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Monday, February 10, 2014

"Prophet on the Run" (Maruch Moaz)

TITLE: A Prophet on the Run
AUTHOR: Baruch Moaz
PUBLISHER: Wapwallopen, PN, Shepherd Press, 2014, (96 pages).

What message does Jonah has for us today? Is the biblical book of Jonah a literary fiction or a historical narrative? How do we read the prophet with a Hebrew mindset? These are some interesting questions for anyone attempting to study and learn from the biblical book of a prophet running away from God.

According to Bible teacher, Baruch Moaz, the book of Jonah is a historical narrative. That is why it is categorized under the Prophets rather than Poetry. Moreover, God surely can do miracles. That is why it is not logical to presume the book is fiction. If God be God, He can choose to operate within the laws of normalcy or to intervene under exceptional circumstances. Moaz touches on other modern queries such as:
  • What date is Jonah written?
  • What about Nineveh's destruction?
  • What about the language of the book?
  • Who is Jonah?
  • What is the central message of Jonah?
  • Is there a relevant message for us today?
Moaz goes on to outline the four chapters of the book with an original translation of the Hebrew into English. While the introduction gives us a framework of some of the interpretative perspectives of the Jonah contexts, the main body of the book focuses on lessons we can glean from the prophet's life and narrative. Lessons such as the seriousness of sin among the people of Nineveh; it is hard to run away from God's calling; the patience of God to cajole Jonah into eventual repentance; the absolute sovereignty of God over all nations, not just the Jewish people; and how God watches over the greatest and the least of all nations.

Written without the baggage of heavy theological jargon or scholastic complexity, Moaz has written a very readable and practical book for laypersons to learn with. The small book surveys the four chapters of Jonah with this main message that God is Lord of all nations. At the same time, it also prepares us for the New Testament revelation that unity in the Lord is the focus of bringing all people under one God. Each chapter ends with a point by point summary. It offers questions for group discussions. It prompts personal reflections. It reminds us succinctly that we read the Bible not for knowledge sake but for knowing God more. I appreciate the brevity and simplicity of the book. Sometimes, Bible teachers tend to give too much or too little of the prophetical contexts. Too much will leave the layperson lost and discouraged. Too little will mean not being able to learn more than plain reading of the text. Moaz does a good job in providing just enough to whet our appetite for more. Though the book can be read for personal and individual devotions, it is best used within a context of a group study. I recommend this book for any Church groups who would like to study the Book of Jonah together.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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