By Scott Johnson
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 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. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Mat 12:38-41 KJV-BRG)
That wicked generation wanted a sign! Jesus had been performing real miracles now for 3 years, yet the religious order still demanded a sign to validate Jesus. Jesus goes, so you want a sign? Ok, here it is--The sign of Jonah! The so-called "foolish story" of Jonah (by many) will speak to the most amazing event in the lifetime of mankind--the Resurrection of the dead!
Jonah's prayer from inside this special fish is recorded: Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (Jon 2:1-10 KJV-BRG)
Jonah is in the belly of hell and the realm of the dead and Jesus will descend into the belly of hell and realm of the dead. Jonah is headed to preach and save 120,00 in the most wicked city on earth, Ninevah---Jesus will descend to the most wicked place on earth to preach and save millions (perhaps?) in the dungeons of Hades confined now for 2,500 years. These people of Nod, maybe 8 million, all drowned in Noah's day and were consumed by the fish or fowls on a possible shoreline. Jesus has now conquered death, he has been quickened by the Spirit, and he is sharing salvation's message to the lost from the first Adam! He, the second Adam, is there as Jonah was for three days and three nights. Joseph's tomb only sees 3 days and 2 nights (Friday and Saturday nights). The 3rd night is accomplished with Christ's descent into the earth's lowest places to redeem those spirits who choose to accept his saving grace: Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. (Psa 68:18 KJV-BRG)
On the 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead--not from the tomb--but from where the dead were--the realm of the dead, Sheol, Hades. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, the grave has no victory and death has no sting---and he is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance!!
Jonah goes on to preach for 40 days and all of Ninevah repents. Jesus spends 40 days in glorious display of his resurrected and quickened body. Perhaps---at night for 40 nights--he returned to Sheol---just asking? The sign of Jonah! And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (son of Jonas), and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18 KJV-BRG)
Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]