Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part X

Noah, Elijah, Jonah & John the Baptist’s Message: Repent!


Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;

He who would search for pearls, must dive below.

-JOHN DRYDEN, All For Love

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus, “testing Him, asked that He should show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; ‘and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. ‘A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except of the sign of the prophet Jonah.’ And He left them and departed.”Matthew 16: 1-4, N.K.J.V.

In His brief yet completed three and a half-year mission on earth, terminating in His crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension to assume His penultimate office and closing work in heaven, as mankind’s only High Priest, Intercessor, Mediator, and Advocate, and yes, Judge of all the earth, Jesus said nothing that wasn’t essential for deliverance from slavery to sin and securing the promise of eternal life as the reward to all who accept and obey Him and remain faithful doing so to the end of their earthly life  in, “the first death.” or if they “remain alive” till His second coming. 1 Thess. 4: 13-18.

What, in the context of this exceptionally blistering statement of the Messiah (like Matthew 23) was more than ample a “sign of the prophet Jonah” that antitypically  applies to earth’s final generation? Christ’s use of the stinging word “hypocrites” was not an off-the-cuff careless word that His disciples had to walk back later. Rather, it was a carefully-measured rebuke borne of divine love, wisdom, mercy, and  justice designed to reveal to the religious leaders and their credulous followers the true condition of their hearts and lives that were a mere round of pompous religious ceremonialism  which were gross misrepresentation of the truth. Confused and fearful, the people were easily misled by their “false shepherds.” Their lives were empty and miserable.   

From The Desire of Ages by E. G. White, pp. 406-7. “The True Sign.” pp. 406-7, we read:

     “Now the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Christ, asking for a sign from heaven. When in the days of Joshua, Israel went out to battle with the Canaanites at Bethhoron, the sun had stood still at the leader’s command until victory was gained; and many similar wonders had been manifest in their history. Some such sign was demanded of Jesus. But those signs were not what the Jews needed. No mere external evidence could benefit them. What they needed was not intellectual enlightenment, but spiritual renovation.

      “’O ye hypocrites,’ said Jesus, ‘ye can discern the face of the sky,’ —by studying the sky they could foretell the weather,—‘but can you not discern the signs of the times’? Christ’s own words, spoken with the power of the Holy Spirit that convicted them of sin, were the sign that God had given for their salvation.  And signs direct from heaven had been given to attest the mission of Christ. The song of the angels to the shepherds, the star that guided the wise men [from the East], the dove and the voice from heaven at His baptism, were witnesses for Him.

     ‘’And He sighed deeply in His Spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign?’ ‘There shall be no sign given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas [Greek for Jonah]. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, Christ was to be the same time ‘in the heart of the earth’ [buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb]. And as the preaching of Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so Christ’s preaching was a sign to His generation.  But what a contrast in the reception of the word! The people of the great heathen city [of Nineveh] trembled as they heard the warning from God. Kings and nobles humbled themselves; the high and lowly together cried to the God of heaven, and His mercy was granted unto them. ‘The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation,’ Christ had said, ‘and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.” Matt 12: 40, 41.

    “Every miracle that Christ performed was a sign of His divinity. He was doing the very work that had been foretold of the Messiah; but to the Pharisees these works of mercy were a positive offense. The Jewish leaders looked with heartless indifference on human suffering. In many cases their selfishness and oppression had caused the afflictions that Christ relieved. Thus His miracles to them were a reproach.  . .

     “When the message of truth is presented in our day, there are many, who, like the Jews, cry, Show us a sign. Work us a miracle. Christ wrought no miracle at the demand of the Pharisees. He wrought no miracle in the wilderness in answer to Satan’s insinuations. He does not impart to us power to vindicate ourselves or to satisfy the demands of unbelief and pride. But the gospel is not without a sign of divine origin. Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan? Enmity with Satan is not  natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. [see Gen. 3: 15] When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments, the promise of God is fulfilled, ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Eze. 36: 26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Savior, working to rescue souls.  A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle. In the preaching of the word of God, the sign that should be manifest now and always is the presence of the Holy Spirit, to make the word a regenerating power to those that hear. This is God’s witness before the world to the divine mission of His Son.

      “Those who had desired a sign had so hardened their hearts in unbelief that they did not discern in His character the likeness of God. They would not see that His mission was in the fulfillment of the Scriptures. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ Luke 16: 31. No sign [or miracle] that could be given in heaven or earth would benefit them.”

The familiar run-away-prophet, Jonah, was miraculously gulped-in by a whale (thankfully not a shark!) where he stayed in its stomach 3 days and nights, and coughed up on the shores of wicked Nineveh. His work and message resulted in a temporary repentance particularly by the leaders, thus, a postponement of the impending doom that had been pronounced over it (Jonah 1: 1-4; cf. 2 Kings 14: 25).

Nineveh was the infamous city founded by Nimrod (Gen. 10: 11), “one of the outstanding leaders in the period between Noah and Abraham, a son or descendant of Cush (Gen. 10: 7, 8). . . . It is still unexplained how Nimrod, a Cushite, gained so much influence and power in the Mesopotamian valley, the home of the Semites.” (SDA Dictionary of the Bible, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 8, art. “Nineveh”).

When addressing “anti-Semitism,” the way it is being framed today by religious and political powers-that-be with obvious agendas, it is essential for an objective consideration of the subject, in contrast to strictly “leftist” or “rightist” narratives, to personally know the origins both of the word and the history of people itself so that an honest yet non-extremist conclusions will be drawn. Semite comes from the name, Shem, one of the three sons of Noah, who started the postdiluvian world.     

For forty days Jonah, whose name means “dove,” raised the warnings in the streets of the city, pleading with them that divine judgment was to about to fall on them due to their unbridled wickedness, beginning with their leaders down to the citizenry. The prophet’s dire warnings were still mingled with mercy, giving them the last-call opportunity to repent, particularly  directed to the leaders, for, “like priest like worshippers;  like king, like subjects; like father like son; like mother like daughter.  See also “What Would Happen if You Were Swallowed by a Whale?” by Joy Reidenberg, what-would-happen-if-you-were swallowed-whale.

The patron goddess of Nineveh was Ishstar (original word and precursor of the modern-day “Easter” Sunday worship). However, Nineveh’s most glorious period began with Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.). From that time on it remained the undisputed capital of the country until its destruction in 612. B.C.

Ninevites compared to the antediluvians; our generation compared to antediluvians!

Jesus’ mini-apocalypse, revealed to His stunned disciples-yet-in-training, is recorded in Matthew 24: 1-31 and in Luke 19: 5-28, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the son of man be.” Matt. 24: 37-39, N.K.J.V.

    “The world before the flood reasoned that for centuries the laws of nature had been fixed.* The recurring seasons had come in their order. Heretofore rain had never fallen; the earth had been watered by mist or dew [Gen. 2: 5, 6]. The rivers had never yet passed their boundaries, but had borne their waters safely to the sea. Fixed decrees had kept the waters from overflowing their banks. But these reasoners did not recognize the hand of Him who has stayed the waters, saying, ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.’ Job 38: 11.


     “As time passed on, with no apparent change in nature, men whose hearts had at times trembled with fear, began to be re-assured. They reasoned, as many reason now,  that nature is above the God of nature, and that her laws are so firmly established that God Himself could not change them.*  Reasoning that if the message of Noah were correct, nature would be turned out of her course, they made that message, in the minds of the world, a delusion,—a grand deception. They manifested their contempt for the warning of God by doing just as they had done before the warning was given. They continued their festivities and gluttonous feasts; they ate and drank, planted and builded, laying their plans in reference to advantages they hoped to gain in the future; and they went to greater lengths of wickedness, and in defiant disregard of God’s requirements, to testify that they had no fear of the Infinite One.  They asserted that if there were any truth to what Noah had said, the men of renown,—the wise, the prudent, the great men,—would understand the matter. “

          NOTE: *This reasoning is not a new phenomenon of modern-day atheism, false religions, or skeptics; it is as old as the long-lived, antediluvian generation. As Solomon said, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us.”Eccl. 1: 9, 1.

       “Had the antediluvians believed the warning, and repented of their evil deeds, the Lord would have turned aside His wrath, as He afterward did from Nineveh. But by their obstinate resistance to the reproofs of conscience and the warnings of God’s prophet, that generation filled up the measure of their iniquity, and became ripe for destruction.

     “The period of their probation was about to expire. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions which he had received from God. The ark was finished in every part as the Lord had directed, and was stored with food for man and beast. And now the servant of God made his last solemn appeal to the people. With an agony of desire that words cannot express, he entreated them to seek a refuge while it might be found. Again they rejected his words, and raised their voices in jest and scoffing.”- Ibid, Patriarchs & Prophets, pp. 96, 97.     

       The end-time message includes this plea and promise: “Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3: 19.    (To be continued next week).