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Based on scientific fact, the biblical story of Jonah reads like a fairy tale. Could it possibly be true?
To be thrown into the sea, Jonah had to beat the odds.
When Jonah boarded a ship to run from God, the chance of being caught by such a violent storm was maybe one in a thousand. The casting of lots that identified Jonah as the cause of the storm changed the odds to less than one in a million.
The story is unbelievable.
Most fish aren’t big enough to swallow a man whole. Even if a fish did that, the lack of oxygen would make survival impossible. In the fish’s belly, Jonah couldn’t have prayed very long before digestive juices destroyed his flesh.
Something really did happen.
Fairy tales and fables often have some basis in fact. But what facts? For one, Jesus refers to the “sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39). From those words, we know that for it to have been a “sign,” Jonah must have died and was raised from the dead.
Miracles become believable when we understand how and why.
When too many coincidences come together, we see a divine hand at work and must wonder why God intervened. What was his purpose? In Jonah’s case, to foreshadow what God would do.
Both Jonah and Jesus died, were in the grave three days, and rose from the dead. Because of the fishy story of Jonah, we know the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is no fairy tale.
Unlike Jonah, Jesus knew the plan.
People have predicted their deaths before. But only Jesus told how he would die and how long he would be dead before he rose from the grave. That’s why we know his resurrection is not just another fishy story.
Matthew 12:39–40
Jesus said, “Wicked and adulterous people demand miraculous signs, but no sign will come except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the fish’s belly, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and nights.”