Jonah Chapter 2: Type of Christ,

Oct 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Jonah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jonah Chapter 2: Type of Christ,

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,

Chapter 2 is Jonah’s prayer and God’s answer to that prayer. Jonah prayed “out of the [great] fish’s belly.” It was a miracle that, having been swallowed, he was alive and could pray.

Comment: Jonah maintained his senses sufficiently to pray amidst the darkness and horror of the traumatic experience.

Jonah 2:2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

“I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD.” Right away Jonah’s words tell us that he  was writing after the incident. He was reflecting back on what he had experienced while sinking in the water and being in the whale’s belly. Probably the thought of his disobedience was a greater “affliction” to him than being tossed into the sea.

Verse 2 begins to tell the subject matter of Jonah’s prayer. God heard Jonah “out of the belly of hell [Hebrew sheol].” Jonah likened the belly of the whale to a pit, or grave, in which one is buried.

Some use this verse in trying to prove there is a consciousness after death. They assume that Jonah died when he was swallowed but was still conscious, and they then quote Matthew 12:40 with that implication: “For as Jonas was [dead but conscious] three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be [dead but conscious] three days and three nights in the heart [bowels] of the earth.” When this text is taken figuratively, we would use two alternative explanations. (1) An abundance of Scriptures tell about the condition of the dead. (2) This analogy is like Satan’s being in the presence of God and reasoning about Job, as stated in Job 1:6, but that setting is an exception to the general tenor. To harmonize all Scripture, Job 1:6 has the connotation of an allegory rather than a reality.

Comment: Psalm 115:17 states, “The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.”

Reply: That text and similar Scriptures which show death to be a condition of unconsciousness and silence certainly refute the thought that verse 2 proves there is consciousness in death. The  testimony of the Scriptures as a whole overrides and corrects any preconceived or prejudiced opinion so that one can properly evaluate and weigh the signification of a particular text.

Comment: The Companion Bible shows what some scholars have in mind. For verse 17 of the previous chapter, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah,” the comment is as follows: “Not therefore kept alive in the fish’s mouth as some imagine. When thus swallowed up, Jonah must have died and thus became a type of Christ. He would have been no type if he had been miraculously kept alive.”

Reply: The Bible scholars are in a dilemma.

Comment: Based on verse 1, some Bible scholars reason that the fact Jonah prayed implies he was alive and conscious.

Reply: The dilemma is still not resolved with the Bible scholars, for some reason that Jonah’s experience represents consciousness after death, as read in the Companion Bible.

To harmonize Jonah’s and Jesus’ experiences, we refer to Psalm 18. In applying Jonah as a type of Christ, rather than of the Church (which he also pictures in some respects), we need to consider Jesus’ swooning condition while on the Cross. When a person is weak and losing  blood, he goes into a semicomatose state, and that is what happened to Jesus. He felt death encompassing him about. “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me…. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters” (Psa. 18:4,5,16). Jesus was alive and conscious, but he was feeling death at the door. In this weakened condition, a lot of experiences came before his mind, causing him to cry out and groan to his Father in prayer. Psalm 22 gives details of his innermost thinking. In this semicomatose state, it was almost as if he were in the grave already, even though he was still alive and crying to the Father that his prayer would be answered.

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man, who was in “hell,” cried from the tomb (Luke 16:22-24). The spiritual lesson for this figurative picture depicts the Diaspora, which has taken place down through the Gospel Age. Not wetting the tongue of the rich man, not giving even a drop of water to him, as he saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom is an allegory, or a picture, not a reality. The tomb was a picture of death. In the parable, both the rich man and Lazarus died, yet they were very much alive, one in Abraham’s bosom and the other where he was being tortured for want of water and moisture. From that standpoint, Jonah’s  belly and the picture of parts of three days could have a double application—one pertaining to Jesus’ spirit and the other to the Church down through the Gospel Age.

Q: Does Jonah also prefigure the Jewish nation, which was disobedient? The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus shows the rich man, the Jew, in a condition of figurative hell, wanting a drop of water on his tongue. The Diaspora lasted for parts of three days—for parts of the fifth, sixth, and seventh thousand-year “days” of the Gospel Age.

A: Yes, that analogy can be drawn based on the parable. During the Diaspora, the Jews had a sensation that they must have done something wrong in order to incur the despoiling of their Temple and their being cast out into Gentile nations without a homeland.

We like to use the illustration of swooning, where one feels he is dying. Jesus’ being in a semicomatose state on the Cross was as though he were in the grave—the grave was encroaching on him. He prayed to his Father, and his Father heard him, so that Jesus finished with a triumphant voice after having felt forsaken. The feeling of being forsaken was a new experience for him, but it was necessary as part of the ransom sacrifice. As Adam, who was naked, had a guilt complex after sinning and hid behind a tree with Eve, so Jesus had to experience that guilt feeling as part of the offset price for the curse, even though he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and sinless. Thus Jesus was alive on the Cross for a time, but the feeling of death encompassed him prior to his decease.

We will again consider Psalm 18, written by David as stated in the superscription. There is some similarity between parts of this Psalm and Jonah’s sentiments in the belly of the whale. Psalm 18 is spiritual, yet David equated it with his own experience. He was involved as a person, expressing his emotions (as proven by verse 50, which mentions him by name), yet those emotions are also prophetic. They describe being in the grave but not really, or literally, being there. It is the thought of being surrounded by death, as Jonah said when in the belly of the great fish. In fact, in some ways, when the Hebrew is compared, Jonah’s words are almost as though he was quoting parts of Psalm 18. For example, the “holy temple” is mentioned in Jonah 2:4 (see Psa. 18:6), and there was no Temple, just a Tabernacle, when David wrote the Psalm. Thus more is involved in Psalm 18 than just the expression of David’s feelings.

We are tying in Jonah with Psalm 18 to show not merely that there is some relationship but that the relationship is favorable with regard to Jonah. For him to quote from the Psalms shows that he was familiar with and had studied the Old Testament and made it a part of his own expressions. Jesus, too, quoted parts of some Psalms as if they were his own feelings.

Jonah’s familiarity with Scripture is one reason why God recognized him as a prophet in spite of all his faults. When the Apostle Peter was praying on the roof and saw a vision of unclean animals being let down in a sheet, he said in effect, “All my life I have abstained from eating anything common or unclean” (Acts 10:9-14). This little statement speaks volumes about how devoted Peter was in trying to serve the Lord and obey the Law. Similarly, Jonah’s familiarity with the Psalms and his quoting little phrases verbatim show that he was a godly man who thought on the Lord’s Word. Therefore, with each fault Jonah had, we should try to find something good about him.

Another favorable indication for Jonah is that he was willing to give his life to calm the waters for the others on the ship. He told them to cast him into the sea, showing that he was willing to die to benefit others. We are reminded of Jesus and also of Moses and Paul. Considering favorable points about Jonah helps us to keep a proper perspective, for the negative qualities are so glaring that they becloud what the Lord liked about Jonah. In spite of the shortcomings, God continued to deal mercifully with Jonah.

No doubt Jonah had fled from obeying the Lord’s command to give a judgment message to Nineveh because of his sense of justice and righteous indignation. He felt that the Ninevites deserved punishment as enemies of God and of Israel and for their great sins. As stated earlier, his righteous indignation reminds us of Ananias, who remonstrated when told by the Lord to go to Saul so “that he might receive his sight.” “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9:12-14). Nevertheless, the Lord told Ananias to go to Saul. Another instance of righteous indignation was when James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy Samaritans who were not amenable to the gospel.

Comment: Jonah’s righteous indignation was good, but he went overboard.

Reply: Yes, he went beyond the Lord’s parameters just as James and John did. Their motive was good—being so supportive of Jesus—but they went too far in wanting death for anyone who acted against their beloved Master. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55). Thus God was dealing with Jonah, but He was also educating him and helping him develop his character in the proper direction.

Jonah 2:3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

Comment: Jonah got the point, namely, that God had cast him into the deep and that God’s billows and waves had passed over him. The mariners were the agents, but Jonah recognized that this experience had come from the Lord.

Reply: Yes, Jonah recognized that he was responsible, and he was willing to pay the penalty by being cast into the sea.

Comment: Jonah’s statement about the billows and the waves was another quote from the Psalms. “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (Psa. 42:7).

Comment: Jonah prefigures Jesus, as shown in Psalm 69:1,15. “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul…. Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”

Reply: Yes, in the rivers of death that encompassed Jesus in connection with the Crucifixion, this sensation of the pit, darkness, and death pressed in on him, and he did not want to become forever extinct. Horrible as it was, the thought of dying and never having an awakening was a necessary part of his experience. The dying process was accelerated on Jesus, who was a perfect man, so that on the Cross he was crying out of sheol, as it were, even though he had not yet died. His sacrifice pacified justice, which was crying for satisfaction in regard to pulling the human family down into death.

Jonah 2:4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

Why did Jonah use the word “again” in his prayer? Originally, he had fled from God’s    presence. Now he was penitent and would turn again to God’s holy temple, to God’s presence and favor.

Jonah was writing after the fact and looking back upon his emotions and actions in the belly of the whale. First, he experienced the trauma of feeling like an outcast: “I am cast out of thy sight.” He felt ostracized for his disobedience. However, while in total darkness in the belly of the whale, he had a consciousness of the Temple and, therefore, prayed in that direction as best he could under the circumstances. In faith, he offered his prayer in harmony with Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple. Solomon had said in effect, “When people pray toward this edifice, they are helping God to answer their prayer.” A Jew in southern Israel prayed northward, and one in northern Israel prayed southward. And in Babylon, Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem. If done in the proper spirit, obeying the jot and tittle of the Law is commendable, for it prepares one to be in a receptive and acceptable mood for the Lord to favorably answer prayer.

Comment: For verses 3-9, there are many Psalm references in the King James margin, showing Jonah’s familiarity with Scripture.

Reply: Some of the references are probably direct, and others are a little strained but illustrate the principle. However, even with ourselves, if we carefully study the Old Testament, our vocabulary will reflect certain words and expressions. In other words, we indoctrinate ourselves by submitting to the reading.

Comment: Please explain once more the clause “yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.”

Reply: Jonah made this statement while in a down mood, while feeling cast out of God’s sight. He was praying for help—just as some grabbed the horns of the Brazen Altar in the Court of the Tabernacle as a last resort. Of course while in total darkness in the great fish, Jonah could not distinguish the direction of the Temple, so he probably prayed somewhat along the following lines. “Lord, you understand my situation and dilemma, but my desire is to pray toward your Temple. Please forgive me if I am facing in the wrong direction.” Jonah’s prayer attitude in this adverse circumstance was certainly favorable to his character. It is interesting how God humors and honors our sincere efforts, even with all of our imperfections.

Sometimes when we, as Christians, have a particular burden in prayer, we might try to face the north, that is, toward the Pleiades. Just as the Jew prayed toward the Temple, so the Christian can try to pray toward the Pleiades. God said to Job, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” (Job 38:31). We might actually be facing the wrong direction, but God knows that our heart intention is to try to cooperate in the best manner possible for Him to hear our prayer when, for example, we are in a particular low. God takes special note of every little bit of devotion and reverence toward Him—with regard to habits, dress, mannerisms, words, or whatever. Promotion does not come from the east, south, or west but from the north (Psa. 75:6). Therefore, it can be very helpful for the Christian to pray in the direction of the north.

Jonah had the sensation of being cast out of God’s sight, and so did Jesus when (1) in the Garden of Gethsemane he said his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and (2) he cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Each time a spasm of feeling like an outcast overwhelmed his soul. Not only was he impaled on a tree, but also he was placed between two thieves, making him feel like a malefactor. Moreover, his nakedness on the Cross corresponded to Adam’s feeling of guilt. The feeling of being cast off, brief as it was, was a necessary experience to help perfect Jesus as an understanding High Priest.

Jonah 2:5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

When Jonah was cast into the sea by the mariners, the account suggests that he felt he may have been able to swim, normally speaking, but the seaweed kept entangling him, thwarting every effort he made to get to the surface for oxygen. As he was sinking in the sea and becoming increasingly entangled, the situation looked more and more hopeless, as though the wave of death was surely coming upon him. At this juncture, the whale opened its mouth and took Jonah in, supplying him with the oxygen he so desperately needed. Thus, as Jonah now realized, Providence had provided a temporary, though strange, restoration.

In any event, just as Jonah had an emotional experience, so Jesus had to feel separated from God, and both got a temporary restoration. Jesus’ strong cry on the Cross, “It is finished!” was a cry of triumph and victory. He now knew that all was not lost. He had done his best and then left the matter in the Father’s hands. Only for a brief time was it essential that he experience the feeling of guilt, for he had to bear the curse as part of the ransom price. No doubt he had seen several crucifixions before his own death took place, and crucifixion is a most cruel and inhumane type of death.

If we, like Jonah, had the sensation of being trapped in seaweed, with the seaweed wrapping around our neck, how frightening the experience would be! Even in a pond with an abundance of lily pads, people can drown when their feet get entangled in the roots, so to have seaweed around our head would be frightening.

Perhaps the great fish wanted to eat a morsel of seaweed, and Jonah providentially happened to be there when the fish opened its mouth. Jonah was thus ingested into its belly along with the seaweed.

Comment: Weeds wrapped around Jonah’s head, and similarly a crown of thorns was placed on Jesus’ head. The thorns came from indigenous weeds that were growing near Jerusalem.

Reply: Yes. The thorns were very sharp and uncomfortable, although they were more delicate and not the large, hard type we often see in this country. The thorns on certain types of weeds are sometimes even prone to be a little poisonous.

Q: Geographically, where did this incident occur?

A: Jonah had been fleeing from Joppa, Israel, to Tarshish, Spain. The boat was in transit, and we do not know how far he got before the whale swallowed him. Perhaps the whale was making the return trip. Let us say, then, that the parts of three days and three nights were the time (and distance) that Jonah had fled from Israel. In other words, the whale reversed direction from the route the boat was following, and it took that long for Jonah to be vomited out on dry land back where he had started.

Incidentally, while Jonah was alive in the whale’s belly for parts of three days and nights and Jesus was dead for that length of time, there is no problem in trying to tie in their experiences, for emotions and certain experiences should not be technically analyzed. Jesus had the feeling of sheol and absence from God before he died. Jonah’s praying in the whale’s belly is comparable to Jesus’ praying on the Cross, while waves of sheol were encompassing him and he feared perpetual darkness.

Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

“I went down to the bottoms of the mountains.” As Jonah was sinking in the water, he had the  sensation, or consciousness, of going down, down, down, before the whale swallowed him. What an emotional trauma for the prophet! “The earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.” Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Apostle Peter’s rock testimony that he was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16,18).

Q: Did Jonah sink way down in the sea before the whale swallowed him?

A: Yes. We do not think that when Jonah was cast into the sea, the whale’s mouth was already open and the prophet landed direct—like a dog catching in midair meat that is thrown to him.

Rather, Jonah had these other sensations prior to actually being swallowed.

And another thought seems to be included here. The experience seemed to be like doomsday to Jonah. After he was swallowed by the whale, he sensed, from its belly, that it was going into a deep dive. Jonah felt this was the end of his life—he had the sensation that the experience was forever and that there was no exit from this prison.

“Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption [the pit], O LORD my God.” The King James margin, the RSV, and the NIV have “pit,” which is probably correct.

Jonah 2:7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

Verse 7 repeats the thought of the “holy temple.” “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD.” Being in a down condition of heart, Jonah appealed to the real court of last resort, the heavenly throne, God’s “holy temple.” The down condition would have lasted a little while, but we do not know how long.

In a severe trauma of life, some people cry aloud in prayer. They may even cast themselves down on the floor or ground and be in a prostrate position as they tearfully cry out to the Lord for help.

Q: Is the thought that Jonah was referring not to the literal Temple but to God’s throne?

A: Solomon said, “The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee [O God]; how much less this house [Temple] that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27). In other words, “Who can build a temple to contain thee, O God?” But nevertheless, God instructed Solomon to build a Temple.

The physical structure is symbolic of God’s sanctuary in heaven, from which He can answer the petitions of those who call upon Him for mercy and help.

Comment: We do not have to go to Jerusalem to know that we are in favor with God, but there is something special about being there.

Reply: Yes, there are some benefits. If the Lord opens the door, we should take advantage of the opportunity to visit Israel and Jerusalem.

A peculiar phenomenon will be experienced by some at the end of this age; namely, a Christian may be guiltless of certain things, but circumstantial evidence can result in an innocent person’s feeling guilty of the accusation. Consider Jesus at the time of his crucifixion. Jehovah’s hand was heavy on Jesus, and although it did not crush him, it came very close to doing so. And the closer the trial gets to the crushing point, the greater the individual becomes who survives the experience. It is like a horse that is being trained. The wilder that horse is, the greater the end result can be. As the animal is being broken and broken, it becomes an obedient servant to the one who is riding and taming it. A bond develops between horse and rider. The same principle applied to Jehovah and His Son. The Son was always obedient, but obedience under such crucial pressure knit that bond even closer than it could have been otherwise. Thus the experience was necessary for a number of reasons.

The point is that a person can get the sensation of guilt without being guilty, and we would not be surprised if this is one of the trials at the end of the age because the whole Christian world will not understand the behavior of the Lord’s true saints. The stand of the feet members will be a complete enigma to others. Having a phalanx of the religious and civil world viewing and accusing them as a cult can produce the feeling in the innocent feet members that they indeed are members of a cult—when actually their lives are the furthest they could be from what the accusation states.

Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

The wording of verse 8 is sort of puzzling in the King James Version. The NIV is better: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” For one of the Lord’s children in the Gospel Age to look elsewhere for help, or for a Jew to look to a heathen idol, instead of to the Lord, the merciful God, would mean a forfeiture of grace. Jonah was now pleading to Jehovah, Israel’s God, his God, for help.

Jonah 2:9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

“But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving.” What does the term “voice of thanksgiving” mean? Under the Law, an offering of thanksgiving was accompanied by sacrifice and the giving of thanks. As Christians, we should be thankful not only to the Lord but also for small courtesies shown to us. God appreciates such thanksgiving.

Comment: The Apostle James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2). In retrospect, the situation worked out for Jonah’s good because he was rightly exercised. He was really renewing his consecration by saying, “I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Reply: The temptations themselves are not the joy but the aftereffects when one is rightly exercised. Paul said, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). Now, after the fact, after being in the whale, Jonah renewed his consecration and was determined to mend his ways and to obey the Lord.

Comment: Verse 9 expresses Jonah’s repentance. Perhaps parts of three days and nights were needed for him to get to that point, and now he would pay what he had vowed. His original vow was to do the Lord’s will, but he had refused to go to Nineveh. Now his heart was saying, “I will do what you want, Lord.” At that point, God spoke to the fish.

“I will pay that that I have vowed.” What did Jonah vow? He had vowed to do the Lord’s will. The Ancient Worthies gave their hearts to the Lord just as we do in the Gospel Age.

Jonah was now ready to obey the Lord and go to Nineveh. Why was the statement “Salvation is of the LORD” inserted here? We are all feeble and imperfect, and many Christians fall. God will save those whose repentance and contrition are sincere. He could have let Jonah drown, but He saved Jonah to serve as a type of Jesus and the thinking of Jewry.

Some Bible critics who have tried to show inconsistencies feel that verses 3-9 were an arbitrary later insertion into the narrative. That thought may be true, but if so, the Holy Spirit overruled the insertion. Certainly verses 3-9 give us an insight into Jonah; they are a window into his soul, revealing the inner man. Verses 1 and 2 say, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” Verse 10 states, “And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” In other words, God answered Jonah’s prayer. We have no problem viewing the prayer as a later insertion—a very helpful one.

Sometimes in our Christian walk, we do not recognize until years afterwards that God has answered a particular prayer. When the realization comes to us, we feel guilty that we prayed for help and did not acknowledge and thank Him for the answer. Moreover, we should thank Him for the providences and/or trials that induced us to do His will.

Q: How can Jonah picture the Church, for he went in the opposite direction from doing God’s will?

A: As we very carefully stated, in understanding the various representations of Jonah, we must keep in mind that only certain segments of the book apply to Jesus, the Church, or the Jewish nation. For example, Jesus is pictured as the Second Adam, but he is the Second Adam in the sense of being a Life-giver. Adam disobeyed God, he sinned, the curse came upon him, etc., but those facets of his life are not the representation of our Lord. Jesus is the Second Adam from the standpoint of being a Father of a regenerated human race. Jonah, too, was disobedient, but certain acts of his experience have a likeness to Jesus, some parts apply to the Church during the Gospel Age, and other parts have an application to the Jewish Diaspora.

The Book of Jonah is not like a type, in which every detail has an antitypical fulfillment. A parable is different. A parable is a very real, concrete truth that teaches a tangible lesson, but it does not have the details of a type. Also, there are figurative and allegorical statements. For example, the Book of Job starts out with an allegory about Satan’s being in God’s presence and murmuring about how much God was doing for Job. Of course Satan was not literally in God’s presence. The purpose of the allegory is to give us a background of Satan’s thinking in afflicting Job. God permitted the afflictions with the stipulation that Satan could not take Job’s life. Therefore, depending on the context, we can be selective in drawing pictures. Some matters are very mathematical, and some are not.

Comment: However, in regard to Jonah’s picturing the Church class, there are times when the Christian may not be as obedient as he should be. Following such times, he will, hopefully, come to his senses through providences, Scriptures, etc., and repent. Therefore, the principle of Jonah’s repentance does seem to apply to the consecrated.

Jonah 2:10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

In considering verse 10, we will read verses 1 and 2 of the next chapter. “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” If verse 10 becomes verse 1 of chapter 3, there is more definition. God had just commanded the great fish to vomit out Jonah, and the prophet had been deposited on dry land. God then spoke to Jonah the second time, telling him to arise and go to Nineveh. The suggestion is that Jonah was now back where he had started from. The boat must have gone parts of a three days’ journey away from Joppa so that when the whale swallowed Jonah and turned around, the return trip also took parts of three days. Then the whale spewed out Jonah on the dry seashore at Joppa. For the second time, Jonah was given the same commission from the same starting point.

Comment: With the interpretation that Jonah represents the Jewish people or a segment of them, the fact that he was returned to where he had started from would fit well because not until after the Jews are back in their land following Jacob’s Trouble will they be ready to be the instrument of blessing to the Gentiles. After the Diaspora, which was like being in “hell,” as shown in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Jews returned to the land of Israel. Following Jacob’s Trouble, the Kingdom will be inaugurated with the Ancient Worthies and the Holy Remnant.

Reply: Portions of the Book of Jonah can be presented three different ways in antitype: (1) Jonah pictures Jesus, (2) he represents The Christ class in the Gospel Age, and (3) he pictures the Jewish nation. Yes, with regard to the third representation, the Jewish nation will start over again. This theme with Israel and the Jewish people is also shown by the type of Noah, who, after the Flood, started over the second time with a new “heavens” and a new “earth.”

Q: Is the fact that God “spoke” to the great fish significant? It sounds as if God was actually communicating with the fish.

A: God’s voice can create in itself. He speaks and the act is done. In some cases, it seems His will is accomplished in a natural way, and at other times, He sends someone or an agent to perform His will. However, God’s voice itself is like an invisible shaping power. Thus His Spirit could speak to the fish, and the fish would obey. God commanded, and out came Jonah as the great fish vomited him forth. To repeat: God speaks and it is done. Even if there is no one to perform the command, it is done anyway, for God’s voice has both a shaping and a creating influence of its own. For example, He said, “Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).

Q: Prior to the Fall, didn’t Adam have some control over the animals?

A: Yes, and he even had control over the fish of the sea.

Comment: The NIV has the word “commanded” instead of “spake” for verse 10.

Reply: The word “spake” is a good rendering, for when Jehovah speaks, it is a commandment.

Comment: If we had a sufficiency of faith, we could probably do some unusual things according to God’s will. For instance, Jesus said, “If ye have faith, and doubt not, … ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done” (Matt. 21:21).

Reply: Faith has a tremendous power, but since we are an imperfect vessel, we cannot have a sufficiency of the kind of faith that would literally remove a mountain. However, a divine being could do this. Evidently, God will share some of His power with Jesus and the Bride class.

Comment: Moses prayed for the earth to open up and swallow the disobedient, and it did (Num. 16:28-33).

Reply: Moses prayed in effect, “Let happen what has not happened since creation. Let the earth open its mouth and quickly swallow up these rebellious people.” And the account says, “And it came to pass, as he [Moses] had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground [immediately] clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation” (Num. 16:31-33).

Just as Adam had control over the beasts of the field, the fish of the sea, and so forth, so God exercised that same power just by speaking. When His verbal command “Let it be done” goes forth, the matter is immediately operational. The whale vomiting Jonah forth on dry land was all prefigured because later, when those in Nineveh heard what had happened to him, they thought their “great one,” their god, had come, especially since nin meant “fish” in their religion. Similarly, Dagon, the fish god, was the deity of the Philistines. Just as the Jews have a prophecy that Messiah is coming, so the Ninevites believed that their fish god would come at some time in the future and visit them. Thus they regarded Jonah as the visitation of their great prophet to them as a people. Now we can understand why they repented, going to extreme measures. The experience had a favorable influence on Nineveh.

By extension, we can appreciate the depth of anguish that the nation of Israel will experience when they realize in the near future that they put their own Messiah to death. Becoming aware of what they, as a people, did in their blindness will bring about a repentance so thorough and so visual that Gentiles will be only too willing to follow such a Jew (Zech. 8:23). The same is true with Christians. If others see a person—no matter how he lived previously—now truly converted to God and in the role of humiliation, the right-hearted individual will want to have that same experience in his own life. The Holy Remnant, who will accept Jesus at the time of Jacob’s Trouble, will be so exemplary and contrite that all the Gentile prejudice which has been cultivated and cultured over thousands of years will evaporate. Seeing this sincere change, the Gentiles will say, “Who are we to have such a feeling of prejudice?” The desire of the Gentile nations to gravitate to Jerusalem for instruction will be just as natural as the desire for water in the desert.

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