In the belly of a whale

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The account of Jonah in the belly of a large fish has become the criterion by which we can judge whether or not a person believes the Bible. It is a good criterion. It is difficult for an ordinary landlubber to fit into his own sphere of experience the Biblical account: "And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights" (Jonah 2:1). The word "fish" in the original language means a large sea creature. The human mind may rebel when it comes to the account of Jonah and conclude: "A myth." In this way we can solve the intellectual difficulty, but in so doing we set forth an unproven argument. Even though someone did not believe the Bible for the reason that it is God's Word, he could at least study the matter. He could find out whether sea creatures that are able to swallow a man have appeared in the Mediterranean Sea or elsewhere. He could study literature to determine whether others have had experiences similar to Jonah's. This method of study would expand the landlubber's sphere of experience and he would have to admit that the account of Jonah is not impossible even from the standpoint of nature, and that it is not the only one of its type.

However, we can never believe in the factuality of the Bible if we demand that all difficulties must first be solved. Cannot one person ask more, than a hundred wisemen can answer? Trust in the Bible is born when we learn to know Jesus as the One who atoned for our sins. We cannot doubt our merciful Savior. Faith in Jesus and faith in the factuality of the Bible go hand in hand. Both of the main principles of the Reformation (for Christ's sake alone, the Bible is the only rule of faith) are inseparable. We do not have to try to determine which comes first - faith in Christ or faith in the factuality of the Bible ? but we must rather proclaim Christ according to the Bible. The faith that is born as a result of such proclamation does not choose what to believe, but confesses: "I believe everything written in the Law and the Prophets" (Acts 24:14).

When we have such faith we believe Christ's words: "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea?monster; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:40). If we do not believe the account of Jonah, why then should we believe the other words of Jesus? If we do not believe Jesus in this matter we make Him a liar.

The Bible is inerrant because it has been born by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.