The ‘three days’ difficulty

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

July/August 2015 Issue – Pursued by Grace,  ‘I know that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love’  (Jonah 4:2)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Jonah 1:17 (NIVUK):“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about the three days and three nights Jonah found himself inside a great fish; the main reason was to ‘save’ Jonah from himself – from his stubborn refusal to obey the word of God – a second, perhaps an even more important reason, was to prefigure the death and resurrection of our Lord.

He continues to address the issue of three days, which in Hebrew culture at that time, did not necessarily mean three full days. As he states: “on occasion it was used to denote one full day and part of two others“.

He goes on to say: “Jesus was put to death on a Friday afternoon, was in the tomb all day Saturday, and was resurrected on the Sunday morning.” This time span meets the requirements of three days (one full day and two part days) and three nights, and therefore ‘matches’ the three days and three nights that Jonah spent inside a great fish.

I never worry about these sort of details; the main point is that Jonah was cut off from the living for a short period of time (exactly how long is not important) and was restored to life (and this included a restore relationship with God).  Likewise, Jesus was cut off from the living, for a short time, and then entered into His glorious resurrection, with all of creation restored into a right relationship with God. How great is that!

In the Old Testament, we read Isaiah 53:7-9, 11a, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. … After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; … “

These verse again give us the general information that Jesus was to be cut off from the land of the living and then see the light of life – resurrection. Just as Jonah saw the light and was then ‘expelled’ by the great fish onto dry land – the exact length of time, is of no real consequence. Do you agree?