(Or the Sign of Jonah)
Jonah was a prophet who the Lord called to go and preach to a city full of unbelievers. Jonah did not want to go, and so boarded a ship sailing the other direction. However, he could not get away from God and so the Lord sent a great storm to overtake them. Jonah knew this storm was God’s judgment and told the sailors to throw him into the sea where he was swallowed by a great fish. After three days in the belly of the fish Jonah repented for his disobedience, so the Lord had mercy on him and commanded the fish to spit him out. Once again the Lord spoke to Jonah, but this time he listened and went to preach to the wicked city. Upon hearing the word of the Lord the people of this city repented and turned to God.
After being thrown in the sea and swallowed by a fish Jonah was as good as dead. However, the Lord was not through with him and after three days brought him up from the depths of the earth. This is a picture of what the Lord will do through the coming sacrifice. Although the sacrifice will die on a cross, after three days he will be brought up again by the mercy of God.
Note: Jesus himself called the story a sign in Matthew 12:39, “The only sign I will give them is the sign of Prophet Jonah.” Jesus was saying that, like Jonah, he will be in the earth for three days before rising again. Even with this strong link to Jesus it may be best to go back and reference it only after we get to Jesus himself.
Just as David said that the great coming sacrifice will die on a cross, Jonah says that he will be raised up again after three days.
Optional use of the Quran:
– The story of Jonah is in the Qur’an but only in condensed form. Some of the key passages are The Prophets 21:87,88 and The Pen 68:48-50 where the Lord shows mercy and grace towards Jonah after he repents.