I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t, and die to find out there is!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jonah spends three days and nights in the belly of a big fish – Truth or Fiction?

Interpretations of the Book of Jonah

Perhaps the greatest difficulty connected with this book is the matter of determining the method of interpretation. The following are the main theories of interpretation:

* ALLEGORICAL --- "An allegory is a story consisting of a series of incidents which are analogous to a parallel series of happenings that they are intended to illustrate." Thus: Jonah = Israel ....... Jonah's flight = Israel's failure to fulfill its spiritual mission to the nations ....... The "great fish" = Babylon, which swallows up Israel in the captivity ....... Spitting out Jonah = the restoration of Israel to their homeland ....... Etc ....... Etc. (Jeremiah 51:34 speaks of Babylon "swallowing" Israel "like a monster," and it "filled his stomach." Then, in vs. 44, God says He will "bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up.") --- Some regard this as biblical proof of their theory that Jonah is merely an allegory.

* PARABOLIC --- "A parable is a short, pithy story with a didactic aim." The moral of this story --- God's love for the nations. Jonah typifies "the narrow-minded, exclusive Jew with no love for the nations beyond its borders."

* MYTHICAL --- This point of view assumes that the whole story is nothing but a myth or legend which arose around some incident in the history of Israel.

* HISTORICAL --- This view holds that the narrative describes events which actually took place. This is the most likely view. Those who object to this view do so primarily on the basis of the miraculous element in the account (the "great fish" incident, for example). "Jesus placed His sanction on the story as historical fact ..... therefore, the historical interpretation is the only interpretation worthy of acceptance to all who believe that Jesus is the Christ"

The fact that this account should be regarded as historical, however, does not mean there are no parabolic or allegorical or spiritual lessons to be derived from it. However, the only way you can consider it a myth is to be a non-Christian, and ergo, not believe any of the miracles.

An Argument for the Historic Accuracy of the Book of Jonah

The story of Jonah spending three days and three nights in the belly of a big fish
has called forth much disbelief. I am not sure why. This is the story of another miracle and is no greater a miracle than the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus. So, I really can’t understand the disbelief.

The question each believer needs to ask him/herself is: Do I believe our God is capable of performing miracles, and am I ready to accept them ALL? If my answer is yes, then why do I have a problem with Jonah? Remember that the Jonah miracle was confirmed and vouched for by Jesus himself in Matthew 12:39-40. He vouches for this historicity and literalness of Jonah by seizing upon it as an example of His own literal Death and Resurrection.

If you have doubts as to the miracle of Jonah in the fish, your issue is not with the historic record of Jonah, but with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Also see Luke 11: 29-30. So… Christ said that the Book of Jonah is true. That settles the matter for all of those who believe in the authority of Christ. If you don’t believe in the authority of Christ, you probably should not even have read this far.

There is some room for speculation, but not on whether or not the story is accurate. We can speculate as to how Jonah survived in the big fish. Perhaps it is a simple as God protected him, just as He protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in The Fiery Furnace. Or could it be that Jonah actually died and was resurrected three days later?

Was the miracle one of keeping him alive, or was the miracle in raising him from the dead? Since The Book of Jonah illustrates the resurrection, I'm of the opinion that God raised him from the dead. But clearly that is my opinion and subject to debate.

In any event the Bible is full of accounts of God doing miracles. The Christian faith rests on the miracle of Christ's resurrection. Jonah and the big fish is simply another miracle.

God said it… I believe it!

Be blessed,




1 comment:

Aaron said...

"Am I ready to believe ALL of God's miracles and that He is capable of doing this one?"

I really enjoyed this post - it made me think about some of my own beliefs in my everyday life and if I limit God's abilities because of my own lack of faith. Thanks for encouraging me to think deeper and for the great post!

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