Third Day

Resurrection of Our Lord—Easter Sunrise
Hosea 6:1-3
April 1, 2018
Camp Trinity—New Haven, MO

“Come, let us go back to the LORD.
      He has torn us but He will heal us.
      He has struck us but He will bandage our wounds.
After two days He will revive us.
      On the third day He will raise us to have us live before Him.
Let us earnestly seek to know the LORD.
      He will come out as surely as the dawn.
      He will come to us like the rain,
      like the spring rains that water the ground.”

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of + Jesus.

3.

Theologians make a distinction between two works of God: His alien work and His proper work. God’s alien work is the work He performs that is foreign to Himself, work that does not align with His nature. God’s proper work, on the other hand, is the work He does that is most true to Himself and completely aligns with His nature. These two works are not equal. His alien work is subordinate to His proper work, it is in service to it. God performs His alien work for the sake of His proper work.

The first verse of Hosea’s sixth chapter is just such a distinction. Come, let us go back to the LORD. He has torn us but He will heal us. He has struck us but He will bandage our wounds. On the one hand, God injures and strikes His people with afflictions. These are works that are not proper to God’s nature; they are alien works. God’s nature is not to injure, harm, or kill. And so when He performs these works, He is not acting within Himself.

On the other hand, God also heals and bandages our wounds. Love and tender care completely align with His nature. His greatest joy is to return His people to health and wholeness. This is His proper work. Notice which comes first. God’s alien work precedes His proper work. Injury precedes healing; striking precedes bandaging. The first is for the sake of the second.

Often people ask the difficult question, why God would allow a terrible tragedy to happen. Whether it’s something on a more national or social level—like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting—or things of a more personal or private nature—the hidden afflictions that you don’t want to share with anyone else. But asking that question puts God’s proper work before His alien work. If God’s works are good, how do we account for this affliction? The answer to that question is not good. To be honest, we don’t know why God allows injury when He does, or why He allows afflictions the way He does. But we know that this work is not proper to who He is, and when injury and affliction come, God’s proper work is to heal and to bind up. And so He is the one who brings us back to Himself for restoration

2.

But making this distinction doesn’t tell us why this distinction must be made in the first place. Is God sitting on His throne, arbitrarily deciding who and when to afflict, and who and when to heal? If that were any other person, we’d rightly be concerned that he’s psychotic. Why not skip the injury altogether?

Perhaps an illustration might help. Is this good or evil? A man slices open a woman’s stomach. It would be evil if it were in the context of a domestic assault. But in the case of a doctor operating to remove a cancerous mass, then he causes injury for the sake of healing.

Like cancer, our affliction precedes God’s alien work. The need for healing isn’t because God has made us ill, but because we are ill by nature. It’s a sin-sickness. God’s alien work is often to make us feel our sins more acutely, so that we would turn to Him for healing and restoration.

But there is yet more to His alien work. He applies it to Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, undergoes every injury and affliction common to man. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, we sing. Just like us, Jesus feels the full force of sins (even though they are not His own). But where the alien work of God has never been applied to us in its fullest—we have never been forsaken by God—while He hangs on the cross, Jesus becomes a complete alien to God.

It would seem there is no worse situation for a person to be in. Stricken by God, abandoned by God, left for dead by God. But the story doesn’t end there. After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us to have us live before Him. The affliction is only a short time. Three days later, God revives. New life. But it’s not even three whole days, not even 72 hours.

In the Jewish reckoning of a day, it’s evening and morning that make a day. We’d already be halfway through this day at sunrise. Jesus dies a bit before sundown on Good Friday, and by the time the women appear at the tomb early in the morning before the sun rises, He’s already risen. So the third day is only slightly longer than 24 hours.

Likewise, God follows the same pattern of these three days for you: affliction – rest – revival. When you go through your worst, know there is rest and new life that follows. This is God’s proper work.

1.

If you are still unsure of God’s nature, take a look at nature. Spring has only just sprung, and the dead world around use is showing signs of new life. The sun is shining longer, and the rains have been saturating the earth. Certainly creation bears some mark of its Creator. Let us earnestly seek to know the LORD. He will come out as surely as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rains that water the ground.

Like the spring sun and rain that fall on the dead ground, God’s third-day grace descends in order to raise up new life. It’s the pattern of our lives, patterned after the One who died and rose again on the third day. Death and resurrection. The pattern continues until God’s alien work puts us in a grave of our own, so that He can do for us the same thing that He did for Jesus. After two days He will revive us. On the third He will raise us to have us live before Him.

In the name of + Jesus.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Rev. Jacob Ehrhard
VD+MA

  1. God’s alien work is for the sake of His proper work.
  2. God raised Christ on the third day; all of our afflictions have their three days.
  3. Like the spring sun and rain that fall on the dead ground, God’s third day grace raises up new life.

[Seek to Know the Lord as the One Who Revives the Dead]