JONAH was a type of God's Anointed in a very sorrowful and deeply solemn way, as no other typical person was, and so the types of the dear Redeemer of the children of men would not be full and complete without the prophet Jonah. For he was a prophet of the Lord, as his name itself signifies. But God said that he would not leave himself without witness. Therefore, our God raised up and sent a full number of typical men to be his perpetual witnesses to his people in all time, to represent their precious Redeemer in every part of his ordained work as their full Savior. In this Jonah was a heart-touching and peculiar type; for he showed that the Son of man, who should come into the world as an Hebrew Prophet of God, as Jonah was, should lay three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. This was the deep meaning of the fact that Jonah was three days and three nights in the bottom of the deep Mediterranean sea.
Certain of the scribes and Pharisees said to Christ, "Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the Preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." Thus the dear Lord himself teaches us that Jonah, in the depths of the great sea, and Jonah as a preacher of God in the great city of Nineveh, was a sign of himself.
Let us notice the clear and strong meaning of our Lord's words: "So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Thus God ordained both events; that Jonah should go down into the sea, and that Jesus should go down into the grave. There was no other way, no escape, for either Jonah or Jesus.
But it may be truly said, that it was for the disobedience of Jonah that the great fish swallowed him up in the deep sea, while Christ, of whom he was a type, was obedient. Yet it is also true of Jonah, that he learned obedience to God through suffering, and so he fulfilled the will of God in sending him to Nineveh, although he must first he three days and three nights in the great deep. So did the Son of man fulfill the will of God in sending him into the world; but, O sorrowful to tell! he, too, learned obedience to God through suffering, and such suffering as neither Jonah, nor any other prophet of God, could endure. We read: "Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about; and thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped round about my head. 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. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple."
We sorrowfully read again: "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."
"And he came out and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
"Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. * * * He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, * * * My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? * * * Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves, after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
O how heart-rending is all this unutterable suffering of the obedient Son of man! and how divinely lovely is his unresisting and perfect submission to his holy Father's will, in patiently enduring all this infinite woe and agony of soul! O how his beautiful example should reconcile us to our light afflictions, and hush and quiet us into unmurmuring patience! The loving Son of God has taught us by his own example that his and our Father knew best, and that his will is wise and good and best. He knew that his Father loved him perfectly, and that, if it were possible, he would therefore hear his most touching cry to him, and remove from his agonizing Son the cup of atoning suffering, even unto the death of the cross. That the holy Father did not remove it, is positive proof that it was not possible for him to do so, as his submissive Son knew. To say that God might have taken suffering and death away from the holy and harmless Man, and appointed some other way, would make void his word in Eden, that this Son should bruise the serpent's head, and should "swallow up death in victory," as he declared by the prophet Isaiah, Yea, it would say that there was no truth in the prophets of God, nor in the priesthood that he ordained, in which every bleeding sacrifice foreshadowed the suffering, bleeding, dying Lamb of God. It would also deny that any of those holy men of God, and the mighty things which he wrought by them, as Joseph and Moses and Joshua, represented Christ and his glorious work of salvation. To say that the cup the Father gave the Son to drink might have been dashed to the ground, and the smiting sword of Justice turned aside from him, would deny the truth of Christ's "sign" that he gave to the Jews, and would make the fact that Jonah went down to the bottom of the sea a mere accidental event, having no meaning or lesson in it. It would say, that the prophet Jonah might just as well, yea better, have gone to Nineveh at first, and so have avoided his foolish disobedience and worse than useless effort to go to Tarshish, and have escaped all the fearful suffering that came upon him thereby. To say this, would charge ignorance and folly to the all-wise God of the universe, and would deny both his foreknowledge of all things and his eternal purpose in all things, and his power over them.
Who, that reveres, loves and fears God, can fail to see the ruinous consequences of this position or assumption. But yet there is just as much reason, or rather unreason, in saying that the cup, the dreadful cup, might have passed away from Jesus, and from Jonah, as to say that the cup of suffering and of sowing in tears might pass away from any other child and servant of God. But it is not so; for the same Father's hand that filled the cup and gave it to his beloved Son to drink, with the same wisdom and love filled the deep cup of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, of Joseph, Moses and Jonah, and gave it to them. Only in drinking that cup could it pass away. "The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father," does not sport or trifle with any of his children; neither does he needlessly afflict them. O never! but every drop in their cup, be it joy or grief, life or death, the loving Father's hand gives in that cup. In wisdom and goodness and mercy he gives it, not only for his own glory, but as well for the good of his child. O, we adore and bless, love and trust in this Father and God!
Yet the pleading cry to him of his suffering Son authorizes us to pour out our troubled soul into the pitying ear of our Father, and ask him to remove the cup, if it be possible, because we do not know his will and purpose in our afflictions and trials; for if we must drink the deep cup, which is beyond our strength, he will send his angel of mercy to minister to and strengthen us. O how infinitely better this is, than to be adrift upon the black sea of stormy and chaotic Chance! to either swim or sink, reach the desired haven or perish, as our little knowledge and less strength may decide.
Having seen all this solemn truth, and received instruction and comfort from it, let us now notice again "the sign of the prophet Jonas," and we shall see that he also, like "the Prophet of Nazareth," was made submissive and obedient to the will of God, even though it were for him to go down into death. "But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; what is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them."
We read of the greater than Jonas: "And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold. there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him."
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD and made vows."
All this is very wonderful, for it is the Lord's doing. How true were the words of Jonah! and how unresisting was he! yea, how ready to die, that the men in the ship might live! In this, how truly Jonah was a "sign" of the Son of man! who, when he was to be cast into the great deep, also meekly gave himself up. "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground" (Judas with them). "Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he? if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gayest me have I lost none." "I lay down my life for the sheep."
So did Jonah obediently yield himself up to the sea for the precious lives in the ship, and in so doing he was their salvation. How true was their prayer, "We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee." Yes, "as it pleased thee." The men saw this and knew it. Jonah, the prophet of the Lord, had so told them, that this deadly storm was upon them for his sake; that is, because he was one with them in the ship. Until Jonah was numbered with them, the Lord did not send the storm upon the ship.
There is a deep and solemn spiritual truth in this, and in the beseeching prayer of those in the ship. They implored God, that he would not let them perish because they must deliver up Jonah to the sea, nor lay upon them innocent blood; "for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee." This was true in the person of Jonah, and as true in the person of Jesus, when they Went down into the sea, and into the heart of the earth. Not that Jesus was a transgressor in his own spotless person, O no! yet he was numbered with the transgressors in God's account, and he bare the sin of many. For verily the disobedience of his people was his by righteous imputation, just as the debt of the married woman is her husband's as well, and his payment of the debt is her justification in the law.
The truth is this: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." This was the Son of man. He was then one with his bride under the law, and was equally responsible with her for her disobedience, and all her violations of the law were his as the Bridegroom and the Head of the church, which is his body. He must meet the fury of the overwhelming tempest of sin-avenging justice, or all in the ship of Zion must perish in the sea of destruction. His righteous obedience of suffering unto death is the only way for the disobedience of his people, his many members, to be taken away, and for they themselves to be saved and made righteous.
Jonah said, "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea: so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." But the men rowed hard to bring the ship to land, and to thus save Jonah and themselves from perishing, but they could not. And thus they knew that their own arm could not save them, nor their best efforts help them. No, nor could their idol gods, upon whom they had called, do them any good. They had cast out into the sea all the wares or goods, to lighten the storm-beaten ship, in the hope that it might outride the furious tempest. O how earnest and desperate were their struggles against death, which had come so near them! But the fury of the tempest increased the more against them, and all they could do against it ended only in despair.
Such is the agonizing experience of all whom the Lord delivers from so great a death. The heavens gather blackness above them, and their soul is tempest-tossed upon life's engulfing sea. God himself must rescue them, or they must perish. This was true of Jonah himself, and his only hope was in God, whom he feared. Of his new covenant people the Lord says, "for all shall know me, from the least to tile greatest." "And they shall be all taught of God," says his dear Son.
We have seen how all in the ship were taught of him. It was through fearful peril, suffering and loss, but the divine teaching was effectual. and it cured them of idolatry. So it is with every one whom the Lord teaches.
One hope only of salvation was left to the now God-fearing men in the ship. They most sorrowfully knew it, because God had thus taught them, and so had the prophet Jonah, who said to them, "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea." O this was to them a heartbreaking sorrow! yet it was the way of God, and the good way. Unto this very end and for this same purpose the Lord had sent Jonah down upon this sea voyage, and then sent the great tempest; for the Lord's idolatrous people were in that ship, as well as in the great city of Nineveh; and so God would send Jonah, the sign of the Son of man, both into the ship and into Nineveh, to save them. To deny this, is a denial of the wisdom and goodness, power and providence of God, which is faithless infidelity. True enough, the disobedience of Jonah was the moving and active cause that sent him forth in the ship, and forth into the sea, but God in the riches of his mercy ordained it so; for in this way he would make his suffering servant a blessed sign or type of his suffering Son. This way of suffering and of sowing the precious seed in tears is the blessed way of God, both for Jonah and Jesus to learn obedience. Yea, and all who come after Christ into his perfect obedience, must learn obedience through his sufferings being fulfilled in them; for thus has God predestinated that we shall be conformed to the holy image of his beloved Son. God in his infinite wisdom knew that the only way into holy obedience and life and a glorious immortality is, through suffering unto death. We cannot too well understand this sacred truth; for only this faith in God will support and comfort us in tribulation, and inspire us to say with David, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
The wisdom of men, which is foolishness with God, will disdain and reject this truth, but vain man thus replies against God.
But in this simple and sublime faith in the Lord God Omnipotent, who reigneth everywhere, suffering Job said, 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." Jesus, our Prophet, teaches us to say in prayer to our Father in heaven, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." This proves positively that God's will is done; for his holy Son would not and could not teach his apostles and us to pray a falsehood.
This faith and trust in God is the victory that overcometh the world. It was this that made both Jonah and Jesus obedient unto death. It was this trust in God that led the perishing men in the ship to most sorrowfully take up the prophet of God, and cast him forth into the sea. So it is in this same revealed faith in the heart of each humble believer in Jesus that he says in tearful sorrow, "'Twere you, my sins, my cruel sins, his chief tormentors were." "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures," says faithful Paul. Therefore, if we had not sinned, then Christ would not have died. But, unless Christ had died, then there would not have been any resurrection of the dead. Indeed, there could not have been any resurrection unto life and glory. "For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead," says Paul. Then, as certainly or absolutely as God foreordained that his holy Son should die in the flesh, and redeem his people, with his precious blood, as testifies Peter, so did he likewise foreordain that by one man sin should enter into the world, and death by sin, and so death should pass upon all men. We therefore read in the word, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." When he appeared on earth the first time, it was with the sins of his people upon him, which he bore upon the cross, and put them away by the sacrifice of himself. To each one of his believing people he has thus appeared once, and they are looking for him to appear the second time, and he will come at the appointed hour, and will not tarry. And when he appears to us the second time, then both Christ and his people shall be without sin. That will be on heaven's side of the grave. "Then shall we also appear with him in glory."
Jonah must, therefore, be swallowed up in the sea three days and three nights, and so must the Son of man be swallowed up three days and three nights, before Jonah should arise and go to Nineveh and save the city, and before the Man Christ should arise in the glory of his power, and swallow up death in victory, and save all the people of the city of God. The sign or figure was established and made sure by the mighty God of Jacob, and glorious was the result; and so much more gloriously sure shall be the end unto which Christ both died, and arose and revived.
Let us see what God wrought by his servant Jonah. "Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows." They were delivered from death, and saved from idolatry, to worship the only true and living God, Who will now presume to say, that the Lord did not most wisely and mercifully send the storm upon the ship, and then send Jonah down to the bottom of the sea?
"Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." At the end of that time Jonah said unto the Lord, "I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." This is verily true in the experience of the men in the ship, in the experience of Jonah, in the experience of the city of Nineveh, in the experience of the Son of man, in our own experience, and in the experience of all the saved in time. We notice, that all this salvation was on earth and in time. Whoever, wherever and whenever any one is saved, "Salvation is of the LORD." So Jonah preached, so the Son of man preached, and so Moses preached, saying, "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD." "Neither is there salvation in any other." JESUS is salvation. All else is idolatry and condemnation.
"And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD." This was the obedience of faith, learned through suffering, according to the will of God. We do well to notice here, that even the great fish obeyed the Lord. The Lord had prepared and sent it to the side of the ship, ready to swallow up Jonah at the very moment when he was cast out of the ship; and the Lord had increased the fury of the storm until the shipmen could not longer keep Jonah on board. The Lord is never too soon, nor too late. "His work is perfect."
So when the meek and lowly Jesus said to the wicked, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," neither the deeply sorrowing mother and disciples, nor the hard efforts of Pilate the governor to release him from the murderous Jews, could hold him back from going down into the heart of the earth; for this was God's own appointed way, and Jesus must be true to his own type. Great was the sorrow, fearful the suffering and appalling the vengeful tempest, when the power of darkness was poured forth against God's Anointed. Yet God's wisdom and love, power and mercy were in it; for there was no other way to save the ship and the city, the church, the children that God in love gave to his Son. Through death, he must deliver them from all this that would swallow them up in wrath.
But O, let us evermore bless the Lord! for at the end of the three days and three nights, not one moment longer, could the great fish, nor the deep sea, hold the prophet Jonah, who must then arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, preach righteousness in it, and save the city. No, nor could all the now destroyed powers of darkness, nor the great stone, nor the king's seal upon it, nor the Roman soldiers, nor death and the grave, confine the sleeping body of the dear Son of man one moment beyond the early dawn of the third day. "He is not here; for he is risen," said the rejoicing angel to the weeping sisters.
And as the obedient prophet of the Lord preached the word of the Lord in the great city of Nineveh, and they all repented in sackcloth and ashes, and the Lord spared the city; so the living Savior of his people says, "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great congregation."
"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Praise unto God. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
The triumphant Son of man himself fulfills this glorious ministry of his, even as the prophet Jonah himself preached the word of the Lord in the city of Nineveh. The ministry of Jonah was effectual, just as God ordained that it should be. And so the angel Gabriel said to Joseph, "And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Elder David Bartley
"The Christ-Man in Type