Although I mainly remember that Jonah was in a great fish (whale as I heard it told) for three days, David Pawson noted that there were eight miracles recorded in the book. He further claimed that if you believed any one of them you might as well believe the other seven.
Although I find the story of Jonah to be rather humorous, I realize that the prophet Jonah son of Amittai was an historical figure mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 and the events were not recorded to make fun of him. The only sign Jesus said He would give was the “sign of Jonah” (Matthew 12:38-41), that is, His Resurrection after being dead for three days.
Here are the eight miracles that Pawson listed.
- God sent a wind when Jonah fled in the boat. (Jonah 1:4)
- The sailors cast lots to find who was responsible and God made the lot fall to Jonah. (Jonah 1:7)
- After they threw Jonah overboard, God calmed the sea. (Jonah 1:15)
- God sent a fish to swallow Jonah. (Jonah 1:17)
- At God’s command the fish vomited Jonah alive onto dry land. (Jonah 2:10)
- God provided a plant to shade Jonah in one day. (Jonah 4:6)
- God told a worm to eat the plant the next day. (Jonah 4:7)
- God sent an east wind with a hot sun to torment Jonah. (Jonah 4:8)
What makes all of these events miracles is that each event explicitly involved an action by God. God sent that wind. God told a worm and a fish what to do. It was not that the wind blew by chance. It was not that the worm just happened to be nearby and hungry. Explaining the miracles with naturalistic explanations that do not involve God’s action would not be explaining them as they were told in the book.
Since the naturalist, and likely the deist as well, rejects God as a cause, the naturalist would have to reject all eight of these miracles. I would expect the naturalist to dismiss the entire book as myth.
Others who do accept, say, the east wind blowing since God sent it might as well accept the part about the fish that God sent, because ultimately they would be expected to believe the truthfulness of the “sign of Jonah” that Jesus referred to: Jonah died and three days later came back to life.
Weekly Bible Reading: Amos and Jonah
David Pawson, Amos, Part 50, Jonah, Part 51, Unlocking the Bible
Bible Project, Amos and Jonah
Weekly Torah Readings
9 Kislev, 5782, Vayeitzei: Parashat Genesis 28:10-32:3; Haftarat Hosea 12:13-14:10