WHAT WAS THE SIGN OF JONAH?

by Ahmed Deedat


"CHRIST" NOT A NAME

Over a thousand million Christians today blindly accept that Jesus of
Nazareth is the Christ.  They produce "a thousand and one" prophecies from
the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament) to prove their claim that Jesus was the
Messiah promised to the Jews.  Let us hold the "thousand" prophecies in
abeyance for a moment and examine the only unequivocal claim made by Jesus in
the Gospels and examine whether he fulfilled his promise to the Jews.

We must admit that the word CHRIST is not a name.  It is a title.  It is a
translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning "anointed".  The Greek word
for "anointed" is Christos from which we get the word Christ.  Priests and
kings were "anointed" when being consecrated to their office.  The Holy Bible
confers this title even on a heathen king CYRUS (Isaiah 45:1).

We are reminded in the Gospel of St. Luke that "WHEN EIGHT DAYS WERE 
ACCOMPLISHED FOR THE CIRCUMCISING OF THE CHILD, HIS NAME WAS CALLED JESUS,
WHICH WAS SO NAMED OF THE ANGEL BEFORE HE WAS CONCEIVED IN THE WOMB." (Luke
2:21).  The name that was given to Mary for her yet unborn son was JESUS and
NOT Christ.  It was only after his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist
that he, Jesus, claimed to be the Christ.  The Jews were not the ones to
accept his claim on its face value.  They wanted proof!


MIRACLE AS PROOF

Matthew records that the learned men among the Jews -- the Scribes and
Pharisees -- came to Jesus and asked, "MASTER, WE WOULD SEE A SIGN FROM THEE"
(Matthew 12:38).  What they really wanted was some "magic trick", some
"sleight of hand" like producing a rabbit out of a hat or walking on the
water or flying in the air or trodding on burning coal.  This is the type of
"sign" or MIRACLE they were looking for.  The Jews mistook him for a
sorcerer, a wizard, a charlatan.


NO "SIGN" BUT ONE

With righteous indignation Jesus replies: "AN EVIL AND ADULTEROUS GENERATION 
SEEKETH AFTER A SIGN; AND THERE SHALL NO SIGN (no miracle) BE GIVEN TO IT,
BUT THE SIGN (miracle) OF THE PROPHET JONAS: FOR AS JONAS WAS THREE DAYS AND
THREE NIGHTS IN THE WHALE'S BELLY; SO SHALL THE SON OF MAN BE THREE DAYS AND
THREE NIGHTS IN THE HEART OF THE EARTH." (Matthew 12:39-40).  Jesus says, "NO
SIGN".  He does not refer the Jews to blind Barimeus whose sight he had
restored.  He does not speak about the "woman with issues" who was healed by
merely touching him; or about the 2000 pigs he had destroyed to heal "a man
possessed"; or the 5000 and the 3000 people he had fed and 
satiated with a few pieces of bread.  "No sign", says Jesus, BUT ONE! -- "THE
SIGN OF THE PROPHET JONAS"!  He is putting all his "eggs" in one basket.  His
claim to being the Messiah (Christ) stands or falls by the ONLY "sign" he was
prepared to give.  Did Jesus fulfill the only sign he gave?  Christendom
answers with a unanimous Y-E-S! without heeding the Biblical advice -- 'not
to take things for granted' -- but "PROVE ALL THINGS"! (1 Thessalonians 5:21)


JONAH FLEES HIS CALL

What was the "sign" (miracle) of Jonah?  We have to go to the "Book of Jonah"
in the Old Testament to find out.  God commanded Jonah to go to Ninevites to
repent from their "evil ways, and from the violence that is in their hands."
(Jonah 3:8).  But Jonah was loath to go as a warner unto the Ninevites, so he
goes to Joppa instead of Ninevah, and takes a boat to run away from the
Lord's command.

While at sea, there was a terrible tempest.  According to the superstition of
the mariners, a person fleeing from his Master's command creates such a
turmoil at sea.  They began to inquire among themselves and said, "COME, AND
LET US CAST LOTS, (like tossing of a coin, "head" or "tail") THAT WE MAY KNOW
FOR WHOSE CAUSE THIS EVIL IS UPON US.  SO THEY CAST LOTS, AND THE LOT FELL
UPON JONAH." (Jonah 1:7).  Though there was a temporary lapse on the part of
Jonah in fulfilling his mission, he manfully and most courageously
volunteers: 
"AND HE SAID UNTO THEM TAKE ME UP, AND CAST FORTH INTO THE SEA; SO SHALL THE
SEA BE CALM UNTO YOU: FOR I KNOW THAT FOR MY SAKE THIS GREAT TEMPEST IS UPON
YOU." (Jonah 1:12).


DEAD OR ALIVE?

Since Jonah was selflessly offering himself as a "vicarious" sacrifice there
was no need for strangling him before throwing him into the sea, no need to
spear him or break his arm or limb.  In his own words: "TAKE ME UP AND CAST
ME FORTH".  The question now arises, that when the shipmaster and the crew
threw him overboard, was Jonah dead or alive?  Any Christian child who
attended Sunday School will give an immediate reply: "ALIVE!".  The storm
subsides.  Was this perhaps a coincidence?  A fish swallows Jonah.  Was he
dead or alive when swallowed?  The answer again is "ALIVE".  Was he dead or
alive when "JONAH PRAYED UNTO THE LORD HIS GOD OUT OF THE FISH'S BELLY"?
(Jonah 2:1)

Surely dead men don't cry and don't pray!  The answer again is "ALIVE".  For
three days and three nights the fish takes him around the ocean: dead or
alive?  "ALIVE!" is the answer.  On the third day it vomits him on the
seashore: dead or alive?  A-L-I-V-E, of course!  What had Jesus prophesied
about himself?  He said: "AS JONAH WAS ... SO SHALL THE SON OF MAN BE" "soos
Jonah" -- "njenga Jonah" -- LIKE JONAH.  And how was Jonah?  Was he dead or
alive for three days and nights?  Alive! Alive! Alive! is the unanimous
answer from the Jew, the Christian and the Muslim!


UNLIKE JONAH

If Jonah was alive for three days and three nights, then Jesus also ought to
have been alive in the tomb as he himself had foretold!  But Christianity
hangs on the flimsy thread of the "death" of Jesus for its salvation.  So it
has to answer that Jesus was dead for three days and three nights.  The
contradiction between his utterance and its fulfillment is obvious.  Jonah
ALIVE, Jesus DEAD!  Very UNLIKE Jonah!  Jesus had said " LIKE Jonah" not
"UNLIKE Jonah.  If this is true then according to his own test Jesus is not 
the TRUE Messiah of the Jews.  If the Gospel record is genuine then how can
we blame the Jews for rejecting "CHRIST"?


THREE AND THREE = 72 HOURS?

The Doctor of Divinity and the Professor of Theology replies that in Matthew
12:40 under discussion, the emphasis is on the TIME factor -- "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."  "Please
note", says the learned theologian, "that the word "THREE" is repeated
F-O-U-R times in this verse to prove that Jesus was going to fulfill the
prophecy as regards the length of time he was going to remain in the tomb,
and NOT 'As Jonah was' in relation to his being alive or dead.  If it is the
time factor that Jesus was stressing then let us ask whether he fulfilled
that aspect of his promise to the Jews as well.  The Christian dogmatist
answers: "OF COURSE!"


PUBLIC HOLIDAY

The question arises: when was Christ crucified?  The whole Christian world
answers: "FRIDAY!"  Is this the reason we celebrate "Good Friday" --
"Gooi-Vrydag" -- as a Public Holiday in the Republic of South Africa?  And
every Christian nation from America to Zambia, from Abyssinia to Zaire have a
Public Holiday on the "FRIDAY" at Easter.  What makes "Good Friday" so good?
 "It is the death of Christ on the cross on this day to wash off our sins,"
says the Christians.  So he was killed on the cross on a Friday, 1950 years
ago?  "Yes!" says the Christians.  From the Gospel records we gather that the
Jews were in a hurry to eliminate Jesus.  Hence the midnight trial, and then
dispatching him off to Pilate in the morning; from Pilate to Herod and then
back again to Pilate.  The vested interests were afraid of the general
public.  Jesus was their hero.  He had been their benefactor.  His enemies
had to do away with him quickly, and succeeded in doing so.  However, as much
as they were in a hurry to hang him on the cross, they were in equal hurry to
bring him down from the cross before sunset on Friday because of the Sabbath.
 The Sabbath starts at about 6 p.m. on Friday and the Jews were warned in
Deuteronomy 21:23 that the victim of crucifixion was an "accursed of God" and
was not to be permitted to remain hanging on the Sabbath day, "that thy land
be not defiled which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance".  To
satisfy the religious scruples of the Scribes and Pharisees the "secret
disciples" of Jesus took down the body from the cross.  They gave the body
the Jewish burial-bath, plastered it with "one hundred pounds weight of
aaloes and myrrh" (John 19:39), then placed the shrouded body into the
sepulcher before night-fall.


WHY "SUPPOSED"?

There are numerous differences between the various sects and denominations of

Christianity, but on the above they are unanimous.  Jesus is SUPPOSED to be
in the tomb on the night of Friday.  He is still SUPPOSED to be in the tomb
on the day of Saturday.  He is still SUPPOSED to be in the tomb on the night
of Saturday.  Christians agree whole-heartedly with this.  It will be noted
that I have repeated the word 'SUPPOSED' three times.  The reason is that the
Gospels are silent as to when exactly Jesus came out of the tomb.  He could
have been taken away on Friday night by his "secret disciples" to a more
congenial and restful place, but I have no right to assume about what the
Gospel writers are silent.  I have, therefore, repeated the word 'SUPPOSED'
three times.

In the final analysis, let us see whether Jesus was THREE days and THREE
nights 
in the tomb:

|===========================================================|       |
                                                                         |
        IN THE SEPULCHER   |
|                EASTER WEEK
                                 |===================== |
|                                                                          |
   DAYS   |     NIGHTS         |
===========================================================|
| FRIDAY ---> Placed in tomb just                          |   - nil -      |
 One Night          |
|             before sunset.                                        |
                |                          |
|                                                                          |
                |                          |
| SATURDAY--> Supposed to be in the tomb.          |  One Day  |  One Night
        |
|                                                                          |
                |                          |
| SUNDAY ---> Missing before sunrise.                   |   - nil -       |
 - nil -                |
|                                                                          |
                |                          |
============================================================|
|                                                          TOTAL      |   One
Day  |  Two Nights        |
=============================================================

You will no doubt note that the GRAND TOTAL is ONE day and TWO nights, and
NOT 
three days and three nights.  According to the Christian Scriptures Jesus had
failed a SECOND time.  FIRST he was unlike Jonah, who was ALIVE in the belly
of the fish, which is exact opposite of what the Christians claim had
happened to their master Jesus, who was dead for the same period of time as
Jonah was -- ALIVE.  

SECONDLY, we discover that he also failed to fulfill the TIME FACTOR as well.
 The greatest mathematician in Christendom will fail to obtain the desired
result -- THREE days and THREE nights.  We must not forget that the Gospels
are explicit in telling us that it was "before sunrise" on Sunday morning
(the First day of the week), that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus
and found it empty.


"GOOD" WEDNESDAY

The Armstrong family has debunked the whole Christian world.  They seem to
know 
their arithmetic!  Mr. Robert Fahey of the "Plain Truth" magazine, delivered
a lecture recently at the "Holiday Inn", Durban, where I was present.  Mr.
Fahey attempted to prove to his Christian audience that Jesus Christ was
crucified on a Wednesday and not on Friday, as is supposed by Orthodox
Christianity for the past two thousand years.  According to him if one counts
backwards from Sunday morning deducting 3 DAYS and 3 NIGHTS, one ought to get
WEDNESDAY as the answer.

I congratulated Mr. Fahey for his ingenuity.  I asked him, how was it
possible for the past two thousand years the whole Christian world celebrated
GOOD FRIDAY instead of GOOD WEDNESDAY.  Thus the 1200000000 Christians of the
world today are ignorant of the correct day of the so called crucifixion!  It
means that even the Roman Catholic Church -- which claims an unbroken chain
of Popes from Peter to this day -- according to Mr. Fahey are mislead.


GOD OR THE DEVIL?

The question arises, who deceived the millions of Christians for the past TWO

THOUSAND years.  GOD or the DEVIL?  Mr. Fahey categorically answered: "THE 
DEVIL!"

"If the devil", I said, "can succeed in confusing the Christians in the most
elementary things of their Faith, whether to celebrate a Good Friday or a
Good Wednesday, then how much easier for him to mislead Christians in other
things concerning God?"  Mr. Fahey blushed and walked away.

If this is the belief of the trend-setters of the Christian Faith in the
world today, may we not then ask: is this not the mightiest hoax in history?




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