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SIGN OF JONAH: Explained
In Defense of the Faith
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Brittney Gunter

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40 ESV

This diagram explains “The Sign of Jonah” and includes three figures of the Earth during the time between 3pm on Good Friday and sunrise on Resurrection Sunday.  Think of each figure as a still photograph of the Earth at the moment of each occurrence.  Imagine that you were above the earth, looking down at a cross section of it from the viewpoint of the northern pole.  If you had taken a satellite photo from space at this vantage point, Figure 1 is how the Earth would have appeared.  The red arrow indicates the position of Israel at 3pm on the Crucifixion day.

The Sun is fixed in its position.  Relative to Earth, it does not move.  It illuminates part of the Earth in daylight, while the other part is in darkness.  The red arrow pointing toward Israel is located on the side of the Earth that is illuminated because the scriptures tell us that it was the 9th hour (after sunrise), or about 3pm, when Jesus gave up his spirit.  At this time, the scriptures say that the temple curtain was torn in two and the Earth shook, splitting the rocks (Matthew 27:51).  This earthquake marks the point of Jesus’ death.  If you were to stop the Earth at that moment and determine what time it was in the rest of the world when that event occurred, you would find that all points on the globe would fall into some timeframe, either evening or morning, of the Jewish Nissan 15 calendar day.

Fig 1

You can consider the different locations on the planet in the same way you consider arrival times for flights when you travel between time zones.  If you were going to fly ahead one time zone, it would be one hour ahead, or 4pm, in that time zone at the time it is 3pm in Israel’s time zone.  If you were going to fly backward one time zone, it would be one hour behind, or 2pm, in that time zone while it is 3pm in Israel.  If you moved backward 12 time zones you would be 12 hours behind and it would be 3am (still dark) at the same time its 3pm (daylight) in Israel.  While the times of day are different depending on where you are located on the Earth, the Jewish calendar day remains the same.  All points of location on the globe fall into the Jewish calendar day. 

Jewish calendar days do not change over until Israel moves beyond the point of sunset. Because the Jewish calendar is actually God’s calendar, the Earth experiences one evening and one morning before God’s calendar day changes. When the Jewish calendar day changes over at sunset, God’s new calendar day changes for the whole Earth. This begins with evening in Israel, followed by morning just like the pattern of days established in the creation account.  Why Israel?  Because that’s where God chose to put His name.

“Since the day I brought my people out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over my people Israel.

But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel”. 2 Chronicles 6:5-6 

Now, let’s put the arrow from Figure 1 in real-time.  Remember, the sun is fixed in its position, but the Earth is not.  The Earth is rotating clockwise on our diagram.  Therefore, the shaded areas of light and darkness will stay fixed, but the location of Israel marked by the red arrow will move clockwise as the Earth rotates.  Israel is going to progress forward toward the shaded area of darkness, meaning 3pm turns to 4pm, then 5pm, then 6pm, and so on.  At sunset, Israel moves beyond the reach of the sun’s light and is now in darkness.  At this point, the Earth is now experiencing the Jewish calendar day of Nissan 16.  However, it is still the Julian calendar day of Friday until Israel reaches the point of midnight and it is then the Julian calendar day changes over to Saturday (about half way through the area shaded as darkness).   

If you continue to move the arrow clockwise all the way around the earth for 24 hours from the time Jesus died, you will end at 3pm on Saturday N16 in Israel.  If you were to take a still photograph at this moment, Figure 2 on the diagram represents this point. You end at the exact location you began, but now it is N16 day according to the Jewish calendar and Saturday according to the Julian calendar.  Israel moved through N16 night first because evening comes before morning.  Now it is the day of the 16th Jewish calendar day and Jesus has been in the tomb since just before sunset on Friday, N15.


Notice that one full Earth day, or 24 hours, has passed from Israel’s vantage point.  It is the exact same hour that Jesus died on the day before, however, it is a new Jewish calendar day, and it is a new Julian calendar day.  But how many days and nights has the Earth experienced from God’s vantage point?  The answer is 2 days and 2 nights: N15 Night, N15 Day, N16 Night, and N16 Day. Remember, the sun hasn't moved, only the Earth is rotating.  As the Earth rotates, Israel (and all the other points of the globe) are also moving through the different areas shaded in light and darkness.

Again, continue to move the arrow in Figure 2 clockwise from the point of 3PM in Israel on Saturday as the Earth spins in real-time. Israel will cross the point of sunset once more.  This continues to mark the changeover of Jewish calendar days and it is now the new calendar day of Nissan 17, although it is still Saturday.  Israel moves through the dark half of the earth, past the point of midnight beginning the Julian calendar day of Sunday, until the resurrection time.  Near sunrise, there is another earthquake and the Angel of the Lord descends from Heaven and rolls the stone away from the tomb (see Matthew 28:1-2).  This is the timing of the Resurrection.  At this point we can again stop moving the Earth in real-time and examine the Earth as if we had taken a still photograph.  Figure 3 represents this moment. It is now N17 for the entire Earth and three full days and three full nights have occurred according to God’s calendar. Jesus didn’t fulfill the Sign of Jonah in part; He fulfilled it completely.

Figure 3

During the time that lapsed between the death of Jesus Christ at 3pm on Good Friday, represented in Figure 1, and the Resurrection near sunrise on Sunday, represented by Figure 3, the Earth only rotated about 1 2/3 times. That is not even two full rotations!  However, what is truly amazing to behold is that the Earth, as a whole, experienced all three of God’s calendar days and nights of N15, N16, and N17.  From God’s vantage point, the world passed through three of His days and three of His nights.  This was ordained from the creation.

If you go back to the creation account in Genesis, the Earth is formed before any other celestial bodies are created.  God separates light from darkness and appoints the Day and the Night on His first day of creation.  Then, there are 3 more days and 3 more nights recorded before the sun, moon, or stars are ever suspended in their orbits on Day 4.  There are a full 6 days that occur before mankind ever graces the face of the planet! God’s calendar days do not exist because of us or because of the celestial bodies.  God’s calendar days exist because He appointed them as so. Later, He would reveal His calendar times to Moses as He was preparing Israel to celebrate His appointed Passover Meal and various Feasts.

Think back to Exodus 12:2 when God tells Moses that the current month will be the first month of the Jewish calendar year.  Jerusalem was not a city yet.  Israel had not yet come into the promised land God would give them.  It would take another 40 years until that would begin to take place.  However, God’s calendar already exists as it will be experienced in Israel, and His appointed feast times are given beforehand because they were ordained by God since the beginning of time.

We have to remember that God exists outside of time and is not constrained to our 24 hours of daylight and darkness.  His works are done and experienced by us within the framework of time.  But unlike God, we experience days from a single location.  God is omnipresent and in all locations simultaneously.  His calendar days are counted for the whole earth in terms of evenings and mornings, and He has marked them off for us by the celestial bodies.  These are our indicators, much like the hands on the face of the clock indicate to us what time it is, while the numbers on the clock stay fixed in their respective positions.

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years…”. Genesis 1:14

God’s calendar days are fixed.  They are unchanging. He designed the universe around His timeline. Men will devise new calendars, attempt to obscure or change times, and add or subtract time zones, but God’s timing is constant.  Any attempt to obscure God’s timing is an attempt to confuse God’s people. The prophet Daniel was alerted to this when God spoke to him about the antichrist in the end times, saying,

“He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.” Daniel 7:25

Our enemy seeks to confuse us, but our God is a God of order. As it is, there is only One in control of the set appointed times and that One is God Himself. As Jesus said during his life on earth,

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, or the Son, but only the Father.”  Matthew 24:35-36

We are to simply take Jesus at His word, which is trustworthy and true, just as the angel explained to the women who were astounded by the empty tomb Sunday morning,

“He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:6

Last week: EASTER: Fact or Fiction?

*Brittney Gunter is a long time friend of our Wendy Wippel.  Brittney is a freelance artist in Mississippi and spends much of her time helping in her community and abroad.  She and her husband are very serious Christians and wonderful parents to their children.

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