Take your Bible NIV and turn to Matthew 12:40.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish [ketos, sea monster],
so the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.
This is a remarkable record because very few believe in the historicity of the Book of Jonah and that it was literally true. They speak of it as being a myth or a fable. Whenever Jesus himself documents something, I just have no question about it at all, and certainly here we have a documentation that Jonah was in the sea monster’s belly 3 days and 3 nights. That is not a figure; it is a literal truth. The “3 days and 3 nights” make it a period of 72 hours, and it relates itself to that period of time when Christ was in the earth “3 days and 3 nights”.
Tradition can, perhaps, squeeze “3 days and 2 nights” between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but what does it do with the 3rd night? And, if we believe it is 72 hours between 3 p.m. Friday and early Sunday morning, we need a new adding machine. The Bible is clear that between the time Jesus died at 3 p.m. Wednesday and arose at 3 p.m. Saturday, that is exactly “3 days and 3 nights” AND precisely 72 hours. When are Christians going to start celebrating the resurrection of their Savior on Saturday afternoon instead of the false tradition of Sunday morning? When are they going to believe literally Mark 15:34-37 by adding 72 hours to the ninth hour [3 p.m.]?
As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites [read Luke 11:30], so the Son of man, Jesus Christ, was a sign of his commitment to his generation. Jesus put Jonah on the same level regarding the sign that he put himself. That puts Jonah in a very high category in God’s opinion, and in mine also.
Furthermore, he was 3 days and 3 nights [which is a sign of completeness and fulfillment], in a sea monster. Some doubt this story because they can’t believe a person can live in a fish’s belly for 3 days. Well, nor can I. Therefore, regarding Matthew 12:40, the “as…so” puts it in the category of death. “AS” Jesus was dead for 3 days and 3 nights, “SO” Jonah was now dead. After he got spewed out [Jonah 2:10] on the way to where he did not want to go in the first place, God brought him back to life, as He did for Lazarus. Both Jonah and Lazarus, however, died again, and today they both are dead and unconscious, awaiting the resurrection. Amen
Sidney Terhune P. O. Box 6, Wash. C. H., OH