Was the story of Jonah and the whale a fact or a fiction?

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According to the Old Testament Scriptures, God’s prophet Jonah disobeyed the Lord and was swallowed by a great sea creature. For three days, he dwelt in the creature’s belly, until he repented and was vomited onto the land and given another chance to obey God. To some, the story of Jonah finds a place in the Scriptures, not as a factual narrative but as a myth or allegory.

But what did Jesus say about this story?

“Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38-41).

Clearly, Jesus accepted this story as an accurate description of a real, historical event. He included not only the fact that the prophet spent three days in the belly of the fish, but also confirmed that the city of Nineveh repented at his preaching. If the story of Jonah was an allegory or myth, Jesus’ entire point about being in the belly of the Earth for as long as the prophet was in the belly of the fish would be invalid.

A person cannot consistently maintain a belief in Jesus and His teachings, while denying the details of the accounts that He taught as factual.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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