January 27, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
Jonah as a Type?
“As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly;
so shall the Son of Man be.”
Grace is indeed amazing! It punctuates our Bibles in some of the least expected places. It is most fitting to think of Joseph, David, or Boaz as pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ. We delight to consider the types of Leviticus and see in them depths of truth, unfolding something of Calvary to our hearts. Passover and the exodus of the children of Israel, the Red Sea and the Jordan, all afford excellent pictures of His Person and work.
But Jonah? Who would ever pick up a disobedient prophet and his chastening (discipline) by God and use him as an illustration of the Lord Jesus? Well, the Lord Jesus did!
“As Jonah 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.” (Matthew 12:40). Divine grace picks up a man at his lowest, and employs him as a picture of Jesus at His best — if we can ever use that term for Him Whose every moment was ‘best’.
Look then at Jonah 2 and consider some of the experiences of Jonah:
“Cast into the deep” (v 2); “The floods compassed me about” (v 2); “All Thy waves and billows passed over me” (v 3); “I am cast out of Thy sight” (v 4); “I went down” (v 6). Notice just the prepositions: into, about, over, out, and then down. All of these tell of Jonah’s suffering. But they point on to the Lord Jesus.
He was immersed in the waters of judgment at Calvary. He was ‘cast out’ only in the sense that the enjoyment of the eternal fellowship He had with God was interrupted; He ‘sank’ with no place to stand (Ps 69:2) as the crushing judgment of God fell upon Him. He went ‘down’ and plumbed the ultimate depths of what sin had brought into the world.
Of course, the analogy is primarily to the three days in the grave and not the experience on the cross, but Christ’s sufferings preceded the three days; Jonah’s was during the three days. And as well, the analogy is to emphasize resurrection and not just His suffering. Yet, all this having been said, it is still insightful to consider the expressions used by Jonah for his suffering.
1. Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites. Was it his appearance (which must have been changed by three days in the fish’s belly), or was it the news of his miraculous ‘resurrection’ which was a sign to them?
2. Look at all the things and people in Matthew 12 that the Lord is greater than.