Prophet on the Run by Baruch Maoz
Many of us who have attended church most of our lives are aware of the biblical story of Jonah, a prophet of God. But we too easily relegate the story to children’s lessons and neglect the depth of revelation this book can hold for us as adults. So I was delighted to have the opportunity to review Prophet on the Run, a devotional commentary, by Maruch Maoz. The saying goes that good things come in small packages, which is certainly true of this 95 page study.
No one needs to be a theological student to enjoy Maoz’s commentary. He bypasses complex argumentation that questions the reality of the sequence of events and takes cues from the Lord Jesus Himself that the events surrounding Jonah is real, then plunges immediately into a straightforward treatment of Jonah’s life story. The story itself is a good read, and Maoz’s book makes it better.
Think of the applicability of Jonah’s plight. Doesn’t what happened to Jonah sound somewhat familiar to you?
1) Jonah heard God’s call to go to Ninevah, but instead headed in the opposite
direction. If this sounds familiar to you, join the Jonah Club!
2) Jonah knew God is everywhere, yet he ran for a country hundreds of miles away. Do we try to avoid reality? Join the Jonah Club!
3) When the storm was too much for the seasoned mariners, they tossed their payload overboard. Did Jonah’s heart fill with compassion for their lost livelihood? He could have prayed and stopped the disaster, but he didn’t. Do we sometimes lack compassion for the misfortunes of others? join the Jonah Club!
4) When the ungodly sailors began to pray that their lives be saved, did Jonah join them in prayer? No, he was down in the hold sleeping. Do we sometimes lack spiritual sensitivity? Join the Jonah Club!
5) Did Jonah cast himself into the churning sea to help save his shipmates? No, he makes them throw him into the water. Do we avoid taking responsibility for our wrong doing? Join the Jonah Club!
6) While Jonah was in the belly of a fish, facing death by drowning or starvation, he prayed his repentance to God. His prayers were nearly word for
word quotes from Psalms, giving us an indication that Jonah was an educated man. However, just 40 days later after obediently calling out the Ninevites, he threw a world class hissy fit when God forgave the city of their evil deeds because they repented. Do our actions sometimes negate words of sorrow, repentance, compassion, empathy and caring? If so, join the Jonah Club!
Baruch Maoz does not spare the reader from his straightforward, candid observations. His to-the-point writing style is a breath of fresh air in comparison to many writers who expend their efforts beating around the bush, apparently trying not to offend anyone. In fact, one of Maoz’s most frequently penned words is “should”. When you read this book, you may have to forcibly put off the image of a nagging mother wagging her finger under your nose when the author employs this term. I found it helpful to create a mental image of a goal line where all the “shoulds” are lined up waiting for me to strive toward them in a series of passes, rushes, tackles and sprints (forgive me if I used these terms inappropriately). In other words, they are personal injunctions.
After reading this commentary, I will never think of Jonah’s story in quite the same way again. I’ve realized the story is not about Jonah after all. It is about God. He never gave up on Jonah or Ninevah. Thumbs up for a great book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC)on behalf of Shepherd Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”