HOW CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO A 7TH DAY ADVENTIST ABOUT JESUS BEING IN THE TOMB FOR 3 DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS?
Lets begin by looking at Matt. 12:40, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Now, there are two things in this verse that many have discussed and disagreed with at length. One is the question of what day Jesus was crucified. Some have taught for entire class periods on this subject, trying to prove that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday or Thursday on the basis that He had to be in the tomb three full days and nights (exactly 72 hours) and playing on the term “heart of the earth”. But, the Bible does not make such claims. We must understand that the Bible uses different expressions to mean the same thing. “In three days” (Matt. 26:61), “the third day” (Matt. 16:21), and “after three days” (Mark 8:31) all describe the same period of time. Therefore, part of a day is spoken of as a day just as part of a year is spoken of as a year (Gen. 42:17-18). It is as today we worship on Sunday, yet the service may only be one hour.
Now, the exception to this rule is if a term such as “full” or “whole” is used with it (Lev. 25:29; Acts 11:26; 28:30). Therefore, it is commonly accepted that Jesus was quickly buried sometime between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening because this was the preparation day of the Sabbath (Mk. 15:42) and because they were forbidden to work on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10). Then, Jesus arose sometime before the daylight hours on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath (Mk. 16:1) and before the two Mary’s had time to properly bury him (Mk. 16:2). This was the third day as Peter said in Acts 10:39-40. If this is not the case, then why did the chief priests and Pharisees request the sepulcher be made sure “until the third day” (Matt. 27:64)? And, in Matt. 28:4, the keepers or soldiers that were placed in front of the tomb was still there, after Jesus was gone. Roman soldiers and veterans, who had been used to terrible sights in the field of battle; were men of courage, and fearless of danger; and yet were seized with a panic.
The second thing about Matt. 12:40 that needs to be understood is that if it was understood by those Jews to be three full days and nights, and He arose on the third day, why did the Jews not ask for the sepulcher to be made sure until the fourth day?
So, how do we teach a 7th day Adventist this? Well, seeing as how they were formed by a woman prophet, who only see worship as ceremonial, who do not believe in hell, and who force people to keep the Sabbath holy, it is hard to pull them from this teaching too. But, we are to be patient in teaching others the truth in love and I would suggest to just stay on Acts 10:39-40 because if the apostle Peter said, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God raised Jesus on the THIRD DAY, I have no reason to doubt it.