Does the Sign of Jonah Really Mean Jesus Would be in the Grave Three Days and Nights?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For as Jonas 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

This text has perplexed many people since Jesus was not in the grave for three nights. Some try to move His crucifixion back to Thursday so they can fit him into the grave for three nights. Remember when William Miller thought the earth was the sanctuary mentioned in the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14? He thought at the end of the 2300 days Jesus would return and cleanse the earth with fire. He had the time right but the place wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the earth is the sanctuary. Likewise in Matthew 12:40, many scholars have the time right but the place wrong. Now maybe we should not be so hard on William Miller for his mistake. Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does it refer to the grave as being the heart of the earth. After all Jesus was not even buried in the earth but placed in a small cave. This verse can also be translated “in the midst of the earth” or in the “middle of the earth.”

When Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” He was not referring to “in earth” as the grave but the midst of the earth where all the people are. If you take the day for a year in Bible prophecy mentioned in Ezekiel 4:6, you have Jesus preaching the gospel for three years in the midst of the earth where all the people are. Therefore, the sign of Jonah has nothing to do with a grave at all. The heart of the earth is not the grave, it is where the population is. When John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world” it is obviously the people that God loved. So the sign that Jesus would be in the heart of the earth, He was referring to His ministry among the people. He was not referring to a grave.

The sign of Jonah is not so much about a time period anyway. We miss what this verse is really saying when we get all wrapped up trying to explain what three days and three nights mean. The point is, the religious leaders were asking Jesus for a sign while sinners had already accepted Him, and the religious leaders refused to believe. In the story of Jonah the men who threw Jonah overboard prayed to God and believed. The wicked inhabitants of Nineveh believed. The only person who kept rejecting God in his life was the prophet Jonah! Everyone else believed. Jesus is simply making a parallel with Jonah’s day and His day. Sinners believe and accept Him but the religious leaders wont. It is just like it was in the story of Jonah. The irony of the story of Jonah was the irony of the Story of Jesus. Those in the most favorable circumstances rejected God’s Light, while those in less than favorable circumstances accepted Him. That is what the sign of Jonah is all about.

How sad that Satan has been able to distract so many people with the “three nights” when that simply has nothing to do with Jesus’ point in this verse. Let’s all take heed, lest we, like Jonah or the Pharisees have a heart of unbelief while those with less light than we have freely accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. You may find answers to other perplexing Bible texts here.

1st and 2nd Thessalonians: The Messiah Part 2

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago, I was showing a set of Christian books to a lady. There were several hardbound books in the set, which also included beautiful art work. The lady loved the books, and asked how much they were. I told her, “Four-twenty-nine.” She was delighted, and exclaimed, “Is that all!” I said, “Yes.” I  went on to explain the payment plans, of cash, credit card, or down payment of 15% and then 12 monthly payments. She looked confused, and then disappointed when she realized, that by four-twenty-nine I meant $429.00 and not $4.29.

The lady was like most all of us. We hear what we want to hear. We read the Old Testament Prophecies that depict Jesus’ sacrifice, like Isaiah 53, and wonder why the Jews did not understand, that the Messiah was coming to die for our sin and not set up an earthly kingdom. The Jews were looking for a Savior from Roman tyranny because they read  prophecies,  such as Isaiah 52:13, “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” And also Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” They thought Jesus would come and set up an earthly kingdom. The prophecy in Daniel 2, and rock carved out without man’s hands, should have made clear to them, what Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

Even the disciples misunderstood and heard only what they wanted to hear as well. Jesus told them in Matthew 16 amongst other places, that He would be crucified, but Peter and the others simply refused to hear of it. The weekend of the crucifixion they were devastated. It was a great disappointment. There was nothing wrong with the prophecies. The prophets were right on. The Jews, the disciples, the lady I was trying to sell  books to were all just like us. We hear what we want to hear. Crucifixion weekend was not the last time God’s church would endure a great disappointment. In 1844 another group of people, misunderstood Daniel. Daniel was right on. Again God’s Church just heard what it wanted to hear, this time regarding the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14. They thought the sanctuary was the world and Jesus was coming back to cleanse the earth with fire and create the New Earth. Nowhere in the Bible does it call the sanctuary the earth. Also we know Jesus said nobody would know the day nor the hour when He returns. Some scoff at them for not knowing better, but are we any better than they are? Do we not make the same mistakes? For example, When asked for a sign from the Jews, Jesus gave them the sign of Jonah. Jesus said, “For as Jonas 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 For years now, people have been trying to fit Jesus in the tomb for three nights. To do this some have even backed up the crucifixion to Wednesday while others explain that part of a day counts as the whole day, but that still does not put Jesus in the tomb for three nights. The confusion is quite simple. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the tomb is the heart of the earth. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world,” He wasn’t talking about the dirt. He was talking about the people. When Jesus said the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, He was not talking about the dirt, He was talking about the people. Take a day for a year in Bible Prophecy and for three days you have Jesus ministering in the heart of the earth, where the population was, not in the dirt. The sign of Jonah, was simply that while Gentiles, publicans, and sinners were believing in Jesus, the Jews who should have believed were not. Just like the story of Jonah where a wicked city like Nineveh believes, but the prophet Jonah who should have believed and obeyed did not want to.

The sign of Jonah is just one example of how today, we may get the time right but the place wrong. In 1844 they had the time right but the place wrong, and in Jesus’ time, many had the time of the Messiah right  from the book of Daniel, but they had the place wrong. Jesus’ kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. We look forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Jeremiah 23:6 promises to save the kingdom of Judah. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  . This led the people to dream of a kingdom prosperous and above all others. However the text also promised righteousness for the people.  It seems the people were not so interested in the righteousness as they were in the prosperity. That is just like us today. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says,” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Many today are seeking the kingdom and all those other things that will be added to us, but how many of us are seeking His righteousness? How many of us today are taking up our cross daily and following Him? How many of us just want the prosperity? Even if we are seeking a heavenly kingdom above an earthly kingdom, we are still just being materialistic, unless we are really seeking His righteousness.   Could we today be like the children of Abraham, dreaming only of prosperity, and forgetting that God once asked father Abraham to sacrifice his son and future prosperity?

When Paul was reasoning with the Jews, showing them that Jesus was the Messiah, he had his work cut out for him.

Just a side note before I go. Last year many people were making fun of and ridiculing a famous pastor in the United States for saying that Jesus was coming in April of 2011. I heard many Adventists making fun of him. Seeing how we make mistakes too, in our understanding, and how we have had great disappointments ourselves, should we be making fun of people when they make mistakes? I don’t think so. At the crucifixion the disciples were devastated and hurting. In 1844 God’s people were devastated and hurting. God looked past the mistakes of His people and saw the pain. We should be just as sympathetic. Whether it is towards the Jews 2,000 years ago, or a mistaken preacher today, let’s all take heed lest we fall.

Check out the current Sabbath School study guide here.

Matthew 12; Did Jesus say He Would be in the Grave Three Nights?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.  
 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas 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 12:38-40

  

This text has perplexed many people since Jesus was not in the grave for three nights. Some try to move His crucifixion back to Thursday so they can fit him into the grave for three nights. Remember when William Miller thought the earth was the sanctuary mentioned in the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14? He thought at the end of the 2300 days Jesus would return and cleanse the earth with fire. He had the time right but the place wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the earth is the sanctuary. Likewise in Matthew 12:40 many scholars have the time right but the place wrong. Now maybe we should not be so hard on William Miller for his mistake. Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does it refer to the grave as being the heart of the earth. After all Jesus was not even buried in the earth but placed in a small cave. This verse can also be translated “in the midst of the earth” or in the “middle of the earth.”

  

When Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” He was not referring to “in earth” as the grave but the midst of the earth where all the people are. If you take the day for a year in Bible prophecy mentioned in Ezekiel 4:6, you have Jesus preaching the gospel for three years in the midst of the earth where all the people are.

  

The sign of Jonah is not so much about the time anyway. We miss what this verse is really saying when we get all wrapped up trying to explain what three days and three nights mean. The point is, the religious leaders were asking Jesus for a sign while the sinners had already accepted Him. In the story of Jonah the men who throw Jonah overboard prayed to God and believed. The wicked inhabitants of Nineveh believed. The only person who kept rejecting God in his life was the prophet Jonah! Everyone else believed. Jesus is simply saying it is the same now. Sinners believe and accept Him but the religious leaders wont. It is just like it was in the days of Jonah.

How sad that Satan has been able to distract so many people with the “three nights” when that simply has nothing to do with Jesus’ point in this verse. Lets all take heed, lest we like Jonah or the Pharisees have a heart of unbelief while those with less light than we have freely accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.