Holy Saturday is like the story of Joseph in prison in the book of Genesis: what Jesus’s brothers and the Gentile authorities meant for evil, God meant for good.
Holy Saturday is like the crossing of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus: Jesus goes before his people through the waters of death, leading them out of bondage and into new life.
Holy Saturday is like the scapegoat in the book of Leviticus: having made atonement for sin at the cross, Jesus also goes outside the camp and into the darkness of Sheol for us and before us.
Holy Saturday is like the the wilderness wanderings in Numbers: like the Spirit led Israel through the trackless wilderness, so Jesus leads us through the valley of the shadow of death.
Holy Saturday is like Deuteronomy: as Israel looked backward at the Exodus and forward to the Conquest, so the descent reminds us of what Jesus has already done to defeat God’s enemies at the cross and looks forward to his final victory in the resurrection.
Holy Saturday is like the Conquest in the book of Joshua: Jesus drives out the giants in the land of the dead, Death and Hades, so that they can no longer tempt and test God’s people.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Judges: Jesus breaks the teeth of our oppressors so that his people have rest, not for 40 or 80 years, but for eternity.
Holy Saturday is like the story of the Ark in the temple of Dagon in Samuel: having been taken by the enemy into the stronghold of the enemy, Jesus destroys the strongman and liberates his people from oppression.
Holy Saturday is like Elijah on Mt. Carmel in Kings: Jesus goes to the throne of the enemy and, through seemingly foolish means, shows that Death has no power; only YHWH-in-the-flesh does.
Holy Saturday is the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:2: “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”
Holy Saturday begins the reversal of the judgment of decreation in Jeremiah 4:23: Jesus enters into the chaotic waters of the void of death and thereby changes it, breaking open its gates and bringing light and life to those who waited for him.
Holy Saturday is like the wheels of fire in Ezekiel: Jesus goes before and with his people into the exile of death, thus reminding them that he and they will return one day to the land of the living.
Holy Saturday is like Jonah’s sojourn in the belly of the fish in the middle of the Book of the Twelve: Israel and the nations are saved through the death, burial, and resurrection of a Hebrew prophet.
Holy Saturday is like the movement from Psalm 22 to Psalm 23: the wise king who has suffered on behalf of his people has lost his life (“nephesh”) and now walks in the valley of the shadow of death, but soon the God of the living will restore his soul (“nephesh”).
Holy Saturday is like God’s speech in Job 41:1-2: Jesus has drawn out the Leviathan, Death, with the fishhook of his humanity, pressing down his tongue with the cord of his perfectly righteous life, putting a rope in his nose with his atoning death, piercing his jaw with his divinity.
Holy Saturday is like the Wise Royal Son in Proverbs: he enters Lady Folly’s house but does not eat her meal. He follows her steps to Sheol but only to bring his people out with him.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Ruth: Jesus, the kinsman redeemer, enters into the famine and darkness of the exile of death and rescues his bride from it, restoring her to the land of the living.
Holy Saturday is like the marriage procession in the Song of Solomon: Jesus comes out of the wilderness of death like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense (3:6), to marry his Bride, the Church.
Holy Saturday is like Ecclesiastes: life is fleeting and death is certain, even for the Son of God…but in dying he has defeated and destroyed Death forever, so fear the LORD and keep his commandments.
Holy Saturday is like Lamentations: the saints who have cried in the valley of the shadow of death, “How long, O Lord?” now see their Redeemer and hope in his impending resurrection, a sign of their own.
Holy Saturday is like the book of Esther: Jesus is not seen or mentioned in the midst of what seem like entirely hopeless circumstances, but he’s still at work for our good.
Holy Saturday is like Daniel in the lion’s den: sealed in the place of darkness and in the presence of all God’s enemies, Jesus is nevertheless in the presence of YHWH and claims victory over those who would seek to destroy him.
Holy Saturday is like the migrations in Ezra-Nehemiah: before God’s people enter their promised rest, Jesus has to lead them from bondage to freedom by crossing through the waters of death in the New Exodus.
Holy Saturday is like the end of Chronicles: Christ’s decree, “It is finished,” has been made, but we wait for the reality of the rebuilt Temple and the restored king in his impending resurrection from the dead.
“I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” -Rev. 1:18
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so may we await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.