â€œNow the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.â€ (Jonah 1:17)
The Bibleâ€™s most famous â€œfish storyâ€ has been the target of skeptics for hundreds of years, but it was confirmed by none other than the one who Himself had prepared the great fish: â€œFor as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whaleâ€™s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and nights in the heart of the earthâ€ (Matthew 12:40).
Jonah may actually have died and gone to â€œhell.â€ â€œOut of the belly of hell [Hebrew Sheol] cried I,â€ said Jonah, â€œand thou heardest my voiceâ€ (Jonah 2:2). The testimony of Jesus was similar: â€œThou wilt not leave my soul in hell [i.e., Sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruptionâ€ (Psalm 16:10; also Acts 2:27). Jonah also prayed: â€œYet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my Godâ€ (Jonah 2:6). His prayer ended: â€œSalvation is of the LORDâ€ (v. 9), and this is the very meaning of the name â€œJesus.â€
Thus, 900 years before Christ died and rose again, Jonah died and rose again, a remarkable prophetic type of the mighty miracle that the Lord would accomplish one day to bring salvation and life to a world dead in sin. Only the power of God could direct a prepared fish to save Jonah, then three days later allow him to preach repentance and salvation to the lost souls in Nineveh.
Then, finally God Himself, in Christ, died on a cross for the sins of the world, and this time it took the infinite power that created the very universe itself to bring His own soul back from hell and, three days later, to rise again. This is â€œthe exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the deadâ€ (Ephesians 1:19-20). Truly, â€œa greater than Jonas is hereâ€ (Matthew 12:41). HMM