Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Amazing Sign of Jonah

"I can't believe in God unless I see some kind of sign that He exists." I've heard people say things similar to this before. Maybe you have heard this from someone you love or even said it yourself. This is what the religious people wanted to see from Jesus -- some sort of sign to prove his divinity.

Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah." And He left them and went away. (Mat 16:4) Also see Luke 11:29, 30.

In fact, Jesus compared himself to Jonah, and said that the sign of the prophet Jonah would be given to this adulterous generation. This study examines that sign, comparing and contrasting the experiences of Jonah and Jesus on the sea. I'll put these comparisons side by side, so you can see them one by one, first about Jesus, and then about Jonah. (All references to the book of Jonah will be abbreviated Jon)

Jesus Jonah
Son of God gave the order to go across the lake to the other side (Mat 8:18) God told Jonah to go to Nineveh (Jon 1:2)
Jesus got into the boat to cross over and the disciples followed him (Mat 8:23) Jonah got into a boat and fled from the Lord’s presence. He disobeyed God, heading away from Nineveh (Jon 1:3)
Without warning, a furious storm came up on the sea. (Mat 8:24) There was a great storm on the sea (Jon 1:5)
The waves swept over the boat (Mat 8:23) The ship was about to break up (Jon 1:4)
Jesus was sleeping in the boat (Mat 8:24) Jonah was sleeping in the boat (Jon 1:5)
The disciples in the boat cried out in fear for their lives to the Son of God (Mat 8:25) The sailors in the boat became afraid and every man cried to his god (Jon 1:5, 10)
The disciples went and woke Jesus (Mat 8:25) The captain approached Jonah and woke him (Jon 1:6)
The disciples expected the Son of God to save them from the storm (Mat 8:25) The captain expected the God of Jonah to save him and his crew from the storm. The sailors called on the Lord to save them. (Jon 1:6, 14)
Jesus is the Lord God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land (John 1:1-3) Jonah feared the Lord God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land (Jon 1:9)
Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves of the sea (Mat 8:26) Jonah was thrown into the sea (Jon 1:15)
The sea became perfectly calm The sea stopped its raging (Jon 1:15)
The key to the sea becoming calm again was Jesus being in the boat The key to the sea becoming calm again was getting Jonah out of the boat (Jon 1:11, 12)
The disciples were amazed at the power and authority of the Son of God. They took note that the winds and waves obeyed Him. (Mat 8:27) The sailors feared the Lord greatly after the sea became calm, and they offered sacrifices to Him and made vows (Jon 1:16)
A fish has represented Jesus for centuries, because of the Greek Ikhthus (ΙΧΘΥΣ) acronym (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior) that means fish. The Lord ordained that Jesus would be crucified and die on a cross. (Mat 20:18,19 and Luk 9:22) The LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah (Jon 1:17 and Is 53:10)
Jesus died to save us from God's wrath. Yet, unlike Jonah, He never sinned, and the wrath was on account of our own sins. (Rom 5:91 and Thes 1:10) When Jonah asked them to throw him into the sea, he was willing to die to save them from the wrath of God. (Jon 1:12)
Jonah seems to have died of drowning before the sea creature swallowed him (Jon 2:5-7).
Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Mat 12:39, 40) Jonah's body was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jon 1:17)
Jesus went down to the dead. In 180 AD, Irenaeus of Lyons wrote, “…the Lord went away into the midst of the shadow of death where the souls of the dead were…” In 350 AD, Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, "(Christ) descended into the subterranean regions so that He might ransom from there the just...” (1 Pet 3:19 and Ac 10:40) When Jonah died, he cried to the Lord from Sheol (the subterranean world of the dead). (Jon 2:2)
Many people repented at the preaching of Jesus (Mat 12:41) The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah (Jon 3:1-10)
After three days in the heart of the earth, Jesus rose from the dead. (Luke 24 and John 20, and 1 Cor 15:3-5) After three days in the belly of the sea monster, the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. He was raised back to life again by the Lord. (Jon 2:6, 10)

My friend, you've got your sign.  Jesus, One Who is greater than Jonah, has come and walked among us (Mat 12:41, Luke 11:32).  He Himself is a sign, as Simeon said of Him to Mary, His mother, "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against..." (Lk 2:34).

After Jesus rose from the dead, he manifested himself (appeared) to the disciples by the sea where they were fishing. There he was by the seaside, cooking a piece of fish on the charcoal fire. He gave them some of the fish and they ate breakfast together. John 21:9

"The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luk 11:32)

The Greek word for fish, ikhthus (ichthys in borrowed words), spelled, in Greek characters, Iota-Chi-Theta-Upsilon-Sigma (ΙΧΘΥΣ looks like IXOYE in Roman alphabet characters) is regarded as an acronym for Ιησως Χριστος Θεου `Υιος Σωτερ (or, in Roman alphabet characters, Iesou (Jesus) Christos (anointed) Theou (of God) Uios (son) Soter (saviour)), which means Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour.

According to "Knowledge Rush" encyclopedia, "One of the signs for Christianity is the fish. The reason for this dates from some early societies of Christians who protected themselves and their congregations by keeping their meetings secret. In order to point the way to ever-changing meeting places, they developed a symbol which adherents would readily recognize, and which they could scratch on rocks, walls and the like, in advance of a meeting. The fish was chosen as eminently apropos." 

What's Your Response to the Sign
When you are driving your car and see a road sign warning that there's danger ahead, you heed the road signs, because you know you could die if we don’t respond properly to the sign.

Jesus has given us in Himself the sign of Jonah. What should our response be at this sign?

First, we should repent with the same wholehearted fervor as the men of Nineveh.  If we do turn from our wicked way, then God will relent concerning the calamity that He had declared He would send on us and we will not perish. If we don’t repent, the men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment and condemn us.

Second, we should believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and receive forgiveness for our sins. Remember that Jesus said the sign he would show was that he would be in the belly of the earth for only three days and three nights, as Jonah was temporarily in the belly of the great fish. Just as it was a miracle that Jonah made it out of the fish alive, it was a miracle that Jesus came back out of the grave. This is the most remarkable aspect of the sign Jesus gave to the world.

The apostle Paul wrote: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (Rom 10:9). This means that there are two very important things you must do to be saved. The first is to confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. That means you say out loud that He is Lord over your life personally and Lord of the Universe. And the second thing you need to do is to believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.

This takes us back to the sign Jesus gave us. He is no longer in the grave. After three days, He rose again. What will be your response to this sign? Let me encourage you today to repent of your own sin and believe on Jesus Christ. Confess that He is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. And as the Scriptures say, “You will be saved.”

Will you repent of your sins, and put your trust in Jesus today to save you?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: I recommend my other posts called, "Jesus Christ Descended Into Hell," "Trumpet Sounds Heard Around the World," "Something's Going on in 2012" You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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