Victory in Jesus
When the first man and woman listened to the serpent’s voice and chose to disobey the God who had created them, the curtain fell on a perfect world. Adam and Eve then considered themselves like God by creating their own standards of good and evil––something society does with regularity today.
But before God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, He sentenced the serpent (Satan) to defeat: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15). This first of God’s marvelous promises finds fulfillment in the risen Christ. Satan counted Jesus’ death as his own moment of victory; but in reality, it was the hour of his greatest defeat. The resurrection establishes Jesus as God’s powerful Son and guarantees ultimate victory over death and Satan (Heb. 2:15).
Tied to Jewish Prophecy
Although few people realize it, Christ’s resurrection is clearly tied to Jewish prophecy. The apostle Paul wrote, “He was buried, and…rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). The Scriptures Paul referred to were the Hebrew Scriptures. The Old Testament foretold the Messiah would rise from the dead. Paul, in fact, explained this concept to a synagogue audience, quoting from Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 55:3; and Psalm 16:10 respectively:
And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Therefore He also says in another Psalm: “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 13:32–35).
A resurrection prophecy in Isaiah describes the suffering Servant as “cut off from the land of the living” (53:8) and buried in “His grave with the wicked” (v. 9). The prophet then foretold the resurrection: “When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lᴏʀᴅ shall prosper in His hand” (v. 10). This Servant will not remain in the grave but will live to see His descendants. Only the resurrection of Jesus makes sense of this prophecy.
The Old Testament also foretold Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day.” The first passage to teach such a hope is in Hosea:
Come, and let us return to the Lᴏʀᴅ; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight (6:1–2).
This prophecy speaks about a future restoration for the people of Israel. It also refers to the Messiah, who is the ideal picture of Israel.1 As in other Old Testament passages that point to the Messiah in a type or picture, this Scripture may be what Paul had in mind as predicting Jesus’ resurrection on the third day.
Another such passage is in the book of Jonah. As Jesus Himself taught, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt. 12:40). Again God used the type to point to the reality: Jonah’s experience paralleled Jesus’ experience.
Reversing the Curse
When Adam and Eve sinned, God promised humanity a world full of toil and trouble on a sin-cursed Earth. Yet, amid the curses, He also provided hope by promising a Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). Eve’s “Seed” would be a human male who would crush the serpent’s head, dealing Satan a deathblow. This Man’s heel would be injured in the struggle, but He is assured of complete victory. The curse will be reversed and Eden restored.
Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). His resurrection validated what He achieved in His death. God’s supernatural power over death and the serpent guarantees the ultimate victory when Jesus Christ returns to Earth.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, God demonstrated His intention to rule the world by giving the people of Israel a king after His own heart. David, unlike Saul before him, reflected a deep desire to please God and rule Israel with justice and compassion. Yet David was not that perfect King whom God had promised.
God, in fact, gave David a promise about one of his descendants: “Your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:16). God promised that one of David’s sons would inherit his throne, and his rule would never end. How could such a promise be fulfilled when the Davidic kingship ended in 586 B.C. under Babylonian conquest?
The Davidic Covenant, God’s marvelous promise about His future King, finds fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus was born from the line of David (Mt. 1:1). The angel Gabriel announced, “The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:32–33). Yet Jesus died, as did all the other kings in David’s line. What qualifies Jesus to claim fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant?
Only Jesus, the Son of David, came back to life from the dead. Paul announced this precious truth to the Jewish people by declaring that David himself predicted Jesus’ resurrection, and he quoted David: “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27, quoting Psalm 16:10). Paul continued:
Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he [David], foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses (Acts 2:30–32).
The only way for a king to rule forever is for that king to live forever. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees His right to claim Davidic kingship. He rules over His church now and will rule over Israel and the nations in the coming Kingdom.
His resurrection authorizes His kingly rights. Jesus Christ is “the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth….the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life” (Rev. 1:5; 2:8). Consequently, His resurrection gives all who believe in Him new life through their identification with Him: “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
His reign will culminate in the Millennial Kingdom when “He shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:27). Jesus’ battle against the forces of the Devil and death will finally bring God’s eternal Kingdom:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:24–27).
God’s original plan for the Garden of Eden will be realized with the new heavens, new earth, and New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1–2). As the great 18th-century hymn writer Charles Wesley wrote in “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”:
Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!
Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge, shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!
- The third day is sometimes used as the day of hope (Gen. 22:4; 42:18; Ex. 19:11; Josh. 3:2; 2 Ki. 20:5; Est. 5:1).