People today fall over even the simplest things that don’t make sense to them in Scripture. One of the recent ones that came up in a conversation with a family member is the fact that the Bible states Jonah (another prophet like Amos) was swallowed by a huge fish.
Jonah 1:17 NET “The LORD sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.”
This has never been a stumbling block for me because more than a decade ago I was leading a planning retreat of 6 or 7 pastors and leaders of a group of churches in Russia. We were in a cabin by the ocean and there was always lots of fish to eat – breakfast, lunch, and supper. While there I saw a picture of a large fish pulled out of the same waters. It took a crane to lift the fish up on to the shore. It was certainly large enough to swallow a prophet or anyone for that matter.
The Hebrew word for fish is not used in a modern, biological sense here. Rather, it refers to a large marine creature — and there are certainly known monsters of the deep large enough to swallow a man whole.
In her booklet The Bible Today, Grace Kellogg identifies at least two of them: the sulfur-bottom (or blue) whale and the whale shark. Nether of these creatures has any teeth. They feed by opening their enormous mouths, dropping their lower jaws, and moving through the water at high speed, straining food as they go.
A 100-foot sulfur-bottom whale was recorded off Cape Cod in the 1930s. Its mouth was 10 or 12 feet wide — so big it could easily swallow a horse. These whales have four to six compartments in their stomachs, any one of which could house a group of full-grown men. The nasal cavity of this whale contains an enormous air storage chamber as well, often measuring seven feel high, seven feet wide, and 14 feet long. If this creature had an unwelcome guest on board that caused a headache, the whale would swim to the nearest land to discharge the offender, just as the huge fish did with Jonah.
Interesting as these facts are, we do not need marine biology to prove that a sovereign God can direct the elements of His creation to accomplish His purposes. If we do not believe that God could and did prepare a giant fish to discipline a prophet, then we will have trouble believing that a dead man named Jesus of Nazareth came back to life. Do not forget — it is the three days of Jonah in the belly of a huge fish that Jesus used to predict His own resurrection after three days in the grave.
Matthew 12:39-40 NET “But [Jesus] answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.’”
Matthew 16:4 NET “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
1 Corinthians 15:4 NET “… and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”
I have seen the resurrected and risen Jesus Christ in the flesh. I have heard His voice. I have touched Him as He hugged me. The date – November 9, 1976. The night that I was gloriously saved and born again. I know He is alive after three days in the grave because I saw, heard, and touched Him.
1 John 1:1-4 NET “This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life – and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”