Jonah And The Whale

Are the stories you read in the Bible really true?  Did those things really happen?   Did Jonah really survive for three days inside of a whale?

Some people think that many incidents recorded in the Bible did not happen. They feel that these stories are just too unbelievable.  Because of that kind of thinking, they are quick to dismiss the whole Bible.

A lot of records in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, are considered “children’s stories” by some.  For years, Sunday school teachers have used those incidents from the Bible to teach children.  As a result, many of those accounts are looked upon as simply, children’s stories.

What we read in the Bible is not only true, but it is for children of all ages.  But, far too often, records in the Bible are not understood and thus erroneously taught.  It is the lack of understanding, and subsequent teaching that many times causes people to doubt; such is the case of the account of Jonah and the whale.

(Note: In the Old Testament it is translated as a, “great fish.”  In the New Testament is translated as a, “whale.”)

He Was Alive?  Really?

Most people teach that Jonah was somehow alive inside of a whale for three days and three nights.  I have even see drawings for little children where Jonah is inside the big fish, sitting at a table with a candle on the table.  No wonder people think that it’s ridiculous.

The real problem comes from not understanding what is written.  The Bible tells us that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.  Then, we learn that God spoke to the fish, and the fish vomited out Jonah and he ends up on dry ground.

Chapter one of the book of Jonah gives us the details of how Jonah ended up in the water, and the last verse of chapter two tells of how Jonah got back to dry ground.  But far too many miss the details in chapter two of what happened to Jonah in the water, before he was swallowed by the great fish.

God had asked Jonah to go the city of Nineveh and cry against it.  Jonah did not want to go.  Nineveh was not part of Israel, but rather the capital of Assyria.

So, instead, Jonah got on a ship headed away from Nineveh, bound for Tarsus.  On the journey, a great storm came up, and the others on board began praying to their gods.  Then they decided to cast lots to see who was responsible for this deadly storm.

It is interesting that a long-established expression among sailors uses the term, “a Jonah,” as meaning a person (either a sailor or a passenger) whose presence on board brings bad luck and endangers the ship

Jonah informed them that he was fleeing from the Lord God.  He told them to throw him overboard and the storm would calm.  He was in a great state of despair for having refused to do what God asked him.

Don’t Miss These Details

But when you read the details in chapter two, you get a glimpse of his prayer while alive in the water, just before he died.  Yes, Jonah died, and I’ll reference a very reliable source to corroborate that in a minute.

After Jonah’s prayer, he died, and then God sent a great fish and it swallowed him.  After three days and three nights God spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah and he was back to dry ground.  He then went to Nineveh.

Now I know there are those who say that Jonah was alive in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, and that was the miracle.  For that to happen, God would have had to change many of His natural laws, or, turn the great fish into a submarine.  The truth is, Jonah was dead; I have that on great authority.

Jesus Was Right

Jesus Christ said, “For as Jonas [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.”  So if Jonah did not die, then neither did Jesus!  Jesus Christ also stated that he would be crucified and die, but then be raised from the dead.

Jesus Christ used an incident, a true event from the Old Testament, to show that he would be dead and buried for three days and three nights.  Just like Jonah was dead for three days and three nights, Jesus would also be dead, and buried for three days and three nights.

So, Jonah did not hang out in the belly of the whale for three days, sitting at his table with the candle.  That is ridiculous.  But when people hear things taught like that, they can quickly dismiss the Bible as incredible, and relinquish what is written as merely, “children’s stories.”

Yes, the Bible was written for children of all ages.  And isn’t it just great that God did raise Jesus from the dead, to die no more?  And, not only that, but God has promised to send him back to gather together all those who believe in Christ!

Mike Verdicchio

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