Matthew 12:38-50

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just 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, ESV

Foreshadowing is a narrative device that is used to give the reader a hint of what is to come. In most cases, foreshadowing is what gives us that “I should have known that was going to happen” response. In contrast, a callback is when a current event or statement directly references an event or statement from the past. Usually it happens unexpectedly and evokes the “oh yeah I remember that happening” response.

In Matthew 12 we read that Jesus refuses to perform a miraculous sign for the Pharisees, instead saying that the only sign given would be the sign of the prophet Jonah. Through this response we see foreshadowing in the form of a callback. Just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of a big fish, Jesus would go on to spend three days in a tomb. When Jonah got out, the Ninevites were saved. When Jesus got out, everyone was saved.

Our God is not confined to our construct of time or to the devices of narrative, but how amazing it is to see His continuous work in the past, present, and future.

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