Consider the book of Jonah, a little biblical book that tells the story of a reluctant prophet. God instructed Jonah to warn the people of the great city of Nineveh that if they did not repent of their cruelty and atrocities, their city would be destroyed. But Jonah, a Hebrew, had seen his people become victims of great Assyrian cruelty, so he fled the scene, trying to escape his responsibility.
However, the ship on which Jonah had booked passage was caught up in a terrible storm at sea. Jonah ended up being thrown overboard in an effort to save the ship, and God had prepared a great fish to swallow him, which prevented him from drowning. The Bible says that Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights—72 hours.
Think of what that must have been like. Jonah, with seaweed wrapped around his head, endured the smells and the damp darkness not knowing what would happen next. He surely expected to die in this ordeal. And yet, God made the great fish vomit Jonah out onto the seashore! One wonders if Jonah ever again ate fish, having seen the disgusting contents of fish guts from the inside.
As Jonah recovered from this incredible deliverance, wondering “What next?,” God told him to warn Nineveh. Jonah reluctantly obeyed.
You may be wondering, “What could this possibly have to do with me?” Well, you might be amazed to know that Jesus Christ used Jonah’s 72-hour ordeal as a powerful sign to answer the skeptical scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who demanded that He give a sign proving that He was the Messiah.
Scripture records the event. “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’” (Matthew 12:38-40).
Think of it! The only direct sign Jesus Christ gave of his Messiahship was that He would spend 72 hours in the grave—just as did Jonah, who was as good as dead in the belly of the great fish, were it not for God’s deliverance! The religious leaders who questioned Christ knew the story of Jonah very well, but it seems they never understood its true significance.
Today, most who profess Christianity follow a Good Friday/Easter Sunday tradition that makes a mockery of Jesus Christ’s own words of promise! There is no way to fit Jesus’ 72-hour promise within the mistaken idea of a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. The Easter story itself is a product of pre-Christian pagan traditions, and is nowhere found or countenanced in your Bible!
So, how do true Bible-believing Christians acknowledge and observe the memorial of the death of the Savior of mankind? The Church of God observes the Passover with the New Testament symbols of the bread and wine, as Jesus Christ taught His disciples to do.
You need to know about the 72 hours that changed mankind’s destiny forever. If you want to know more about this incredibly important period of time, and how to memorialize it as Christ intended, read our life-changing booklets, What Is a True Christian? and The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan.