Summary: THe reaction of God to the diobedience of man.
Somedays you eat the fish and other days the fish eats you. Last week we began looking at the prophet Jonah and you will remember that I mentioned how he was an historical figure as far as the Old Testament is concerned. We are told that he prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II in 2 Kings 14. We also see that he was described as a historical individual in the New Testament as well. In three separate passages Jesus we find referring to Jonah. In Matthew 12:40 He said, "For as 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." And then in Matthew 16:4 He said, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah." And then in Luke 11:30 He said, "For as Jonah was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation."
So, not once but three times Jesus mentions Jonah and all three times He uses Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish to symbolize His own impending death, burial and resurrection.
The first year I attended London Baptist Bible College we had a chapel speaker by the name of Leander Roblin. He was one of the founding fathers of the Fellowship and he spoke about its origin. McMaster University was school all Baptist preachers in the general convention had studied at and they began drifting more and more to the left. It got to the point where some of the professors were openly mocking the students who held to the inerrancy of scripture. The students referred to themselves as fundamentalists because they believed in the fundamentals of the faith but the professors called them funny mentalists. At one point Mr. Roblin and a few other students were brought before the academic board to give an account of themselves for openly disagreeing with their professors.
The issue at hand was whether or not the Bible was the word of God. Those of the professors who held to what was referred to as the higher critical view started by saying, "Surely, you don’t expect us to believe that a man was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it?" In response Mr. Roblin asked them how much of the Bible they felt was inspired and they agreed only on the words of Jesus. He then read the passages where Jesus referred to Jonah and they all got mad at him and the meeting was over. So the reliability of Jonah’s story is as credible as the reliability of the words of Jesus.
The fact is, either a miracle took place or it didn’t. We believe God created the universe. He made something out of nothing. Is that rational? Of course not. It contradicts the first law of thermodynamics which says, "Matter can neither be created nor destroyed." Creation itself violates natural law. Hebrews 11:3 says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." If God was able to create a life-sustaining universe then why couldn’t He create a fish that would swallow and then sustain the life of a man within that fish for three days? The fact is, we have to accept this by faith just as we accept the account of creation.
What about the miracles of Jesus. Take a simple one like the feeding of the five thousand. He creates bread and fish. By doing this He is suspending the very laws of nature. To make bread one would have to prepare the soil, plant the seed, wait a few months for it to grow, harvest the seed and make flour, mix it with the other ingredients and bake it for a while. How does Jesus make bread? He just says, "Bread." And the same thing happens with the fish.
Personally from a rational perspective I would think people would wrestle more with the whole issue of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here we have a man who has died and then He was buried for the greater part of three days. His heart, brain, liver, kidneys and the entire circulatory system have not only been stopped but have been deteriorating for three days. The body has been laying in a cool, damp cave wrapped in a hundred pounds of spices. And then in a split second the power of God came upon Him and He rose up from the dead. In order to do that God would have to rearrange the molecular structure of every cell in His body. The fact is, either God performs miracles or He doesn’t. And the fact that Jonah was a real person was testified in both Old and the New Testaments.