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Jonah and Jesus

Bob Yandian

“Show Us A Sign”

“Some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For 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. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” Matthew 12:38-41

Jesus answered the Pharisees that the only sign they will get is the sign of of the Prophet Jonah. Because He makes a comparison between Jonah and Himself in these verses when He refers to Himself as “one greater than Jonah,” we must look at what happened to Jonah in the belly of the whale in order to realize the significance of what happened to “one greater than Jonah” in the belly of the earth.

Often the story of Jonah is interpreted to mean that you shouldn’t run from the call of God. If you do, He has a big whale waiting for you. However, this is not the essence of the story at all. In fact, Jonah wasn’t running from God. He was running from having to tell the Gentiles about God! He was very much like the religious Pharisees of Jesus’ day that wanted to see a sign from Him. He was jealous and possessive of God’s message. In Jonah’s mind salvation belonged to the Jews and he didn’t want to take the Jewish message to the Gentiles of Ninevah.

Cast Out of God’s Sight

Jonah 1:17 we learn that… “the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, Jesus would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

We learn what took place in the whale in Jonah 2:1-3. “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me.”

Verse 4 says, “Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’” When Jesus died on the cross He was cast out of God’s sight when He went to the heart of the earth. In Matthew 5:25-26, Jesus is saying, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” In the natural Jesus was talking about a civil case, but on a spiritual level, He was referring to the time when He would be cast into the prison of the heart of the earth. Also, we can assume that Jesus’ spiritual adversary is Satan. Although Jesus is saying to agree with your adversary in order to avoid the consequences, we know that He could never agree with Satan. Therefore, Jesus had to suffer the consequences described in these verses. He was “delivered to the judge” when He was placed on the cross where His Father stood in judgement over Him. At this time the Father had to turn His back on His Son and this caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Then Jesus was “turned over to the officer.” More exactly, He was legally turned over to the devil and was cast into the prison of hell. Remember, according to Matthew 5:26, He could not come out until He had paid the last penny, the entire debt. Then, and only then, would hell have to release Him.

Other Parallels Between Jesus and Jonah

“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:9-10). Just as Jonah was vomited out upon dry land, Jesus was spit out from the heart of the earth. This can only mean He must have paid the entire debt for mankind!

After Jonah came out of the fish’s belly, the Lord told him to arise (Jonah 3:2). Likewise, when Jesus came out of the heart of the earth, He “arose”, or more explicitly, He “rose again” in that He was resurrected.

When the Lord spoke to Jonah this time, he obeyed and went to Ninevah. As Jonah walked through the great city of Nenevah, …he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (John 3:4) Why did God want him to warn the people of imminent destruction? It was God’s desire to give them a chance to repent and He knew that their repentance would stave off destruction. The people heard Jonah and repented. As a result, “then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). A parallel is found n the forty days of grace which God gave to Ninvah and the forty days Jesus walked the earth in His resurrected body before He ascended into heaven.

Jonah preached a simple message of repentance during these forty days. In the same manner, Jesus’ message was the simple plan of redemption to turn from old ways and turn towards Him. When we believe, we too are saved from destruction. We should all have been destroyed, but Jesus took our place. Our destruction has been stayed. Furthermore, when destruction does come - and it will - God will spare believers just as He spared the repentant people of Ninevah. Isn’t that good news?

One Greater Than Jonah is Here!

When we come back to Matthew 12:41, Jesus is speaking to the unbelieving Pharisees who would not accept Him as Messiah even though He personally preached to them, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” This is truly an indictment against religious people. Jesus tells them that their wickedness is greater than the wickedness of the people of Ninevah since Ninevah acknowledged their wickedness and repented on hearing Jonah’s preaching. These Pharisees who seem outwardly moral and so inwardly wicked that even the preaching of “one greater than Jonah,” the Lord Jesus Christ, will not bring them to repentance; therefore, they must be judged. These men had their chance to turn from spiritual death and they refused. Simply by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior they could have avoided this. Believers don’t have to pay the wages of sin and spiritual death because Jesus went to the cross and suffered in hell for them. While in hell, He paid the price to the very last penny.

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Joseph the Dreamer

Bob Yandian

Many of you have a call on your life and a God-given dream in your heart, and you feel as if you have messed up the plan of God.  You may feel that He is through with your life.  I have a good test for you to see if God is through with you: put your hand over your heart, and if it is still beating, God is not through with your life!  Until you die, however, the plans, dreams, and hopes God gave to you many years ago are still intact.

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Mary and Martha: A Study in Grace

Bob Yandian

When their brother Lazarus died, both sisters were hit equally hard by the tragedy. Both blamed Jesus for being late and not caring that their brother died. Jesus' loyalty and love for the family was challenged in public. We know the story, Jesus seemed to have arrived late, Lazarus had already been dead for four days, yet Jesus still raised him from the dead. The result was that many who were scoffers believed in Jesus when they saw the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:41-45). 

The issue is not the coming of trials and difficulties, but how we handle them.  We see two sisters, one grace oriented and one wrapped up in works, facing the same problem and dealing with it the same, blaming Jesus.  But how did the two sisters handle the resulting miracle Jesus performed?

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Leah Learns to Rest

Bob Yandian

When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben for she said, “The Lord has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.”  Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.  (Genesis 29:31-35)

After Leah had a child, she was alright for a while, but old habits were hard to break. Her rest between children was only temporary and she quickly went back to her previous ways. Leah was unloved by her husband Jacob. She kept trying to please him with children, hoping that she would win him over to her. That did not work for her and will not work for you.

 Leah Was Used by Her Father

The story of Jacob and Leah is a Bible example of God turning cursing to blessing, first for Leah and finally for Jacob. Their marriage was a trick pulled on Jacob by his boss, Leah’s father, Laban. Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years for his other daughter, the beautiful, Rachel. When the marriage day came, the father substituted Leah and Jacob did not know until the next morning. Jacob was reaping what he had sown. He had been swindled out of the bride he wanted in the same manner he had swindled his own father out of his brother’s birthright.  Jacob’s life of cheating others continued after the story of the birthright, and now he had to face retribution. Now he was the one being cheated.

More work was involved before Jacob could have Rachel as his wife. But Leah loved Jacob though she knew he preferred her sister. One advantage Leah had, was she could easily bear children and she did. Her sister Rachel was barren.

Leah is typical of so many women who try to win their husband’s affection by having children, hoping to make him feel obligated to love them and stay. Leah tried to win her husband’s love by works and not by faith. She put her trust in her own plotting and scheming and did not put her trust in God. But, God’s grace is still seen in the story. God was gracious to Leah by giving her many baby boys to present as sons to Jacob. After the birth of Judah, Leah began to rest in her bearing of children and in her faith. She had Judah and chose to praise the Lord and quit trying to gain Jacobs love through her works. But soon, for the second time, she went back to trying to win Jacob by having more two children.

 And Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So, she called his name Zebulun (Genesis 30:20).

God’s Plan, Or Our Plan

A major difference between the life of grace and the life of works is time. If you wait on the Lord, standing on His grace and promises, the answer will come, but usually not as soon as your flesh wants it. Often, while waiting in faith, we become frustrated and switch to trying to get our answers ourselves, by our own strength. We do this, knowing full well God says, “not by might or power but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

The works of the flesh seem to offer a quicker solution. After all we know people in high places, capable of helping us. We remember old tricks we have used in the past which brought answers, why not use them again? The problem with our own devices is they do not bring lasting results. The prosperity brought on by our own ideas will run out of our hands. God’s answers may take longer, but they are sure, and the results can be passed on from one generation to another, to our children and children’s children.

The Power of Patience

Why does God’s plans take longer than ours? Time helps develop character. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we have need of patience, so after we have done the will of God we might receive the promise (Hebrews 6:12). We are more interested in the results of our faith than developing character. God wants us to be a better believer by the time the answer comes. God knows, and we should too, that trials and storms will come before the answer arrives. He wants to see how we handle the storms before He will see us over to the other side where our prayers and faith are answered. He wants to know if we will give up when the pressure is great. It is not the storm that makes us strong, but the faith we use in the storm that builds us up.

Leah became the classic example of doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. What she strived for in her own strength she eventually found in her faith. We are not told all the reasons why, but Jacob eventually found a deep love for Leah. And, at his death, Jacob was buried beside Leah, not Rachel. It could be the old adage, when we get the thing we so wanted, it is usually not as good as we imagined.

What's the Hold Up? (MP3s)
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Outlasting Trials (MP3s)
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Naaman the Leper

Bob Yandian

He was "honorable.”  Naaman was true to himself. His word was his bond and a handshake from him was all that was needed. Naaman was high in royal favor because he was trustworthy, not only on the field of battle, but in private business with his family, the people of Syria and the king. "By him, the Lord had given deliverance to Syria.”  He had unknowingly been used by God to win victories. His heart was open to know the truth and God was using and preparing him to become a believer in the Lord.  Naaman had a divine destiny.   But, "He was a leper."

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Ruth: A Stranger No More

Bob Yandian

Through the life of Ruth, we see how God has a plan for our life. Just as Boaz accepted her into the family, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been brought into His family. No longer do you belong to the prince of this world. Satan is as powerless over you as he was over Ruth when she decided to follow after God.

By a simple act of faith, we can be brought into the family by our Kinsman Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for us, and who wants to bring us into the family and share equally everything that belongs to Him!

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Abraham, Jacob and You

Bob Yandian

Do you remember the children’s story of King Midas and how everything he touched turned to gold? According to Psalm 1:3, a believer has something in common with Midas because, “… everything he puts his hand to shall prosper.” Unfortunately for Midas, he learned too late that there are many things more necessary than gold. While a believer may prosper, he has the wisdom gained by renewing his mind with the Word to make Jesus and not riches the most important thing in his life.

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God's Covenant With David

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Throughout the Word we are told to study. When we become part of the covenant and begin to study, our thinking should begin to become more like God’s. However, this change is not so that our spirits will change; they were immediately transformed when we were born again. The part of us that needs to change is our mind or soul.

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Just as Mephibosheth probably stumbled, we have all stumbled and fallen. Yet, despite our falling, a place is still prepared for us at the table of God. Have you ever noticed that when you’re sitting around the table, you can’t see your feet. The table of God hides all your blemishes, your faults, your failures. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s son, continually cleanses you from all sin. 

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The Blessings of Abraham

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Abraham was a heathen of heathens. He was involved in witchcraft and astrology. I know he wasn’t in very good health. His wife was barren; they couldn’t have children. And there they were, serving the devil. But one day the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him and gave him these promises. He said, “you follow after me and all these promises will be yours.” Abraham followed after Him and the Lord redeemed him. God drew up a covenant between Abraham and his seed. It says, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. . .” What are the promises? The blessings.

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The Rich Young Ruler

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The story of the rich young ruler who knelt before Jesus and asked this question.  While this question may sound spiritual, it is actually ill-informed. A person doesn’t do anything to be worthy of an inheritance. He is born an heir.

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The first Biblical reference to a covenant is the one God made with Noah. Actually, it involved more than Noah, for God said that it ” is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh “(Genesis 9: 15a).

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