“And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17, emphasis added
This verse is heavily debated among people all over the globe as to whether or not it was possible for a man to live inside of a fish for three days. The reality is that if God so desired it, Jonah could have lived for three weeks, three months, or three years. In fact, Jesus believed in the story of Jonah, “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” (Matt. 12:40).
God appointed or literally “prepared” this fish for this mission. The whole earth is the Lord’s and all that dwells in it. The Bible teaches us that God is the sovereign Creator over all creation and creatures. This includes this great fish. God prepared the fish for this task of rescuing Jonah.
Our God is so sovereign that even as his children run from him, he will prepare a fish which is not intended to judge or condemn but rather redeem and restore. You may have a child today who is running from God and your heart is broken. You may have a co-worker who used to go to worship with you and now can’t be found on Sunday mornings. Maybe a past mentor has left the faith. Pray for God to send the “fish” he has prepared for their rescue!
So, for three days and three nights, the prophet who had the word of God was submerged, missing, buried, out of sight of the people. This is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ experience in being “buried . . . [and] raised on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:4) but who would rise from death (Matt. 12:40).
In addition, some scholars teach that early Christians used the symbol of the fish to decorate around their baptismal pools. The reason being is that there is a picture of Jonah entering the water as a sinner, rescued by the fish prepared (God’s grace) and soon to be spat out back on the shore. So too, Jesus becomes the fish that was prepared to swim to our rescue in our death—and deliver us to life.