Historically Accurate? Read the Story and Find Out!
“For as Jonah 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)
Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh and “cry against it; for their wickedness.” It was the first time the Lord had sent one His prophets to a gentile nation to warn them. Jonah knew that this could end very badly for him. Nineveh was part of the Assyrian Empire which was the mightiest empire of that time and certainly a threat to Israel. Even in Israel, a prophet’s warning was usually not well received and could result in the prophet being killed.
After considering what the Lord wanted him to do, and all the reasons for not going there: Jonah fled “from the presence of the Lord.” He boarded a ship bound for Tarshish which was in the opposite direction from Nineveh. The ship experienced a great storm sent by the Lord and all on board feared greatly. While all the crew was calling on their gods to save them; Jonah was fast asleep. They woke him up and told him to call upon his God.
After Jonah told them just who his God was, “The God of Heaven, which has made the sea and dry land”, they were “exceedingly afraid.” They asked Jonah what they were to do with him for he let them know that he had fled the presence of the Lord. Jonah told them to cast him into the sea and the calm would return. Initially, they were reluctant to do this, but after Jonah cried out to the Lord that He would not hold them guilty of innocent blood, they cast him into the sea, and the sea became calm.
The Bible says, “The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah and he was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah prayed to the Lord from the fish’s belly and repented of his disobedience. The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out onto dry land.
The Lord told Jonah once again to go to Nineveh and preach repentance to them. This time Jonah obeyed. The word of the Lord to them was repent or they would be destroyed in forty days. The people of Ninevah believed God, fasted and repented of their ways “from the greatest of them even to the least of them” and were saved from destruction.
Jonah was not happy with this turn of events – that the Lord would forgive this heathen cruel city. He reasoned that it’s destruction would have benefited Israel. This was extremely displeasing to the Lord for the prophet to take a stand against His will. The Lord was patient with the prophet, but in the end, silenced him by showing Jonah that it was always the His will that all men be saved. We see this same mercy and grace today in the Lord’s giving of His Son to die on a cruel cross to save those that will hear the message of salvation and be saved from certain judgment.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
We can learn much from this account. It shows us that the Lord controls everything the wind, the sea, and even a great fish. It is also an example of the Lord’s great patience, mercy and care. He brought Jonah back from his place of disobedience to an obedience that enabled him to face the cruel city of Nineveh with an ultimatum from the Lord that could have brought certain death upon him. This was also a lesson and warning for Jonah’s nation of Israel to not involve themselves in idolatry. Unfortunately, a warning they failed to heed. The Lord’s mercy toward the unsaved is also seen here. Those in the ship sought the Lord after seeing what happened. All of Ninevah repented and were saved from judgment. It was also a sign to all of the coming Messiah some 700 hundred years later.
The Lord’s mercy and longsuffering are seen here. We can be assured that the Lord is patient with us and watches over us for our good. Even if we get off in the wrong direction at times, the Lord, as a loving shepherd, will guide us back to the right way. He is faithful to us at all times. The final lesson from the story of Jonah is for us today. The Lord is asking that we believe Him and obey Him. We are called to share the “Good News” with a world lost in sin. Today, through His church, He calls out to all those in the world that do not know Him.
[The story of Jonah is an incredible one. Some have doubted its authenticity. However, the introductory verse in this article and the following verse were spoken by Jesus. He, in fact, by His words, authenticated the Biblical account of Noah as historically accurate.]
“For as Jonah was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:30)
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Tom Quinn Ministries – tqministries.com 2020