The Holy Spirit emphasis on living in His Presence, rather than seeking signs, continued today as He expounded some of the teaching of Jesus to us, using the Old Testament prophet, Jonah, and his testimony.
There are two accounts in the same Gospel of Matthew, where the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign.
Matthew 12:38 – 41
38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered,saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee.
39 But He answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 For as Jonah 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.
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgement with this generation and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, a greater than Jonah is here.
Matthew 16:1 – 4
1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired that He would show them a sign from heaven.
2 He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather today for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the sign of the times?
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet, Jonah.
We are living in tumultuous times. In the last passage, verse 3, Jesus asked, “…can you not discern THE SIGN OF THE TIMES?” God help us to be like the children of Issachar recorded in I Chronicles 12:32, “….which were men who had understanding of the times.”
In the Matthew passages quoted above, Jesus declared that a wicked generation seeks after a sign, and the only sign given was that of the prophet, Jonah.
The Old Testament Book of Jonah is a concise account of a man, full of patriotic zeal, who did not want the Lord to be gracious to the wicked, gentile nations of Nineveh, the Hebrews enemies. Jonah rebelled against the call of God on his life to deliver a warning message of repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah’s hatred of his enemies took precedence over his obedience to God. Jonah 1:3 records that in his disobedience, Jonah fled “from the presence of the Lord.” JONAH FLED FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
Jesus was emphasising that our disobedience takes us out and away from God’s Presence.
Jonah endeavoured to flee from what God called him to do, lost the “Presence” and found himself dumped overboard during a storm at sea by terrified sailors, only to be swallowed by a great fish, where eventually he cried out to the Lord in repentance from the belly of the whale. After Jonah’s repentance, God arranged for him to be spewed out on dry ground, where he received his second commission to take a warning message of repentance to the people of Nineveh, (Jonah chapter 3.) This time, he obeyed, delivered the message and the record states that the whole city, over 60,000 people, sought God, repented of their sin and found grace in God’s eyes, passing from their wicked darkness in to God’s forgiveness and redemption.
Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, typical of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection on the third day. 2 Peter 3:8 declares that “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” There have been two thousand years since Calvary, that is 2 days. We have now entered in to the third day, the third third. THIS IS GOD’S DAY, THE SABBATH REST.
The risen Christ is now resident in our hearts and lives and God WILL HAVE a people that will be “the sign of Jonah,” carriers of God’s Presence, whose lives will speak to generations of “Ninevites” with little moral guidance or conscience, damaged by an upbringing that has encouraged them to do whatever seems “right in their own eyes” with little or no input of Christian values.
This the Third Day, God’s Day, when the resurrected Christ rises in His Body of Believers to demonstrate and impact this generation as the Lord brings them to repentance and salvation through God’s Presence carried / spoken / lived through His Body, taking directions from the Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the sign of Jonah: a people who are carriers of God’s Presence to attract this generation to Jesus, the only One who can make a difference, redeem the lost, bringing forth divinely transformed lives to fulfil their destiny to the glory of God and His purposes on this earth.