A Prophet On the Run

A Prophet on the Run: A Devotional Commentary on the Book of Jonah, by Baruch Maoz ★★★★★
Rev. Maoz is a Reformed pastor in Israel, growing up in the USA but moving to Israel fairly early in life. This book is a set of sermons that he gave to his congregation in Israel and later translated from Hebrew into English.
I rarely ever read devotionals. Streams in the Desert, Our Daily Bread, and others are contentless pep talks that get me nowhere. This book is totally different. Maoz does not labor over speculations or technical details, but simply expounds on the word before him. He doesn’t explain the chiastic structure of the book or delves into the factual basis of the whale but simply assumes it to be true. He doesn’t speculate on the change of appearance of Jonah while living inside a whale and how that might have affected the Ninevite audience. Moaz does spend much time at simply looking at the text and elaborating on what is speaking in the book of Jonah. Though I’ve had pastors preach on Jonah, I’ve never had them find the goldmines of truth in Jonah as Maoz is able to do. Maoz is able to show how Jonah closely matches our own personal lives of trying to give God instruction and define who he should be merciful to. He shows the overwhelming graciousness of God, with both Jonah and Ninevites, in that neither of them desired God’s will, yet both in God’s sovereign grace were drawn to him.
After each chapter, Maoz includes a prayer, a summary of the chapter, and then questions for reflection on the material just read. This short book shows how one can take an academic approach to the Scriptures, and yet glean a massive harvest of personal instruction for our daily lives. It is a pity that there are so few expositors of Maoz’s ability. I will soon be working on his book about Malachi, and hope that he translates many of his other sermons on books of Scripture.