But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
THE BIBLE AND JONAH
“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.” (Matthew 12:40)
Many today question the miracles mentioned in the Bible. Did they really happen? Perhaps a look at one well-known miracle might help answer that question. Did Jonah really survive three days and three nights in the belly of a whale (or some great fish)?
NOT SO FAR FETCHED
The sperm whale, the white shark and the whale shark have been found with whole animals as large, or larger, than a man in their stomachs. There have been cases in whaling history of men swallowed whole by whales. Some of these whales were later harpooned to death.
In two recorded cases, men were cut out of the whale's stomach and survived.(1) In 1895, James Bartley survived a day and a half inside a whale before being rescued.(2) There is always some air in a whale's stomach. Thus the miracle of Jonah is not so far-fetched.
A WELL KNOWN EVENT
The word “miracle” (from Latin “miraculum”) means an event that causes wonder. It is an extraordinary event, inexplicable in terms of ordinary, natural forces. Some Bible words used for miracles are “wonders”, “mighty works” and “signs”.
Often, as a “sign” the implications of the miracle are much wider than the event itself. Messiah spoke of the “sign” of Jonas (Luke 11:29-30). Thus Jonah's survival three days and three nights in the whale's belly was a miracle, inexplicable in terms of natural forces.
It is possible that Jonah suffocated to death in the great fish and God brought him back to life. This is implied by Jonah's prayer, “... out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” (Jonah 2:2) “Hell” is “sheol” in Hebrew, and can mean the place of departed spirits.
The miracle of Jonah was well known in his day. It probably contributed to the fact that all the people of Nineveh repented at his preaching (Jonah 3:5).
Centuries later, it was still well known. Thus Jesus could use it as a “sign” of his own impending death and resurrection.
A TEST OF FAITH
The authority of Jesus the Messiah stands or falls with the miracle of Jonah. If the story of Jonah is untrue, then Jesus was either a deceiver, or he himself was deceived. But if He is Lord of all, then the miracle of Jonah is true. Why?
If Jesus were Lord of all, His knowledge of Jonah would be complete and accurate. He would not be mistaken, nor misinformed. Nor would he perpetuate a “myth” to accommodate the people. As Lord, He would not lie. He would simply speak the truth about Jonah.
What are your thoughts, my friend? Can miracles happen? Is the miracle of Jonah true? Is Jesus Christ a liar, or lunatic, or Lord of all? Your answers to these questions reveal the real state of your heart. You will give account of your answers -- to God, on Judgment Day.
(1) Henry M. Morris, THE BIBLE HAS THE ANSWER (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971) p. 75.
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss