I happened to be reading a Highlights magazine in the waiting room at my doctor’s office last week. I don’t often read magazines for children, but this one caught my eye because of a cover blurb.
The article in the February 2015 issue was fascinating. As I read it, I began to wonder if perhaps this huge fish wasn’t of the species God chose to swallow Jonah. The story of Jonah is often referred to as “Jonah and the whale,” but that’s not the animal name given in the Bible.
The King James Version says, “Now the Lord had prepared a a great fish to swallow up Jonah.”
The New International Version reads: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah.”
Yet another version, the New Revised Standard Version, says “But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah.” (Jonah 1:17, emphasis mine)
It’s obvious to the intelligent reader this is not a whale, but a fish. Whales are mammals. Fish are not. Not only that, but scripture says God caused this to happen.
Imagine how thrilled I was today to find a story in some online news about whale sharks. The basic information about these animals is agreed upon from research which scientists have done on them. But their migration patterns, among other aspects of their lives, are still a mystery.
Most of us were captivated by the story of Jonah when we were children. It even becomes captivating when we’re adults because of the very idea of someone surviving inside a fish for three days and three nights.
Some have said this story can’t really be true.
God never answers all the questions we have about what happens in the Bible. Scripture includes many mysteries. Perhaps the mystery of the whale shark’s lifestyle will never be known in total. I believe it’s nice to have this gentle giant to fall back on as a possible answer to where Jonah spent those three days where he came to his senses and decided to obey the Lord.