Prophet on the Run: A Devotional Commentary on the Book of Jonah by Baruch Maoz
One of the shortest books of the Bible and one of the most fascinating, the Book of Jonah is brimming over with beauty and terror, grace and judgment. Pastor Baruch Maoz brings to us a translation and rendering of the Book of Jonah that is illuminating and chalk full of truth for every Christian. We find Baruch pointing us to the central theme of Jonah in the introduction by writing, “The central message of the book is much needed and highly relevant to Jewish ears: Israel has no ownership over God. He is the God of all nations. This message anticipates the message of the New Testament – that God has taken Jews and Gentiles, set aside the differences between them, and made of the two one new people in Christ.” (11)
One of the great advantages of this book is Baruch’s sensitivity to the language of the Book of Jonah. Baruch writes, “Once again, the language is evocative. The author speaks of the ship as if it were a person struggling with the storm – moaning and groaning, breathing heavily, and finally giving up rather than continuing to fight against the wind and the waves.” (19) You get the feeling by looking at the text and story that Jonah is no match for God’s power over the wind and waves. Also, this point makes us more aware that as Jonah struggles with God, running in the wrong direction, God is able and willing to use even his creation to call attention to his people and their foolishness. There is not match for God because he controls all of history, including the wind and the waves.
Lastly, Baruch constantly brings out the gospel in relationship to the story of Jonah. He writes, “Sisters and brothers, it does not matter how much you have sinned and rebelled against God. He is a forgiving God. It does not matter how difficult your circumstances might be, for there are no circumstances over which God is powerless and which he cannot change.” (50) No sinner is too far gone in their sin to repent and accept the good news of Jesus Christ. If God’s forgiveness was available for Jonah and he was one who blatantly ran away from God, then God’s forgiving grace is on offer for us too. I would add to this that this is true for the Christian as well in the midst of battling sin every day.
This is a wonderful commentary on Jonah that brings together the beauty of Jonah and the profound nature of the God we serve. I think any who pick up this book will be bountifully blessed by reading it.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Shepherd Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.