Jonah, the Whale and 3 Days and 3 Nights

In the Book of Jonah, we learn of a man whom God called to go to the city of Ninevah to preach against wickedness. Jonah resisted and ran away, getting onto a boat with others. Soon, God sent a great storm to the sea, which shook the boat and scared the men. They wondered who was responsible for God sending such a calamity and when they drew lots, Jonah was found guilty.

“He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.”  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.  At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1-17).

Where else in the Bible do we read about “three days and three nights?” Following Jesus’ crucifixion on the Passover, this idiom is repeated. Jesus spends the same time in the underworld where he freed those bound by their sins and opened the gates of heaven. Note that the ancient Jews referred to a “day and night” the same we we would refer to a “Friday or Saturday or Sunday” in English. There is no mention of the word “after,” so both Jonah and Jesus experienced the “great fish” of an underworld on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The “great fish” in Jonah is symbolic of the underworld, which Jonah experienced due to his own sins. To redeem us of our sins, only one without sin would qualify. Jesus is the blemish-free Passover lamb who has redeemed and rescued us from the grips of a “great whale” in the underbelly of the earth.

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.   He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ”

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”

In conclusion and as Jesus said in Matthew 11:15, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” This message is repeated many times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Thank you for your time.

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