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JONAH - "A PROPHET BROUGHT TO LIFE AGAIN"

SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE #7

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, July 17, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"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" (Jonah 2:6).


The great Reformer John Calvin, commenting on Christ's reference to Jonah in Matthew 12:40, said that Christ meant

…that in this He would be like to Jonah, for He would be a prophet brought to life again … as Jonah converted Nineveh, after having returned to life. This then is the simple meaning of the passage. Hence Jonah was not a type of Christ, because he was sent away unto the Gentiles, but because he returned to life again… (John Calvin, Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, Baker Book House, 1998 reprint, volume 3, p. 21).

Note Calvin's words carefully - Jonah was "a prophet brought to life again."

John MacArthur is supposed to be a Calvinist. But he often disagrees with Calvin. For instance, Dr. MacArthur says, "Jonah is a picture of Israel" disobedient, but finally preaching God's truth to the Gentiles (The MacArthur Study Bible, introduction to the Book of Jonah). Yet Calvin himself, in the passage just quoted, says the opposite.

Hence Jonah was not a type of Christ [in Matthew 12:40] because he was sent away unto the Gentiles, but because he returned to life again (ibid.).

Dr. MacArthur says that it was not necessary "that Jonah actually died" (ibid., note on Jonah 2:2).

Dr. M. R. DeHaan correctly said, "When the prophet Jonah was cast into the sea and was swallowed by a great fish, he became a clear type of the death and resurrection of Christ" (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., Jonah - Fact or Fiction?, Zondervan Publishing House, 1957, p. 80). Dr. J. Vernon McGee said the same thing in his Thru the Bible Commentary.

A friend of mine, who teaches Hebrew at a seminary in Southern California, said to me the other day, "Jesus gave us the best commentary on Jonah in Matthew 12:40." In that verse, Jesus said,

"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's [sea monster's] belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

Three lessons come from Christ's statement:

1. Jonah is a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ (Matthew 12:40).

2. Jonah is therefore a picture of salvation by grace. Turn to Ephesians 1:19-20. Please read these two verses out loud.

"And what is the 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 dead…" (Ephesians 1:19-20).

The resurrection of Christ is then applied to the convert. Look at Ephesians 2:1.

"And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

Drop down to verse 5.

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:5-6).

These verses show that the unconverted person is dead in sin and must be made alive in Christ. The "death to life" experience of conversion is connected to the death and resurrection of Christ - and is therefore pictured by what happened to Jonah (cf. Matthew 12:40).

3. Jonah is therefore a picture of the baptism of a convert by immersion. Turn to Romans 6:3-4. Please read these two verses aloud.

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

By faith, the convert has been immersed into Christ, united with Christ in His death and resurrection. Dr. MacArthur correctly says, "Certainly water baptism pictures this reality…" (ibid., note on Romans 6:3). Thus, the experience of conversion, pictured by water baptism, points to the death and resurrection of Christ, which was typified by Jonah (cf. Matthew 12:40).

To recapitulate,

1. Jonah pictured the death and resurrection of Christ.

2. Jonah pictured the spiritual death and resurrection of conversion.

3. Jonah pictured believer's baptism.

Was Christ really dead? Yes. Is an unconverted person really dead in trespasses and sins? Yes. Was the converted person really raised from death? Yes.

Was Jonah really dead in the great fish? I think the answer is obvious! As that seminary professor said, "Jesus gave us the best commentary on Jonah in Matthew 12:40." Jesus was really dead - so His comparison shows that He believed Jonah was really dead. That settles the argument! Jonah made it clear when he said,

"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 " (Jonah 2:6).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Jonah 2:1-9.

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