For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


That Jonah is a type of Christ is declared by the Lord Himself in Mt 12:39-40, where, in response to the Pharisees’ demand for a sign, He said, “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.”

Clearly not all that is recorded of Jonah typifies Christ, for as with many of the types, the Holy Spirit has been selective in choosing that which does adumbrate some aspect of the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection, and that typological picture begins here with Jonah’s words to the sailors, “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you,” Jonah 1:12. 

That raging sea is a symbolic picture of the awful storm of Divine wrath that enveloped Christ when He willingly assumed responsibility for our sins: note the many references to Christ’s sufferings depicted in the Psalms under the figure of overwhelming waters, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me,” Ps 42:7; “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.... Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.  Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me,” Ps 69:1,14-15; “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.  Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves, Selah.... Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.  they came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.  Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness,” Ps 88:6-7, 16-18.

Jonah’s willingness to be cast into the sea depicts Christ’s willingness to endure the storm of God’s wrath against sin, so that men might be delivered from having to endure that wrath eternally.

As there was no hope of safety for the sailors apart from their throwing Jonah into the angry sea, neither is there any hope of salvation for men apart from Christ’s having borne the storm of Divine wrath against sin at Calvary. 

It is to be noted, however, that the sailors themselves must cast Jonah into the sea, and the truth being taught in this is that each man who would be saved from hell and fitted for heaven must fulfill the type by presenting Christ to God through faith, as his Savior, the sinless Substitute Who has died in his place for his sins.  The futility of attempting to be saved by doing good works is demonstrated in the failure of the sailors to bring the ship to land in spite of all their strenuous efforts, as it is written, “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast,” Eph 2:8-9.

Notice that the words used by Jonah to describe his agony while in the sea are virtually the same as those which the Psalmist has applied to Christ relative to His sufferings at Calvary, “For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.... the waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.  I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever,” Jonah 2:2-6.

But the Lord, having endured all of God’s wrath against sin when He hung on the cross and died as your Substitute and mine, wasn’t left for ever in death.  He was raised again on the third day, as He had declared He would be when He related the experience of Jonah to the faithless Jewish leaders, Jonah’s being vomited out on the dry land, 2:10, after having been in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, 1:17, being a figure or type of Christ’s own resurrection.

It is to be noted that Jonah anticipated resurrection out of the fish’s belly, see chapter 2, as did Christ out of the tomb, the author of Hebrews declaring, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Heb 12:1-2.


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough