The Sign Of Jonah

Posted by Cindybythesea

Gray Whale spotted off Herliya Marina, Israel

Living in Hawaii for the past ten years, I’ve developed a great appreciation for the mammoth creatures who inhabit the deep known as whales. Every year during the winter months the Humpback Whales make their way from Alaska to the warmer waters of the southern Pacific for giving birth to their young. It’s not uncommon during these winter months to witness from the shore an occasional fluke, fin, blast of spray or breach – all of which are an unforgettable sight, no matter how many times you’ve seen it! So, when I read a post on Five Doves yesterday posted by Susan, “Largest whale ever seen spotted in Israel,” – it immediately caught my attention.

“Now the Lord prepared a great fish” Jonah 1:17

For those of you who may have missed the story out of Israel Saturday May 8, a 40 foot long Gray Whale was spotted off the coast of Tel Aviv. Called by one news article, “the most amazing whale sighting in history”. It is truly astonishing, when you realize that these whales have been extinct in the Atlantic since the 1700′s; that’s more than 300 years! And, with only 20,000 or so of these amazing animals still in existence, it is equally incredible that one of them should make the incredibly long journey from the Pacific to the Mediterranean in a journey that is truly baffling to scientists. For the whale would have either had to swim through the Panama canal, through the Bering Strait near the ice cap or around the Cape of Africa, all of which are nothing short of miraculous considering the extremely long distances involved. And, with Israel figuring so predominantly in the news these days and in light of Biblical prophecy being fulfilled, I can’t help, but, think that the sighting of this whale off the coast of Tel Aviv is signficant.

- the sign of Jonah

One of the news articles I read was titled: Mediterranean Gray whale appears ‘back from the dead’. I liked that title. For the author, I believe unbeknownst to him, was making a prophetic statement. In Matthew 12:38, some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus asking him for a miraculous sign. And, according to Luke 11:16, what they were requesting was a heavenly sign, perhaps a sign in the skies. It was not enough for them, as it says in Luke 7:22, that “the blind see, the lame walk and the leper is purified.” They wanted something more – and this is how Jesus answered them.

“A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign. But, none will be given it except for the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Ninevah will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” Matthew 12:39-41

Most of us are familiar with this passage and understand it rightly so to pertain to the resurrection. But, I believe in looking at the book of Jonah, there may be a secondary application as well. For Jonah is listed as one of the minor prophets, and a prophet he is indeed.

- whale song

Based on the size of the whale, scientists believe the whale spotted off the coast of Israel is that of a mature adult. Mature gray whales from what I have read, are 40 -45 feet in length and have a life expectancy of 50 – 70 years. Splitting those numbers down the middle, it would be a safe bet, to say that this particular whale is approximately 60 years old. Which, if this should be the case, its birth would have coincided with the birth of Israel in 1948! Interesting, as both the whale and the nation of Israel once considered dead, are not only not dead, but, are alive and thriving today and close to rounding out a generation of 70 years.

We know from an analysis of numbers in scripture, that the number 40 speaks of a time of trial, chastisement and probation. And, the number 70 (seven the number of completion) denotes a generation. Because the final seven years of history primarily concern Israel, I believe the size and age of this whale are direct indications that the time of Jacob’s trouble is at hand. A confirmation that the “sign of Jonah” given to the Pharisee’s who approached Jesus in disbelief was a sign not only for them, but, for Israel today, who, like the Pharisee’s of old, remain largely in unbelief. For what is the book of Jonah about, if it is not repentance.

Listen to the prayer of Jonah as he prayed inside the belly of the great fish and apply it to unbelieving Israel today.

“In my distress I called to the Lord and he answered me. From the depths of the watery grave, I called for help and you listened to my cry. You hurled me in to the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, I have been banished from your sight, yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters threatened me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down, the earth beneath barred me in forever. But, you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that would be theirs. But I, with a song of Thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2:2-9

Yes, salvation is of the Lord. Something Israel will realize when they have sunk to the bottom of the depths as Jonah did, with nowhere to turn and no one to call on, but, God. As I pondered the significance of the sighting, I wondered if it was a sign for Israel or a sign for the church and I decided it was both. I believe it is first and foremost a sign for Israel, for the whale was sighted very close to land, not more than a mile off the shore of Tel Aviv. To me this indicates that this pertains to Israel. It pertains to us the church only in the sense that God has given us the eyes to see and to recognize that the time is at hand. Scientists may be baffled as to how the whale arrived in the Mediterranean, but, I am not. God brought the whale in the same way he brought the animals to the ark – he called them. And after he called them, he closed the door of the ark on Noah and his family.

An interesting side note – After the repentant Jonah arrived in Nineveh, he preached to the city that they would have forty days to repent. Forty days from the first sighting of the whale on May 8 is June 17, – the 5th of Tammuz on the Jewish calendar AND the anniversary of Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot. A vision which has to do with many heavenly mysteries including – the heavens and firmament, angels and the twelve tribes of Israel; something which may be alluded to in Revelation 7:1.

“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: Do not harm the land, the sea or the trees, until we put a seal of God on the foreheads of the servants of our God. Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from the tribes of Israel.” Rev. 7:1-4

Will the twelve tribes of Israel be sealed forty days from the sighting of the whale? I don’t know, but, I can tell you this – we who are waiting and watching for the return of Jesus are going home soon! We have witnessed the sign of Jonah and the time of Jacob’s trouble is ready to begin.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love thee! Psalm 122:6 Watching and waiting with YOU for the soon return of Jesus! Cindy