“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying. . . ”
The book of Jonah is about a man who just did not want to go to those who did not know Jehovah. He would expend any energy and offer any excuse, but he did not want to go. Reaching believers in Israel was conceivable to him – but not in Nineveh, a place of Gentiles.
Two countervailing themes are running throughout Jonah:
“But Jonah…” (1:3)
“But the Lord…” (1:4)
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
The Lord has a special work for Jonah. Jonah received direct revelation about his mission.
Supernatural things can only be known through supernatural methodology.
People deem fish stories with wariness and skepticism. The fish has the tendency to grow after being caught each time the story is narrated! The truth of Jonah’s story is not in doubt because it is God who tells the story.
The book of Jonah is the subject of much ridicule and disdain. This skepticism comes from anti-supernaturalists who cannot fathom the idea of a miracle in their grid of truth. The idea of a great fish swallowing a human being is beyond their system of comprehension. To them, Jonah is legend and myth.
The methodology of naturalism fails at metaphysics (that which is beyond physics). While accepting the validity of science as science within physics, Christianity rejects science as a system for determining truth beyond the natural world. God cannot be known through natural methods but only through supernatural methodology.
The Bible operates both within and without the premise of naturalism. The Bible views Jonah as a historical person in 2nd Kings, and it views him as the subject of a miracle in the book of Jonah. Jesus took both the person and the miracle as historical and supernatural.
Mt 12:39-41, “But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”
Jesus spoke these words to authenticate His ministry. The Scribes and Pharisees refused to believe His word, demanding a sign. Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of the great fish. Jonah’s experience was a clear harbinger of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This elevates the book of Jonah to a very high rank of authenticity. Those who attack the book of Jonah assault the credibility of Christ.
Jesus would not provide a miracle for the scribes and Pharisees; He did not yield to their demand for tangible evidence: “If you perform a miracle for us, we will believe.” Jesus answered that thesis with, “If you believe in the Word of God, you will see.” As Jesus did not condescend to their demands, neither should we. Are you willing to take God at His Word? Or, do you need to establish the Bible by outside proof?
Mt 16:1-4, 1 “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 “and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.”
1 Co 15:3-4, 3 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”
The Bible is authoritative because of its origin. The Word of God does not seek the endorsement of science. It stands first and foremost on its own authority. The Word of God is a higher authority than the word of man; it is the testimony of God to truth. Finite man cannot comprehend infinite truth, so it is of no use to put that option into the hands of man. The Creator cannot delimit Himself to the scale of His puny creatures. God will not stoop to the credulity of His creatures. When it comes to truth, man does not call God to account, but God calls man to account.
Jn 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
The name “Jonah” means dove.Dove denotes the Holy Spirit.Matt.3:16.It is a symbol of peace.Luke 2:14.A dove sent by Noah has brought an Olive leaf.Gen.8:11.
Jesus was crucified on Friday-in day time.Mark 15:25.He rose again on Sunday-in the early morning.Matt.28:1.”…so shall the Son of Man be three days & three nights in the heart of the earth”Matt.12:40.What is the explanation for three days & three nights in the heart of the earth?Please explain.
Alex, excellent question. There are there days postulated for the day of the crucifixion: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I suggest you read Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ by Harold W. Hoehner. The Friday Crucifixion
Statement of the view. Jesus predicted that He would die and be raised on the third day (Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). When one reads these events in the gospels, one clearly receives the impression that Jesus rose on the third day. Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb on the evening of the day of preparation (Friday), the day before the Sabbath (Matt 27:62; 28:1 ; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54, 56; John 19:31, 42). The women returned home and rested on the Sabbath (Saturday, Luke 23:56). Early on the first day of the week (Sunday), they went to the tomb (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:1–2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) which was empty. Furthermore, on the same day He arose from the grave, Jesus walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13), and they told Him that their Master was crucified and “now it is the third day since this occurred” (Luke 24:21). This, then, points to His crucifixion as having occurred on Friday. With all this evidence, the only viable conclusion is that Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday.
This view also fits well with Old Testament typology. On Monday, Nisan 10, Jesus presented Himself as the Paschal lamb at the triumphal entry. On Nisan 14 He was sacrificed as the Paschal lamb (1 Cor 5:7), and on Nisan 16 His resurrection was a type of the offering of First Fruits (1 Cor 15:23).
In conclusion then, with the most natural reading of the New Testament, one would conclude that Jesus was crucified on Friday and was resurrected on Sunday. This is also the common concensus of the Church Fathers and scholars throughout church history, and it is the generally accepted view today.
Critique of the view. The one problem that is proposed against the Friday view is Matthew 12:40, that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Admittedly, this is the most difficult verse for those who hold the Friday view, but it is not as formidable as it first appears. One must examine all the evidence at hand. First to be discussed is the New Testament evidence. The most frequent reference to Jesus’ resurrection is to have occurred on the third day (not the fourth day) (Matt 16:21; 17:23 ; 20:19 ; 27:64 ; Luke 9:22; 18:33 ; 24:7, 21, 46 ; Acts 10:40; 1 Cor 15:4). In John 2:19–22 where Jesus spoke of His resurrection, He stated that He would be raised up in three days and not on the fourth day. There are four passages (Matt 27:63; Mark 8:31; 9:31 ; 10:34 ) which speak of Christ’s resurrection as occurring “after three days,” but this is speaking of the same time period as on “the third day” for the following two reasons: (1) The three Markan passages are paralleled by one or two of the other synoptic gospels, and in each case the other synoptic does not use “after three days” as Mark does but “on the third day” (Mark 8:31 = Matt 16:21/Luke 9:22; Mark 9:31 = Matt 17:23; Mark 10:34 = Matt 20:19/Luke 18:33). Thus, the two phrases mean a period extending to the third day. (2) In Matthew 27:63 where the Pharisees before Pilate state that Jesus had predicted that “after three days I will rise again,” the Pharisees then asked Pilate if they could have a guard of soldiers to secure the sepulcher until the third day. The phrase “after three days” must have been equivalent to “the third day,” or otherwise the Pharisees would have asked for a guard of soldiers until the fourth day.14
Having looked at the New Testament evidence,15 was this standard Jewish thinking or not? If one looks in both the Old Testament and Rabbinic literature, one sees that it would agree with the New Testament evidence. Therefore the next piece of evidence to be examined is the Old Testament. There are several Old Testament references which show that a part of a day is equivalent to the whole day. In Genesis 42:17 Joseph incarcerated his brothers for three days, and then in verse 18 he spoke to them on the third day, and from the context released them on that day. In 1 Kings 20:29 Israel and Syria camped opposite each other for seven days, and on the seventh day they began to battle each other. In 2 Chronicles 10:5 Rehoboam stated that the people of Israel were to return to him in/after (cf. LXX) three days, and in verse 12 Jeroboam and the people came to Rehoboam on the third day. In Esther 4:16 Esther asks the Jews, “Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day,” and then she would go in to the king, and in 5:1 Esther went in to the king on the third day. Finally, in 1 Samuel 30:12 an abandoned Egyptian servant had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights, and in verse 13 he states that his master left him behind three days ago. Thus, the Old Testament gives the picture that the expressions “three days,” “the third day,” and “three days and three nights” are used to signify the same period of time.
Having seen that the Old Testament evidence lines up with the New, the final piece of evidence to be examined is the Rabbinic literature. It is interesting to note that the same concept is borne out in Rabbinic literature. There are several passages found in Jewish literature which combine Jonah 1:17 (“Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights”) with the Old Testament passages listed in the above paragraph.16 Furthermore, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (lived ca. A.D. 100), who was the tenth in the descent from Ezra, stated: “A day and night are an Onah [‘a portion of time’] and the portion of an Onah is as the whole of it.”17
In conclusion, when one examines all the evidence, it seems that the New Testament, the Old Testament, and Rabbinic literature all agree that a part of a day is counted as a whole day-and-night. Thus, the expressions: “the three days and three nights,” “after three days,” and “on the third day” are all one and the same time span. These all support the fact that Christ was crucified on Friday and was resurrected on Sunday.
Having examined the three different views, it was concluded that the Friday date for the crucifixion is the most acceptable. Both the Wednesday and Thursday views are basically built on one verse, namely, Matthew 12:40. These views are untenable because, first, the preponderance of Scripture would indicate Jesus’ crucifixion as having occurred on Friday, and, second, when one realizes that the Jews reckoned a part of a day as a whole day, these options no longer stand.
1)Thank you,dear sir,for the detailed explanation about “three days & three nights”.The contents of the Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ by Harold W.Hoehner are useful.
2)The discussions give the clue that Jonah was not necessarily to be in the belly of the great fish for nearly 72 hours (three full days & nights)when considering the idiomatic expression of “three days & three nights” but certainly he was in the belly of the fish for more than 24 hours as he was in the belly for at least one full day & night.As the Jews reckoned a part of day as a whole day,if Jonah was in the belly for one full day & parts of two days,then he was deemed to be considered in the belly of the fish for “three days &three nights.”It is really interesting to study the Word of God.
I understand the Friday/Sunday theory, and the majority teach it. Following the biggest crowd can get you into trouble. This theory only works if you do not interpret the Bible literally.
I have a question?
What do you do with the 3 nights. Genesis clearly explains what night is and in Jonah, the same Hebrew word is used.! Jesus also said " 3 nights". Again, there are separate Greek words for day and night.
If Jesus had said "3 days", I would have no problem with the popular theory.
One thought is that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a "Sabbath"?
If that occurred on Thursday, Wednesday would also be a "preparation day".
Could there be more than one Sabbath in a particular week?
Johnny, I have not thought about this in a long time but the issue revolves around when a Jewish day begins and ends but at sunrise and sunset (6am to 6pm).