Jonah is one of the earliest Bible narratives that I can remember learning. Unfortunately much of what we heard about Jonah ended with him getting spit back on dry ground. This caused us to miss the incredible theology and insights in the second half of the book. Since being introduced to the second half of Jonah a few years after my conversion, Jonah has been one of my favorite books of the Bible. I enjoy reading on the book of Jonah and Prophet on the Run by Baruch Maoz was unlike any other book I have read on Jonah.
Maoz attempts to work through the text of Jonah. In doing so, he offers both exegetical and theological notes on the text and practical insights. It is not strictly a commentary or a devotional book, but strives to be a combination of the two. The book does not have an exegetical section and practical section. The practical thoughts are mixed into the text as he goes along. What Maoz wants to do in this book is good and more writers need to produce work in this genre, as most works on biblical books tend to be strictly commentary or devotional thoughts divorced from the biblical text.
In several sections the practical insights are piercing in all the right ways. His discussions of sin, rebellion, and repentance in the first chapter get to the heart of the believer’s sin against God. He notes that much of our struggle in prayer and worship can be related to our sin against God and hiding from Him. He prescribes the way back to the Lord through repentance and faith. There are other sections where the application feels a little more forced.
A major drawback for me was Maoz’s lack of serious interaction with Jonah 4:2. In this verse Jonah summarizes why he did not want to go to Nineveh to begin with. Then Jonah quotes Exodus 34:6-7, essentially saying that he didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knows God is gracious and compassionate. He knew God would show mercy and therefore did not want to go to Nineveh. The importance of Exodus 34:6-7 can not be overstated in Old Testament Theology. This is quoted again in Numbers, 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, several Psalms, Jonah, and Joel. To skip over this central theological affirmation is inexcusable in a book on Jonah.
Maoz’s work on Jonah would be the greatest help to those who are reading Jonah devotionally for a longer period of time. A person could read Jonah each day for a week and then read one section of Prophet on the Run.
(I received this through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review of the work.)
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