Continuing in Matthew 12, was the account of Jonah real? Or was it just a story? Let’s look!
8 Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken [i.e. Nineveh–unless they repent!].
The first question we should ask is WHY is it important for Jonah’s account to be true? Let’s look at what the LORD Jesus said:
39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
Although, it’s not technically necessary for Jonah’s account to be historical for Jesus’ prophecy to be accurate, the reality of the account of Jonah adds much more weight to it. Also, there are several reasons why I think it is a factual account:
- Jonah was a real person. We first learn about him in 2 Kings 14:25, and he was a real prophet during the 8th century BC.
- Historically speaking, the book of Jonah was probably written between 300-400 BC as a literary account of Jonah’s miraculous adventure, meaning that not all facts line up with the historical timeline. For instance, there may have been about 100+ years’ difference between Jonah and the time that Nineveh was as grandiose as stated (120,000 population), but archeologists are guessing according to what they have ascertained from digs and the VERY FEW documents from that time. It doesn’t affect the historical validity of the book of Jonah; it happens many times when oral history is written down. The fact that God included it in the canon of His Word should be enough evidence for us.
- Jesus gave Jonah’s account great weight in his next statement:
41 “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.
The validity is in the context of the next verse, which lists the Queen of Sheba (the South), who was a real person and will do the same thing as the people of Nineveh on the day of judgement (1 kings 10:1-13).
The interesting part of Jonah for me is the fact that he ran away. He headed to Tarshish, which was at the Rock of Gibraltar at the tip of Spain and was the last port before heading out into the Atlantic. He may have been intending to catch a ship from there to parts unknown! But, God had other plans–2500+ miles the other direction! Take a look at these maps for a graphic study of his travels.
Maps of Jonah’s travels
The sign of Jonah that the LORD Jesus gives is the only one He gave to the Israelites–yes, He did many miracles and gave seven signs listed in the book of John, but the ONE to which He was referring was His Resurrection. It’s the sign that changed history and can change the hearts of Israel. The literal “three days and three nights” is what has led me to believe the historical argument that Jesus died on Wednesday, which was Passover Day (and had begun the evening before), the day before Preparation Day, which led to the feast of Unleavened Bread (a high Sabbath day which happened on Friday in March of 30 AD–which leads to a whole other discussion about the actual birthdate of Christ). All of that to say that Christ fulfilled the festivals to the day, and the Passover sacrifice to the hour (3:00). I believe that He will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets the same way with His Second Coming. The feast ended Sunday evening, so I am resetting my sights on next year.
“Next year in Jerusalem!”
I hope you followed me all the way to here. I believe that God put the Bible together for us to know Him better. It’s why I read it, study it, research it, ponder it, memorize it, and pray it every day. Let’s do it together, shall we?
Abba, I want to know You more, better, and as completely as I can on this side of heaven. Then, when I reach that point, TAKE ME TO HEAVEN TO BE WITH YOU! I will spend eternity learning about Your love, Your plan, and Your universe. Amen and amen!