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Chapter 12: The Sign of Jonah

Chapter 12
The Sign of Jonah

 

We have studied the two doves and the two goats and how they relate to the two works of Christ. The doves depict cleansing from leprosy, and the goats show us the cleansing of the sanctuary. The mortal, death nature makes us spiritual lepers in need of cleansing, and we are the sanctuary, the temple of the Holy Spirit. We have shown how Judah and Joseph apply to the two works of Christ and events unfolding before us today. In this final section of our study we will look at how the book of Jonah clearly demonstrates these types and shadows. Jonah's story closes with a poignant image that encourages us to examine our heart attitudes.

When the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12 asked for a sign, Jesus said none would be given them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah's name means "dove," and he clearly manifests the two doves of Leviticus 14. The sign of Jonah the dove comes in two parts and is directly related to all of the signs we have studied so far.

Jonah's First Call to Preach

Jonah was not exactly thrilled at the idea when God told him to preach in Nineveh. Some have even called him the reluctant prophet. God told Jonah to go north and east, and he went west toward Tarshish (probably Spain). In disobeying God, Jonah fell into a prophetic pattern that manifested the first work of Christ. While Jonah was on his escape boat, a tempest struck the sea with great violence. The frightened mariners on the boat with Jonah cast lots (Jonah 1:7) to see who was to blame for the trouble, and the lot fell upon Jonah. This reminds us of the lots cast to choose the scapegoat as well as the lots cast for Jesus' garments at the crucifixion. At any rate, the mariners threw Jonah overboard. Then Jonah 1:17 says,

17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

In Matthew 12 the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove that He was the Messiah. He did not give them the type of sign they desired, but He did give them a prophetic sign that they did not understand. Matthew 12:38-40 says,

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, Teacher, we want to see a sign from You. 39 But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This clearly identifies Jonah as a type of Christ in His death work on the Cross as the Passover Lamb. But it also has reference to Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit began to indwell our flesh. The Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove. Jonah's name means "dove." So even as Jonah indwelt the great fish, so also does the Holy Spirit indwell our flesh. Pentecost is only an earnest of the Spirit, which is to be completed under the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of this present age. Under Tabernacles, Paul says we will all be "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" (1 Cor. 15:51, 52).

The Greek word translated "moment" is atomos, which literally means ATOMS. In ancient times the word was used to indicate the smallest particle of matter that could be subdivided. Paul used the word to indicate an atomic change in the material body itself that would allow the glory of God to be manifested even as Jesus' body after His resurrection. Even before His death on the Cross, this atomic change manifested briefly at His transfiguration. This is the sort of body that we will have "at the last trumpet," and this change will take place "in the twinkling of an eye."

In the quote above, Jesus equates the belly of the fish with the heart of the earth. We are therefore both the fish and the earth, where the dove was to dwell. The early Church used the sign of the fish to identify Christians. Also, since Adam was made of the dust of the earth and was even named after the ground (adama means "ground"), it is clear that the Holy Spirit indwells earth men.

After spending a few days in the belly of the fish, Jonah was vomited upon the shore. No doubt Jonah had been bleached white by the time he came to shore. His emergence from the fish represented resurrection "at the last trumpet," and because of the symbolic nature of his experience, it is likely that the fish vomited him upon the Feast of Trumpets in September of that year.

Jonah's Second Call to Preach

After Jonah's experience in the fish, God gave Jonah a second call to preach to Nineveh. This is prophetic of the second work of Christ and gives us the clearest view in the Scriptures of the purpose of the second coming of Christ. Jonah 3:1 and 2 says,

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."

This phase of Jonah's ministry represents the second work of Christ, wherein the Great Commission is completed and all nations come under the rule of Jesus Christ. This second work must be done under the anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles, at which time the overcomers will be transfigured, putting on their "white garments," representing the righteousness of saints. When Jonah was bleached white, it prefigured the transfiguration that is yet to take place at the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jonah was one of the few successful prophets in history, because he was a type of Christ in the capacity of His second work. Nineveh means "City of Fish," and they worshipped the fish god. No doubt Jonah's experience made the Ninevites think that he was a prophet sent to them by their fish god.

This is an amazing example of the sovereignty of God, for if Jonah had gone to Nineveh when first called to go, it is doubtful if the men of Nineveh would have repented at his preaching. But Jonah did not go until after his experience with a large fish. Bleached white, there was no hiding the fact that he had come forth from the fish. His reputation preceded him, and the men of Nineveh heard that a prophet had been sent by their great fish god with a message. They all repented, from the king to the lowest citizen.

Since Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, which conquered and captivated Israel, Assyria is symbolized by the great fish. Hosea 8:8-9 says,

8 Israel is swallowed up; they are now among the nations like a vessel in which no one delights. 9 For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has hired lovers.

Assyria represented the great fish, and Jonah represented Israel. In that the fish swallowed Jonah, so also would Assyria swallow up the House of Israel. Jonah knew that this would happen, and this was why he did not want to preach the Gospel to Assyria. He did not want them to repent, because he did not want God to have mercy upon that enemy nation. So he took a ship to Tarshish, and in so doing, he became a type of Christ in His first work.

Reconciling All Nations

The second part of the sign of Jonah is prophetic of that which occurs AFTER the resurrection of the dead at the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. Jonah's emergence from the belly of the fish (the heart of the earth) represents the resurrection of the dead at the last trumpet. He came forth bleached white (transfigured). He was then sent to preach the Gospel to Nineveh, representing all nations, including God's "enemies." When the world sees the manifestation of the sons of God, they will be converted in the age to come. Then will come to pass the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2-4, which says,

2 Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. 3 And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.

In the law we are told the basic facts of the two works of Christ. We are told that the first is a death work, while the second is a living work. In identifying the two doves with the cleansing of lepers over an eight-day period, it shows us that the work is not completed until the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles of some year. The story of Jonah tells us the practical significance of the second work of Christ. Jonah shows us that it is a preaching work that will bring all things under the feet of Jesus Christ. In that Jonah preached the Word AFTER his "resurrection," it shows us that this second work, though partially fulfilled under Pentecost, is not fully manifested until the resurrection of the dead and the atomic change that will occur at the fulfillment of Tabernacles.

In Revelation 19:11 Jesus Christ is pictured on a white horse, and His robe is dipped in blood. He is pictured as coming to do His second work to bring all nations under His rulership. Joshua the Ephraimite teaches us that we will be led into the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God by Jesus Christ in His capacity as an Ephraimite, rather than as a Judahite. Joshua was the son of Nun, which means "fish." Jonah was birthed by a fish as well, for when the fish vomited him upon the shore, it was his resurrection day into newness of life.

The message of the second work of Christ is summarized in 2 Cor. 5:18-20,

18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

When God sends His people to the nations under the anointing of Tabernacles, they will preach this message. Nineveh will be overthrown by the Kingdom of God, because the people of the world will repent when they see the love of God manifested in His sons and daughters. There will be some with a wrong attitude like Jonah, and these will not be pleased when God saves the nations. In the fourth chapter of Jonah we find the prophet quite angry with God for sparing Nineveh. This was to show us a very important lesson. Some Christians believe so strongly that God must judge the nations that they will be quite upset when He causes them to repent so that He can reconcile the world to Himself.

It is true, of course, that God must judge sin. That is the divine law. However, when the sinners repent, their judgment is borne by Jesus Christ on the cross. Many believe that the present situation is so far gone that even God cannot reverse it and will have to destroy the earth. The story of Jonah seems to indicate otherwise. It would be wise to examine our hearts to be sure that we would rejoice with God, were He to be the Savior of the world, rather than its destroyer. Remember what God told Jonah in 4:10 and 11,

10 Then the LORD said, You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?

God is pointing out a heart problem in Jonah. We must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to have the same attitude.

Deliver Us From Evil

Jonah constructed a booth, which prophetically portrays him to be one who fulfills of the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles. God then sent a gourd to deliver him from his "discomfort" (NASB). Verse 6 says,

6 So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort {Heb. ra, "evil"]. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.

No doubt, of course, the gourd's shade delivered Jonah from the discomfort of the beating sun as well, but the deeper meaning signifies a deliverance from all evil through the Feast of Booths. We will all be very happy when God does this for us. Why, then, did God send a worm to destroy the gourd?

The gourd is the Hebrew word for the castor oil plant, or literally the vomit plant. Anyone who has tasted castor oil can understand the reason it was called vomit. God is showing us that Jonah's heart was not yet perfect. He needed a good internal purge of his heart bitterness and judgmental attitude toward Nineveh. He needed to vomit out the evil that was still resident in his flesh. As we have already shown, the elimination of the evil within us comes through TWO works of Christ, not just one. Christ's first work on the cross (Passover) gave us an imputed righteousness by covering sin, while the second work under Tabernacles makes us actually righteous by removing all sin.

Jonah does not receive the vomit plant to deliver him from evil until he builds a booth. And so we find in this brief ending to the book of Jonah a picture of the Feast of Booths and second work of Christ. But this is not all, for God sent a worm to kill the gourd, which made Jonah wish to die as well. What does this have to do with the story?

7 But God appointed a worm [Heb. towla] when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life."

This was no ordinary worm. The Hebrew text calls it a towla, which is a worm from which crimson dye was extracted in ancient times. According to Henry Morris' book, Biblical Basis For Modern Science, page 73,

"When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted."

This tells us that the worm in the story of Jonah stained the booth with crimson as it gave its life to bring forth offspring. Is this not a perfect picture of Christ, who gave His life to bring many sons into glory? Psalm 22:6 prophesies of Jesus Christ in His death on the cross, saying, "I am a worm [Heb. towla], and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people." When Jesus died, His blood stained the cross, even as the crimson from the worm stained the trunk of the gourd in Jonah's day.

There is a second meaning of this as well. In the second work of Christ, depicted by the second dove in Leviticus 14, we find that the second dove was dipped in the blood of the first dove that had been killed. Likewise, we find that the worm dies and then stains the gourd that was attached to the BOOTH. In other words, the second work of Christ at Tabernacles is based upon the first work on the cross at Passover.

Together, these two works or ministries will bring deliverance from the evil that is within all of us. In the story of Jonah, the prophet sat under a booth, but the evil in his heart was not exposed and covered by the blood until the worm came and destroyed the gourd. Then was his heart manifested. Even his desire to die was prophetic in that it shows us the way to life and perfection is through the death of the flesh. We must identify with Christ's death on the cross before we can identify with Him in His second work.

Finally, there is a connection between the gourd and Nineveh. A great fish swallowed up Jonah and then vomited him on the shore, picturing Jesus' death and resurrection. In Jonah's second call to preach to Nineveh, Jonah goes to the "City of Fish" (Nineveh) and then sits in a booth that pictures the Feast of Tabernacles. Here the prophet sits under the vomit plant in order to be perfected. In both cases, the vomit represents resurrection, for Jonah was a type of Christ. Even as Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish, so also did Jesus spend three days in the heart of the earth. Even as Jonah was vomited out of the belly of the fish to picture resurrection from the dead, so also was Jesus raised from the dead.

There is an oppressive system in the world that is prophetically called Nineveh, Egypt, and Babylon. The story of Jonah is a prophecy that the second work of Christ is going to bring repentance to the world and the salvation of all people. Jonah did not want to see them delivered, and he complained bitterly when God did not destroy the city. In this attitude, he ceased to be a type of Christ and became more like Christians. We must not be bitter when God does this marvelous work. Are we going to demand that God destroy those sinners and give them what they deserve, or will we rejoice in their deliverance?

This bad attitude arises from the evil within our hearts and must be put to death with all fleshly attitudes. Only when our heart is right and when we see Nineveh as God sees it will we be ready to bring them the Gospel of the Kingdom in a heart of true love. The Feast of Booths is designed to prepare our hearts fully for that ministry of the reconciliation of the world.

Putting Christ's Second Coming into Perspective

Many have taught that Christ's second coming will snatch away the Christians, remove the Holy Spirit, and bring forth an "antichrist" who will unite the world in a futile war against God. They have taught that God will then bring tribulation upon the world for a period of seven years (or perhaps three-and-one-half years) that will destroy a large portion of the earth's population, the earth itself, and life in the seas. It has also been widely taught that Jews will NOT be snatched away, but will remain on earth, and that at least 144,000 of them will evangelize many unbelievers until Christ returns WITH the Church at the end of this "tribulation" period.

These views are held by those who have probably never read or understood the laws of the second coming of Christ. Now that we have studied the foregoing material, we can proceed to the New Testament and see what those authors were really saying. In the next chapter we will show how the so-called "rapture" should be understood in terms of the Feast of Tabernacles. We will see that this event, called in the Bible, the harpazo, or "the catching away," is specifically the point in history where the overcomers transcend the flesh and are able to move dimensionally between the spiritual and the physical realm. It is the point where they will be able to "change clothes" from wool to linen, as Ezekiel 44 puts it.

We will see that the Bible nowhere says that these believers will leave the earth for seven years or even three-and-a-half years. In fact, the purpose of this change, as portrayed in the two works of Christ, is to convert the citizens of "Nineveh," which city is the symbol of the oppressive present world order. This evangelism will not be done by 144,000 Jews, but by the overcomers. Even if we take Revelation 7 literally and believe that there will be 12,000 overcomers from each of the tribes of Israel, Revelation 7:5 tells us that only 12,000 of Judah will participate. One might possibly stretch this by adding another 12,000 of Benjamin and another 12,000 of Levi--because these three tribes made up the nation of Judah in Jesus' day. However, it is a false assumption that the Jews are the lost sheep of the House of Israel or that they represent all the tribes of Israel.

The fact is that Christianity primarily settled in the Western nations, where the bulk of the Israelites had migrated from Assyria. Archeologists call them Caucasians, because many of them passed through the Caucasus mountains, located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Yet just as many spread across the northern part of Asia Minor (now Turkey) and made up the bulk of the populations of Cappadocia, Bithynia, and Pontus. In the fourth century, this area was a particular stronghold of the early Church.

In other words, the theory of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists preaching in the time of the Great Tribulation begins to break down when we see that there are many more Israelite Christians than Jewish Christians. If all Israelites are going to remain on earth during the Great Tribulation, then one would have to teach that only Asian and African Christians will be raptured, and that there will be literally tens of millions of Israelite Christians on earth during that time.

The point is that these views are based not only upon a certain ignorance of the law, but also upon ignorance of history and archeology. We do not mean to be critical, of course, because the Word prophesied that Israel would be lost and presumed dead for many years. When Jacob-Israel said to Joseph in Genesis 48:11, "I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well," he prophesied of our time. The Church, too, will soon say, "We never expected to see the lost tribes of Israel again, but God has now allowed us to see the birthright promise fulfilled, for Israel has indeed produced an abundance of children, both physical and spiritual."

Because the Age of Pentecost has now run its course, the Age of Tabernacles is now coming into focus. A new understanding of the Bible and of prophecy will also come as the plan of God unfolds. The veil that has been upon Israel is now ready to be removed. The veil upon the overcomers, too, is about to be removed to manifest the glory of God in the highest level. This will bring many changes in our understanding of God and His word, and this will in turn bring about many upheavals in political systems and social behavior throughout the world. All men will begin to learn the laws and ways of God, and they will learn to apply them not only to individual actions, but also to national laws and policies that will bring freedom and Jubilee to all.