For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.(Matthew 12:40) ESV
The sign of Jonah is one of those things which looks like a Biblical inconsistency and the various ways that Christian scholars have tried to resolve it don’t work. On the face of it, it looks like Jesus lied.
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.(Matthew 16:4) KJV
Jesus said that the son of man would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth. We believe he was captured in the garden of Gethsemane on a Thursday night. Overnight and during Friday he was tried and convicted and sentenced to death by crucifixion. We believe that he was crucified on Friday night. If he rose from the grave and was seen by first the women and then other disciples on Sunday, then he really only spent two nights and two days in the grave.
This kind of thing makes atheists salivate, and all attempts to resolve this run up against the practical limitations of the calendar. No matter how you slice this it doesn’t add up to 3 days and 3 nights.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.(Psalms 146:3) KJV
What if there’s a better way to understand this? Perhaps he wasn’t referring to his own burial. Ezekiel is also referred to as the son of man. The son of man doesn’t only refer to Jesus. The Lord referred to Ezekiel as son of man on many occasions. The son of man could be referring to all men. Could it be that the son of man is everyone who had died since Noah who had been waiting in sheol, the underworld realm of the dead?
After the crucifixion Jesus descended into the lower parts of the Earth to retrieve the souls of the Old Testament saints, some of whom had been waiting since the world was destroyed in Noah’s flood. It’s the place that we refer to as Abraham’s bosom. We can understand how the old saints experienced the passage of time while they were there because we’ve developed the doctrine of gravitational time dilation.
- IF 1 day on Earth’s surface = 1,000 years at the radial distance of the firmament,
- AND at the center of the Earth time isn’t passing,
- THEN 1,000 years on Earth’s surface = 1 day at a certain depth inside the Earth.
If Noah’s flood was in the 1,656 year of creation (about 2,344 BC) and Jesus was crucified in approximately 33 AD then about 2,377 years passed between Noah’s flood and the crucifixion. The flood was about 2,400 years before the crucifixion.
If time slows down as we go closer to the center of the Earth, then at a certain depth the 2,400 years would be perceived as three nights and three days. The OT saints who were in Sheol would only have been aware of the passage of 3 days. 3 days? Isn’t that interesting?
Perhaps the sign of Jonah refers to the OT saints who had been in Sheol for 3 nights and 3 days, who he would gather up after his crucifixion? That’s thinking outside the box folks. Christians take heed: most of you are thinking inside a box which has had its parameters dictated by popular science (SciPop).
The image is from In My Words… Jonah (Part 1) – The Sign