Read Jonah 1: 1 – 17
Over the next few days I’ll be looking at the story of Jonah. It’s a story about a rebellious prophet, a wicked city, and the God of the second chance.
Many people find the book of Jonah hard to believe, so some critics have suggested different ways it should be interpreted:
1. Mythological: It’s a fascinating story, but it’s not supposed to be taken literally.
2. Allegorically: Jonah represents the Jews. The Great Sea represents the nations of the world. The whale symbolizes the Babylonians who held the Jews captive for 70 years. The entire story is simply an allegory filled with symbolism.
3. If you believe the Holy Word of God (and I do!!!), then the story of Jonah should be interpreted historically: It’s not a myth. It’s not an allegory. It’s an actual event in history. It truly happened.
How can we know? Two reasons:
1. Jonah is referred to in the Old Testament (2 Kings 14:25 –‘He reconquered all the territory that had belonged to Israel, from Hamath Pass in the north to the Dead Sea in the south. This was what the LORD, the God of Israel, had promised through his servant the prophet Jonah son of Amittai from Gath Hepher.’) He’s referred to as an actual person, he’s named as a prophet, ahd his hometown is identified – making him an actual, literal, historical person.
2. Jonah is referred to in the New Testament by Jesus himself. In Matthew 12 and 16, and also in Luke 11, Christ validates and verifies this Old Testament account.
Matt 12:38 – 41
38. Then some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees spoke up. "Teacher," they said, "we want to see you perform a miracle."
39. "How evil and godless are the people of this day!" Jesus exclaimed. "You ask me for a miracle? No! The only miracle you will be given is the miracle of the prophet Jonah.
40. in the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth.
41. On the Judgment Day the people of Nineveh will stand up and accuse you, because they turned from their sins when they heard Jonah preach; and I tell you that there is something here greater than Jonah!