I never met a kid who went to church regularly that didn’t know the story of Jonah. We even teach our kids about Jonah through songs. Remember the Jonah and the Whale Song? We sang it with our kids all the time. Here’s a sample of the lyrics and audio clip if you forgot the tune.
Who Did Swallow Jonah?
Who did, who did, Who did, who did, Who did swallow Jo, Jo, Jo, Jo, (Repeat 3 times), Who did swallow Jonah, Who did swallow Jonah, Who did swallow Jonah down?
Whale did, whale did, Whale did, whale did, Whale did swallow Jo, Jo, Jo, Jo, (Repeat 3 times) Whale did swallow Jonah, Whale did swallow Jonah, Whale did swallow Jonah down.
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In fact, my oldest had a t-shirt with a whale on it and you could open a flap where it’s mouth was and there you would see Jonah! It was one of her favorite shirts and one of our favorites to have her wear too! So stories, songs, and shirts– You have to admit, the story of Jonah is a childhood favorite! Yet as an adult, have you studied the book of Jonah in the Bible? It’s only 4 chapters, but it’s much deeper than the song or the childhood stories we heard or read to our kids. In his new release Prophet on the Run, Baruch Maoz writes about Jonah at this deeper level. He explores the book of Jonah and the themes of faith for us all.
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The Bottom Line
This book is packaged as a devotional commentary. This is a fitting description of the format, since it has segments of Scripture that it covers in each chapter; you can read these chapters in one sitting or over the course of days. Maoz is truly a teacher and preacher in his presentation in this book. He writes with great wisdom and knowledge. I found his writing style to be engaging; this book was an enjoyable exploration of this short but meaningful book. As a traveler and leader of trips to Israel, I particularly enjoyed Moaz’s description of the setting of the book.
- After hearing God’s call to “Get up and go” to Nineveh, Jonah leaves a village near the Sea of Galilee–that is Gat Hefer ( It is nestled between Nazareth and Cana). (Loc 103)
- He flees to Joppa (Modern day view above) where he hops aboard a ship to Tarshish— near modern day Barcelona, Spain. This wasn’t just a three hour tour like my favorite castaways on Gilligan’s Island–this was nearly a year’s journey from Israel! Not to mention this was the OPPOSITE direction of God’s call. (Loc 237) Needless to say, Jonah clearly had no intention to follow God’s call.
- Jonah was the only Old Testament prophet to be called to a foreign country to be a prophet. (Loc 113)
Moaz’s descriptions set the stage for the mining of rich Biblical truths into the character of Jonah and the character of the King of Nineveh. His commentary on sin, repentance and God’s mercy will fulfill his reader’s expectations of this book. Another interesting tidbit is that Prophet on the Run was originally written in Hebrew and translated to English. However, from this reader’s perspective, nothing was lost in translation.
If I have one critique of this book, it is not of the content. Rather, I really wanted the questions at the end of the chapter (or even in the middle of the chapter) to be richer and deeper. Moaz does such a fine job leading his reader to great truths, I was missing the next application step for myself and any reader. The questions really were more for review of key points of the teaching, which is meaningful, but I felt it missed the chance for the reader to make the content personal.
To me, this is a flaw in an otherwise excellent book. For those who are not interested in such detail or application, consider my review a 5 star–However, I really wanted it to be there, so for me and others who may want to know, I am giving this book four stars out of five. Again, this is not a rating of the rich and solid Biblical teaching. Anyone who wants to dig deeper into Jonah will be pleased that they chose this book.
The prophets come alive when we see that just like us, they too often lived inconsistently. Jonah knew that God cannot be escaped, yet the prophet tried to escape him. Jonah knew that God is merciful — yet Jonah tried to limit His mercy. In response, the Lord laid hold of Jonah and forced him to come (eagerly!) to Him. He taught the prophet lessons in mercy that are useful for us all. Jonah learned, as must we, that what we think about God determines how-and for what-we live. Originally preached in Israel, this devotional commentary is meant for every Christian who wants to apply the lessons of Jonah in a warm-hearted, practical way. Translated from Hebrew, this study does not ignore technical issues, but helps the reader to understand the issues by tackling them in non-technical language. Principles and applications are offered at the end of each chapter.
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Shepherd Press (November 30, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
Retail Price: $5.99
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Baruch Maoz has ministered in Israel since 1974. He was the founder and chairman of a number of organizations that served the Church and sought to advance the Gospel in the country. He is the Founder-Pastor (1976) of a Reformed and Baptist church, Grace and Truth Christian Congregation, which conducted extensive evangelistic outreach, a recognized Diaconal work in Israeli society and a ministry among the deaf while insisting on the unity of the body of Christ in a church body consisting of Jews, Arabs and Russian immigrants. With a MA in Biblical Studies, Baruch is noted for his Biblical scholarship as well as his pastoral heart. In addition to editing a magazine for Russian speaking Jews in Israel, Baruch has delivered many theological papers throughout the world, with books published in English, Dutch and Hebrew. Among these are Malachi- A Prophet in Times of Despair and Come Let Us Reason Together. Though Baruch retired from the pastorate in 2008 he continues to write, preach and teach. He and his wife are active in the church they joined upon Baruch’s retirement.