Key Verses: Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ 39 He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. Matthew 12:38-41
The account of Jonah and the Whale is one of the most famous stories in the Tanakh and Orthodox Jewish Brit Chadasha
. It is one of those stories that even people who never read the Tanakh know. When most people think of Jonah, they think of the man who ran from Hashem and was then swallowed up by a fish. Yet, only remembering the “fish story” part of Jonah means we miss the larger lesson from Jonah.
Throughout the book of Jonah, we see the similarities and contrasts between Jonah and Yeshua.
- Jonah spent three days inside the belly of a great fish because of his own sinfulness and rebellion. Yeshua spent three days inside the belly of the earth because of our sin and rebellion.
- Jonah ran from the difficult calling Hashem gave Him (Jonah 1:3). Yeshua perfectly obeyed the Father’s will, coming to earth and dying on the cross.
- Jonah was asleep on the ship during a storm caused by his own disobedience (Jonah 1:4-12). Yeshua slept on a boat during a storm, and “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:35-41). Jonah caused a storm. Yeshua had authority over the storm.
- Jonah feared the Creator who had authority on earth (Jonah 1:9). Yeshua is the Creator with all authority over heaven and earth (John 1:3; Matthew 28:18).
- In the fish, Jonah knew that “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Yeshua’ name means “Yahweh saves.” Yeshua is the way of salvation (Hebrews 5:9; Acts 4:12).
- Jonah became angry with Hashem for showing grace toward repentant sinners (Jonah 4:2). Yeshua modeled Hashem’s grace toward repentant sinners (Romans 3:24).
- Jonah was angry enough to die because of Hashem’s grace toward his enemies (Jonah 4:3). Yeshua was compassionate enough to die because of His love for his enemies (Romans 5:10).
Typology in the Book of Jonah
The book of Jonah presents a beautiful type of the resurrection of Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua from the dead.
Though some modernists argue that the concept of a bodily resurrection of Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua from the dead was unknown in Old Testament times, Yeshua demonstrated otherwise. He declared:
“[F]or as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the sea-monster; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt. 12:40).
Clearly, the Lord viewed Jonah’s three-day entombment as a foreshadowing of his resurrection from the grave, by which, of course, Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua was declared to be the Son of Hashem with power (Rom. 1:4).
The question we must ask is “are we more like Yeshua or Jonah?” The prayer we must pray is, “Make me more like Yeshua.”