“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.”