Is Jonah and the Whale a true story?

Is Jonah and the Whale a true story?

Jonah’s story has been debated for millennia. Being swallowed by and praying in the belly of a fish sure seems like fiction. However, evidence for the veracity of the story is powerful. Consider the following:

    1. Jonah is described in the Bible as a true historical figure identified as a prophet. (2 Kings 14:25) Yet, The book portrays Jonah in a bad light. Why would an author write a derogatory fictionalized account of a person who otherwise is presented as a real person serving God in a positive manner?
    2. The book of Jonah is included in a collection of writings of God’s prophets who are genuine, historical figures. Why would the compilers of these books include a fictitious account of one of these prophets?
    3. The supernatural occurrences in the book–from the storm being stilled when Jonah was thrown from the boat to the plant that spontaneously arose to provide shade and just as quickly withered–are all within the realm of possibility. Don’t they look like many other miracles we read about in the Bible?
    4. Jesus, the son of God, affirmed the historical accuracy of Jonah and referenced Jonah being in the fish. (Matthew 12:39-41 and Luke 11:29-32). Jesus also noted that the men of Nineveh repented which wouldn’t make sense if Jonah hadn’t preached to them. Are we to assume that Jesus was wrong when he said that Jonah was a real prophet and his story as recorded in the book bearing his name was true?
    5. Scholars point out that Nineveh, the Assyrian city that stood near the modern city of Mosul in Iraq, was not so large that it would take three days to walk across it (Jonah 3:3). They point to this seeming discrepancy to suggest that the Jonah account is fiction. Could Jonah be referring to the entire region around the capital city, including “suburban” towns nearby? Or, might he have been describing the size of the city from the perspective of a person who was stopping on every corner to preach and prophecy about the calamity that was to befall the city?

Getting past the question of whether or not Jonah is a true account of God’s call and Jonah’s response to go to Nineveh, one should look at what the story says about God and his relation to mankind. Here it is most interesting that God is showing a positive attitude to Gentiles, even ones who will eventually conquer Israel.

God’s grace is on display in this story as He is described as being “merciful and compassionate” (Jonah 4:2) towards Nineveh.

Also on display is the sovereignty of God over the natural world. He sends a storm, stops it, allows an individual to be swallowed by a great fish and survive for three days, and he raises a plant overnight to provide shade for His prophet.

Most importantly, Jonah’s story shows the futility of running from God, and the difficulties that befall those who try. If you would like to know the God that Jonah served and learn the proper way to respond to His call on your life, we encourage you to read our post, How does one become a Christian?

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers–the Church–believed that he would visibly return as both judge and ruler of all creation. The earliest recorded creeds affirmed that Jesus would “come again to judge the living and the dead.” Additional confessions written since the Reformation continue that understanding.

The physical return of Jesus remains a central tenet of the church, but there has been much debate about when that will take place. In last week’s post we wrote about signs of the end times, but Jesus, himself, told his followers that God alone knows when Jesus will return.

What, then, is the rapture? The English noun/verb “rapture” comes from the Latin noun raptura/verb rapio that appears 14 times in the New Testament. It means “to remove suddenly or snatch away.” That’s the expectation–that all believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air just prior to the Great Tribulation.

In the book Daniel 9:24-27, we read about the angel Gabriel explaining the prophecy of the seventy weeks to Daniel. He describes a period of 490 years, the final seven of which will be a Great Tribulation for the nation Israel and the world. Christians won’t be subjected to this great tribulation since they will be snatched away.

Paul affirms this in his letter to the church in the Greek city of Thessalonika:

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thess. 1:10

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thess. 5:9

Jesus says the same thing in Rev. 3:10.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Rev. 3:10

Jesus promised to return and remove His people from the earth:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3

This promise is reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16, 17

Since Jesus promised he will remove his followers from earth at an unknowable time before the earth plunges into a time of terrible tribulation, it only makes sense that each of us is ready for his return. If you would like to learn more about what it means to become part of the Church that will be raptured, please read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

For nearly 2000 years, Christians have been asking this question. Each generation has read what Jesus said and wondered if the end was soon. Here’s what Matthew recorded in his account of the life and teaching of Jesus.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Matthew 24:3-8

The sinful nature of man assures us that there will be wars. Famines and earthquakes are common occurrences on this planet, so while modern communications makes us more aware of them, one cannot use them to define End Times. What Jesus next describes have been constants for two millennia.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:9-13

Persecution of Christians has gotten worse in many parts of the world, most notably during the past century in China, Cambodia, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. For generations, Christians have been persecuted in majority Muslim countries as well as in India, a predominantly Hindu nation. What Jesus says next refers to something that is definitely taking place in our time.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:14

Today, as never before, electronic communications and global travel have made it realistically possible for everyone on earth to learn of Jesus. In the next 28 verses, Jesus describes what the end will look like and issues a warning to be vigilent because no one knows when Jesus will return marking the end of the world as we know it.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Matthew 24:42

In Chapter 25, Jesus tells three parables to describe the End Times. So, are we living in the End Times? We can’t know for sure, but we are closer both in time and in fulfillment of prophecy with many signs that we must heed. More importantly, we can say with certainty that each of us is in our end times. We will either be alive when Jesus returns or we will be dead. Either way, we will have to answer for the decisions we make today. Will you be saved from eternal separation from God, or will you enjoy infinite peace and contentment beyond anything you can imagine? If you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus, We encourage you to check out our post, How does one become a Christian?