YET FORTY DAYS!
Electronic Bible Fellowship
Jonah 3:1-4: And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
God told Jonah to declare, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It has always been a mystery how God commanded His prophet to go to Nineveh and proclaim this statement as an absolute declaration. Despite all the negative sermons over the centuries discussing the rebellious prophet Jonah, we find in this case that he obediently did exactly as he was told: “Preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.”
For those individuals that want nothing to do with timelines when they share the teachings of the Bible, it is important to note that God does not seem to have any problem whatsoever with setting a time and having it declared to people. It is very revealing that God bid Jonah to preach what is obviously a timeline. We are not going to look at the Biblical nature of timelines right now, but what we are going to begin to think about is that when God commanded Jonah to declare, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” it did not fail to happen, as we, perhaps, have always thought.
The failure lies with our understanding of what was said and the truth is that we have never properly understood what God intended when Jonah cried out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” We are going to look at the very real possibility that the warning to the Ninevites still stands – no, not to the historical city of Nineveh and its people, but to those the city of Nineveh represented, which was the world itself. Nineveh is used in the Bible in a similar way as Egypt and Babylon are used. All of them can be types and figures of the world. For example, it says in Nahum 1:1:
The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
After letting the reader of the book of Nahum know that what is being said involves Nineveh, God then goes on to discuss the final judgment of the world, in Nahum 1:5-6:
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
The book of Jonah records God sending His prophet to Nineveh, which we can understand as though he is being sent to the world. The message Jonah preached to Nineveh is a message intended for the unsaved inhabitants of the earth. It was as though Jonah exclaimed, “Yet forty days, and the world shall be overthrown.” The message of God throughout the Bible is very clear and consistent concerning God’s intention of destroying the world and all the wicked people of the world at its end. Of course, the historical account in the book of Jonah offers some complications because the people of Nineveh did repent. And God lays down a law in the Bible that states that if a nation repents, He will not do the evil He said He would do unto them (Jeremiah 18:8). However, in the end, the only ones that truly repent and are spared destruction are God’s elect. The people of Nineveh that repented at the preaching of Jonah are therefore a type and figure of God’s elect, while the city itself remains an overall picture of the world. The gospel message of the Bible reveals that God will save His elect people out of the masses of the world, and then bring total destruction to the world and the rest of its inhabitants.
Basically, the book of Jonah records the fact that God saved His elect out of Nineveh. He did not save the non-elect. He only saved the elect people of Nineveh and there were certainly some people in Nineveh that God did not spare, in the sense that they died in their sins, although He spared them physically at the time He did not destroy the city in a literal forty-day period.
However, there is much more to the things we read in the book of Jonah than meets the eye. We will find that the 40-day warning still has application to our present time because we have not yet come to the end of the “forty days,” spiritually. You might be asking, “How can that be possible?” Although we do not know the exact date Jonah went to Nineveh, it was at least over 2,600 years ago and, certainly, the 40-day period would have elapsed long ago.
Let’s consider how it is possible for the forty days to have not yet expired.
THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE BOOK OF JONAH
The book of Jonah is arranged in a very interesting way. In order to see this arrangement, let’s begin by going back to Jonah 1:1-2:
Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
This was the first time God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh. That is why it says in Jonah 3:1 that the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time. The first chapter records the first commandment by God to Jonah to go to Nineveh. Then it says in Jonah 1:3:
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
This language is indicating that Christ became a man and entered into the human race. We know this is the case based on the phrase, “from the presence of the LORD,” which is mentioned twice in this verse. Let us go back to Genesis 3 to the time right after Adam and Eve first sinned and made fig leaves to cover their nakedness. It says in Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
They fled “from the presence of the LORD” and that is the exact same phrase as we find in Jonah chapter one. What does it indicate? It means they had become sinful. Due to their sin, man is no longer in communion with God and, instead, man hides from God and seeks to go away from His presence. Jonah was commanded to go to Nineveh, but what did He do? He got on a ship and went “from the presence of the LORD.” It even said that he “went with them…from the presence of the LORD.” Clearly, Jonah is a picture of Christ here, as Jesus was born into the world and took upon Himself human form; He became a man and lived among mankind where all the world is going away “from the presence of the LORD” and it is as if Jesus is going with them “from the presence of the LORD.”
God’s first commandment to Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh (people of the world) identifies with the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. When we look at the circumstances onboard the ship and how God controlled the sea and stirred up the waters to the point where the mariners had no choice but to cast him into the sea, it all relates to Jesus’ life and His time of ministry until the point of His death on the cross, does it not? According to God’s determinate counsel, He arranged circumstances so that Jesus must go to the cross just as He arranged circumstances for the prophet Jonah to be cast overboard into the sea. We read in Jonah 1:17:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Again, chapter one begins with him receiving the commandment from the Lord to go to Nineveh. Although we might think he was a rebellious prophet going from the presence of the Lord, that is where mankind is “located,” so Jonah is an excellent picture of Christ as He entered the human race that was going in a spiritual direction that was away from God. Then, at the end of Jonah 1 it said, “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” The Lord Jesus also referred to Jonah’s length of time in the fish’s belly in Matthew 12:40:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
When was Jesus in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights? Literally, He never was, but, spiritually, His suffering began Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by Friday night in the tomb and Saturday night in the tomb, and then He rose early on Sunday. We know precisely when this took place: He was on the cross on April 1, in 33 A.D.
Therefore, chapter one of the book of Jonah covers the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. to the cross in 33 A.D. when Jesus finished His earthly demonstration of what Jonah had prefigured, which was His death at the foundation of the world. Then Jonah chapter two describes Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish, or the things which Christ referred to as taking place in the heart of the earth. This means, based on the typology and language God used, that chapters one and two cover the period from 7 B.C. to 33 A.D., a span of 40 calendar years.
When Jonah 2:10 says, “And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land,” it can only identify with Christ’s resurrection in 33 A.D. To summarize, there are 40 calendar years (when going from a B.C. date to an A.D. date it is necessary to minus “1” because there is no year “0”) covered in chapters one and two. To be precise, it covers 39 actual years, yet 40 calendar years.
It is interesting that we also read in chapter three the phrase, “And yet forty days,” and the number “40” is in view, once again. At what point in Jonah chapters two and three does the 40 days expire? The answer is that it does not expire. When we read chapter three, we find that Jonah went into the city a day’s journey, which was very early in the 40-day period, but then we see that the Ninevites repented, sat in sackcloth and cried mightily unto God. That is how chapter three ends, as God says, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
Did the Ninevites know that God had turned from the evil that He said He would do to them? None of them knew it. It was a decree made in heaven and we do not find anywhere that God told Jonah or any other prophet to speak to them and tell them, “I have forgiven you because I have seen that you turned from your evil way.” The people of Nineveh had absolutely no knowledge regarding God’s reaction to the repentance taking place in their city. And since they had no knowledge that God had turned from the evil He intended to do to them, what would the Ninevites have continued to do? We can be sure that they would have continued to sit in sackcloth and cry mightily unto God. The Lord, for His own purposes, left the people of Nineveh in that humbled condition. How long would they have stayed in that condition crying out to God? What did Jonah tell them? “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Certainly, they would have continued humbling themselves, in some form or another, for 40 days.
In chapter four, after some discussion with God, Jonah goes out of the city. It says in Jonah 4:5:
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
In a very interesting way, God tells us that Jonah is in a booth and the word “booth” is the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated as “tabernacle.” It is the same word for tabernacle used in the feast of tabernacles. We will not go into detail about this in this short booklet, but the feast of tabernacles was a feast designed by God to commemorate Israel’s dwelling in tabernacles, or booths, throughout their wilderness sojourn. How long did Israel dwell in booths in the wilderness? The Bible tells us that the Israelites dwelt in booths for 40 years.
For how long did Jonah sit outside the city of Nineveh? How long would you have waited? “And yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” That was the preaching He had been bidden to preach, so to find out what would happen to the city, Jonah would have certainly waited 40 days. But the book of Jonah, which is only four chapters, concludes without God telling us what happened after 40 days. After further conversation with Jonah, God said in the last verse in Jonah 4:11:
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
This is where the book ends. It is a very unusual way to conclude a book. The reader is left with a “cliff hanger” or a mystery left unsolved. What happened to the city? What happened regarding God’s declaration through Jonah, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”? We have always assumed that since the Ninevites repented, God did not destroy the city according to the preaching He had commanded Jonah to proclaim. Our assumption has always been that the 40 days came and went and God did not destroy the city as He had said He would do. We have concluded that God followed the principle laid down in Jeremiah 18:8-10:
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
Apparently, this was the Biblical principal that God followed in the book of Jonah that permitted Him to not destroy the city of Nineveh.
But, then again, what if God’s commandment, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” had nothing to do, in the first instance, with the historical city of Nineveh? What if it was a deeper spiritual warning that involved the entire world and, likewise, the 40-day period was also meant to be understood in a spiritual way? In a way, that would extend the timeline for a period of time far greater than an actual 40 days. In such a spiritual understanding the 40-day period would not yet have come to an end. Biblically, is it possible for God to give an historical declaration like we find in the book of Jonah and, yet, have its actual application to be on a spiritual level?
Yes, indeed, God can give commandments in His Word that we would expect to have physical application, and yet they never do have any physical application. Let us look at an example of this where God is speaking to the nation of Israel, a type of the New Testament churches. It says in Deuteronomy 28:68:
And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.
In this verse, God is speaking to Israel and He is saying that as a punishment for their disobedience, He will bring them into Egypt again with ships. It’s certain that Israel was disobedient to the point of being punished by God. However, can anyone disclose where that chapter and verse is found in the Bible wherein God brings Israel back to Egypt in ships and there they are unloaded and returned as bondservants in Egypt? You will not be able to find such a verse because it does not exist. And yet, this verse is not saying that this might happen to Israel, but God said it would happen. It is a matter-of-fact statement: “And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships.” Is it untrue? Absolutely not! This is the Word of God. It must therefore be true. However, the fulfillment was not on a literal level. It was spiritually fulfilled. What does Israel typify? It typifies the corporate church and God does liken churches to ships in Acts 27 where the destruction of a ship was a picture of the end of the Church Age. During the Great Tribulation, the Spirit of God departed out of the midst of the churches. Where have those people that are still in the churches been taken? They were taken back into spiritual Egypt or back into spiritual bondage because salvation ended in the churches and Satan (often typified by Pharaoh) ruled there during the 23 years of the Great Tribulation, as it says in Revelation 11:7-8:
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The people of the churches, typified by Israel, have been returned to bondage to sin and to Satan. It is as if Israel of old had gone back into Egypt and returned to the house of bondage. Therefore, there was a spiritual aspect to the command in Deuteronomy 28:68 and God did, indeed, fulfill the command on the spiritual level.
Likewise, if God says, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” and, yet, He does not physically destroy the historical city of Nineveh in the 40-day timeline, but He does destroy the entire world after what the 40-day timeline represents spiritually, He will then have fulfilled the preaching He bid Jonah to preach. He will have done what He said He was going to do!
We saw that chapters one and two of Jonah involve a 40-year timeline of Christ’s first coming, which would identify with God’s command to Jonah to go to Nineveh (the world) the first time. Then chapters three and four involve a 40-day timeline with the second command to Jonah. The command is given in Jonah 3:1:
And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Then Jonah went into the city only a day’s journey. But how many days’ journey was the city? It was said to be a three-day journey. If you only went into the city a day’s journey, but the entire city is a three-day journey, how much of the city have you reached? You have reached “one third” of the city. As we read the Bible, we find that God’s overriding concern is always with bringing His Gospel to His elect people. The command in Matthew 28:9, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” was accomplished when the last one of the elect became saved. There is no command to preach to unregenerate or non-elect people. What would be the purpose? There is no purpose in that.
But Jonah went one third of the way into the city because the elect are typified by the figure of “one third.” Remember the ratio the Bible lays out to represent the saved and unsaved people of the world? It is “one third” and “two thirds,” as it says in Zechariah 13:8-9:
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the LORD is my God.
“One third” of the city hear Jonah’s preaching while “two thirds” do not hear. Of course, God does not make this distinction as we read the account in the book of Jonah. All we see is the reaction of the people of Nineveh as they sit in sackcloth and ashes and cry mightily to God. In doing this, they typify the elect’s reaction to the Gospel.
Let us go back to Jonah 3:3 to read the verse again:
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
Let’s compare this verse to Revelation 16:19:
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell…
Nineveh was said to be a great city of three days’ journey, but he went into the city a day’s journey and Revelation speaks of a great city that has “three parts,” so that ties in to a one third/two thirds relationship that the Bible mentions from time to time. The figure of “one third” typifies God’s elect and the figure of “two thirds” typify the unsaved of the world. By entering into the city of Nineveh only a day’s journey, God is greatly emphasizing that the Ninevites were a type of His elect people.
THE NAME JONAH MEANS “DOVE”
As previously mentioned, God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh the second time, and we have already learned that the city of Nineveh typifies the world. At this time, it would be good for us to consider what the name “Jonah” means. It means “dove.” The Hebrew word is #3124 in Strong’s Concordance. The word translated as “dove” is Strong’s #3123. They are right next to one another in the concordance and both words have identical consonants along with identical vowel pointing, so I do not know why they differentiate the two because they are the same word. Now let’s ask the question: what does “dove” represent in the Bible? We will see that it very clearly represents the Holy Spirit. It says in Matthew 3:16:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
You can read similar statements in the other Gospel accounts, too. The Holy Spirit is likened to a dove. This is the way in which God makes connections in order that we begin to see spiritual types and figures emerge. Typically, a defining verse arises that ties two Scriptures together and, in the process, establishes a Biblical typology. Here, the defining verse declares the Spirit is “like a dove.”
In chapter one, Jonah was told to go to Nineveh the first time. In chapter three, God commanded Jonah, the “dove,” to go to Nineveh the second time. Once again, since Jonah means “dove” and a dove pictures the Holy Spirit, our next step is to see if God’s sending of Jonah two times to Nineveh relates in any way to God sending out His Holy Spirit two times to the world. Previously, in our study of the Bible we have learned that there were two outpourings of the Holy Spirit in God’s salvation program. These two periods of sending forth the Holy Spirit were typified by two periods of rain that would fall to bring in God’s spiritual harvest, the salvation of His elect people, as it says in Joel 2:23:
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
Also, the Bible speaks of these “rains” in James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
It all began with the Lord Jesus who was born in the Jubilee year of 7 B.C. Following His birth, He fulfilled His 40-calendar-year ministry in the year 33 A.D. In that same year, He returned to heaven after showing Himself alive after His resurrection for forty days and then, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out the first time to begin the Church Age and to gather the firstfruits unto God. And, for all intents and purposes, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued over the next 1,955 years of the Church Age. All throughout this time, the early rain fell and the firstfruits of God’s salvation plan were being brought in through salvation.
But in 1988, God ended the early rain period along with the Church Age. At that time judgment began on the house of God as the Great Tribulation period got under way. For the first 2,300 evening mornings, from May 21, 1988 through September 7, 1994, there was “no rain” and no more firstfruits being brought in. It was the lack of rain which made that period of time so grievous. Then, finally, in September 1994, God set His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His people with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during a period of time the Bible called “the Latter Rain.” The Bible describes the time of the final rain as a time of a great spiritual harvest in which a great multitude of people around the world would become saved. Let us look at Isaiah 11:11:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
Once again, God began to evangelize the earth, during the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He saved people like never before, as He saved the great multitude that came out of Great Tribulation during the last (about) seventeen years of the Great Tribulation, from 1994 to 2011. It says in Revelation 7:9:
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Then it says of this “great multitude,” in Revelation 7:13-14:
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
We do not know how many people God saved during those years of the latter rain, but the language of the Bible indicates it would have been tens of millions all over the earth. After reserving the best for last and saving all whose names were in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lord concluded the Great Tribulation simultaneously with the Latter Rain and the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It all came to an end on May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!
VERY FEW SAVED IN O.T. HISTORY—NINEVEH, THE EXCEPTION!
When we read the Old Testament, do we find large numbers of people being saved? No, it’s normally the opposite and we read of very few being saved. How many people were saved on the ark? There were only eight souls out of the entire world’s population of that time. How many were saved out of Sodom and Gomorrah? The Bible reveals there were only three – Lot and his two daughters. Even Lot’s wife, who escaped the city initially, later perished. How many people were saved in other periods of Old Testament history? Again, and again, we read of only a small number of individuals that truly became saved, like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. We read of individuals being saved, here and there, throughout the thousands of years of Old Testament history.
One of the greater references to people being saved in the Old Testament is found in the book of 1 Kings where God speaks of a group of seven thousand Israelites that had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). This was a fairly large number for the Old Testament times, but it is nothing in comparison to the number of people we find that God saved out of Nineveh. The entire city sat in sackcloth and ashes and cried mightily unto God. Certainly, this was strong evidence that tremendous numbers of people in that great city became saved. But why, out of all the many opportunities to save various nations and people, did God reserve such a great display of salvation for the city of Nineveh?
As we study this question, the answer clearly appears to be that Jonah’s (the dove’s) warning to them was pointing to the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Historically, God sent His prophet Jonah to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. However, spiritually, it was as though God had stretched forth His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people. The saving of so many Ninevites was pointing to the outpouring of the Latter Rain during the last (about) seventeen years of the Great Tribulation, a glorious time when God saved a great multitude of people outside of the churches and congregations of the world. By saving many from a foreign city and nation like Nineveh (instead of saving many out of Israel), God was illustrating His plan to save many people outside of the corporate church, which Israel typified. This is why we read of this wonderful exception to the general rule that few were saved during the Old Testament period.
I do not know if we can say that 120,000 were saved in Nineveh (120,000 is a number God gives at the very end of the book), but, certainly, it is safe for us to say that there were more people saved in Nineveh than in any other instance found in the Old Testament historical record. There is no other account found in the Old Testament where so many were saved – the salvation of the Ninevites is the “great multitude” of the Old Testament.
Yes, there is an account in Ezekiel 37 concerning the valley of dry bones and it speaks of a great number coming together, but that was a vision. They were not real people. God did not bring dead bones to life again, but it was designed by God to be a vision to give instruction about His salvation program. As far as an actual historical account, there is nothing like what happened to the people of Nineveh after Jonah, the dove, was sent the second time to Nineveh. And, once again, it ties in with God pouring out His Spirit the second time to save the great multitude during the little season of the Great Tribulation.
Let us look at Matthew 12 where Jesus refers to those that were saved in Nineveh. After saying, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,” Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 12:41:
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
This statement from Christ leaves no doubt. Since they are going to rise in the resurrection, it can only mean that the people of Nineveh were truly saved. When we read in Jonah 3:5-9 about the king’s decree and the putting on of sackcloth, it was an actual reflection of their spiritual condition. God saved many people in Nineveh and He also used them to typify the great multitude that He would later save out of the Great Tribulation.
THE SECOND TIME
It says in Jonah 3:4:
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Concerning the 40-day reference, there are a few times in the Bible where God speaks of 40 days and then ties it in with 40 years. For instance, it says in Numbers 14:33-34:
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
This same kind of statement is made several times in the Bible. The 40 days are related to 40 years. In the case mentioned in Numbers 14, it was a judgment of God upon Israel because ten of the spies that searched out the land came back with an evil report. Therefore, the judgment was that they must wander in the wilderness a year for each day they had searched out the land. They searched out the land for 40 days, so they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, from 1447 B.C. through 1407 B.C. Then in 1407 B.C., Moses died and they were prepared to enter into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. We read in Joshua 5:1-2:
And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel. At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
It was the second time. God said He would set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people (Isaiah 11:11). God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh the second time to preach the preaching that He bid him.
It is very interesting to us that at the end of the 40 days (a day for a year), God commanded to “circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.” Those that had come out of Egypt were circumcised at the very beginning of their journey, but the vast majority of them had perished in the wilderness. So these were the younger people that had grown up in the wilderness and God was making sure they were circumcised the second time before entering the land of Canaan, the Promised Land that often typifies heaven. It was at the end of 40 days/ 40 years, they were circumcised again the second time. In Jonah 3, it was at the beginning of a 40-day period that God told Jonah to preach a second time. It is interesting that we have 40 days in view in both places where a “second time” is mentioned. We know the preaching a “second time” identifies with the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
According to what we have learned from the Biblical calendar of history, when did God pour out the Holy Spirit the second time? It was in the year 1994 which was a Jubilee year, just as Jesus was born in 7 B.C., a Jubilee year. That is where Jonah begins when he went with them from the presence of the LORD. So Jonah chapter one begins in a Jubilee year and spans 40 calendar years in chapters one and two; then the third chapter of Jonah identifies with the second sending of the “dove” or Holy Spirit, and we know that identifies with the Jubilee year of 1994.
These are Biblical tie-ins or connections that the Bible makes and it comes from much study that has been done over many years now. These are things many of us are familiar with, but there may be someone that is not as familiar with it and they would have to do further Bible study, but in September 1994 when the Latter Rain began it identifies with the time when God began to save the great multitude, just as Jonah was commanded the second time by God to go into Nineveh. This connection between Jonah (the dove) and the Holy Spirit allows us to say that Jonah’s entry into Nineveh relates to the year 1994 and the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit which began at that time.
Since the Bible speaks of “a day for a year” and if we are looking at a period of forty days, then it is very possible it could be pointing to 40 years from the entry into Nineveh or the command for the “dove” or Holy Spirit to go forth and save many people. And 40 years from 1994 would be 2034 A.D. As far as we know, that year is not a particularly important year in God’s timetable. However, we have the historical precedent of Christ’s first coming, which identifies with the first two chapters of Jonah and the first command to rise and go to Nineveh. The first coming of Christ and the first outpouring of the Spirit of God, beginning in a Jubilee year, 7 B.C., covered 40 calendar years and 39 actual years. The precedent established by Christ’s first coming allows us to apply the similar timeline to the command for Jonah to preach, “Yet forty days,” or 40 inclusive years. It would not be calendar years because you do not call them calendar years unless you are going from a date in the Old Testament to a date in the New Testament, but it is 40 inclusive years from 1994 to 2033.
If you are wondering what an inclusive year is, it means you would start counting from 1994 as “year one,” rather than calculating from 1994 to 1995, with 1995 as “year one.” You can write it out, starting with 1994 and list all the years to 2033, with 1994 being “year one” and you will find that 2033 is the 40th inclusive year (see Appendix I), which is the identical time period from the birth of Christ in 7 B.C. to 33 A.D. when He went to the cross. In other words, from 1994 to 2033 is the identical time period (number of years) as 7 B.C. to 33 A.D. (see Appendix II). It was exactly the same and that relates to this whole idea in the book of Jonah. To begin with, Jonah went to Nineveh and he preached and there was a tremendous response to his preaching, like nothing comparable in the Old Testament. Then it is as if God takes the focus off the people of Nineveh and just leaves them there sitting in sackcloth and ashes while the 40-day period continues. It is as though God leaves the reader of the book of Jonah “up in the air,” without any conclusion or summation. It could be that the reason He leaves it at that junction is because the events taking place there really have spiritual application to a time in history that is more than two thousand years into the future, a time at the end of the world when there will be the final fulfillment of the 40 days!
Remember, back in Joshua 5:1-2, God commanded that they circumcise the children of Israel the second time. Let’s ask the question: how many resurrections are there in the Bible? The answer is, there are two resurrections. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the soul that takes place when a person is born again and the second resurrection is of the body at the end of the world. We know the Bible describes the first resurrection (of the soul) as salvation. Does the Bible view the second resurrection also as an act of salvation? Yes, because the body is sinful. Our soul was sinful and dead and we were spiritually dead when God saved our souls. It was a resurrection to “life” and circumcision points to that. When God resurrects our physical bodies, it is the completion of His salvation program and it is the “second circumcision” because He is going to cut off the sins that are in our flesh and equip us with new resurrected spiritual bodies. It says in Romans 8:23:
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
When will the redemption of our body come? It takes place on the last day. Therefore, we find that at the beginning of the second sending of Jonah, the dove or the Holy Spirit, there was a great salvation of the Ninevites (people of the world outside of the churches). This pointed to the great multitude that were saved in their souls during the little season of the Latter Rain which fell during the second part of the Great Tribulation, but in Joshua 5 it is at the end of the wilderness sojourn when they are about to cross the Jordan and enter into the land of Canaan, which can typify the new heaven and new earth. History continued, of course, and from that point on there was the conquest of the land of Canaan and the rest of the history of Israel, but this picture of Israel being circumcised the second time identifies with the second resurrection, which is the putting off of the sins of the flesh at the completion of God’s salvation program at the end of the world. It says in Joshua 5:5-7:
Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND IT, ABOUT TWO THOUSAND CUBITS
In Joshua 3:3-4 we read:
And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.
The ark went first and the Levites and the priests followed at the space of 2,000 cubits. When we take a closer look at these verses, we find that the ark is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and the river Jordan is picturing the wrath of God. It is necessary to cross over the wrath of God in order to reach the Promised Land, the new heaven and new earth. The ark (Jesus) is the first to pass over Jordan. We could say that, spiritually, Jesus was the first to experience the wrath of God, and it is because of His passing over first that a way is made for His people to cross over after Him. The people of Israel followed after the ark by the space of about 2,000 cubits by measure. The people of Israel would represent the Israel of God or those truly saved. Each child of God must also cross over Jordan (the wrath of God) in order to reach the Promised Land of the new heaven and new earth. As we consider God’s statement, “about two thousand cubits by measure,” the use of the word “measure” helps us to understand that time is actually in view. It says in Psalm 39:4:
the LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
The measure of time in view would relate the 2,000 cubits to 2,000 years. Once we understand all the types and figures God used in these verses, the deeper spiritual meaning becomes obvious. The ark (Christ) passed over Jordan (experienced the wrath of God during His demonstration on the cross) and will be followed by His Israel (the elect of God) about 2,000 cubits (2,000 years) after.
From the year 7 B.C. to 1994 A.D. (from a Jubilee year to a Jubilee year), how much time elapsed? It is a period of exactly 2,000 years (7 + 1994 – 1). It is interesting how many Jubilees, which happen every 50 years, have passed since Christ was born in 7 B.C. until the Jubilee in 1994. Divide 50 into 2,000 and you get 40 Jubilees from the first entry of Christ into the world, which identified with the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to 1994 when the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit began during the Latter Rain. It was exactly 2,000 years (40 x 50) since Jesus was born. Also, when Christ went to the cross in 33 A.D., it was all part of the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and when we go from 33 A.D. to 2033 A.D., it is again 2,000 years (2033 – 33 = 2000), exactly. It is as though God has one timeline running on this track over here with the first coming of Christ, from 7 B.C. to 33 A.D.; and over there, on another track, 2,000 years later, is a parallel timeline running from 1994 to 2033. An exact 2,000 years separates the dates and that is very significant because the Bible speaks of the Messiah coming the first time after 11,000 years of history, and the Bible also points to Christ coming the second time after 13,000 years of history. What separates 13,000 from 11,000? It is 2,000 years, so we have a parallel timeline running that matches perfectly with the first coming of Christ, which began with a Jubilee year in 7 B.C. And this final timeline also begins with a Jubilee year in the year 1994.
We can tie the statement, “Yet forty days,” with the second outpouring of the Jubilee or the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which began in the year 1994. So, let us ask a very important question: has the 40 days (40 years) that Jonah was commanded to proclaim to the Ninevites passed? The answer is, “No,” the time until the day of destruction has not yet passed.
I know these past few years of living through the Great Tribulation, and now living on the earth in the Day of Judgment, seems like it has been a long, long time to all of God’s people. It is certainly difficult to live in the world at a time when God has given it up and turned it over to sin and has also ended the Church Age. It’s even more difficult to live on the earth at a time when God has shut the door of heaven and ended His salvation program.
Yet, if we are correct, God has given us a timeline in Jonah 3 for the period of the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit all the way to its conclusion, which identifies with 40 days. Jonah was waiting for the 40 days to elapse all the while he was sitting under a booth. Remember the feast of tabernacles and its connection to the end of the world? We can’t help but see a possible relationship between a 40-year timeline and the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of tabernacles being accomplished. At this time, we are well into the 40-year (inclusive) period and there are possibly just a few more years to go, so it is a very definite possibility that God has given us the timeline that spans the Great Tribulation, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Latter Rain, and now into Judgment Day itself—a timeline that will finally end with the destruction or the world 40 years from the point that the Holy Spirit was sent forth a second time to save the great multitude. At that point, spiritually, God will have fulfilled His Word that He commanded the prophet Jonah to preach: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The work of the Holy Spirit during the time of its second outpouring will be completed when the elect people of God receive our new resurrected spiritual bodies. That is the point when it may be said that salvation has been completed and we have, as it were, been circumcised a second time.
THE USE OF THE WORD “ABOUT”
One last thing we must consider is why God uses the word “about” in Joshua 3:4. Since the main date for Christ’s first coming is 33 A.D., and if He brings His people into the new heaven and new earth exactly 2,000 years later in the year 2033 A.D., why was the word “about” used?
Actually, the answer is not that hard to understand. It was in the year 2011 A.D. that the elect children of God, along with the rest of the world, first entered into the Day of Judgment. Remember, the Jordan river typified the wrath of God. The ark (Christ) entered first, and the people of Israel (the elect) were to follow “about” 2,000 cubits (2,000 years) after. God’s wrath began to fall on the world on May 21, 2011. The year 2011 is separated by 1,978 years from the year 33 A.D. All the elect people of God were left alive and remaining on the earth to go through the judgment period. While it is true that the conclusion of the prolonged Day of Judgment may take us to the year 2033 A.D., a date exactly 2,000 years from the cross of Christ, yet its beginning point of 2011 was 1,978 years from the cross, a time period that is close to 2,000 years, but is not quite 2,000 years, and therefore, God accurately used the word “about” to describe it.