We have been looking at the Minor Prophets who wrote their books in the time frame of 600 to 500 years before the first Advent of Jesus Christ. After them, there was no message to the people of God until He decided to send His only Son to carry the message in person, giving it new life in living words from the Father. As you will recall, Jesus made a great thing about Who sent Him and that He only spoke the words that were given to Him by the Father who lived within Jesus. You remember that Jesus claimed that He could do no miracles without the Father, who was really doing the work.
You remember how the Lord spoke to Jeremiah saying, Jer 1: 5, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet to all nations.” And in Psalm 139, David records how well the Lord knew him, including the statement in verse two, “Thou understandest my thought from afar off.” So, we conclude that the Lord knew equally well the thoughts of Jonah, who was a loyal Israelite.
With all this knowledge, the Lord chose Jonah to take a message to the city of Nineveh of their impending doom so that they might be saved. Jonah, like many of the Israelite prophets could not understand why the Lord would protect those people whom He used to assault the Israelites when they were much worse than God’s people. So, Jonah decided to go west rather than east, the direction of his mission, taking a ship. Well, we know the story; Jonah was cast into the sea and was eaten by a large fish which delivered him to his destination where he warned the people who responded favourably in the eyes of God and were spared.
When God plans, He plans for eternity. Knowing the end from the beginning, He knew that Jesus would use this example to answer a question of the Jews. We find the question in Matthew. 12: 38-40, “Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee. But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and there shall be no sign given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas 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.” Jesus used the story of Jonah because He knew they would not understand it. Just as He told them to destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.
So, after those famous days in Jerusalem and we know what happened, we are aware of the meaning of the three days and three nights and we celebrate Jesus victory over death, burial, resurrection and ascension. This is the cornerstone of our faith. In 1Cor 16-18, “If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, you are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” So Paul has shown us the impact of our world if Christ be not raised.
And so, we believe!!
But it is fascinating to see how God used Jonah to save the Nineveh people while providing an answer for Jesus to be used a half millennium later.
God’s works are wondrous indeed!