. Could the queen of Sheba be His church, much like Mary, who chose to come and sit at His feet and was so richly blessed?
The Book of Matthew
In chapter eight and running through chapter ten, Matthew's third section exhibits three sets of three miracles divided with two "follow me" commands between them, as presented in the Bible Project poster above.
Miracles, signs, and wonders, also referred to as works, are healing, deliverance, and forgiveness, and they are things that only God can do as Nicodemus observed
This man (Nicodemus) came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.
— John 3:2
These works are by the Holy Spirit, as Peter informed Cornelius.
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him
— Acts 10:38
These three sets of three proceed three Holy Spirit events. The first.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit
— Matthew 1:18
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
— Matthew 3:16
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil
— Matthew 4:1
The Sermon on the Mount follows these events. The mount, a type of resurrection, then comes after the nine Miracles that begin with "one who comes down."
When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
— Matthew 8:1
Interestingly immediately following these nine miracles and two calls to follow. Jesus selects His twelve and sends them out with this same power.
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease...saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give
— Matthew 10:1,6
Holy Spirit—Living Water
There are three mentions of "Living Water" in the Scriptures. The first two occurred during Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well and is connected with the concept of eternal life.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
— John 4:7-13
Later in this conversation, Jesus also links all of these with things connected with the Holy Spirit.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
— John 4:24
The Third Mention of Living Water
The third occurrence of "Living Water" is found in John chapter seven and brought forth during an appointed observance known as the Feast of Tabernacles that involved both lights and living water. This event included a ceremony in which the priests would go to the Pool of Siloam and get pitchers of water. They would then pour the water into a silver funnel that stood high above the altar and flowed down to the pool. In Biblical terms, water that is flowing is considered living water. This activity illustrated living water flowing down from a heavenly source.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
— John 7
I will conclude this section with three spiritual qualities which should flow from God's heart to ours and our hearts to others.
. . . now abide
these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— I Corinthians 13:13
The Three Hours of Prayer
- Evening and
- morning and at
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
— Psalm 55:17
Prayer in and of itself is primarily a spiritual activity. In Jewish tradition, there are, what is known, as three hours of prayer that date back to biblical times and observances.
. . . when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
— Daniel 6:10
Paul gives us three elements of prayer in his letter to the Philippians
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by
- prayer and
- supplication, with
let your requests be made known to God.
— Philippians 4:8
Tears and Prayer
Tears, based on the proteins contained in them, can be a prayer in and of themselves. Here we will focus more on this whole concept and its relationship with three. First, there are technically three types of tears.
The first type of tears is called Basal tears, consisting of three layers:
- the mucous layer which lubricates,
- the Aqueous coating repels bacteria and protects the cornea,
- the third layer is called the lipid layer that keeps the iris smooth. and keeps the other layers from evaporating
The second type of tears is reflex tears that wash away harmful substances and particles and contains more antibodies.
The third type of tears is emotional tears and contains higher level stress hormones that get released.
All of these properties can be seen as analogous to the functions and benefits of prayer and vision.
The Altar of Incense and Prayer
The Altar of Incense, also known as the Golden Altar, was to image the people's prayers going up to God. It was the third piece of furniture in the Holy Place. It was 3 feet high and burned three types of fire: wood on the top, coal in the middle, and a perpetual fire from the ashes at the bottom. The prayers of the saints are mentioned three times in Revelation.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
— Revelation 5:8
Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
— Revelation 8:3
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
— Revelation 8:4
The Psalmist prayed
Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
— Psalm 141:2
Interestingly, that incense is mentioned three times in Luke chapter and displays a literary sandwich that centers on prayer.
A) So it was, that while he (Zechariah) was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
— Luke 1:8-9
Central Axis) And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.
— Luke 1:10
A) Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
— Luke 1:11
This information is borrowed from the Agape Bible Study website in the article "The Hours of Prayer for the Old Covenant Church in the 1st century AD" by Michael Hunt.
Hours of Prayer
The first hour of prayer was at nine (3x3) a.m. when the temple gates opened. It was the third hour from sunrise. The sun rising images the idea of a daily resurrection.
A Quote from Chabad.org about these morning prayers in an article titled "Shacharit Morning prayers Rise and Climb."
The sun has risen; a new day beckons.
It’s time to climb a ladder, to ascend to the heavenly spheres and fortify our sensitivity for G‑d and spirituality. After this daily booster we descend, equipped to tackle the day and the struggles it will present.
This hour of prayer was known as the Shacharit. Shacar, according to Gesenius, is a Hebrew word meaning to break forth as the light of dawn, to break in, to pry and seek. What an appropriate description of prayer. 3
The modern tradition came with the idea of awakening with progressive steps and likened to climbing up the rungs of a ladder. The first rung is praising the Almighty God, Master of the Universe. It includes a recitation of Psalm 30 (3x10), which begins with resurrection language and the concept of going up. More on the resurrection to come.
I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
— Psalm 30:1-3
"Pit," as we shall see later, represents a death. Healing and resurrection will connect throughout the remainder of this article.
In the opening of the book of Acts, this particular hour is mentioned and concerns the Holy Spirit explicitly.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance....Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.
— Acts 2:1-15
Mark records that it was at this time that Jesus went to the cross, which also would have been the time of the morning sacrifice.
Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.
— Mark 15:25
The second hour of prayer was at 3 p.m. it was also the time of the second sacrifice of the day and consistent with the thought that this was the hour Christ died at 33 (3x11) years of age. This hour was known as the Minchah, which means gift offering and the "hour of confession."
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
— Acts 10:9
Another spiritual event took place at this particular hour of prayer and includes healing and a type of resurrection that will be discussed a little later in this article.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth (3x3) hour.
— Acts 3:1
How interesting that in association with the gift offering, Peter tells the lame man asking for a gift of alms, this
“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.
— Acts 3:6
Between the first and second hours of prayer, 3 hours of darkness covered the land. Jesus was suffering on the cross from the 6th hour to the 9th hour.
Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
— Mark 15:33
The third hour of prayer is called the Maariv, simply meaning of the evening, and began at sundown.
Ask, Seek, and Knock
Luke, chapter eleven, opens with our topic.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray . . .
— Luke 11:1
Following this question, Luke delivers the Lord's prayer in three sections, with the first section in three clauses.
- And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, (1)Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (2) Thy kingdom come. (3) Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
- Give us day by day our daily bread.
- And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
— Luke 11:2-4
This tutorial in prayer by Jesus is immediately followed by a parable on persistence in prayer that includes the number three and resurrection language. Notice rise is used three times in this portion of scripture.
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot (1) rise and give thee.
I say unto you, Though he will not (2) rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity (begging -maybe even nagging) he will (3) rise and give him as many as he needs
— Luke 11:5-8
Jesus explains the value of persistent prayer.
And I say unto you,
- Ask, and it shall be given you;
- seek, and ye shall find;
- knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
- every one that asks receives;
- and he that seeks finds;
- and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
— Luke 11:9-10
Jesus then gives three theoretical considerations.
- If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or
- if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
- Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
— Luke 11:11-12
He caps off this teaching with the connection of prayer and the giving of the Holy Spirit.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
— Luke 11:13
Prayer and the Garden of Gethsemane
Just before His crucifixion, Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane with three of His disciples.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John according to Mark) He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.
- He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.
- So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going (Luke says Rise and Pray. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
— Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus prayed three times and made it abundantly clear that His strength to do God's will was drawn from being in communion with God through prayer when He rebukes His disciples for sleeping rather than praying. He explains that their ability to resist temptation hinges upon it. Luke's account of this event informs us that when Jesus prayed, a heavenly being appeared.
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
— Luke 22:43
It is Peter He predominantly admonishes, and it is Peter who will later deny Him three times after the rooster crows three times.
After Jesus's death, Peter is reinstated in a threefold manner.
This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
- So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah do you love Me more than these?”He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
- He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah do you love Me?”He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
- He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep (third time is mentioned three times)
— John 21:14-17
This Garden hearkens back to another Garden in Genesis, chapter three, involving man's fall based on three temptations.
. . . when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
that it was pleasant to the eyes,
and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.
— Genesis 3:6
In between these two gardens was a wilderness that involved three temptations and three scriptural rebuttals recorded in the three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew's account begins with
Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit (Mark) Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
- If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
- Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
- Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
— Matthew 4
The emphasis in this account is fasting and prayer. Jesus was on a forty-day fast just after His baptism. It was the Spirit and the angels of God who strengthened Him. It also might be observed that the phrase "It is written" is used three times in this account and once again substantiating the truth and dependability of God's Word.
How fitting that the Hebrew word for "garden" is "gan," and begins with a gimel. The other letter of this word is a nun, and pictographically depicts perpetual life. So we could say that a garden is a place that lifts up life or living things—what a lovely picture of prayer.
Peter James and John
The Garden of Gethsemane account is one of three events that three of the twelve disciples are present. A second instance occurs just after Jesus returns from his deliverance trip across the lake. When He arrives back on the other side
. . . one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” So Jesus went with him.
The woman with the issue of blood interrupts this scene with her need to be healed, and Jesus heals her then
While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James . . . Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Luke adds . . . Then her spirit returned Immediately the girl arose and walked.
— Mark 5:35-37
The Transfiguration and Three sets of Three
A third event, where these same three disciples are present, is on the Mount of Transfiguration as presented in three of the Gospels. The mountain at which this scene took place was Mount Hermon and consisted of three equal peaks. It is also the highest mountain in Israel.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
— Mark 9:2
Luke records that they went to pray and expounds on how it was during prayer that Jesus was transformed.
He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
— Luke 9:28-29
Another set of three people in a divine state on this mountain were present; Elijah, the prophet who went up to heaven in a chariot, Moses whom God buried Himself, and Jesus.
And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
— Mark 9:4-5
The third set of three beings could be implied by a voice that comes out of a cloud.
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
— Matthew 17:5-8
Although Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren't directly mentioned in the above event, they are certainly represented. The phrase "This is my beloved Son" assumes the Father and links back to the Baptism of Jesus when the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus after He resurrects from the water. These are, therefore, implied.
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
— Matthew 3:16-17
Three That Bear Witness
The following in this section is still in process and furthers the look at the three witnesses of heaven and earth and is therefore incomplete. You may skip it until completion or add to the conversation concerning it in the comments section if you like.
This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven:
- the Father,
- the Word, and
- the Holy Spirit;
and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth:
- the Spirit,
- the water, and
- the blood;
and these three agree as one.
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
— I John 5:6-13
The first mention of blood occurs in Genesis chapter four in connection with Cain killing his brother Abel.
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's bloods crieth unto me from the ground.
— Genesis 4:10
Blood is in plural form in Hebrew, which is why I added the "s" to it. The plural "bloods" takes us to one of the other three times, alluding to blood's cry for vengeance.
I will avenge the bloods of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu
— Hosea 1:4
Hebrews chapter eleven and twelve give us the application in threefold form.
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks
Did you catch that? "through it"...through what? through Abel's faith in the sacrifice, God required a covering for his sin
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering.
— Genesis 4
Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
— Genesis 4
There was no blood in Cain's offering, and he didn't even bother to bring what was first.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
- lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us
- run with endurance the race that is set before us,
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him
- endured the cross,
- despising the shame, and has
- sat down at the right hand of the throne of God...
...you have come to Mount Zion and to
- the city of the living God the heavenly Jerusalem, to
- an innumerable company of angels, to
- the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven,
- God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
- to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant,
- and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel
— Hebrews 12:1-3, 22-24
Hebrews 11:4 says that though Abel is dead, God's testimony through that sacrifice for sin still speaks. It is eternal.
The violence of men continues until the time of Noah, where there is a judgment of water. We can assume the Spirit of God in this.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
— Genesis 1:2
The next place we see blood and water was with Moses when rivers of water turned to blood. It was the third sign that it was God who had sent him.
. . . thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
— Exodus 4:9
The next event of water and blood occurs when Moses is before Pharaoh and challenging him to release God's people.
. . . smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
— Exodus 7:17
Another Old Testament image that has to do with the water and blood concerns leprosy laws and being cleansed from it. Leprosy in Scripture is a picture of sin. Through a prescribed ceremony, a person could be declared clean from it. This ceremony looks much like the Scape Goat on the Day of Atonement sacrifice. There are three mentions of blood and water together in this chapter—the first having to do with persons.
This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:
And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper;
Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:
And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water:
As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water:
And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.
The final had to do with homes.
And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:
And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:
But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.
This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall,
And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house,
And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot:
To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.
— Leviticus 14
Isaiah attaches the concept of blood and water that substantiates a cleansing.
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the bloods of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
— Isaiah 4:4
Water can be symbolic of the Spirit and eternal life. This living water gets expressed in the New Testament in a couple of places.
The first is at Jacob's well, where Jesus and a Samaritan woman, who had five husbands and was living with one that wasn't her husband. They are having a conversation about worship. It is here that Jesus identifies Himself as the Messiah and speaks of this living water.
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
— John 4
The next occasion of living water is John chapter seven and lets us know that this living water concerns the Holy Spirit, and once again, the truth is substantiated.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
— John 7
John's account of Christ's crucifixion involves the combination of blood and water.
. . . one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
— John 19:34
A water molecule consists of three atoms, two hydrogens, and one oxygen.
We have seen many three-in-one concepts in these examples, making this an excellent place to note that the first three Gospels consisting of Mattew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic Gospels. Synoptic means "to see together" They are comprised of three testimonies recorded to give us a three-layered solid focus on the Lord and person of Salvation.
The Red Heifer and the Waters of Purification
The theme of blood, water, cleansing, and three continues in Numbers chapter 19.
Instructions for purification included the sacrifice of a red heifer. This specific type of bovine was killed outside the camp, unlike the other sacrifices slaughtered at the door.
and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its
- blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its
- blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its
- blood, and its offal shall be burned.
And the priest shall take
- cedar wood
- and hyssop
- and scarlet,
and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer. Then the priest shall
- wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening. And the one who burns it shall
- wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening. Then a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and store them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of separation; it is for purifying from sin. And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall
- wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them.
‘He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.
— Numbers 19:4-12
The relationship between three and seven will be addressed in an up and coming article.
‘This is the law when a man dies in a tent: All who come into the tent and all who are in the tent shall be unclean seven days; and every open vessel, which has no cover fastened on it, is unclean. Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
‘And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and living water shall be put on them in a vessel. A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave. The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.
‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The
- water of separation has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the
- water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the
- water of separation shall be unclean until evening.
Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.’”
Blood is mentioned three times in this account, as well as the phrases "third day" and "bathe in water." The three mentions each indicates that these are spiritual transactions.
I can't help but think of the event between the first and third days, which involved a separation of waters, which also gets three mentions in this portion of the Bible text.
"Living Water," noted three times in the above chapter, often translated "running water," is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and is mentioned three times in the New Testament. (John 4:10,11)
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing
— John 7:37-39
The Nail in a Sure Place
There were most likely three nails, one in each hand and one through both feet, used to hang Jesus on the cross, according to the typical method of Roman execution at that period of history. A prophecy of "a nail in a sure place" is given in the book of Isaiah concerning a coming Messiah.
‘Then it shall be in that day,
That I will call My servant Eliakim ((God will raise up - think resurrection) the son of Hilkiah (my portion is Yah) . . .
I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place,
And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.
‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house . . .
— Isaiah 22:20,23-24
A cross typically weighed about 300 pounds, and the cross beam alone weighed about 100 pounds. The vertical part of the cross was fixed permanently, depicting the vertical upward things as more solid and fixed. The crossbeam was then placed upon it. The person was most likely attached to that part already.
Christ was one of three mentioned who was hung on a cross that day.
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death.
— Luke 23:32
Pilate declared His innocence three times in an appeal for His release before the event.
I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him . . .
— Luke 23:14
. . . nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.
— Luke 23:15
Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”
— Luke 23:20-22
Three languages were represented on the inscription written over Him.
And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
— Luke 23:38
Jesus' experience is said to have lasted for three hours, between the sixth (3x2) and Ninth (3x3) hours. He prayed three prayers while on the cross.
The first was concerning the purpose for which He went to the cross.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
— Luke 23:34
The second He pleads with God as He experiences the total forsakenness by God on our behalf as He takes on the full punishment for our sin.
And about the ninth (3x3) hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.
— Matthew 27:46
Thirdly He prays a prayer of surrender.
‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’
— Matthew 27:46
What surety do we have in this?
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
— John 19:28-30
Vinegar is used three times in the above verse. Matthew records that this vinegar was mixed with gall, which is like bitter poison. The Psalmist prophesied about three bitter things that the suffering Messiah would experience.
Thou hast known my
- reproach, and my
- shame, and my
mine adversaries are all before thee They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
— Psalm 69:21
If you get a chance to read the entire Psalm 69, it expresses his total experience of crucifixion in in-depth detail.
So very interesting that the Bible began with a tree of life in the middle of a garden. And here we have "Life" itself experiencing death for us on a dead tree and buried in a garden.
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
— John 19:41
Luke the Third Gospel and Acts
Luke, the third gospel, was written by Luke, the physician, which made him a dependable technical recorder.
In The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (1915), Ramsay said: "Luke's history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness." (p. 81)
Luke also wrote the book of Acts, which explains why the two books are very related in theme and function. Both contain a high number of references to the Holy Spirit. There are twelve mentions of the Holy Spirit in the book of Luke, which is two times more than any other of the Gospels. The Book of Acts contains 44 references to the Holy Spirit.
Luke makes it his mission to validate the claims of Christ and His followers.
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs.being seen by them during forty days (post resurrection) and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
— Acts 1:1-3
Following this account, the Holy Spirit is promised, and a new apostle to replace Judas is chosen. One of the new apostle requirements to be a valid witness was that he had to witness the resurrection.
. . . of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.
— Acts 1:21-22
The resurrection is noted ten times in the book of Acts more than any other Bible book.
Luke was the only Gentile to write a book of the Bible.
John 17,18, and 19
John chapter seventeen, in its entirety, records three prayers that Jesus prayed
- for Himself,
- his disciples,
- and for all believers.
The first prayer opens with the heavenly theme of three.
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven.
— John 17:1
These mentions, along with another three uses of eternity, one of them in past-tense, is also connected with number three's themes.
- that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
- And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent
- O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
— John 17:2-3
"Truth" and "sanctify/sanctified, noted three times in the second section, referred to His disciples.
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
— John 17:17-19
The third section of Jesus's prayers that was for all believers speaks of a united trio consisting of The Father, Jesus, and believers. There are a total of six that can be organized by theme into two groups of three. The first group speaks of the unity of Jesus and the Holy Heavenly Father. The second is the believers united in Christ.
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
- “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; (1) that they all may be one, (2) as You, Father, in Me, (3) and I in You;
- that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
- And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one . . .
— John 17:20-22
The twenty-third verse unites all three Jesus, the Father, and believers.
- I in them,
- and You in Me;
- that they may be made perfect in one,
and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
— John 17:23
John, chapter eighteen, took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and was covered in another section as it concerned prayer.
In a previous section titled "A Nail in a Sure Place," it was noted concerning this chapter that there were three mentions of vinegar connected to three bitter things foretold that the suffering Messiah would experience.
The observation in this section notes the three occurrences that Jesus confirms His Messiahship three times in this chapter with the statement "I am He." The first two refer to the soldiers who had shown up in the garden to arrest Him, and an invisible force (spiritual) pushes them back and causes them to fall.
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,”
— John 18:4-6
The number three denotes the solidity of something. Jesus makes the rock-solid claim that He is the one which they and all humanity is looking for. He stakes His claim to His messiahship.
John chapter 19 also was noted in a prior section that Jesus is one of three to be crucified that day. "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS," is written on His title in three languages.
The phrase "that you may know that I find no fault in Him" is quoted three times by Pilate. And the phrase "all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled" is a thrice-repeated in verses 24,28 and 36.
II Corinthians—The Third Epistle
The material in this section will be borrowed from the Revelations of Richard Ammiel McGough once again. We looked at the Bible wheel in an earlier part of this article. It was discussed how the sixty-six books of the Bible could be rolled up three times and divided into 22 sections or spokes of a wheel. Each spoke was headed with a letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. Gimel, the third letter of the aleph-bet, was shown to image the Holy Spirit. Also, each spoke contained three books of the Bible. The third spoke contained the third Epistle, which is II Corinthians, written by Paul. The other two are Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, and Lamentations, the Third megillot (scroll), which we will look at later.
II Corinthians fits the patterns and themes of this topic perfectly.
Chapter three of II Corinthians begins with the Spirit of the living God in the third verse.
. . . clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
— II Corinthians 3:3
Chapter three ends with three mentions of "Spirit" in its final two verses.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
— II Corinthians 3:17-18
The book begins with the repetitive use of the word "comfort," which is understood in the context of other Scriptures to be an attribute and work of the Holy Spirit. This repetition begins in verse three.
Blessed be the
- God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and
- God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by
- God For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
— I Corinthians 1:3-6
Notice the three mentions of God in this section, along with the concentrated use of consolation and comfort. This connection with comfort and the Holy Spirit appears in John chapter 14, when Jesus is comforting His disciples.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
. . . I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you . . .
. . . But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid . . . Arise, let us go hence.
— John 14:1,16-18,26-27,31
We also see this connection with the theme of resurrection, along with three mentions of deliverance and a note about prayer.
. . . we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who
- delivered us from so great a death, and does
- deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still
- deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us . . .
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
— II Corinthians 1:9-11,21-22
The Holy Spirit, as imaged by the camel in the letter Hebrew letter gimel, which traverses through the desert world, is the bestower of gifts unto men and also the producer of fruit. II Corinthians is filled with these similar themes. Below are the number of occurrences of particular words related to this, as used in this specific book.
"Abound (3), abounded, abounds, abundance (5), abundant (4), abundantly (4), benefit, bestowed (2), bountifully (2), bountifulness, bounty (2), cheerful giver, dispersed abroad, distributed, he hath given to the poor, liberal distribution, no lack, rich (3), receive the gift, sufficiency (2), sufficient (4), supplied, supplies, supply (2), the gift bestowed upon us, the riches of their liberality, treasure, unspeakable gift"
— The Bible Wheel Spoke Three Gimel
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
— II Corinthians 9:15
The book ends with
This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established . . . Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete.
- Be of good comfort,
- be of one mind,
- live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you
. . .
- The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
- and the love of God,
- and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen
— II Corinthians 13:1,11,14
As It Concerns Ananias and Sapphira
The Holy Spirit is, once again, the main character in Acts chapter five. The chapter begins with Ananias and his wife Sapphira lying to the Holy Spirit and their subsequent death.
Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?
— Acts 5:3-9
The above text mentions a three-hour interval between Ananias and Sapphira's confrontation, suggesting a spiritual confrontation.
Three also is associated with the concept of arising as will be further examined in another section, which is a word also sandwiched between two mentions of the Holy Spirit about the men who take their bodies to be buried.
There is also a mention of God located between the two mentions of the Holy Spirit. Technically, then, God is noted three times in this section. He is identified as the Holy Spirit in two instances, and one He is identified as God.
The Holy Spirit is noted, specifically, three times in the entire chapter. It will be examined in connection with the theme of three expressed in terms of life, resurrection, and spiritual matters.
More On Acts Chapter Five
After the incidents with Ananias and Saphira, the text in Acts chapter five continues with the themes of signs, wonders, and healings at the Apostles' hands. These were all considered works of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostles are soon met with resistance by the High Priest and all who were with him.
But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
— Acts 5:17-21
This scene, recorded in the above-recorded Scripture, and the language used to describe it, are reminiscent of Jesus in the tomb.
. . . as the first day of the week began to dawn . . . And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it . . . the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen
— Matthew 28:2
We see three features in keeping with these categories in both accounts: an angel of Lord, daybreak, and prison doors opened/stone rolled away.
After the apostles are resurrected and released from their prison experience, the religious rulers of the time were perplexed about containing and suppressing them from preaching and teaching Jesus. The apostles were brought once again before the council to be questioned and admonished to cease from their doings. Peter replies with references again connected to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
— Acts 5:29-32
Once again, three themes are evident: raising, exalting, God, and the Holy Spirit.
The rulers were ready to kill the apostles until Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, stepped in to reason with them.
. . . in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but" if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
— Acts 5:38
He concludes the entire chapter's theme concerning God's works and the Holy Spirit as categorized by the number three. He understands that earthly human hands could not possibly be exhibiting these powerful events.
Paul's Third Missionary Journey
Paul is in Ephesus during his third missionary journey and is recorded in Acts18:23-21:14. Acts chapter 19 begins with three mentions of the Holy Spirit.
Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them,
- the Holy Spirit came upon them,
- and they spoke with tongues
- and prophesied.
— Ephesians 19:1-6
Lynn Cohick writes in "Bible Study Magazine" about this third journey and the theme of the Holy Spirit and the power of God as was displayed through the preaching of the gospel.
"Paul's time in Ephesus provides a snapshot of various ministry challenges he faced during his life. The common denominator of these experiences is the revolutionary power of the gospel.
- The Holy Spirit transformed believers (19:1-10).
- the power of God worked to heal and to exorcise demons (19:11-22),
- and the truth of the gospel shook the foundations of a stronghold of paganism (19:23-20:1)
. . . Paul's teachings on the gospel were persuasive, and God's power was demonstrated by healings. The account in Acts 19:11-20 provides evidence that Jesus, and not magic, is the supreme authority over-all things in heaven and earth...The gospel unleashes the power of God throught the Holy Spirit. Those with only the knowledge of John's Baptism receive fullness in the Spirit Those who try to lasso the Spirit's power are overcome themselves by the very forces they try to subdue."
Ruth Anne Reese from "Bible Study" magazine additionally writes.
"In Acts, whatever barriers the apostles encounter while spreading the good news are overcome in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."
Three letters were written during this third journey. These were I Corinthians, II Corinthians, and Romans, the first three of all the Epistles.
Ephesians next records that Paul spent three months teaching in the synagogues.
And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
— Ephesians 19:8
Paul spent three years in Ephesus.
Stephen Witmer explains the connection with this third journey and resurrection.
"the kingdom of God has now come through Jesus and his resurrection, and God's life-giving power is working through Paul as the kingdom advances."
The first mention of the actual word "three" is found in Genesis chapter five and connects us with the resurrection theme.
Enoch walked with God three hundred years . . . And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (three mentions of God)
— Genesis 5:24
By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him.
— Hebrews 11:5
Foreshadowing a later resurrection that occurred after three days
Him (Jesus) God raised up on the third day.
— Acts 10:40
The power of the Holy Spirit did this.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
— Romans 8:11
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he writes about three heavens referring to a vision he had while in prayer.
It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
— II Corinthians 12:1-3
In this portion of Scripture, Paul is speaking of a profoundly spiritual experience. He is not even sure if he was in his body or not. At this time and place, Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh that keeps him from exalting himself.
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me
— II Corinthians 12:8
He also speaks of a "third heaven," which is also a pattern in Scripture.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
— Genesis 1:1
Some translations, including the King James version, make "heavens," in the above verse, singular, but the actual Hebrew word for heavens/heaven (shamayim שָׁמַיִם), as is used in the Old Testament, is plural in form. The plurality of heavens is recorded in the following verses.
Praise Him, you
- heavens of
- heavens,And you waters above the
— Psalm 148:4
Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God.
— Deuteronomy 10:14
. . . will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.
— I Kings 8:27
You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens.
— Nehemiah 9:6
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s.
— Psalm 115:16
The heavenly bodies in the creation account are listed as three—the sun, moon, and stars.
In an online article at "The Bible Genesis and Geology" titled "The Structure of Things Biblical," the author looks back to the ancient view of the heavens. He asserts that the Bible speaks of a firmament that separates the waters above and waters below on day two of creation. It is thought that the waters below refer to the ocean or seas of the earth. The above waters are another sea existing above the two atmospheres (heavens) of earth and space. The third heaven is the abode of God that sits above all of these layers. As quoted in the article
This is the "sea" that John saw in his visions:
"And before the throne [there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind."
— Rev 4:6
He created a boundary which presently exists between the two lower heavens (which constitute the firmament) and the third heaven (where the throne of God is). That boundary is that "Sea," and again that "sea" is above the two lower heavens of the firmament. It is also likened in places to crystal or smooth glass:
"And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above."
— Ezekiel 1:22
The reason it appears like a smooth, crystal surface is because it is frozen:
"The waters are hid as [with] a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen."
— Job 38:30
"And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness."
— Exodus 24:10
This three-tiered structure is imaged for us in a couple of other places, beginning with Noah's ark, which is full of "threes" in its entire structure.
And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.
— Genesis 6:15-16
Not only does the Ark image for us the three heavens by its compartments, but the ark is also is resurrected on the waters and placed above the flood of destruction.
The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.
— Genesis 7:17
The concept of three and resurrection will be examined further in the next section.
The second place we see three tiers is in Ezekiel's vision of the future temple, which is riddled with "threes" in its description as well, beginning in chapter 40. The first occurrence in this description uses three, three times.
In the eastern gateway were three gate chambers on one side and three on the other; the three were all the same size . . .
— Ezekiel 40:10
The Eastern Gate in the Old temple structure still exists today. And it is known as the "Golden Gate" or the "Gate of Judgment and or Mercy" Wikipedia has an interesting spiritual application to this.
According to Jewish tradition, the Shekhinah (שכינה) (Divine Presence) used to appear through the eastern Gate, and will appear again when the Anointed One (Messiah) comes (Ezekiel 44:1–3).
The "Golden Gate" links with the "Beautiful Gate." And in Acts, chapter three, which we shall see, contains the language of a sort of resurrection.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth (3x3) hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—
- leaping, and
- praising God.
— Acts 3: 1-8
The text continues with the resurrection theme and mentions three covenant patriarchs, which will be expounded upon later in the Old Testament section.
Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of
- Isaac, and
the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
— Acts 3:11-16
Acts chapter three ends with this statement concerning the resurrection
God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.
— Acts 3:26
Back to Ezekiel's Temple. The northern gate follows the same pattern with three gate chambers on each side. Today this gate is known as the Damascus Gate, which consists of three entrances. The center entrance is the largest, with two smaller ones on each side. It is thought that it may have been this gate that the Messiah carried His cross through on his way to outside of the city. It is the largest and busiest of all the gates.
Three gates are also mentioned concerning the vestibule of the temple.
. . . the width of the gateway was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side.
— Ezekiel 40:48
Now for the three tiers, which concerned the chambers of the walls that surrounded the entire structure.
The side chambers were in three stories, one above the other, thirty chambers in each story . . . and opposite the pavement of the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories . . . For they were in three stories.
— Ezekiel 41:6, 42:3,6
Three stories are mentioned three times in this account.
Let us also note that the temple structure in all its forms included three main areas; and outer court, Holy place, and Holy of Holies, thus expressing the spiritual, heavenly, and divine purpose of this structure.
The Number Three and Resurrection
Tony Robinson, with "Restoration of the Torah Ministries," has a video series on YouTube discussing this very revelation of how three connects with the idea of resurrection.
He notes that there are three resurrections by prophets in the Old Testament, and there are three resurrections in the New Testament by Jesus. In his online series, he also discusses how they pair together.
The first event recounted the events of the widow of Zarephath's son, who had died, and the prophet Elijah is a part of his resurrection from death.
he (Elijah) stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived...Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.
— I Kings 17:21-22
Notice the reference to the "truth" in the above passage. Also, "stretched himself out" is reminiscent of Christ's outstretched arms on the cross. This theme continues in the next example.
The second event is found in II Kings chapter four and involves the prophet Elisha and the Shunammite woman's son for whom Elisha prayed to be born, who also had died.
When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his
- mouth on his mouth, his
- eyes on his eyes, and his
- hands on his hands;
and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.
— II Kings 4:32-37
The third account is in II Kings 13. Elisha, the prophet that succeeded Elijah, had died and was buried. Another later prophet who had died was placed in Elisha's tomb.
Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year (Passover time). So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
— II Kings 13:20-21
The New Testament Resurrections done by Jesus begin at Nain.
Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
— Luke 7:11-17
The second New Testament account was the occasion of Jairus' daughter.
. . . behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples . . . When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land.
— Matthew 9:18-26
The third resurrection is recorded in John 11 and is the account of Lazarus.
“Lazarus is dead . . . Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days . . .
Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” . . . Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”. . . . they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them,“Loose him, and let him go.”
— John 11
The story continues into John chapter 12 with three uses of the phrase "raised from the dead referring to Lazarus's raising from the dead.
1.) Then, six (3x2) days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead
— John 12:1
At this point, Mary anoints Jesus with costly (worth 300 pence) ointment (mentioned three times in this account).
2.) Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead
— John 12:9
The next thing that occurs is the people who were coming to the feast begin to worship Jesus in three ways.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
- took branches of palm trees
- and went out to meet Him,
- and cried out
“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”
The Hosannah portion of this text is taken from Psalm 118 that includes a three times mention of "LORD."
Save now (Hosannah), I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
— Psalm 118:25-26
Backing up a few verses in Psalm 118 confirms that this is a work of God who is a Spirit.
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous (miraculous) in our eyes.
— Psalm 118:23
This theme matches with John's account.
For this reason, the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.
— John 12:18
There are also three sets of triple phrases in this Psalm. The first address three groups of people.
Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
— Psalm 118:2-4
These three mentioned groups connect us with Psalm 115, giving them three total mentions. These have to do with the futility of idols and the trustworthiness of God.
O Israel, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
— Psalm 15:9-11
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless those who fear the Lord
The next set of triplets concerns the "name of the Lord."
All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of the Lord, I will destroy them.
They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of the Lord, I will destroy them.
They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them
— Psalm 118:10-12
The final set of triplet phrases again confirms that it is God's hand alone that saves and reiterates His wonderful work of resurrecting the dead to life.
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
— Psalm 118:15-16
The next verse is the third mention of the "raised from the dead" phrase in John chapter 12.
3.) Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.
— John 12:17
Both Psalm 118 and this twelfth chapter of John that included the people's high praises are also laced with plots to kill Jesus by the religious rulers. The triples in this story reveal that it is indeed part of a larger spiritual plan. John caps off these events with the following.
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
— John 12:31-34
The above portion speaks of a spiritual victory over the "ruler of this world." After the transfiguration just shortly before his death. The three disciples who were with Him did not understand the plan that included His death. Immediately following the transfiguration, Jesus gives them a demonstration when a man approached Jesus with his demoniac son whom the other disciples were unable to deliver. In this account, the boy appears to be dead, but Jesus raises him up. This event again gives us a facet of the purpose of His death and resurrection being to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness by raising us from the dead.
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
— Mark 9:25-27
Jesus Himself is the Resurrection and the Life and was noted for three witnessing testimonies of miracles, wonders, and signs.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by
- wonders, and
which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
— Acts 2:22
I Corinthians chapter 15 expounds significantly on this. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter as it concerns the necessity of a resurrected man and Christ's fulfillment of that.
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures
— I Corinthians 15:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
— I Peter 1:3
The Spirit is the attributed power that enacts this feat.
if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you
— Romans 8:11
Romans 8 is another excellent read referencing the Spirit 21 (3x7) times in its 39 (3x13) chapters.
Jesus Himself speaks of His death and resurrection three times, and all three are presented in three of the Gospels.
Beginning with Matthew
- From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21)
- “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up. (Matthew 17:22-23)
- the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again. (Matthew 20:17)
- He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
- The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day. (Mark 9:31)
- Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; andthey will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again (Mark 10:33-34)
- The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Luke 9:22)
- Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. (Luke 9:44)
- Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again. (Luke 31-33)
Three Post Gospels Resurrections
The first of these occurrences are recorded in Acts chapter nine.
At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha . . . it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room . . . Peter . . . When he had come, they brought him to the upper room . . . Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
— Acts 9:36-42
The resurrection is repeatedly God's tool of substantiating His dependable, trustworthy, and true salvation and deliverance.
The second post-Gospel resurrection is in Acts chapter 20 during Paul's three-month stay in Greece.
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.
Once again, we see the Holy Spirit themed in this chapter, as Paul discusses his mission and faith in suffering for Christ's namesake.
see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself,so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
“And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
— Acts 20:21-31
Paul's command to "watch" is reminiscent of the earlier section on prayer when Jesus asks His disciples to watch and pray three times shortly before His ultimate suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane (oil press)
According to all Bible scholars, the third resurrection is less obvious and is not conclusive, but I think it's fair to assume that it was, considering that God is faithful to His patterns, and this would be the third. Not to mention that a few verses earlier that Paul was in this region for three months
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
— Acts 14:19-20
Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd
In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as a shepherd using three terms. The first concerns His death and identifies Him as the "good Shepherd."
I am the good shepherd. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
— John 10:11
The second concerns His resurrection and calls Him the "great Shepherd."
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20
The third is refers to the glory of the resurrected life and calls Him the "Chief Shepherd.
When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
— I Peter 5:4
As It Concerns Three, Christ, and the New Testament
The following is borrowed from Wikipedia's compilation of the number three as it concerns Jesus.
- The threefold office of Christ is a Christian doctrine that Christ performs the functions of prophet, priest, and king.
- The ministry of Jesus lasted approximately three years (27-30 AD)
- Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death (Sunday April 9, 30 AD).
- The Magi - Zoroaster priests astronomers/astrologers from Persia- gave Jesus three gifts.
- There are three Synoptic Gospels and three epistles of John.
- Paul the Apostle went blind for three days after his conversion to Christianity.
As we begin the next section, which more concerns the Old Testament and is known as the Tanakh to the Jewish people. They divide it up into three parts.
- The Torah - First five books
- The Prophets
- The Writings
This pattern, again, evidences the authorship of this Word.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
— II Timothy 3:16-17
Please note that the New Testament had not been written and compiled at the time of Paul's writing to Timothy. All they had was the Tanakh.
The Holy Spirit in Creation
We have already studied at great length the association with the number three with spiritual things. We also have seen how the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is strongly represented by this number.
In the opening chapter of Genesis, we see the Holy Spirit hovering over the face of the waters.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
— Genesis 1:1-3
The Hebrew word translated "hovering" is mirachaphet מְרַחֶ֖פֶת. At its root, this word describes a hen that broods over her nest of developing chicks inside their eggs. This word is, interestingly, only used three times in Scripture. (Genesis 1:2, Deuteronomy 32:11, and Jeremiah 23:9). Each clutch of eggs generally has twelve (3x4) eggs in it. Three, in combination with four, depicts the combination of the Holy Spirit brooding over the natural creation.
Hens in nature typically brood for twenty-one (3x7) days, or we could say three weeks. The number seven is a kingdom number, so in combination, we see the Spirit of God brooding over the developing creation kingdom.
We also see the Trinity within these first three chapters of Genesis. M.A. Zimmerman, in his book Studies in Genesis, identifies each member and gives the application.
First, the Spirit of God broods or hovers over the face of the waters, and then God 'said.' The Spirit prepares the way for the Word, by which all things are made. So it is also the sinner's experience. The Spirit broods upon us and prepares the way for the Word, which dispels the darkness and brings light and life. The Father, the Spirit, and the Word; these three: the Triune God revealing Himself in Creation, as He reveals Himself daily in like manner in the re-creation of the sinner.
An Old Testament Creation Resurrection
The first resurrection recorded in Scripture occurs on the third day of creation, with the earth resurrected in type from the chaotic waters.
“Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together (qavah) into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together (qavah) of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
— Genesis 1:9
This verse has an interesting connection with Psalm chapter 40 that ties us to this resurrection concept with the third day.
I waited patiently (qavah, qavah) for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set (arose in Hebrew) my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
— Psalm 40:1-2
When Comparing the two accounts, there is a double "qavah" in each. In the Psalm's presentation, these two "qavahs" translate as "waited patiently." The doubling of a word in Hebrew expresses emphasis. It could better read in English, "I looked for and expected with all that I have." The Psalmist is focused and expectant to be brought up from a miry slimy, muddy pit just like God brought up the dry land out of the watery chaos in the beginning.
Also, notice that the word translated as "set" is the Hebrew word for "arise." He resurrects us and sets our feet on a solid foundation. One more verse connected with this word and the concept of water is found in the Exodus story.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools (miqvah root qavah) of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.
— Exodus 7:19
This scene links us with what is at the foundation of our hope. It is that the waters of chaos were stricken when the blood of Christ was shed. The following New Testament verse includes resurrection with this theme.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
— II Corinthians 2:11-15
The hope that we have as believers centers on the resurrection.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
— I Peter 1:3
The II Corinthians verse above also explains the double "qavah" in the creation account that translates as "gathered together" Christ's death and resurrection included the idea of our spiritual enemies being gathered together and destroyed.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
— Revelation 19:19-20
Third Day—Plants and Seeds
The third day also images death and resurrection for us in bringing forth plants from seed, and are listed in three categories.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth
- the herb that yields seed, and
- the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”;
and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.
— Genesis 1:9-13
This concept is reiterated in the New Testament.
“How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies . . . So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption . . .
— I Corinthians 15:35,42
The book of Exodus follows this same pattern in a sort of resurrection of a people who were promised the land but were dead in slavery in Egypt. God determines to resurrect these people from their hopeless bondage by sending them a deliverer, Making Moses a type and Shadow of the forthcoming Messiah. He is given three signs to perform, turning his staff into a serpent, leprous hand healed, and water from the Nile poured out, turning to blood on the ground, symbolizing Satan, sin, and the blood - life spilled on the ground.
Their deliverance/resurrection follows the creation account beginning with light.
God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
— Genesis 1:3-5
Exodus follows suit after the slain Passover Lamb imaging Christ's death; they set forth to go to the promised land.
. . . the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.
— Exodus 13:21
The second day of creation involved the dividing of the waters.
“Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” . . . So the evening and the morning were the second day.
— Genesis 1:6-8
The second event and possibly the second day of Israel's deliverance included the parting of waters.
. . . the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But (1) lift up your rod (wood - cross), and (2) stretch out your hand (Christ's arms stretched out) over the sea and (3) divide it.
— Exodus 14:15-16
The third day of creation, as noted above, records the resurrection of land and plant life through the death of a seed.
The parting of the waters in Exodus that exposes (resurrects) the dry land so the children of Israel may cross over to the other side is once again a type of resurrection.
. . . the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
— Exodus 14:16
Resurrection and faith go hand in hand, as was exhibited in the section on truth in connection with God's trustworthiness.
. . . so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.
— Exodus 14:31
The heavenly bodies were created after the resurrected land and herbage.
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
— I Corinthians 15:40-45
It was also a fulfillment of the prophecy that God made to Abraham.
Then He brought him (Abraham) outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.
— Genesis 15:5
. . . blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven.
— Genesis 22:17
He reiterates the promise to Isaac, his son.
I swore to Abraham your father.And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven.
— Genesis 26:3-4
This promise was made three times.
A Furthered Account of Creation and The Third River
Chapter two of Genesis begins a furthered detail account of the creation narrative that is thick with three's and mentions of God and heavenly things.
A) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.
1) The seventh day God ended His work which He had done,
central axis) He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
1) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
centeral axis)This is the history of the heavens and the earth when
A) they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens
— Genesis 2:1-4
This particular three-part literary sandwich is a little more complex than most of them that we have looked at because it contains another three-part chiasm within it, which I identified numerically to set it apart.
We see in this section that the central theme is sandwiched by "heavens and earth" and "earth and heavens," with the third mention being at the very center (represented by "B") of this portion.
The chiasm inside the chiasm gives a central theme involving three mentions of the "seventh day," which I think is fascinating. This makes the seventh day, Sabbath day, a highly spiritual one, a holy one set apart from all the rest from what we have studied. It is the acknowledgment that.
The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
— Psalm 24:1
There are a lot of things mentioned in threes in this portion of the text. I was going to highlight them for you but then realized there were so many of them the whole thing would be in bold, so it might be more helpful to list them, then we will look at its literary structure because I think it is significant.
There are three "heavens and earth" or "earth and the heavens," there are three, "seventh day's," there are three, "His work's," and there are three, "which He had done (created and made)." "finished" and "rested" taken together occur three times.
It is also in this chapter that four rivers are mentioned. The third is
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria.
— Genesis 2:14
This river is given a second mention in the book of Daniel during the third year of Cyrus, while he fasted and prayed for three weeks.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia [a thing (davar or word) was revealed] unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and [the thing (davar or word) was true], but the time appointed was long: [and he understood the thing] (davar or word), and had understanding of the vision.
In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.
I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
And in the four and twentieth day (3x8) of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; (third river in Genesis)
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia.
— Daniel 10:1-4
Three mentions of "three" or "third" are presented here, along with three phrases that I parenthesized; a thing or word revealed, a thing or word that was true, and a thing or word that was understood.
It is a relevant note as well that the Hebrew word for "word" is "davar" and is used interchangeably, in English translations, with "thing" or "matter."
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
— John 1:1
God's Word is spirit.
. . . the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
— John 6:63
Next, there are three uses of the word vision.
And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
— Daniel 10:7-8
These three mentions reveal that this vision is a heavenly spiritual event that occurred in the third year of Cyrus after three weeks of prayer and fasting, once again connecting the concepts of prayer and spirit.
The language of "lifting up" or being lifted up is used consistently throughout the text. During Daniel's vision, he describes his posture.
. . . while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
— Daniel 10:9
When Daniel is visited, he lifted up his eyes.
I lifted my eyes
— Daniel 10:5
He is then, later, resurrected, in a sense, at the command of the heavenly visitor.
Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright.
— Daniel 10:10-11
The conversation between them continues concerning the vision and ends with a beautiful three-word statement.
I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth.
— Daniel 10:21
The underlined phrase uses three Hebrew words to express "harashoom bikatav emet," which could be rendered "the inscribed written truth." Three words are verifying the truth itself.
Man is a Spiritual Being
More from the beginning
- created man in His own image; in the image of God He
- created him; male and female He
- created them.
— Genesis 1:27
The third mention of the word "created" is repeated three times in this one little verse. It is only used twice before this. Once in the first verse noting the heavens and the earth, and the other is in verse 21 about living beings that move.
The Hebrew word "created" is bara and is only used in the Scriptures, referring to something God does. We see that man is different in all that God made with these three usages.
And the Lord God
- formed man of the dust of the ground, and
- breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and
- man became a living being.
— Genesis 2:7
Enoch, Moses, and Elijah
What might Enoch, Moses, and Elijah have in common?
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him...By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him.
— Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5
Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
— II Kings 2:11
Deuteronomy records that Moses died and that God buried him in a place that no one knows. He is the only one that the Scriptures say God Himself buries. But we also find Moses again appearing in the New Testament.
. . . behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them (disciples at the transfiguration), talking with Him (Jesus).
— Matthew 17:3
Here we have three men who are translated and transported in both time and place through some spiritual means.
Noah, Daniel, and Job
The prophet Ezekiel notes three men, and one of them, namely Daniel, three times in his prophecies and confrontations.
The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.
— Ezekiel 14:14
. . . even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.
— Ezekiel 14:20
The first two are regarding the righteousness of these three, and the third mention of Daniel makes a note of his wisdom.
The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“Because your heart is lifted up,
And you say, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of gods,
In the midst of the seas,’
Yet you are a man, and not a god,
Though you set your heart as the heart of a god
(Behold, you are wiser than Daniel!
There is no secret that can be hidden from you!
— Ezekiel 28
All three men, noted for their righteousness, have a connection to the resurrection that spares some from the coming judgment.
As discussed earlier, Noah illustrates a resurrection remnant with the lifting up of the ark above the waters.
For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.
— II Peter 2:4-5
Only three men believed Noah's preaching of righteousness, and they were his sons.
The book of Daniel ends with a resurrection remnant concerning the end
many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever...But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days
— Daniel 12:2-3,13
Job gives a similar rendition of a resurrection remnant
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
That you may know there is a judgment.
— Job 19:25-29
*Concepts borrowed from W.A. Criswell
Job's Pit of Despair.
The book of Job itself is one of three pieces of wisdom literature in the Bible. The literary structure of Job involves three sets of dialogues between Job and three friends, along with three monologues.
The number three is used nine (3x3) in the book altogether.
The pit is discussed six (3x2) times in the book of Job.
The pit is a picture of death, which involves a spiritual component and is an accurate metaphor concerning Job's undeserved suffering. Job in its entirety is full of evidence that all come to God through His redemptive gift, even "righteous" Job.
Elihu, the only of Job's counselors to not be included in the punishment, declares to him in his misery that it is by the grace of God that he lives.
The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life . . .
Yes, his (the chastened man) soul draws near the Pit,
And his life to the executioners.
“If there is a messenger for him,
A mediator, one among a thousand,
To show man His uprightness,
Then He is gracious to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit;
I have found a ransom’;
His flesh shall be young like a child’s
- He shall return to the days of his youth.
- He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him,
- He shall see His face with joy,
For He restores to man His righteousness.
Then he looks at men and says,
‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right,
And it did not profit me.’
He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit,
And his life shall see the light.
“Behold, God works all these things,
Twice, in fact, three times with a man,
To bring back his soul from the Pit,
That he may be enlightened with the light of life.
— Job 33:4
Job's Three Daughters
The story of Job begins with three unnamed daughters and ends with three named daughters. An online forum, "Is Was and Will Be," commentated by Larry Groenewald, offers us a beautiful look at this subject and what it may mean as it concerns our study.
"The meaning of the three daughters' names should be seen within the (spiritual) 'latter end' context:
And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
— Job 42:14 (KJV)
The next is the same verse in a more definition oriented translation
And he called the first, Day, and the second, Keziah, and the third, Amalthaia's Horn.
'Jemima' = her name means "day" = (new) day = resurrection day:
— Job 42:14 (Apostoic Polygot Bibe)
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
— 1Co 15:20
'Kezia's name means 'stripped bark of the cassia', a plant known for its sweet fragrance it is used in the anointing oil in the tabernacle of Moses = old life is stripped releasing new fragrance = new spirit of gladness:
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
— Psa 45:7
Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
— Exo 30:23-24
And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.
— Exo 37:29
'Kerenhappuch' meaning "horn" = spiritual anointing authority and spiritual rulership:
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
— Luk 1:69
The mentioning of their names helps us to know that Job's end is better than the days in the flesh (Ecc 7:1). These three daughters point to the new Jerusalem ruling with all the seven (complete church) 'sons of God':
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
— 1Jn 3:2
"Three daughters" is found three times in Scripture.
Proverbs Chapter Three
Proverbs chapter three is advice from a parent to a son. Wisdom is expressed in the female gender, which could be in contrast to the immoral woman discussed in the previous chapter, who will only lead the young man to his demise.
The father advises his son to find wisdom and then describes how powerful and productive wisdom is by exampling three facets of God's workings and their results by and through these.
- by wisdom founded the earth;
- By understanding He established the heavens;
- By His knowledge the depths were broken up,And clouds drop down the dew
— Proverbs 3:19-20
There are two other occasions in Jeremiah that this same type of phrasing occurs. Interestingly the context is used in contrasting God Himself with false gods and idols, much like Proverbs plea to seek wisdom as something to be desired over women, silver, or gold.
Inasmuch as there is none like You, O Lord
(You are great, and Your name is great in might),
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
For this is Your rightful due.
For among all the wise men of the nations,
And in all their kingdoms,
There is none like You....
...But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King...
- He has made the earth by His power,
- He has established the world by His wisdom,
- And has stretched out the heavens by His understanding.
— Proverbs 3:19-20 Jeremiah 10:6-7,10,12
The third occurrence appears in the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon, otherwise known as the "Great Harlot" in the book of Revelation, who leads the people astray from God.
- He has made the earth by His power;
- He has established the world by His wisdom,
- And stretched out the heaven by His understanding.
— Proverbs 3:19-20 Jeremiah 51:18
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
There are three major Old Testament Patriarchs, namely Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that bear significance to this lesson's themes. They relate predominantly to the covenant promise made to Abraham by God.
In the Ancient Near East, there were three types of covenants. These arrangements were not changeable contracts but spiritually backed eternal agreements that God and all the spirit realm honored.
The first was known as a "Parity Treaty" this was an agreement between two equals. Understanding this type of arrangement is an important observation when considering What Christ did for us.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— Philippians 2:5-11
The second type of covenant was known as a "Suzerain Vassal" treaty according to Merriam Webster Dictionary is when
"a powerful region or people controls the foreign policy and international relations of a tributary vassal state while allowing the subservient nation internal autonomy"
These types of covenants included curses and blessings for the breaking or keeping of the agreement. Think Deuteronomy.
A third type is known as a "Royal Grant" treaty and explained clearly by Wikipedia.
the "royal grant", was similar to the Biblical covenants where God, the superior party binds Himself to be the beneficiary as an inferior party with no set conditions imposed upon him. In this type of "royal grant" covenant, a king or other person in authority rewards a loyal subject by granting him an office, land, exemption from taxes, or similar
Such covenants are also referred to as covenants of promise or unconditional covenants. The covenants God made with (1) Noah (Genesis 9:8 - 17), (2) Abraham (Genesis 15:18), and (3) David (2 Samuel 7; 23:5) fit this pattern. In each of these cases, it is God alone who binds himself by a solemn oath to keep the covenant.
The Abrahamic covenant promising him three things
- To make him a great nation.
- Give his descendants land.
- A promise of a seed
A "one and only son" is the implication of that seed that will be the beginning of an innumerable proliferation of descendants and will eventually produce the Messiah, was solidified by three sets of three sacrifices
“Bring Me a
- three-year-old heifer, a
- three-year-old female goat, a
- three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon
— Genesis 15:9
You may notice there are a total of five things mentioned if you include the birds, which tie us to the idea that, for this unquestionably true covenant to come to pass, it will be by God's grace alone. In those very terms, the next event records that God alone passes through the pieces and parts as Abraham becomes incapacitated by falling into a deep sleep.
Just before Isaac's conception, Three people/divine beings visit Abraham. One of these three is speculated to be God Himself.
Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground.
— Genesis 18:1-3
Another verse showing how three relates to God is found in Deuteronomy as God instructs His children just before entering the promised land and at the renewal of His covenant, as God's name is delivered three times.
what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
— Deuteronomy 10:12
Genesis 17 examples for us.
I will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
The promise is reiterated to Isaac as God renews it in him.
Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
— Genesis 26:2-5
Jacob, the third to receive the promise, carries on the heritage of the promise when God appears to him in a dream, and again we can read the language of resurrection.
“I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning.
— Genesis 28:13-18
Christ fulfills all three types of covenants. He was God's equal (Parity) who humbled himself and became one of us and submitting in perfect obedience as a man to a sovereign (Suzerain - Vassal) and is given a Royal Grant that He extends to all.
Abraham is considered a father of the Jewish people and in covenant/special relationship with God. The religious rulers were claiming their entitlement by virtue of Abraham. John the Baptist confronted those who believed that their tickets were punched, merely because they were born as a descendant of him. They neglected the main point of God's relationship with Abraham and his descendants, and that was faith, the only way to obtain this right standing with God, which would come through God's one and only Son.
. . . he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
— Genesis 15:5
But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
— Matthew 3:7-9
Abraham and Isaac illustrate this point of faith in the salvation that God provides and will resurrect.
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off . . . Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided...So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together.
— Genesis 22:1-4
What third-day experience did Abraham see afar off that involved the riding of a donkey, wood for a sacrifice, and a sacrificial substitution?
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
— Hebrews 11:17-19
Abraham's faith paved the way for the Son of God to come and die that we might be resurrected.
The covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would become the foundation from which God would honor His end of the agreement He had made with His people. Sometimes they were spared only because of it.
Jacob: Third Patriarch
Chapter 29 of Genesis opens with Jacob's journey to the east to hide from his angry brother and seek a bride among his mother's relatives. He happens upon a well in a field and three flocks of sheep lying by it. The following verse ties us to a rolled away stone and a resurrected one who came to seek a bride by leaving His heavenly home to find her.
And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks.
Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth.
— Genesis 29:2-3
Jacob then has a discussion with the men at this well about knowing his uncle Laban, and they identify Rachael, Jacob's future bride, on her way to water their sheep.
Then he said, “Look, it is still high day; it is not time for the cattle to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.”
But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they have rolled the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.”
Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
— Genesis 29:7-10
Frank E. Gaebelein observes that this must have been a heavy stone that could not be moved single-handedly. But Jacob seeing his bride does just that. Could this picture the power of God's love toward's us?
The "rolled stone" is mentioned three times in this account. The new Testament rolled stone was something God did alone, as illustrated through Jacob.
Notice the stone could not be moved until all the flocks were gathered. The following verse puts this in the context of a messianic prophecy.
Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
— Joel 2:16
Jacob eventually gets his bride Rachael and ends up with her sister Leah by trickery. Leah begins bearing children first. The third son Levi is the first to be numbered. It was the tribe of Levi that ended up with the spiritual responsibility of the priesthood.
After all of the childbearing and serving, Jacob takes all that he has acquired and heads back home, not without conflict, of course. Laban tries to trick Jacob out of some of the wealth in terms of livestock.
And Laban said, “Oh, that it was according to your word!” So he removed that day the male goats that were speckled and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had some white in it, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and gave them into the hand of his sons. Then he put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
— Genesis 30:34-36
Some more resurrection language follows into chapter 31 of Genesis when Jacob has a dream, and the Angel of the Lord speaks to him.
“And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were
- and gray-spotted.
Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are
- and gray-spotted;
for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’”...Then Jacob rose and set his sons and his wives on camels (animal associated with resurrection). And he carried away all his livestock and all his possessions which he had gained, his acquired livestock which he had gained in Padan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
— Genesis 31:10-13,17-18
This scene also is reminiscent of a New Testament conversation with resurrection connotations.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also . . . ”
— John 14:1-3
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
— I Thessalonians 4:16-18
There is even a Passover included in these resurrections accounts. Jacob sneaks off with His family.
So he fled with all that he had. He arose and passed over the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gilead. And Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. Then he took his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead.
— Genesis 31:22-23
The developing pattern here is similar to what will be seen in Exodus when three days into their exit Pharoah and his army hotly pursue the children of Israel. In the New Testament, what Christ accomplished on the cross and the three days before being resurrected is very similar, including the whole work is a covert operation.
. . . we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
— I Corinthians 2:7-8
Paul goes on to talk about the Spirit for the remainder of that particular chapter.
Relatedly, Chapter 31 of Genesis uses the phrases of "between me and thee" concerning God's witness of a covenant. An interesting note as it concerns this scene is that Laban calls upon the God of Abraham, Nahor, and their father. God is mentioned three times in that account. Jacob swore by the fear of his father, Isaac.
Now therefore, come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.”
So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. And Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed, also Mizpah because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!”
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain. And early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.
We see that a covenant between these two parties allowed Jacob to go free with his family; it was a deal that required a sacrifice. I am going to suspect that it was unleavened bread that they ate.
When Jacob meets up with Esau, he divides his family into four companies, according to the women with whom he had children. Thirty camels are one of the gifts he sends to appease and greet his possibly angry brother.
Jacob gives instructions as to the order of the progression of the companies. He stays behind the third company. He stands between all and Rachael, his desired bride.
And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.
— Genesis 32:22
He wrestles with God and prevails.
And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.
— Genesis 32
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
— Mark 16:1-6
Chapter 33 verses 1-5 continue with resurrection language
And Jacob lifted up his eyes . . . and he passed over . . . and he lifted up his eyes.
A Third Day Resurrection Accomplishment at Shechem
A dramatic accomplishment of Christ's resurrection emerges in Genesis chapter 34 with the "taking" of Dinah by Shechem, the prince of Shechem.
The narrative begins at the end of chapter 33.
Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city.
— Genesis 33:18
The pattern in Scripture follows that parking up next to an evil city, though seemingly advantageous at that time, never turned out well in the end. We saw this with Lot in the Sodom and Gomorrah event, which uses very similar language to express that It wasn't just somewhere around there that they pitched. It was very near. We see that Lot ends up in the city, and what happened there was not good.
This pattern may invite another question as it concerns the Garden experience. Why were Adam and Eve hanging out near or next to the tree they were instructed not to eat from and conversing with a beast of the field?
In this case, immediately following this announcement of Jacobs pitching, we see his daughter Dinah go hang out with the girls of the city, and the unspeakable happens.
Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her.
— Genesis 34:1
After Dinah's defilement, Shechem wants to marry her. Therefore, he keeps her in his possession while he and his father go to Jacob to strike up a deal for her. Shechem and his father also propose that they covenant together and become a united group through the exchange of daughters in marriage.
Jacob's response is a bit reminiscent of the garden event as well. While the serpent propositions his wife, Adam remains silent.
And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came.
— Genesis 34:5
A contrast in cultures gets revealed with this whole proposal. While Shechem and his father behave as if this event of taking Dinah is normal, Jacob's sons were appalled and livid.
And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done.
— Genesis 34:7
They, however, pretend to agree on one condition.
If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
— Genesis 34:15
Shechem and Hamor, his father, return to the city, informing the men of the deal to unite the tribes and rehearsed the benefits they would gain by the union to which they all agreed. What happens next is shocking.
Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, and all their wealth
— Genesis 34:25-29
On the third day, they rescued their sister and took vengeance on her enemies as well as plundered the city. This images what the resurrection of Christ did for us. He brought us out of our captivity, defeated our enemies, and took the spoils of the enemy.
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.
— Ephesians 4:7
Moses Hid for Three Months
The writer of Hebrews informs us that Moses's mother hid him for three months, which was considered an act of faith. The Hebrew word translated "hidden" is used 33 times in thirty verses in Scripture.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents.
— Hebrews 11:23
Faith is an invisible, eternal, spiritual substance.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
— Hebrews 11:1-3
There is a type of resurrection to go along with this story. When Moses' mother could no longer hide him, she placed him in a basket and put him in the river where Pharoah's daughter discovers him. She decides to keep in but sends him back to his mother until his weaning. His name describes his being resurrected from the water, much like day three of creation with land resurrecting from the water.
So she called his name Moses,saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.
— Exodus 2:10
Stephen, in the book of Acts, furthers the resurrection in terms of the life Moses was lifted up too.
At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.
— Acts 7:20-22
God Gives Moses Three Signs
When God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharoah to let His people go, Moses is a bit nervous about the people not believing him to be their deliverer. God gives Moses three signs. The first is the rod in his hand, turning to a serpent then back to a rod again.
So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
He said, “A rod.”
And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
— Exodus 4:2-5
The second sign was his hand turning leprous then healed.
the Lord said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.
— Exodus 4:6-8
The third sign is water turning to blood on dry ground.
Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”
— Exodus 4:8-9
The three form a unified message to His people about the salvation He is about to accomplish. The serpent brings us back to the garden, where Adam handed over his lordship as represented by the rod to the serpent. God was going to allow humankind to pick it up again.
The second sign of leprosy is a metaphor for sin, which also goes back to the garden. Like a nasty disease, sin had infiltrated human life, defiling and distorting the original intended image beyond recognition. God was about to heal that.
The final sign prophetically told them how He was going to do that. It would be through the blood of His one and only Son spilled on the ground on behalf of humankind. The beginning narrative shows us righteous Able and His blood crying out for justice. We have Christ in the New Testament, answering that cry.
Exodus's whole metaphoric image is illustrating the bondage of sin from which we need deliverance through the blood.
Three Day's Journey
In the Exodus account, "three days Journey" is mentioned three times. The first was with God's speech that Moses was instructed to present to Pharaoh.
. . . you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’
— Exodus 3:18
The second is Pharaoh repeating what he has heard concerning this command directed at him.
So they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.
— Exodus 5:3
The third one is Moses's declaration that they will indeed leave as God has spoken.
We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He will command us.
— Exodus 8:27
These three days, of course, alludes to their resurrection from Egypt and slavery. The three repetitions make it a done deal. There is no question that they will be delivered.
In chapters eight and nine of Exodus, "rise up early" and "I raised thee up" is used three times, as well as the phrase "saith the Lord God."
Then the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
— Exodus 9:1
And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
— Exodus 9:13
Sandwiched between the above two occurrences is the third of the three "three days journey mentions.
And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
— Exodus 10:3
Three Sets of Three Plagues
E. W Bullinger, a late 1800's Bible scholar, reveals the triplet pattern of the plagues God invoked to raise up His children out of Egypt. This pattern informs us that it was a spiritual project and battle that only God could do "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." and "the battle belongs to the Lord."
- First plague of blood came with a warning
- Second plague of frogs came with a warning
- Third plague of lice did not come with a warning
- Fourth plague of mixture of insects came with a warning
- fifth plague of animal diseases came with a warning
- Sixth plague of boils did not come with a warning
- Seventh plague of hail came with a warning
- Eighth plague of locusts came with a warning
- Ninth plague of darkness did not come with a warning
He also notes that Aaron acted in the first set and Moses in the last one. No warning is given in the third of each set.
This event was indeed the divine act or "finger of God."
Moses Three Day Darkness and a Resurrection Through the Sea
Just before the death of the firstborn plague in the book of Exodus, there was three-day darkness that plagued the land of Egypt. This final event was part of God's plan to resurrect His people from slavery in Egypt.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand (who else stretched out His hands) toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
— Exodus 10:21-23
And Jesus stretched out his arms in the darkness of death, and in three days, He rose from the grave.
Now from the sixth (3x2) hour until the ninth (3x3) hour there was darkness over all the land (12:00-3:00).
— Matthew 27:45
This event connects us again with a resurrection.
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
— Matthew 27:51-52
These three days, darkness is considered the ninth (3x3) plague with the "death of the firstborn" or Passover.
It is during this tenth plague that Pharaoh finally surrenders and lets the people go.
The water-splitting event looks very much like an event in the creation narrative in the first three days. That contains three similar elements of darkness, the wind, and water as observed by Rabbi David Fohrman in his book "The Exodus You Almost Passed Over," A suggested read by the way.
Then Moses stretched out his hand (who else stretched out His hands) over the sea (masses of peoples); and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind (Spirit moving over the waters in the beginning) all that night (darkness in the beginning), and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided (also in the beginning).
— Exodus 14:21
darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters . . . Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters let it divide the waters from the waters . . . Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
— Genesis 1:2-9
They travel three days through three cities when Pharaoh changes his mind. The Israelites had not returned from their three-day journey, and he was in hot pursuit. This third day, the sea split, and the people passed through it onto dry land.
The Lord's presence goes with them in the form of fire by night and a cloud by day, mentioned three times in Exodus concerning this event.
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
— Exodus 13:21-22
And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians.
— Exodus 14:24
Numbers 33 records that after they pass through the sea, they take a three-day journey to Marah.
And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.
— Numbers 33:8
Marah was the place where the bitter waters were made sweet by a tree cast into the waters, and God reveals His plan and purpose in this and reveals Himself as "healer."
“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
— Exodus 15:26
The spiritual transaction and eternal accomplishment that mirrors the death and resurrection of Christ are recorded in Exodus chapter15.
You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.
Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.
You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
In the place, O Lord, which You have made
For Your own dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
“The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”
— Exodus 15:13,16-18
It took them thirty (3x10) days to reach the wilderness of Sin. In the wilderness of Sin, the people complain about the lack of food, and God provided them with bread from heaven.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you.
— Exodus 16:4
Moses kept a measure of the manna as a memorial that was later placed in the ark of the covenant. The Bible records it as an omer, which is the equivalent of three seahs.
And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer (three seahs) of manna in it, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
— Exodus 16:33-34
The next thirty (3x10) day journey took them to Sinai.
A Resurrection in the Wilderness
Exodus chapter 19 opens with some stunning imagery of resurrection and number three, with some keywords and phrases.
In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai...So Israel camped there before the mountain . . . Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.
— Exodus 19:1-4
My favorite of these images is the last bold phrase. God's purpose in the resurrection is to bring us to Himself. Mountains are many times used to image heavenly things. The mountains of Jerusalem are three (Ophel, Moriah, and Zion)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
— Hebrews 4:22-24
"Going up" is phraseology for a heavenly meeting referring to this particular experience.
. . . the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
— Exodus 20:22
Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth.
— Deuteronomy 4:36
This resurrection life results in an elevated position.
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
— Exodus 19:5-6
Another significant revelation in the following verse shows us that resurrection occurs because God came down.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people...And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day (third day three times).
— Exodus 19:10-11
This next portion brings together the whole concept of God coming down so that He could raise us up.
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were
- thunderings and
- lightnings, and a
- thick cloud on the mountain;
and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
— Exodus 19:16-19
God's presence is described by three things, thunderings, lightning, and a thick cloud.
So we have Moses (lifted from the water), the third son of Amram (My people are lifted up) thirdly descended from Levi, which became the priesthood by his three sons.
- Kohath, and
and they were
- and anointed by God
— Numbers 18:6-8
They were separated for three reasons
- to be brought near to God
- to do the service of the tabernacle (three part structure - outer court, inner court, and Holy Place)
- to stand before the congregation and minister to them.
— Numbers 16:9
Levi was the third son of Jacob, who was the third patriarch of God's covenant with Abraham, sanctifying the people (Priest, Levite, and common people) to bring them up before the Lord on the third day of the third month.
Just an additional note that Jochebed, Moses' mother, also was from the Levites and her name means Yahweh's glory. Its pictograph includes a nail between "Yah," God's name, and "kavod," meaning glory. The nailing of (3 nails) Christ to the cross for our sins purchased our redemption and forgiveness that made us fit for resurrection. It is to His glory that we are forgiven and lifted up.
A Note From Bullinger
Bullinger notes that Moses makes two sets of three ascents and descents to receive and give God's laws and ordinances. These three are separated by the giving of the Law and the setting up of the Tabernacle.
As it concerns the entire chapter, the phrase "third day" gets repeated four times, indicating that God came down to the earth (4) to resurrect us (3), which images for us the most notable and essential resurrection of all.
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven,that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
— John 3:13
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
— I Corinthians 15:3-4
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world...“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
— John 6:51
Another event that follows with three and revival occurs in Exodus chapter 15
So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to
- Marah, they could not drink the waters of
- Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called
- Marah And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree (think cross). When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.
— Exodus 15:22-25
It noted that there are three occasions that water is the issue of complaint with the children of Israel. (Exodus 15, 17, and Numbers 20) Water is symbolic of life and the Holy Spirit, as we shall look at later.
In his book "Connections," Glen Carpenter makes an interesting observation concerning this text and compares it to another wilderness experience in the New Testament.
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.
— Matthew 15:32
"We see the spirit of the multitude being revived after three days"
in both accounts.
Later in the book of Numbers, as this wilderness journey continues, Moses invites his father-in-law to come with them. After this event
And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them.
And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.
— Numbers 10:33-36
We see once again a hint of the purposes of Christ death and resurrection
You were buried with him through baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead because of the things you had done wrong and because your body wasn’t circumcised, God made you alive with Christ and forgave all the things you had done wrong. He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. When he disarmed the rulers and authorities, he exposed them to public disgrace by leading them in a triumphal parade.
— Colossians 2:12-15
3000 Perish—3000 Saved
A couple of mirror events occur in both the Old and New Testament that involves 3000 people on either side. On one occasion, there is a death, and on the other, there is salvation.
The Old Testament event occurs after Moses's first forty days and nights on Mount Sinai at the giving of the law. The children of Israel thought things were taking too long and conspired with Aaron to make a new god to worship. They donated some gold, and "out came this golden calf," as Aaron explained to Moses. God sent Moses down from the mount and breaks the covenant tablets before them and demands that they make a decision right then there if they are going with the one and only true God or not. Those who chose not to come to the Lord's side were killed, as was commanded by Moses.
So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.
— Exodus 32:28
The New Testament event occurs at Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.... And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly" received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
— Acts 2
Paul gives this explanation to new converts, referring to law, spirit, and death and resurrection.
. . . clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart . . . the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
— 2 Corinthians 3:6
The Three Recitations of the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, which are first recorded in Exodus during the the the third month and third day, Mount Sinai event, are the covenant requirements and terms of an agreement between God and His people.
There are technically three occurrences of them. The first and the last renditions are almost identical. The center recording showcases the heart of them all.
And God spoke all these words, saying:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
— Exodus 20:1-17
The Middle occurrence is a renewal with the second set of tablets. Recall the first two were broken because of their unfaithfulness to God and symbolized the breaking of the covenant with God. This giving of the second emphasizes complete loyalty to God, along with a promise of future deliverance. This new set is the heart of the entire list of God's expectations. Only the first four commandments are noted, and all of these concern faithful love to God and God alone. The remainder of the first and last mentions include expressing our faithfulness to God exhibited in our human relationships. This pattern clearly, informs us that loyalty and faithfulness to God are the only dependable, stable foundation of any human relationship.
And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.
“You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.
“The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.
“All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.
“And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.
“Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.
“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
— Exodus 34
The third occurrence is in Deuteronomy, and it is a review of the covenant terms to the new generation that will be entering the promised land.
And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said:
‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
‘You shall have no other gods before Me.
‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Observe (first one says remember) the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. (not stated in the first set) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox (ox not stated in the first), nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. ( This phrase is used instead: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.)
‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you (addition to the first), that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you (addition to the first) in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (addition to the first)
‘You shall not murder.
‘You shall not commit adultery.
‘You shall not steal.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, (house is mentioned first and wife second in the first) his field (not mentioned in the first), his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
“These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.
— Deuteronomy 5:1-22
The literal phrase "Ten Commandments" occurs three times and forms a literary sandwich called a chiasm. A chiasm is a literary structure that helps us discover the central theme of a portion of text. Just like we observed above, the two outer occurrences were very parallel and surrounded a more descriptive and pointed focus to them all.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
— Exodus 34:27-28
And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess
— Deuteronomy 4:12-14
“A) So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand.
B) And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments (central axis),
B) which the Lord had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me.
A) Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the Lord commanded me.”
— Deuteronomy 10:2-5
The first and last ones show us how Moses received the second set of stones and placed them in the ark of the covenant. An interesting observation is that the center and last events include the details of two stones. We tend to think that there wasn't enough space on one tablet, so God used two, but ancient near eastern custom required two copies of covenant arrangements. One for each party. The first use concerns the people's copy of the agreement, and the last is the Lords. The center mention details and points to the human response to this covenant. Both copies go into the "ark of the covenant." It will be God's work, not ours.
If we look at the two "a" phrases, we can see the parallel themes of an ark that Moses makes. In the first, he takes the hewn stone up the mountain. The second "a" shows us Moses coming down the mountain and placing them in the ark he has made.
The "B's" show both written and verbal understanding of this agreement.
The central axis shows us that this arrangement is expressed in terms of the "Ten Commandments" and is at the heart of our relationship with Him.
The Shining on Moses' Face
Now it was so when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain)
- Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses,
- behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him
- And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.
We see three times it is mentioned that Moses' face shone. Our connection with the Spiritual component of this event is confirmed in the New Testament.
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
— II Corinthians 3:7-8
The verses before the above verse emphasize this with three mentions of the Spirit.
clearly, you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God . . . our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
— II Corinthians 3:3-7
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
Numbers chapter 16 records a narrative involving the ideas of going "up" and "down" that involves three men. And it also includes another revelation of the purpose of Christ's resurrection.
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath (Kohath had four sons), the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel
— Numbers 16:1-2
The fourth-generation from Levi and one of four sons indicate a worldly type of uprising.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
— John 10:1
These usurpers are jealous of Moses and Aaron's positions in the priesthood and accuse Moses of what they are guilty of themselves.
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord.
— Numbers 16:3
Moses, the mediator, and a picture of Christ does this.
when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.
— Numbers 16:4
Moses next prepares a test to prove the Lord's appointment of priestly duties by
And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow
- the Lord will shew who are his,
- and who is holy;
- and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.
This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;
And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the Lord doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi
— Numbers 16:5-7
The text continues with a bitter conversation between them. Moses makes an appeal that they ought to feel honored by their position and list three of their honorable purposes.
Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel,
- to bring you near to Himself,
- to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and
- to stand before the congregation to serve them. and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you?
And are you seeking the priesthood also?...And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab,.. but they said, “We will not come up!
— Numbers 16:9-10,11
The rebel's replies with three accusations countering Moses' three purposes
Is it a small thing that
- you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey,
- to kill us in the wilderness,
- that you should keep acting like a prince over us?
Moreover you have not brought us into a
- land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of
- fields and
Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
— Numbers 16:14
I wonder if this was a slap in Moses' face from an earlier event when Moses thought to deliver his people in a wrong way long before they ever left Egypt.
Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”
Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”
— Exodus 2:11-14
Moses is angry, and so is God, and the contest begins with all bringing their censers of incense to the door of the tabernacle. Recall the door in John chapter ten that all must come through.
God next instructs Moses and Aaron to step away from them all because he is going to destroy them, but once again, they mediate, as the priesthood is to do, on behalf of the people, revealing what Jesus Christ our great and High Priest does for us.
Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation.
— Numbers 16:22
. . . just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
— Romans 5:12
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
— Romans 8:4
God is about to do a separation by calling some up, out, and away from three.
“Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram . . . Then Moses rose . . . he spake unto the congregation, saying Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.”So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side . . .
— Numbers 16:24-27
The occasion ends with the earth swallowing up the rebellious and sparing those who turned away from them and the censers being made into memorial plates that will always remind them of God's directive for the priesthood. But immediately after this event, the congregation becomes disgruntled against Moses and complains that he has killed the people of the Lord. Once again, God tells Moses and Aaron to step away from that He may consume them. What happens next is nothing short of glorious in terms of an illustration of what Christ has done for us, as we see Moses, the mediator once again mediate for the congregation.
And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun.And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
— Numbers 16:46
. . . if a man should sin, remember that our advocate before the Father is Jesus Christ the righteous, the one who made personal atonement for our sins (and for those of the rest of the world as well).
— I John 2:10 (JB Phillips Translation)
The following verse will give in the full description of what the lifting up Christ did for us.
And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.
— Numbers 16:48
Our plague is sin.
No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men—as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life.
— John 3:15-16
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.
— John 12:31-32
The children of Israel spent two years at Mount Sinai then took a three-day journey to Taberah.
And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days' journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them . . .
And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
— Numbers 10:33
It is at Taberah that the people complained, as described in the following chapter.
And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.
And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the Lord burnt among them.
— Numbers 11:3
The total number of years from their departure from Egypt to the entrance of the Promised Land was 42 (3x14) years.
Balaam Beats His Donkey Three Times
Numbers chapter 22 begins the occasion of Midianite king Balak hiring the prophet Balaam to curse Israel because he fears their expansion.
The Lord warns Balaam about this.
“If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you—that you shall do.” So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab...Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him (notice there are three people present, Balaam and his two servants).
— Numbers 22:20-22
At first glance, you may wonder why God was mad when it appears he told Balaam he could go, but if you read the text carefully, you will notice that God said: "if the men come to call you." Balaam never waited for the invitation. He just got up and went. This seemingly innocent detail reveals Balaam's evil purposes to sell out the Israelites to an enemy through a spiritual attack.
Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.
— I Peter 2:15
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.
— Jude 1:11
On Balaam's way, an unseen to Balaam event occurs. Three times gives us a clue that this visit was a spiritual one.
Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So
- Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so
- he struck her again. Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and
- he struck the donkey with his staff.
Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”
So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”
And he said, “No.”
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”
— Numbers 22:23-33
The phrase "three times" is used three times. "The donkey saw the Angel of the Lord" occurs three times.
The Lord allows Balaam to continue but warns him only to speak what he is told. Balaam tries to curse Israel, but a blessing comes out instead with a hint of the coming redeemer.
. . . from the top of the rocks I see him,
And from the hills I behold him . . .
— Numbers 23
Balak thinks if they move to a different place, maybe it will work, but the same thing happens, and this time the language of resurrection pours forth.
And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
— Numbers 23:18-24
The third time
when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.
— Numbers 24:2
Balak is upset.
And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
— Numbers 24:10
We see here that loyalty to God and the benefits thereof are secured in the Spirit. As we continue to remain under the jurisdiction of the Lord God Almighty, we can count on His provision and protection.
The plague came to them when Balaam figured out another way they could get cursed, and that was through disobedience.
. . . the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel . . . those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand
— Numbers 25:1-3,9
Balaam's sellout is explained later in the book of Numbers when the Israelites war with the Midianites.
. . . these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.
— Numbers 31
And it is confirmed in the New Testament letter to the third church, Pergamos, in Revelation.
I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality
— Revelation 2:14
The Spiritual Component to Blessing and Cursing
I discovered a fascinating study written by Mako A. Nagasawa titled "Literary Analysis of the Pentateuch" related to this topic. The author displays the literary structures found within the first five books of the Bible, which can help us more clearly see the patterns God is trying to communicate. The following information is borrowed from that study 5
The author compares the narrative themes of the magicians of Pharaoh and Balaam, the Magician, which contain three elements signifying once again the spiritual component to the sin and salvation dilemma.
Moses turns the staff into a serpent, which swallows the serpents of Pharaoh. (Exodus 7:7-12) Pharaoh wore a snake on his crown, by the way. Moses's serpent/staff swallowing Pharaoh's reveals to us the authority that the enemy gained over us as he held us captive to his whim and will be one day swallowed up. Understanding something about Egyptian mythology may shed a little light on this. According to the Atlantis Quest website
"The serpent Nehebkau (he who harnesses the soul) was the two headed serpent diety who guarded the entrance to the underworld."
Just before the encounter with Balaam attempting to curse God's children on behalf of the Midianite king Balak, in Numbers, chapter 21, the children of Israel complained in their discouragement of wilderness experiences. Then the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite their heels. The cure was for Moses to lift up a bronze serpent on a pole that they could look at and be delivered. This scene describes how that serpent gained entrance by not being content with God and His provision. The New Testament explains how this cure works.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— II Corinthians 5:21
. . . as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
— John 3:14
Can we see how these two serpent experiences hearken back to the first serpent on a pole of wood (tree) event in the Garden of Eden? Which totals three serpent events that have to do with dealing with a temptation beginning with a complaint of discontent, a sin, and serpent bondage and lordship through that.
Second, both Pharaoh and Balak feel threatened by the expansion and growth of the people of God. This event reveals to us what the enemy's motivation was in the Garden.
Thirdly, both Pharaoh and Balak make three attempts to counteract God's blessing. Pharaoh
- put slave masters to oppress them (Exodus 1:11-14)
- commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill the male children (Exodus 1:15-21)
- commanded that every male child be thrown into the Nile river (Exodus 1:22)
The curse turns into a blessing because this event introduces the birth of God's chosen deliverer, Moses. Can we see Jesus in that?
Balak also made three attempts to curse Israel, and after the third attempt, the prophetic announcement of a savior and deliverer pours forth.
“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel.
— Numbers 24:17
We can see in this that the transactions of our sin were very spiritual in nature that resulted in natural consequences. It had to be a spiritual transaction that would resurrect us from it.
The Three Pilgrimage Feasts
In the Old Testament, there were seven religious observances in which three of them required that the Hebrew males were to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. These were Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
The command presents three times in Scripture.
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:
- You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);
- and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field;
- and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
“Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God
— Exodus 23:14-17
This rendition of the feasts is reiterated in a little more detail later in the book at the renewing of the covenant in chapter 34 of Exodus.
- “The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt. “All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. “And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
- “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
- and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.
— Exodus 34:18-23
“Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.
— Exodus 34:19-2
Its final occurrence is in Deuteronomy, Which details this even further, actually begins in verse one, but for the sake of space and time, I will give the first occurrence.
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.
— Deuteronomy 16:16
The Passover, being the first of these, is reminiscent of this "going up" phraseology.
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage."
— Judges 6:8
The second observance, the "Feast of Weeks," which concerns the grain harvest, is the New Testament Pentecost ( a word only used three times in Scripture) and symbols the giving of the Holy Spirit.
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
— Acts 2:1-4
Thirdly, the Feast of Tabernacles concerns the fruit harvest. It expresses our waiting and preparing for, in these human tents of flesh, the redemption of our souls to a resurrected eternal life with Him.
Notice that all seven feasts taken together can be categorized into three groups, with the first and last containing three parts. Indicating a divine assignment designed from a heavenly pattern.
1. The Feast Of Passover
- Unleavend Bread
2. The Feast of Weeks
3. The Feast Of Tabernacles
- Blowing Of Trumpets
- The Day Of Atonement
Psalms of Ascent
There were 15 (3x5 - grace) Psalms that were sung by those "going up" to the house of the Lord to observe these three feasts. They are known as the Psalms of ascent, meaning going up. The Psalms of ascent are Psalm 120-134. Three of them contain the resurrection language, including healing, which we have become familiar with throughout this study.
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked down to the ground
— Psalm 147:1-6
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens! (notice all things mentioned are heavenly things - angels, hosts, moon, and stars)
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
He also established them forever and ever;
He made a decree which shall not pass away....
...For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints—
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.
Praise the Lord!
— Psalm 148:1-14
Take note in the Psalm above to all the references to things that are above.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament.
— Psalm 150:1
This Psalm begins with three praises and totals 12 (3x4) in its entirety. His sanctuary, the firmament, is the highlight in this third one.
All three psalms begin with praising the Lord, signifying the spiritual significance of praise. Praise is divine. Praise is heavenly. Praise ascends.
The Levitical Priesthood
The Priesthood of the tabernacle included a threefold priesthood consisting of a High Priesthood, Aaronic Priesthood, and Levitical Priesthood. The temple assembly and service was assigned to the Levitical Priesthood, which consisted of the three sons of Levi, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, the third son of Jacob who was the third patriarch of the covenant, and their instructions for service are recorded in the third book of the Bible Leviticus.
The purpose of the tabernacle/temple was to meet with and worship a Holy God who could, in no other way, be accessed by human means. And they were also to uphold the three territories of law, which were Moral, Ceremonial, and Civil.
The Levitical cities they occupied were 48 (3x16).
The High priests from the time of Moses were appointed for life. At the time of Jesus, they were appointed by the Roman government, of which three are acknowledged in the New Testament. (Annas and Caiaphas, and Ananias at the time of Paul)
The requirement for service is interestingly phrased seven times.
And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
— Numbers 4:1-3
Jesus was about thirty years of age when He began His public ministry.
And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.
— Luke 3
He came to fulfill the entire duty of all the Priesthood in bringing us near to God.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:14-16
The Priestly blessing consisted of three parts, each beginning with "The Lord."
- The LORD bless you and keep you;
- The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
- The LORD lift up His face on you and give you peace.
— Numbers 6:24-26
The Chiastic Structure of Leviticus and the Number Three
The Torah (first five books of the Bible) is chiastic (a literary sandwich) in and of themselves, of which Leviticus is at the center.
A) Genesis - creation of creation
B) Exodus - wilderness journey to the promised land
C) Leviticus - Tabernacle Priesthood and meeting with God.
B) Numbers - wilderness journey experiences
A) Deuteronomy - creation of a nation
When comparing the common letters, they are parallel in theme and surround a central theme that involves meeting with God through a sacrificial system and worship.
A more in-depth look reveals that the book of Leviticus is chiastic in structure as well. So we have a chiasm at the exact center of a chiasm. God is pointing to something that is of utmost importance.
I will organize the sections of Leviticus into seven and label them in theme.
A) Chapters 1-7 are themed with instructions for sacrifices
B) Chapters 8-10 are themed with ordinances of the priesthood of which there were three levels
C) Chapters 11-15 are themed with concepts of clean and unclean for all the people (interesting note that the clean and unclean animals were divided into three groups representing air animals, land animals, and sea animals)
D - central Axis) Chapters 16-17 is the ritual of Atonement and the sanctity of blood
C) Chapters 18-20 are rules on social justice and relationships for all the people
B) Chapters 21-22 concerns the conduct of the priests
A) Chapters 23-37 are the instructions for the sacred appointments, feasts, and observances. (three of which they were required to appear before the Lord.
The three groups surrounding the central axis could be categorized with A's having to do with ritual. The B's have to do with the priesthood, and the C's have to do with the people's purity and relationships. All of them pointing to the only way to be clean and draw near to God. The atonement of our great High Priest Jesus Christ and the sanctity of His blood.
The Pidyon Ha Ben—Thirty Pieces of Silver
In "The Book of Mysteries" by Jonathan Cahn, he writes about a temple ceremony known as the Pidyon Ha-ben, meaning "redemption of the son." He explains how the firstborn lambs were offered as sacrifices, and the sons of Israel were offered to the temple priesthood. There was a price of redemption if the father wanted the son back. That redemption price was that of silver (Numbers 18:16). This shadows for us, the firstborn Son of God who, with His own life, purchased our redemption for thirty pieces of silver. "Thirty pieces of silver" is mentioned three times in the New Testament.
. . . and (Judas) said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
— Matthew 26:15
Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
— Matthew 27:3
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced.
— Matthew 27:9
This transaction was prophesied in Zechariah.
I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me“. . . If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.
— Zechariah 11:8,12-13
Jonathan Cahn also observes that the Priesthood paid the thirty pieces of silver from the temple treasury and purchased back the Firstborn Son of God, and He was now a possession of the priests. The lamb of God becomes the sacrifice.
The amount is significant in that He paid the price of redemption for the least of us, and it was indeed a spiritual transaction. Man is a spiritual being that requires a spiritual price.
If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver and the ox shall be stoned.
— Exodus 31:32
The Three Tithes
Three tithes were required in the Old Testament as it concerned the priesthood and the poor. The first tithe, known in Judaism as the maasher rishon, is described in Numbers chapter 18. This particular tithe was for the Levites' support, who performed all the temple rights and duties on behalf of and in mediation for the entire congregation. They sincerely had no other means of support.
“Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
— Numbers 18:21
The priesthood was required to lift up a tenth of the best of this tithe offering unto the Lord, and the rest was theirs.
you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.
— Numbers 18:28-31
The second tithe was known as the maasher sheni and considered the tithe of the feasts. It involved bringing a tenth of their increase for consumption at the three required feasts in which they had to appear before the Lord.
“You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
— Deuteronomy 14:22-23
The third tithe, known as the maasher ani, was offered every third and sixth year of their seven-year agricultural cycle, supporting both Levite and the poor. The poor are classified into three categories.
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and
- the stranger and
- the fatherless and
- the widow
who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
— Deuteronomy 14:28-29
Threes in the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle itself was composed of three main areas, the outer court, the inner court, and the Holy Place. It was also noted that the inner court consisted of three main pieces of furniture; the table of bread, the table of lights, and the altar of incense.
The Holy Place contained the Ark of the Covenant, which consisted of three layers (gold-wood-gold - think Father Son and Holy Spirit again) This was where the presence of God was.
There was a total of three Arks in all of Scripture, the first being Noah's Ark, a picture of salvation in and of itself. The second Ark was the basket of Moses (same word as was used for Noah's Ark) again a picture of salvation. The third Ark is this Ark of the Covenant, which inhabited three different sanctuaries. The first was known as David's Tabernacle
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.
— I Chronicles 16:1
of which there are three main references
In mercy the throne will be established;
And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,
Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.
— Isaiah 16:5
“On that day I will raise up
The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down,
And repair its damages;
I will raise up its ruins,
And rebuild it as in the days of old.
— Amos 9:11
After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
— Acts 15:16
Three Items in the Ark
The Ark of the Tabernacle contained three items; the Ten Commandments, The Golden Pot of Manna, and the Budding Rod of Aaron. The third item is to represent resurrection.
A type of the miraculous attestation of the unchangeable priesthood of Christ. God, who "fulfills himself in many ways," about, hereafter, to replace the priesthood of Aaron by a Priest chosen by himself, after the order of Melchizedec. This priesthood attested by a resurrection (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 5:9, 10), of which the resurrection of this dead tree was a type. And now that the risen Christ is in the holiest place, in the presence of God, his resurrection and reign in glory are signs to all murmurers of his appointment as the one High Priest and King, who "shall send forth the rod of his strength," and reign till all enemies are placed beneath his feet.
— E.S. Prout
There were three precious metals used in the Tabernacle, and these were gold, silver, and brass.
Gold represents God and His attributes.
Thirty pieces of silver are the price of redemption. See this prophecy concerning the coming Messiah in Zechariah.
“If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.
— Zechariah 11:11-13
Fast forward to the New Testament to a scene involving Judas and thirty pieces of silver. A phrase used three times in the account.
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him...Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders...Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced Matthew 26:15, Matthew 27:3, Matthew 27:9
The third metal mentioned is brass and could mean copper. According to Kevin J. Connor in his book "The Tabernacle of Moses," brass symbolizes judgment.
Christ once again fulfills all in that He being God (gold) redeemed us by paying the price (silver) and bearing our judgment for sin (brass)
Isaiah, the prophet, records a vision concerning the temple with a three times repeated cry.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw
- the Lord sitting on a throne,
- high and lifted up,
- and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings:
- with two he covered his face,
- with two he covered his feet, and
- with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
— Isaiah 6:1-3
Kevin J Connor, his book "The Tabernacle of Moses" observes that there were three pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle that was of the same height, one was in the Outer Court (Brazen Altar), one was in the Holy place (Table of Showbread). One was in the Holy of Holies (the Ark of the Covenant), all representing the same truth. We see the body and blood of Christ in the first two and sprinkled on the mercy seat of the Ark on our behalf.
Three fires burned in the Tabernacle, the Altar of Sacrifice, the Menorah, and the Altar of Incense. The Sacrificial Altar had three piles of wood for three various purposes. One was for the burning of the sacrifice, one was for the coals used on the altar of incense, and the other was for the perpetual fire on the altar.
There are three orders of temples in Scripture; Tabernacle of Moses, Solomon's Temple, Ezekiel's Temple. There are three temples on three levels of location; heaven, earth, and the heart of man.
Jeremiah's Resurrection by Thirty
Tony Robinson also expounds on Jeremiah chapter 38 concerning when the prophet Jeremiah is thrown into a pit for prophesying an unpopular message about submitting to the captivity that was about to occur.
. . . they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon (pit - same Hebrew word used of Joseph's pit) of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon (pit) there wasno water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.
— Jeremiah 38:6
The pit is a picture of death.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
— Psalm 30:3
An Ethiopian eunuch named Ebed-Melek (servant of the king) makes an appeal to King Zedekiah for Jeremiah's life, to which the king responded in language that reflects that of being resurrected.
“Take from here thirty (3x10) men with you, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies...So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon (pit) Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the Lord.
— Jeremiah 38:13-14
Another Psalm of David expresses what Jeremiah might have felt for this deliverance, as should we.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
— Psalm 40:2
Joseph, the Butler, the Baker, and Three Days
In the prior section, it was noted how Joseph was thrown into a pit, by his envious brothers, like Jeremiah, it represents a death, and as far as Jacob understood, as was implied by his other sons, Joseph was dead. Jacob said
A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days.
— Genesis 37:33-34
We also see a substitution death much like we previously saw with Abraham When Joseph's brothers.
. . . took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood.
— Genesis 37:31
Joseph, too, experiences a sort of resurrection.
so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt...And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate.
— Genesis 37:28,
While Joseph was in his exalted position, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown in prison, where he maintained his resurrected status.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
— Genesis 39:21-23
While in prison, two men, a baker (think bread) and a butler (think wine) (think the Lord's supper) were also in prison, and both had a dream that included the number three. Note also that the story centers around three men in prison.
Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “Behold, in my dream a vine was before me, and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler.
— Genesis 40:9-13
Notice that three is used three times in this passage as it concerns the Butler.
When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.”
So Joseph answered and said, “This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.”
— Genesis 40:16-19
We see four threes in this account. Four is the number of the physical sphere represented by the bread, a symbol of flesh that is subject to the limitations of this natural realm.
He (God) remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.
— Psalm 78:39
The wine imaged by the butler symbols the spirit
. . . do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.
— Ephesians 5:18
With the conclusion of this, we can also see the second resurrection of Joseph.
Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged (talah - crucified) (on a tree vs.19) the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
— Genesis 40:20-22
This scene foreshadows a second resurrection.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
— John 5:28-29
This dream also is a foretelling of what Christ has done for us.
. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body (flesh) the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
— I Peter 2:24
The blood rose with Him and was offered on our behalf in the heavenly temple
. . . but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
— Hebrews 9:12
The book of Joshua is loaded with "threes," with eleven mentions, and not surprisingly considering Joshua's name is the Hebrew word for Jesus. He images for us the crossing over to the promised land under His Lordship.
The first occurs in chapter one gives us the idea of passing through and crossing over from one place to another
Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
from physical life to spiritual life.
The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man
— I Corinthians 15:47-49
Chapters two and three records the next three "threes," pertaining to Jericho's conquering. Jericho was their first advancement into the promised land.
Spies are sent to Jericho to assess the situation, and they stay with Rahab, the harlot who protects them and hides them. The text wants to make sure you know they are hidden on the roof.
. . . she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.
— Joshua 2:6
Rahab next makes an appeal for salvation for herself and family from what she knows is coming destruction naming three things she knows. This threefold repetition indicates that she entirely understands this is a divine work of God.
she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men:
- “I know that the Lord has given you the land,
- that the terror of you has fallen on us,
- and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.
For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
— Joshua 2:8-13
The spies answer her in a Christlike fashion.
So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the Lord has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.
— Joshua 2:14
When it is discovered that they are spies, the officials come to look for them. It is at this juncture that Rahab advises the Hebrew men.
. . . she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.
— Joshua 2:16
She lets them down by a scarlet rope, mentioned three times, and is further instructed with speech and language reminiscent of the Passover when they painted their doorposts with the blood of the lamb and entered the house with their families. Those who were outside would be unprotected.
So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”
— Joshua 2:17-20
Much like Mary, when visited by the angel who announced that she would bear the Savior of the world, "Be it unto me according to Your Word," Rahab replies.
Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.
— Joshua 2:18
The second occurrence of "third day" occurs.
They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned . . . So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over.
— Joshua 2:19,23
Chapter three begins with Joshua arising early.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.
— Joshua 3:1-3
The next three we will look at is at the end of Joshua when seven tribes had not yet taken possession of their territories. Joshua commands them,
Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you? Pick out from among you three men for each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me.
— Joshua 18:3-4
The Book of Judges
Three's and its multiples are quite common in the Book of Judges. Three is used alone eight times, three hundred eight times, three thousand two times, and thirty fifteen times, which brings us to a total of 33 times three or a multiple of it.
What is significant to this study's topic is that the phrase "The Spirit of the Lord" is also used seven times in this book, and it is the very first time that the Bible that this particular phrase gets used. "Spirit of God" is used only five times before this book.
The most frequent occurrences are with the accounts of Gideon and Samson. The next section will review Gideon. In both stories, watch for the words "arose" and "arise" always very nearby three or multiple of it.
Gideon and Three Companies of 300 Men
The book of Judges in totality, where Gideon's account takes place, is an excellent example of the pitfalls of claiming to be God's but doing what is right in one's own eyes. Joshua is gone at this point in Israel's history, and folks are kicking back a bit and relaxing. The conquering wasn't complete, but they were in the land. As they begin to mix their worship with a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the nations they were supposed to drive out, they end up becoming defeated by their enemies. Each time the oppression gets too much, they cry out to the Lord to come and save them, and the Lord raises them up a deliverer.
Gideon is God's pick for Israel's deliverer at this time. This particular event involves oppression by the Midianites who had impoverished them. Gideon was threshing wheat in a hidden place so the Midianites won't take it when and "Angel of the Lord" appears to him with three assurances of God's presence and a plan.
1. "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor"... Rope/scarlet cord is mentioned three times in the account of the destruction of Jericho in connection with the salvation of Rahab and her family.
— Judges 6:12
2. ..."the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”...
— Judges 6:14
3. ...the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
— Judges 6:16
Notice the chiastic structure of these verses "Go in this might of yours is sandwiched between "I will be with you" The pattern of three tells us that God's Spirit is the source of this might.
Gideon wants a sign, which will be the first of three, so he runs off to prepare a kid and unleavened bread. It sounds like a covenant meal to me. We saw this sacrificial victim and unleavened bread with Lot, Abraham, and the Passover itself.
Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
— Judges 6:21
We saw this at the Red Sea division when Moses stretched out the staff. It is a picture of the cross and the power of what Christ did on it when He stretched out His arms for our salvation. That is the sign. The cross is the sign. In Hebrew, the tav is the last letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet, and in its original form, it is the shape of a cross, the necessary means of our deliverance, and means a sign.
Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”
— Judges 6:62
Notice the three-fold mention of "Lord." The above sentence forms a chiasm as well. "Lord God" is sandwiched between two "Angel of the Lord" statements.
This "Angel of the Lord" speaks three things to Gideon.
- Peace be with you;
- do not fear,
- you shall not die.
— Judges 6:23
It is at this place that God reveals Himself as Jehovah-Shalom.
God instructs Gideon to tear down the pagan altars and build ones to the true God as well as offer a sacrifice to Him on them. The men of the time and place were not happy about this. Next, three enemies come up against them.
Then all the
- Midianites and
- the people of the East, gathered together;
and they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel
— Judges 6:33
The next verse is the central element of this story packed full of threes.
But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.
— Judges 6:34
Gideon invites fighters from four tribes.
he sent messengers throughout all
Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to
Naphtali; and they came up to meet them
— Judges 6:35
The four tells us that Gideon's gathering was worldly and natural, not spiritual. It was his human idea. This event reminds me of another Bible battle involving Jehoshaphat that appeared impossible. God told Jehoshaphat
‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
— II Chronicles 20:15
He then asks God for another sign, recall the first was the acceptance of his sacrificial goat kid and unleavened bread. A third is to come. Notice the language of resurrection again
So Gideon said to God, “If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said— look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said.” And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece;let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.
— Judges 6:36-40
This resurrection theme continues into chapter seven of Judges. In six, Gideon arose. In seven
Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose . . .
— Judges 7:1
Does this sound familiar?
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
— Matthew 27:51-53
Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
— I Corinthians 15:20-21
The Lord next informs Gideon that his worldly plan is not going to work, and they were going to reduce his army to a size that would leave no question as to who gained them this victory. The natural flesh was not going to win this war nor take any credit for it.
Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
— Zechariah 4:6
Only one-third of three groups of people that Gideon called would be left to fight. Two-thirds would be eliminated. Those who were fearful were removed, and those who drank water by bowing down upon their knees to drink. Gideon was left with three hundred men that lapped water like a dog. About one percent of the original total was left.
"Three hundred men" is used three times before the next instruction given by the Lord.
“Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand.
— Judges 7:9
The "Arise" and "go down" combination is fascinating and picturesque as well.
(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
— Ephesians 4:9-10
God reassures Gideon with a sign a third time by telling him to go with his servant to the Midianite camp and listen in to their enemy's fears.
when Gideon had come, there was a man telling a dream to his companion. He said, “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed.”
Then his companion answered and said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp.”
And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel, and said, “Arise, for the Lord has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.”
— Judges 3:14-15
Watch what happens next concerning the number three. It is used three more times in the remainder of the text as it concerns three hundred men and three companies.
Then he divided the
- three hundred men into
- three companies,
- and he put (3 - three items)
- trumpet into every man’s hand,
- with empty pitchers,
- and torches inside the pitchers.
— Judges 7:16
The next verse, in its original language, contains the word arise twice.
So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch (There were three watches during the night), just as they had posted the watch (or arose the arising); and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands
— Judges 7:19
A more literal translation would read, "between or in the middle of the watches was when they arose to their arising." Then
Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army
- and cried out
- and fled.
When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp . . .
— Judges 7:2-22
The "sword of the Lord" speaks of the Holy Spirit.
. . . take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:17
Now three tribes gather to pursue the enemy, an indicator that they are currently functioning in the Spirit and not the nature of their own flesh.
And the men of Israel gathered together from
- and all Manasseh,
and pursued the Midianites
— Judges 7:23
Three enemy princes are defeated and mentioned in the next portion of the text.
the princes of
- Oreb and
— Judges 8:3
I will wrap up this section with a stunning last verse that I hope you will see the connection to our spiritual salvation.
When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him passed over.
— Judges 8:4
This scene caps off perfectly the one who "passed over" for us that we might experience salvation from sin, deliverance from our enemies, and resurrection.
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
— I Corinthians 5:7
Just before the Lord visited Gideon, the Lord sent a prophet to Israel with this message connected to their deliverance through a Passover.
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up (resurrected you) from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear (worship) the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.”
— Judges 6:8-10
This story takes up three chapters in scripture, which is pretty significant.
Judges Chapters 10-12
This revelation is not yet complete, but I will include it for further development. The reader's input is certainly welcome.
There are three "thirties" mentioned in a brief mention of a judge named Jair.
After him (Tola) arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called “Havoth (living, to breathe) Jair (He or Yah enlightens)” And Jair died, and was buried in Camon (root word arise).
— Judges 10:4-5
The word Havoth-Jair is used on two other occasions in Scripture, totaling three. The first is in Numbers when the children of Israel settle the conquered territories east of the Jordan.
And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havothjair
— Numbers 32:41
The final usage is in Deuteronomy in a reiteration of this same event.
Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and called Bashan after his own name
— Deuteronomy 3:14
It is after Jair that Israel becomes oppressed by their enemies once again because
. . . the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.
— Judges 10:6
The children of Israel cry out to the Lord, and He raises up for them Jephthah
After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.
— Judges 12:8-9
The account of Jephthah is the meat that is sandwiched between these thirties.
Samson John and Jesus
Glimpses of John the Baptist and Jesus can be seen in Samson's story, beginning with his birth announcement. Both Samson's and John's mothers were barren women, and both were given special instructions on abstaining from certain things. The Angel of the Lord visited both Samson's mother and Mary. Angel receives twelve (3x4) mentions in Judges chapter thirteen, and this announcement comes in a threefold way (Judges 13:6-7, 8-11,12-16)
- And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. (Samson's mother) — Judges 13:3
- the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Zechariah and Elizabeth concerning John the Baptist) — Luke 1:13-17
- Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. (Mary's visitation) — Luke 1:30
And their growth connected with the Spirit is similar to
. . . the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. (Samson)
— Judges 13:24-25
So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel. (John the Baptist)
— Luke 1:80
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Jesus)
— Luke 2:40
"The angel of the Lord" reveals Himself as "I am" in this text, as He did with Abraham and Moses. Exodus chapter three uses this phrase three times.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.
— Exodus 3:14
Jesus identified Himself as "I am." Samson's mother also calls the Angel of the Lord Wonderful.
The book of Judges concerns a time when "there was no king in Israel" and "people did what was right in their own eyes." This depiction may very well explain the scene that Jesus and John were born into themselves. The book of John included the message of this story and centered on the topic of repentance. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon Him or mightily upon Him" is used three times in the chapter fourteen account, which also includes an incident involving thirty companions-men, thirty sheets, thirty changes of garments, and three days to expound a riddle.
Samson gives us some unique shadows of the Messiah to come. In chapters 15 and 16, his life and mission come to a conclusion beginning with 300 fiery foxes.
The Philistines were oppressively ruling over Israel at this time. Samson's wife had been given to another man by her father after Samson left in a huff over the riddle incident in chapter fourteen. The Philistines used his wife to gain the answer to it. Samson is more than a little upset, and His revenge includes using 300 foxes.
Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.
— Judges 15:4-5
The Philistines then burn Samson's wife and her father for causing the trouble. They, next, hunt down Samson. The men of Judah are nervously wondering what all the commotion concerns. They don't care to ruffle the feathers of their oppressor,
And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?”
So they answered, “We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.”
Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?”
— Judges 15:9-11
This scene reminds me of Jesus and the Pharisees with the oppressive Roman rule of that time. The religious rulers were not interested in making waves either.
On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”
And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey
- and the day following;
for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
— Luke 13;31-33
At this point, Judah's men are wanting to hand Samson over to the Philistines by binding him much like the religious rulers handed over Jesus to the Romans.
But they said to him, “We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines . . . we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand.
— Judges 15:12
When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
— Matthew 27:1
Both Samson and Jesus willingly submitted.
And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
— Judges 15:13
Both of them knew that they had the power to break free.
. . . do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus.
— Matthew 25:53-54
Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.
— John 19
There are three Philistine women in this account, the second of which was a prostitute from Gaza and presented in three verses.
Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When the Gazites were told, “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.”And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
— Judges 16:1-3
The next scene introduces the ever famous incident with Delilah, the third Philistine woman in Samson's life, who is also working for the Philistines to learn where his strength is coming from so they can overtake him. After three attempts, she becomes exasperated and cries.
“How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart.
— Judges 16:15-17
What happens next is obvious. Delilah lulls him to sleep in her lap then calls for her cohorts to cut his hair and weaken him. He is taken captive, got his eyes poked out, and made fun of at a party. His hair had begun to grow out, and he asked the Lord for one last hurrah of strength.
Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed...And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left.
— Judges 16:28-29
Christ died with one on his right and one on his left. Only this time, it was mercy, not vengeance, that Christ took.
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.
— Luke 23:32-34
Christ died with us and for us.
Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it.
— Judges 16:30
Although Christ wasn't tricked liked Samson, He took his lot with us.
. . . the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14
Three chapters tell the story of Sampson.
Samuel, Hannah, and Anna
The first book of Samuel begins with a narrative about a woman named Hannah, who deeply desires a son, as was the chief concern of most women of that time. Producing a, seemingly, eternal fruit, as imaged by an heir to their husband's name to continue to the succeeding generations, was considered honorable and a privilege. In terms of Biblical concept, this is to illustrate for us the church, Christ's bride, what our chief desire and honor ought to be, to produce fruit and children for our Lord.
This portion of the Bible took place at the end of the time of the Judges when there was still no king in Israel.
Every year Elkanah, Hannah's husband, would bring his family to Shiloh, which was the center of worship at that time, to worship and sacrifice. Elkanah had another wife named Peninnah (three times mentioned) who raised up children for him and seems to be antagonizing Hannah about her inability to do the same. Hannah is deeply distressed to the point of weeping and not eating. Elkanah tried to comfort her with words and extra portions, but Hannah, in her bitterness of soul, does three substantial things at this particular visit in Shiloh where the tabernacle was at that time.
. . . Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord And she was in bitterness of soul, and
- prayed to the Lord
- and wept in anguish.
- Then she made a vow.
— I Samuel 1:9-11
Her vow was pretty impressive, and, notably, she identifies herself as the Lord's maidservant three times in a promise to dedicate her promised child to Him.
“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”
— I Samuel 1:11
Eli, the priest, thinks that she is drunk because she moves her lips in prayer but makes no sound. She then explains that she is praying. Eli pretty much tells her that her petition is granted, not even knowing what her request was. Hannah's faith is exhibited as she resurrects from her despair.
. . . she said, “Let your maidservant find favor (favor or grace is the meaning of Hannah's name) in your sight.” So the woman
- went her way and
- and her face was no longer sad
Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.
— I samuel 1:18-19
Hannah indeed gives birth to a son, and she names Him Samuel because the Lord heard Hannah and answered her. His name means God has listened to her request. After Samuel is born
. . . the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever.
— I Samuel 1:22
Ancients nursed their children much longer than modern westerners would consider appropriate. I will suggest that they might have been nursed until age three based on the following episode of our text.
Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah (equals three seahs) of flour , and a skin of wine,(notice three items were offered bread wine and a sacrifice) and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young.
— I Samuel 1:24
Three bulls would have equaled one bull for each year of his life. Recall she did not go up with Elkanah for the annual sacrifice while Samuel was still nursing. Weaning coincides with the concept of ripening. A fruit tree wasn't considered ripe for the first three years that it grew.
When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten.
— Leviticus 19:23
After the three years, Hannah brought Samuel to present him to the Lord and made sure that Eli knew that this was the child she had asked and prayed.
. . . she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.
— I Samuel 1:27
This prayer scene reminiscent of a New Testament woman prophetess named Anna, whose name is the same as Hannah's, only in the Greek form. Anna prays just as intensely for a coming messiah Son as Hannah did for the coming of her own son.
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
— Luke 2:36-38
This account of Anna is given in Luke. It takes place at the time when Mary and Joseph are bringing Jesus for a dedication ceremony to God, much like Hannah bringing Samuel to the tabernacle to present him to Eli. It is also at this dedication when Mary and Joseph are met by a man whose name is rooted in the Hebrew word meaning to hear, namely Simeon, who, also, was praying and waiting for this coming Son. Recall Samuel's name is also rooted in the word meaning to hear. Simeon is led there by the Holy Spirit, who is mentioned three times in the account.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law.
— Luke 2:25
The final verse of I Samuel ends with Hannah declaring her vow in her son's dedication and mentions the Lord three times.
Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there
— I Samuel 1:28
Hannah then sings a song that is much like the song that Mary sings when she is pregnant with the Son of God and visiting her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. After Mary's song
Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
— Luke 1:55
After Hannah's song
Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest.
— I Samuel 2:11
Another significance of Hannah's song includes this prophetic announcement of the coming Son and King that Mary would bear.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces;
From heaven He will thunder against them.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to His king,
And exalt the horn of His anointed.”
— I Samuel 2:10
Did you notice the mention of a king? Recall there was no king in Israel when Hannah's son would herald in the very first King of Israel. She is also prophetically pointing to the coming Son of God King of Kings and Anointed Messiah, which explains the event and language connections with Mary.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
The King of Israel!” (12 - God's governance in the earth - Isaiah 9:6)
— John 12:12-13
The New Testament account ends this scene of the dedication of the prayed for Son of God Messiah with
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit filled with wisdom; and the grace (hannah in Hebrew) of God was upon Him.
— Luke 2:39-40
The summation of Hannah's experience in acquiring (Elkanah's name means God has acquired by the way) and dedicating Samuel ends with
And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.
— I Samuel 2:21
Hannah ends up with a total of five children, including Samuel. Five in Biblical numerics is the number of grace from which Hannah's name derives. She is also the fifth woman of the Bible to obtain a promised son. The three in connection with a son tells us that grace will come through the death and resurrection of a Son.
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ . . .
— Romans 1:1-6
Back to First Samuel 2:21 referring to the phrase "Samuel grew," Samuel's growth is mentioned three times. The first displays in the above verse. The second time occurs when the Lord rejects Eli's naughty sons from being priests in His service. Samuel is showing to be a faithful servant.
And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.
— I Samuel 2:26
Luke again reiterates this with Jesus.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
— Luke 2:52
A man of God comes to Eli and sternly warns him of the coming judgment for all the ugly disobedience and misrepresentation of God by Him and His sons, and makes the following Messianic announcement.
I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.
— I Samuel 2:35
It is after this confrontation that the Lord begins to speak to Samuel. He is one of few people hearing from God at this time. The key lies in Samuel's availability to hear.
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli.
— I Samuel 3:1
It appeared that all others were serving themselves and their own appetites for food, raw meat, and sex. The result of serving the Lord with this type of flippancy resulted in the following.
. . .the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
— I Samuel 3:2
God warns us of this in another portion of Scripture when God's children mix worship with evil.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
— Amos 8:11
The neglectfulness of sincere worship was evidenced when the lamp goes out.
. . . the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was . . .
— I Samuel 3:3
The lamp and the Word are connected, and both were absent from them at this time.
That lamp was not to go out ever according to the instructions given to Moses.
“And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually. In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.
— Exodus 27:20-21
The text does tell us that Eli was blind, which might tempt us to make an excuse for the neglect of the light, but I think Eli's blindness serves as a metaphor for his turning a "blind eye" to the wickedness that was occurring right beneath his nose.
Three times Samuel runs to Eli when Samuel is awakened by God calling his name.
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.
— I Samuel 3:8
It is the fourth visit that the response changes.
God visits Samuel with a message of doom for Eli and his sons, confirming the other man of God's words. It is at this juncture that the third instance of Samuel's growth occurs.
So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
— I Samuel 3:19
There is one more thrice-repeated phrase, "Word of the Lord," all contained in this third chapter of I Samuel.
The first was stated above in I Samuel 3:19
And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
— I Samuel 3:1
The second occurrence is when God called Samuel, but Samuel did not recognize God's voice.
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.
— I Samuel 3:7
The third occurrence is Samuel now knows God's voice, and God freely reveals it to him after his show of obedience.
Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
— I Samuel 3:21
This important Biblical person and event showcase the concepts of three, the Holy Spirit, The Lord, and the Word of the Lord, and the anointed Son of God who was dedicated to the service of God.
The Sanctuary of the Ear
As it refers to the hearing of the Word of the Lord, it might be an excellent place to take a look at the human ear and its marvelous construction. The human ear is designed as both a center of hearing and an organ of balance. The number three in anatomy also gives us a spiritual parallel.
An interesting note, that the Hebrew word for ear, "ozen," can be used to describe balance, measuring, and weighing, as well. It is so fascinating that God designed the body parts used for distinguishing, which is a form of weighing and balancing things, in pairs such as eyes, ears, and nostrils. Two of these, eyes and ears, have some relationship to balance. Two is the number of distinguishing as is seen in the second day of creation. This day separated the waters above from the waters below.
The ear can distinguish between three types of sound; low pitch, medium pitch, and high pitch. Like the three primary colors, ears can create an entire spectrum of colors, so can the brain learn to interpret and distinguish many complex things about the sound we are hearing, such as source, distance, and direction. Job knew this long before modern science discovered it.
Does not the ear test words?
— Job 12:11
Outer Ear, Middle Ear, and Inner Ear
The human ear, in its construction, consists of three parts;
- the outer ear which has three parts; the tragus, helix, and the lobule,
- the middle ear which has three parts; hammer, anvil, and stirrup, and
- the inner ear also has three parts; cochlear, canals, and the utricle/saccule.
This tri-part structure sounds much like the construction of the tabernacle or temple with the outer court, inner court, and the Holy Place.
The outer ear (entrance to the tabernacle) receives the surrounding sounds and guides the vibrations toward the ear canal to the eardrum, which forms a barrier to the middle ear (veil and entrance to the inner court). The eardrum transmits the air vibrations through the three small bones in the middle ear (inner court) discussed later into fluid vibrations in the inner ear.
The eardrum itself consists of two parts with a connection but also includes three;
- the pars flaccida (triangular shaped) and the
- pars tensa (a three-layered part)
Three Parts of the Middle Ear
The middle ear consists of three ossicle bones; malleus/hammer, incus/anvil, and stapes/stirrup (smallest bone in the body at 3mm) much like the inner court of the Tabernacle that includes three pieces of furniture;
- Table of bread,
- lamp, and
- the altar of incense.
The hammer is the first bone to receive the vibration, then next to the anvil. This process could be viewed as how the vibrations are being broken down for more accurate interpretation.
“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord,
“And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
— Jeremiah 23:28-29
Third Bone—The Stirrup—a Window
The third bone, known as the stirrup, has an oval window that is considered the intersection between the middle and inner ear, a possible picture of what comes from the consuming, breaking down, and digesting of God's Word does.
There are also three recesses labeled as elliptical, spherical, and cochlear, expressing the concept of "in every way" and "every direction."
There is next to a medial wall that divides the middle ear from the inner ear. This illustration is reminiscent of the veil before the Holy Place.
For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All. which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were
- the golden pot that had the manna,
- Aaron’s rod that budded, and
- the tablets of the covenant;
and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
— Hebrews 9:2-5
It was this second veil (medial) that Christ crossed over/tore through for us.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
— Isaiah 63:1
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split
— Matthew 27:51
Alfred Edersheim, a Jewish Historian, wrote that it took 300 priests to manipulate that curtain. Not to mention it was four inches thick, making it impossible for any man to have torn that curtain in two, especially from top to bottom. It was only something God could have done.
The following is a diagram of the middle ear mapped out in box form, as described in textbooks.
Middle ear cavity
- the canal for tensor tympani muscle
- auditory tube
- internal carotid artery
- facial nerve
- geniculate ganglion
- greater petrosal nerve
- lesser petrosal nerve
- promontory formed by 1st turn of the cochlea
- tympanic plexus
- round window
- lateral semicircular canal
- facial canal and facial nerve
- the oval window for stapes
- the tympanic nerve from IX
- jugular vein
- opening to mastoid air cells (aditus ad antrum)
- the tendon of the stapedius muscle
- tympanic membrane
- chorda tympani
- stylomastoid foramen
The Inner Ear
The inner ear is known as the Labyrinth and named for the semicircular canals of which it consists. It contains the Vestibule (organ of balance) and the Cochlea (organ of hearing)
As it concerns hearing, the cochlea makes approximately three turns around the core of a bone called the modiolus, a column (rod) through which the cochlear nerve passes. The Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies contained three items: the rod of Aaron that budded. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram challenged the priesthood, God proves to all, through the budding rod of Aaron, that this is the only way for them to enter His presence, and that was through the central priesthood of Aaron that God had appointed.
Contained within the modiolus are a batch of nerve cells called spiral ganglion give is a physiological illustration of the bridge that the priesthood would form.
The initial bridge between the physical world of sound and perception of that sound is established by neurons of the spiral ganglion. The cell bodies of these neurons give rise to peripheral processes that contact acoustic receptors in the organ of Corti (cochlea), and the central processes collect together to form the auditory nerve that projects into the brain ~ According to the National Library of Medicine.
Aaron's rod was the center item listed of the three elements within the Ark. The first was the golden pot of manna.
Thirdly were the two tablets of the covenant. I think the two membranous sacs could represent these called the utricle and saccule. The utricle is sensitive to horizontal movement, and the saccule is sensitive to verticle.
In terms of the covenant tablets, we know that the first part of the commandments has to do with our vertical relationship with God. (saccule) The others concern our connection to others expressing horizontal relationships (utricle)
Inside the saccule and utricle is a macula. The macula consists of three layers, the first of which is lined with one inner row and three outer rows of hair cells that are sensitive to the pressure waves sent from the stapes (third bone in the middle ear). Gel covers the hairs.
The second or middle layer consists of granules that weigh against the hairs giving a sense of gravity and inertia. Small granular particles could be compared to manna, perhaps.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not....And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
— Exodus 16:4
The instructions for gathering the manna were a test, measure, or balance used to see if they would listen to God and give weight to His words.
The third layer is the otolithic membrane consisting of a bed of sensory cells that play a role in interpreting equilibrium.
As it relates to balance, there are three semi-circular canals; horizontal, superior, and inferior. They provide information about the heads movements as it concerns three-dimensional space. The inferior and superior canals are at vertical 90-degree angles to each other, and the horizontal canal is at 30 degrees. Are we noticing the multiples of three so far?
So why are hearing and balance combined? What might one have to do with the other? In this physiological illustration, we can see how the equilibrium of life is primarily based on what and how we hear, and might I say most importantly, whose voice do we give weight and value.
Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. ~ Mark 4:24
take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.
— Luke 8:18
A sense of vertigo in life may have something to do with what, how, or who we listen to.
It could be concluded from the human ear study and the number three that hearing is a very spiritual activity.
Acts chapter Nine (3x3)
Apologies for putting this section so far out of order, but it connects to the above part of Samuel, Hannah, and Anna. It involves a man named Ananias, whose name, like Anna and Hanna, means grace and favor with God.
We are introduced in Acts chapter nine to a man named Saul, who is making it his life mission to persecute Christians.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
— Acts 9:1-2
Saul gets knocked off his high horse in the next scene.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
— Acts 9:3-4
Recall In our previous section, we left off with a darkened Holy Place because "the lamp went out" of the temple and a blind Eli who dies falling to the ground after learning of the departure of the ark of the Lord. Here we see the presence of God appear to Saul, and he too falls to the ground and experiences a bright light that blinds him.
The next conversation will connect these two events, as well. Saul is being spoken to by the Lord Jesus.
. . . the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
— Acts 9:5
Recall that a man of God was sent to Eli, the priest, to confront him and ask Eli a question using the same language.
Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’ `
— I Samuel 2:29
Saul is told to go into the city of Damascus, and for the remainder of this account, arise and arose will be a significant theme, beginning with Saul's first instruction.
The Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.
— Acts 9:6
The men who are with Saul help lead him into the city
Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
— Acts 9:8-9
Recall the three days of darkness, ninth (3x3) plague before the children of Israel were resurrected from Egypt after the Passover Lamb was slain. Also, remember the three hours of darkness after the Crucifixion before the resurrection.
Meanwhile, in Damascus, Ananias, a devout man, much like Samuel, is summoned by the Lord to pray for Paul. Ananias responds much as Samuel did.
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
— Acts 9:10
. . . the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”
— I Samuel 3:4
Ananias is given some instructions again containing the language of resurrection.
So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
— Acts 9:11-12
"Straight" street leads us to this fascinating prophecy naming three things that God will do.
- I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
- I will lead them in paths they have not known. (Think of Paul being led down Straight street)
- I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them
— Isaiah 42:16
Ananias is a bit skeptical, considering that he has heard that Saul is a potentially dangerous guy. The Lord reassures Him that Saul has been genuinely converted. Ananias, therefore, he does as instructed.
“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
— Acts 9:17-18
The Hebrew word for blind comes with the idea of something covering the eyes like film or skin. In the previous section, we see Eli's eyes get covered with blindness and the light going out. Here we see Saul the scales falling off and him seeing the light.
Paul then preached the Lord Jesus Christ boldly and influenced three groups.
Then the churches throughout all (1)
- Judea, (2)
- Galilee, and (3)
- Samaria had peace and were edified.
And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
— Acts 9:31
Two resurrections occur after this account, through Peter. The first concerning a paralyzed man
There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
— Acts 9:33-35
Then next is the account of Dorcas, who died and raised from death. This narrative brings us to a total of three resurrections in this chapter; Saul from darkness, Aenaeus from being paralyzed, and Dorcas from death.
King Saul's Anointing
This portion deals with what is known as an anointing. An anointing is a ritual of applying oil to a person who is about to be appointed and empowered from on high to a position or assignment. Oil in Scripture is profoundly connected with the Holy Spirit. This particular event occurs three days into Saul's search for His father's donkeys.
In first Samuel, the people decided they wanted a king like all the other nations had. They must have been teenagers in spirit at this point in their development. God is a bit upset about this because it appears that they think their salvation lies in politics rather than the Lord Himself, but He grants them their request nonetheless. He decides to pick them a tall, dark, and handsome guy named Saul. Some ups and downs in the story occur when Samuel meets with Saul.
When they had come down from the high place into the city, Samuel spoke with Saul on the top of the house They arose early; and it was about the dawning of the day that Samuel called to Saul on the top of the house, saying, “Get up, that I may send you on your way.” And Saul arose, and both of them went outside, he and Samuel.
— I Samuel 9:26
There are also three total signs given to the order of this process. In verse two of chapter ten, Saul will meet two men who will let him know that the donkeys have been found. The second sign was that Saul included three men, three things, two of which there were three of, and "three" is also used three times on this occasion.
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his (Saul's) head, and kissed him and said: “Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance? ...you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. (three items - sacrificial animal, bread, and wine)
— I Samuel 3
The third sign would be that Saul would meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with instruments and prophetic utterances. Then Samuel tells him that the Spirit will come upon him.
Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
— I Samuel 10:6
The phrase "Spirit of the Lord" is used three times in these seminal events of Israel's history as a kingdom.
The second use is when Saul meets these prophets as Samuel foretold
When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
— I Samuel 10:10
The third event occurs with Saul's first military assignment as he musters up an army.
Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.
— I Samuel 11:5-7
The Levite and the Concubine
Cutting the oxen in twelve pieces connects us with the greatly disturbing, final incident in the book of Judges, just before Samuel comes on the scene.
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there four whole months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back, having his servant and a couple of donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father’s house; and when the father of the young woman saw him, he was glad to meet him. Now his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, detained him; and he stayed with him three days. So they (1) ate and (2) drank and (3) lodged there Then it came to pass on the fourth day that they arose early in the morning, and he arose to depart; but the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.”
— Judges 19:1-5
Notice that "arose" is used three times. The saga continues with the common usage of arising.
There were three days that departure is attempted. The first was after the first three days spent there. The second was on the fourth day, and the third was on the fifth day. It was on that third attempt in the afternoon/evening that they rose up and departed.
And when the man arose to depart—he and his concubine and his servant—his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, said to him, “Look, the day is now drawing toward evening; please spend the night. See, the day is coming to an end; lodge here, that your heart may be merry. Tomorrow go your way early, so that you may get home.”However, the man was not willing to spend that night; so he rose and departed, and came opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). With him were the two saddled donkeys; his concubine was also with him.
— Judges 19:7-10
The Levite passes up an opportunity to lodge in Jerusalem or Jebus, as it was known at that time, which was not yet conquered territory. They would, therefore, be considered strangers and possibly not welcomed. He decides to push on to Gibeah, which was in Benjamin's territory. Recall King Saul is from the tribe of Benjamin and ruled as King from Gibeah.
They enter the town square of Gibeah, hoping that someone would take them in for the night. They did not have "inns" or hotels during this time in ancient near eastern history. A weary traveler was entirely dependent upon the hospitality of the families and tribes they encountered.
No one took them in until a man from mount Ephraim who was coming in from the field for the evening offered to put them up for the night. It reads as if they were drinking a bit "making merry," as King James puts it when some worthless men come to the door of the old man who took them in and wanted to rape the Levite. This is a bit similar to the Lot incident in Sodom and Gomorrah. This incident might connect us to how wicked things had become in this particular tribe.
The next appalling event occurs when the man offers his daughter and the concubine to abuse rather than his houseguest. The ancient laws of hospitality required that one protect a guest in his home above all else. This ancient law could also be viewed as a little glimpse of God's invitation to be a guest in His house with the assurance that He will protect us at all costs and be responsible for our safety even at the expense of His One and Only Son.
The man tosses out his concubine, and she is abused all night.
Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold, and he said to her, “Arise and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man arose and went to his place.
— Judges 19:26-27
"Door" is mentioned three times in this event. It is at the threshold of the door where the bloodline is placed in terms of sacrifice. When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they slaughtered a lamb, and its blood was poured into a basin built into the threshold of the door and then brushed on to the sides and top with hyssop.
The awful part of the story connected with Saul's first military venture is what happens next.
When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And so it was that all who saw it said, “No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!”
— Judges 19:29-30
The account with Saul
And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh (people who refused to assist all the other tribes in battling Benjamin in the Judges story we are looking at). Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand . . . So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies”
— I Samuel 11:5-8,11
All the tribes are a bit taken aback by such a horrific announcement, and their response was
So all the people arose as one man, saying, “None of us will go to his tent, nor will any turn back to his house.
— Judges 20:8
A verbal confrontation occurs to which the tribe of Benjamin was resistant.
Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God to inquire of God They said, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?” The Lord said, “Judah first!” So the children of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah.
— Judges 20:18-19
Israel's first two attempts at battling Benjamin were unsuccessful. Although they had inquired of the Lord about what to do, they forgot a significant and relative step.
Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people,(1) went up and came to the house of God and wept. (2) They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and (3) they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. So the children of Israel inquired of the Lord (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days . . . And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day . . . So all the men of Israel rose from their place and put themselves in battle array at Baal Tamar . . . The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel . . .
— Judges 20:26-27,30,33,35
There was only a remnant of Benjamites left from this encounter. This story and lays the foundation for the small and fleshly heritage of the first king of Israel. It explains a lot about his response to be chosen for this position.
And Saul answered and said, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons?
— I Samuel 9:21-22
Then follow the three signs, as mentioned above. The conclusion of this matter is
Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
— Zechariah 4:6
King David's Three Anointings
The first occasion of David's anointing was when God pointed out to Samuel, the shepherd boy who was next to become king of Israel after rejecting three named sons of Jesse and seven in total.
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed (appears in verb form 3x in this account) him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah (a high place)
— I Samuel 16:13
Immediately following this event is the battle with Goliath in which David "arose" to the occasion.
The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were
- Eliab the firstborn,
- next to him Abinadab,
- and the third Shammah.
David was the youngest. And the three oldest followed Saul. But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem . . . So David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, and took the things and went as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the camp as the army was going out to the fight and shouting for the battle.
— I Samuel 17:13-14,20
The second anointing occurs after the death of Saul. He is anointed King in Judah.
Then the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.
— II Samuel 2:4
The third event occurs in Hebron, where David first began to reign just before the conquering of Jerusalem.
all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah...So David went on and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him. (Hebron is mentioned three times.)
— II Samuel 5:3-5,10
There was another King who is, in fact, the King of Kings who was thirty years old when He began to reign
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age.
— Luke 3:23
and was 33 years old when He died, rose, and was seated at the right hand of the Father.
. . . after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
Matt Slick, who is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, writes in response to a question about the age of Christ when He dies and offers some interesting background information that is fitting with this entire article and the themes that go with that.
No one knows exactly how old Jesus was when he died on the cross, but he was probably 33 years of age. This is drawn from two main things. First, Jesus was baptized to enter into the Melchizedek priesthood. In Matthew 3:13-15 it says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.'" Jesus got baptized to fulfill all righteousness. This fulfillment was in reference to the Old Testament requirements for being a priest, which among them was being the minimum age of 30. "from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting," (Num. 4:3). This is fulfilled in the Scriptures at Luke 3:21-23, "Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.” 23 And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli . . . "
Second, most Christian scholars agree that Jesus' ministry lasted 3 1/2 years. So, 30+ 3 1/2 equals the age of 33. 7
In terms of time reference, John records three Passovers.
The First passover was right after Jesus turned the Water to Wine, this was one of His first Miracles and the beginning of His ministry. John 2:1-13.
The second passover is mentioned in John 3:4 estimated to be about half way through His ministry.
And the third Passover is first mention in John 11:55
— Marc Hamric "Bible Answers"8
Before this, David had only ruled over one tribe, Judah. At this third anointing, the other tribes who were previously following Saul's house concede to David. They give three reasons for this.
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying,
- “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh.
- Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in;
- and the Lord said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.’”
— II Samuel 5:1-2
David wants to bring up the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem from which He is now ruling but did not follow the prescribed method of transporting it. A man died for the careless handling of it, and it was left at the home of a Levite (the tribe of priests) named Obed-Edom. The priesthood should have been handling it in the first place.
So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the GittiteThe ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household.Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness.”
— II Samuel 6:10-11
Obed Edom is mentioned with Asaph, a chief musician before the Lord who had 68 brothers who were gatekeepers, making 69 (3x23) including Obed Edom. This detail is provided in the description of this, bringing up the Ark in Chronicles.
So he left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister before the ark regularly, as every day’s work requiredObed-Edom with his sixty-eight brethren, including Obed-Edom the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah, to be gatekeepers.
— I Chronicles 16:37,38
David and Worship
The number three is also associated with worship. Worship is explicitly a spiritual activity.
After King David becomes established in Jerusalem, He begins instituting a place of worship by pitching a tent for the Ark of the Covenant.
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.
— I Chronicles 16:1
David acts in the capacity of a priest when he offers up burnt offerings and sacrifices and blesses the people at the Ark's institution.
And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.
— I Chronicles 16:2
The priesthood was the office that managed the spiritual dealings between the people and God. After David does this, he gives the people three things.
And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every
- one a loaf of bread,
- and a good piece of flesh,
- and a flagon of wine.
— I Chronicles 16:3
The spiritual component and messianic connection of these three are discovered in John chapter six in a discussion about Jesus's heavenly origin and His also being human flesh. The conversation also includes drinking a cup (wine symbolizing blood), referencing the spiritual application to His speech. Eternal and resurrection themes run throughout the text.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world . . . Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
— John 6:51-58
It is also at this point that David re-institutes the priesthood and its worship services.
Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.
— I Chronicles 16:16
David acting as a priest, is hinted at once again by the wearing of fine linen.
David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who bore the ark, the singers, and Chenaniah the music master with the singers. David also wore a linen ephod.
— I Chronicles 16:27
The messianic implications allude to establishing the combined office of our Savior as both Priest and King.
The third and final thing that David does with the installment of the Ark is he writes a song for Asaph and his sons to sing. Forever is noted three times in the remainder of the chapter. Singing could be considered a spiritual activity.
- Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations (I Chronicles 16:15)
- Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (I Chronicles 16:34)
- . . . because His mercy endures forever . . . (I Chronicles 16:41)
The Lord Was With David
A couple of phrases occur three times in I Samuel chapters 18 and 19. The first one has to do with the Lord being with David as King Saul begins to lose his grip on the kingdom. He realizes that this dynasty will be passed to David rather than his own son and becomes so agitated and fearful that he loses control and tries to kill David.
And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.
— I Samuel 18:12
Saul removes David from his presence and makes him captain over a thousand after a couple of Javelin throwing rages aimed at David. And yet
David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.
— I Samuel 18:14
Saul begins to strategize how he can get rid of David and makes him an offer that will hopefully get him killed. The consolation prize was supposed to be Saul's oldest daughter in marriage, which would have made David eligible for the throne at some point. Jonathan, Saul's son, would be next in line, but it looks like in the previous text Jonathan has pretty much conceded to David.
Saul's plan doesn't work, and he gives his eldest daughter to another. Then proposes another risky war venture hoping that he will die, and this time offers his younger daughter Michal.
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife...And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him.
And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.
— I Samuel 18:27-29
David is now an official member of the royal family. The three mentions provide us with the spiritual component of these events. No matter what natural world challenges presented themselves, the Lord, who is a Spirit, was with David.
I Samuel Chapters 19 and 20
Three and its spiritual themes continue into chapters 19 and 20 as the rage of Saul continues. David has now fled from Saul, and when Saul pursues him, he runs into some prophets prophesying.
And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also . . .
. . . And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah.
— I Samuel 19:20-23
David pleads with Jonathan to consider how dire the situation is, considering that Saul is plotting David's death. David hides while Jonathan checks out the situation with a plan that includes three days, mentioned three times, and three arrows.
David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening.
— I Samuel 20:5
Then Jonathan said to David: “The Lord God of Israel is witness! When I have sounded out my father sometime tomorrow, or the third day, and indeed there is good toward David, and I do not send to you and tell you
— I Samuel 20:12
Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. And when you have stayed three days, go down quickly and come to the place where you hid on the day of the deed; and remain by the stone Ezel. Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target.
— I Samuel 20:18-20
It is concluded that Saul is plotting to kill David, and Jonathan and David have one final meeting before David departs for good.
David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.
— I Samuel 20:41-42
David and Christ Recover All
I Samuel chapter 30 records the account of when David is still on the run from Saul that includes a third-day event.
Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. (Ziklag used three times).
— I Samuel 30:1-2
The people who are with David in Ziklag are pretty upset with him and speak of stoning him. Unlike Saul, who seeks to appease the people rather than obey the Lord.
David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
— I Samuel 30:6
Also, unlike Saul, David seeks out a priest of the Lord for further instruction. Saul sought a medium.
On their way to seek out and pursue the marauders, they happen upon an Egyptian servant of the Amalekites. The Egyptian servant had been left for dead. David and his troop
gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water. And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his spirit came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.
— I Samuel 30:11-12
David then questions him.
Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong, and where are you from?”
And he said, “I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick.
— I Samuel 30:13
The Egyptian servant agrees to help David and his men track them down, and David recovers all. Three is used three times in verses 11-13
It is a stunning example of what Christ did for us in those three days and three nights before His resurrection.
ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
— Colossians 2:10-15
Christ has recovered all for us in His death and resurrection.
David's Third Son Born to Him in Hebron
There were two sets of sons born to David. The first six (3x2) were born to him in Hebron, and nine (3x3) were later born to him in Jerusalem. Absalom was the third son born to David in Hebron.
In II Samuel, Absalom had Amnon, his half brother, killed for raping their sister Tamar. David expressed anger about what had happened but did not avenge the crime, so Absalom took matters into his own hands by having him killed then.
Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years.
— II Samuel 13:38
Joab, David's right-hand man, senses that David wants Absalom to come back and sets up an elaborate storytelling incident with a woman presenting a case of two sons involving one who killed the other. David reassures the woman that no harm would come to the son who killed the other. On that note
Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom (father of peace) to Jerusalem (city of peace).
— II Samuel 14:23
David lets Absalom come back but refuses to see him, and a discussion begins about Absalom's handsome appearance and descendants.
To Absalom were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a woman of beautiful appearance.
— II Samuel 14:27
Absalom seeks to overthrow his father's kingdom by patiently winning the hearts of the people to Himself. It was indeed an ancient political campaign by the maligning and undermining his father's lordship over the kingdom. After 40 years, Absalom has gathered a significant following and makes a plea to the king to go to Hebron under this guise.
For your servant took a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, saying, ‘If the Lord indeed brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’”
And the king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron.
— II Samuel 15:8-9
At this juncture, Absalom has conspired to make himself king at the very same place that David began to rule in Israel. We can see in this text connections with how three is used in connection with arising.
So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
— II Samuel 15:14
A bunch of "Passover's" appear in the text at this event . . .
And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.
And all his servants passed on (passed over - avar) beside him; and all the
- Cherethites (three biblical mentions),
- and all the Pelethites,
- and all the Gittites,
six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on (passed over - avar) before the king.
— II Samuel 15:18
David encourages Ittai the Gittiite and those with him, to go back to avoid the pending conflict, but Ittai replies
. . . As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.
— II Samuel 15:21
David ends up making Ittai a captain over the third part of his army and becomes named one of David's thirty valiant men.
Then David sent out one third of the people under the hand of Joab, one third under the hand of Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, and one third under the hand of Ittai the Gittite.
— II Samuel 18:2
More "Passovers" Coming up.
And David said to Ittai, Go and passover. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.
And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. (three passovers)
And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out (passover - avar) out of the city.
— II Samuel 15: 22-24
David tells them to put the ark of God back in the city with this confidence.
And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation . . .
— II Samuel 15:25
This next part is interesting and very reminiscent of a New Testament event.
And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet (one of three peaks), and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.
— II Samuel 15:30
Before we compare, it should be noted that the Garden of Gethsemane (oil press in Hebrew) is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The journey to the third and final Passover meal and the cross itself begins with Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives . . .
Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved.
— Matthew 21:1
Jesus then cleanses the temple and has several final confrontational conversations that included lessons and parables. These discourses were predominantly addressed to the Pharisees and Sadducees. These religious rulers were so resistant and oppositional to His Lordship even to the point of plotting His death. They had conspired against Him, much like Absalom had with David.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem—O Absalom O Absalom
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke records the word Jerusalem three times in this quote)
— Matthew 24:37-39
This scene connects us with Psalm 118 and details Christ's confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were experts in the Writings, and they ought to have connected the dots.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. (Hosanna in Hebrew)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
— Psalm 118:22-26
Immediately following the meal.
. . . when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
— Matthew 26:30
Mount of Olives is mentioned three times in Matthew and Mark. Mark's Gospel expounds on the end of the age events before the meal, which could also be imaged by this account of Absalom seemingly taking over the kingdom.
After this are the three prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane (oil press)
Back to our II Samuel account, more Passovers as David continues to flee from Absalom. This part is our third section of Passovers, much like three Passovers in the book of John.
And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath Ahithophel counselled against you.
Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them that was not gone over (passed over - avar) Jordan...
Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.
— II Samuel 17:21-24
In terms of the entire "Promised Land," John D. Garr makes this observation in his book "God's Light: Man's Lamp."
"The land of promise had always been a place of conflict, for it formed the land bridge at the confluence of three continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa."
This territory is, to this day, hotly contested, especially Jerusalem itself. It is presently represented and divided by three major religious groups, Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
In the thick of war, Absalom gets hung up in a tree by his long flowing hair while riding through a forest. The language is interesting in understanding a more in-depth insight into being hung on a tree/wood/cross.
. . . he was taken up between the heaven and the earth . . .
— II Samuel 18:9
The cross is seen here as an intersection between heaven and earth, that was also an instrument of judgment.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
— John 12:31-32
David doesn't want his son killed despite Absalom's treasonous plot to overthrow his father's kingdom and instructs his own army not to do so. But, Joab, the first of David's three principal commanders, decides to take advantage of the situation and finish off Absalom while he hangs in the tree.
Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
— II Samuel 18:14
This section concludes with David's sorrow over the destruction of his son that sounds very much like Jesus's sorrow over Jerusalem when He cried O' Jerusalem Jerusalem.
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom (father of peace), my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
— II Samuel 18:33 (Absalom used three times)
The story concludes with an explanation of what Christ did on that cross with the phrase, "would God I had died for thee." The phrase "my son" is used five (number of grace) times and completes the revelation that God's one and only Son who hung on the cross between heaven and earth, bearing our judgment for sin, is the perfect grace of God displayed.
Absalom was judged on that tree and deservedly so. Christ hung on that tree in our place. We are like Absalom worthy of judgment. God's grace is through His son bearing that for us.
. . . we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
— Hebrews 2:9
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God . . .
— Ephesians 2:4-8
We can see how three expresses the concepts of life, death, judgment, and resurrection.
After these events, there is a three-year famine because Saul slew the Gibeonites with whom they were in covenant with and David avenges the crime with the slaying of an equal number of Saul's sons.
David's Last Words
King David's last words involve "threes" and "thirties," along with the concepts of Spirit, anointing, and resurrection. II Samuel chapter 23 opens with
Thus says David the son of Jesse (third generation from Ruth and Boaz);
Thus says the man raised up on high,
The anointed of the God of Jacob (third patriarch),
And the sweet psalmist of Israel:
The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
— II Samuel 23-24
Next is an accounting of the mighty men of David
These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-Basshebeth . . . And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword...And after him was Shammah . . .
— II Samuel 23:8-11
An account is then given that rehearses an event that David had with Saul before he became king.
Then three of the thirty chief men went down at harvest time and came to David at the cave of Adullam. And the troop of Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. And he said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it.
These things were done by the three mighty men.
And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three . . .
...These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.
He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,
— II Samuel 23:13-19
This account records the history and of the raising up of David's army.
Three is mentioned nine (3x3) times in II Samuel chapter 23.
The Establishment of Jerusalem The Heavenly City
. . . you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels.
— Hebrews 12:22
The theme of Jerusalem strongly connects with number three and heavenly things as well as the Davidic Kingdom. It is the place where God chooses for His name to dwell. And worship is established.
I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
— II Chronicles 6:6
Jerusalem receives thirty mentions in II Samuel how fitting for the end of II Samuel to close with the purchase of the place where the temple will be built by David's son Solomon, which was in possession of the Jebusites at that time.
It was purchased in an interesting way. David had decided to take a census of the people, which was forbidden unless instructed by God.
When you take the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when you number them; that there be no plague among them, when thou number them.
— Exodus 30:12
These people were not David's to count, and he had just caused them to be uncovered and unprotected under the covenant terms of the price paid for the ransom of souls.
Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.”
So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the Lord—the plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.” (three threes)
— I Chronicles 21:10-12
David chose the third option in which only the mercy of God, not man, could cure.
Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.
— II Samuel 24:14
Seventy thousand people died in that plague, and David is disturbed by how his decision affected so many. Isn't that how sin is? As much as we would like to think our sin is petty and harms no one else, we are sadly mistaken.
. . . through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . .
— Romans 5:12
The scene to follow is so very revealing in its language, hinting of a future event that will deliver humanity from its judgment plague of sin.
And David lifted up his eyes (remember on the third day Abraham lifting up his eyes on this same mount with a substitutionary sacrificial ram in the thicket looking to a future hope and resurrection that would occur there) , and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem
— I Chronicles 21:16
Jesus said this about His sacrificial death, for our sin, that pardoned our judgment.
. . . if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
— John 12:32
David pleads with God to take the judgment himself rather than watch those who didn't cause this to suffer.
. . . let your hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
— II Samuel 24:17
This event describes, precisely, what Christ did for us.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous . . .
— Romans 5:19
. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.
— I Peter 2:24
Next, David is commanded to "go up" to set up an altar (sacrifice). This scene is a remembrance of what Christ has done for us.
Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord.
— I Chronicles 21:18,19
David follows Gad's instructions, the seer, to build an altar to the Lo