(Mat 12:40 NIV) For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Both the Greeks and Hebrews had a word for “tomb” (mnemeion & qeber) and if Jesus meant tomb He would have said so! They both also had words for death. That is physical death. I don’t think any language has only one word for spiritual death.
He said that he would be three days and three nights “in the heart of the earth”, so what does that mean? I believe it means on the earth without his Father, which is true death, and at the end of the three days and three nights he would be raised up to heaven to be with his Father again. God was always with Jesus (John 8:29). That is until he gave up His Spirit on the cross.
The Bible is a book about spiritual things first. It uses physical examples to teach spiritual lessons. After all physical, or worldly things are all we know, so if God sees that we need an example to teach us something it has to be a physical example.
Death is such an example. We know that to be without God is real death. Those who walk this earth without God are truly “Dead men walking”. They are already dead, though they can be raised to real life. The day Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died. He didn’t die physically, but God left him and he died spiritually. Physical death is only a physical example of real death: a state of being where all is lost.
Jonah was used as an example of what Jesus would suffer, so compare his experience to that of Jesus. Jonah suggested that those who were in jeopardy throw him into the sea in order for them to be saved. In other words he had to be sacrificed in order for others to be saved. When he was sacrificed the sea was calmed and those on the boat were saved.
Jonah 1:17 (NIV) says, “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” It does not say that Jonah was dead. As a matter of fact it says that Jonah prayed to God from the inside of the fish (2:1).
If he were dead could he have prayed? There are some that claim Jonah was dead, but if that is true one can see that he was not dead all of the time he was in the fish. After Jonah was “raised” from the deep many others were saved because of his sacrifice.
I believe that you can see that the two stories of Jonah and Jesus have many simulates: except for physical death. Jesus was sacrificed for many and those who were close to him and knew that he was innocent did not want it to happen. Jonah was sacrificed and those who were on the boat and knew why the sea was raging did not want an innocent man to die. Both were “raised”, Jonah from the deep to the land and Jesus from earth to Heaven and many were saved by both.
Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed and gave up the Holy Spirit on Friday (Day one), was interned Friday night (night one), Saturday (day and night two), left the tomb Sunday (day three), and reveled himself to the Disciples Sunday evening and was raised to Heaven, to be with his Father that night (Night three).
Because we Christians thought that the verse meant raised to physical life and did not understand that the verse meant raised to Heaven, or spiritual life we have been trying to defend a false understanding and of course it is not possible to defend something false with the truth.
Want more understanding? Look at John 20:17. Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to touch him (KJV). I always wondered why he said that, but now I understand. It defiled anyone that touched a body and Jesus was spiritually dead. Mary would not have understood that she was touching a dead body and therefore would not have purified herself. Look at Numbers 19:13 (NIV) “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the Lord’s tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him.” Perhaps both Mary and Jesus (The Lord’s Tabernacle) would have been defiled if she touched him!
I must add that part of a day is usually considered the whole of it. If I say that I am going to the store tomorrow I don’t usually mean all day and those who hear it do not usually take it that way. If I meant all day I would have to say all day.
Well, what do you think? Have I missed something, or perhaps twisted something?