The Sign of Jonah
"It is an evil and adulterous generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah.' And leaving them standing there, he went away. (Matt. 16:4), (Luke 11:29).
Jesus told the Jewish Pharisees that the "sign of Jonah" would be the only sign the world would be given as to the divinity of His purpose. Obviously, something so momentous as to represent the single sign to the world of the divinity of Christ had nothing to do with a whale or with the personage of Jonah. These simply anticipatetd what was to come. Jesus was referring us to a swallowing into darkness that was far more profound, and entirely reflective of Himself. The 'sign of Jonah' reflects Jesus' 3-day descent into the belly of the earth, and the promise of the Easter resurrection which immediately followed.
His descent into Hades took Him into the realm of the people of the past, i.e., the people of Noah's time. Peter tells us that He preached there, bringing to all those lost souls a second chance for salvation.
"...in the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah..." (1 Peter 3:18-20).
Christ's death and burial initiated His descent into Hades (to the "bottoms of the mountains" and the "countries underneath the earth") and reflected Jonah's being swallowed by the whale. His resurrection from the pit of death reflected Jonah's being "spit out" of that whale.
The Greek Old Testament, dating from about 250 B.C., differs slightly from the Protestant, which follows the Hebrew rescension of Jamnia. The chapter numbers are slightly changed and a different choice of words are used, but both bibles reflect the same prophetic testimony, i.e., Christ's descent into the earth after His crucifixion. The Greek echo's a bit more succinctly Peter's revelation that this Old Testament vision also relates to Christ's use of His 3-day descent into Hades to rescue the "people of the past".
The Greek Bible says: "I went down into the countries underneath the earth to the peoples of the past, but you lifted my life from the pit, O Lord,my God"
The Hebrew Bible says: "I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever; yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God"
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