Bethan reviews 'The Prodigal Prophet' by Timothy Keller
Before reading this book I had recently listened to several brilliant sermon series about Jonah and had basically decided it was my favourite book in the Bible. The pastor at my home church was talking about having a "big fish moment", caught up in a shock and being forced to turn to God after running from his designs. I remember thinking something along the lines of "if I was in the fish I'd be fine as long as I knew how long I'd be in there for... that way I could spend my time planning how I was going to catch up on life when I got out again!" Then I was hit by the realisation that the whole point was that I wouldn't know how long I'd be in there for, that I couldn't just rely on myself, but I'd have to turn to God and trust Him. After this challenge I subsequently thought I'd discovered all the deep mysteries the book of Jonah has to offer but as it transpires, I'd barely scratched the surface... the roots of the mountains are far deeper than I thought.
I also love the story of the prodigal son and had spoken at a youth group on the parable from Luke's gospel in the summer. So naturally a book about Jonah with "prodigal" in the title caught my eye instantly!
The book by Tim Keller wonderfully breaks down each chapter of Jonah in an in depth commentary, drawing both on parallels within the book in an overview and details which point directly to the life of Jesus. One thing I've discovered is that God shows himself to humanity and tells us about the coming messiah not only through the words of his prophets but also in their very lives (take Hosea for example).
Jonah falls asleep on a boat in the middle of a storm... and then proceeds to sacrifice himself for the others on the boat. This is so magnificently echoed when another man falls asleep on a boat in a storm in Marks gospel before dying to take away the sins of the world.
Not only does The Prodigal Prophet help us more deeply understand the love of our saviour, it also expounds wonderfully on how Jonah's story can help us trust in God, know his patience and forgiveness and be better witnesses to the nations (even those we don't like).
If you already love the book of Jonah, this book will deepen your love for it and spark new amazement at God's work, reaching new depths of understanding. If you don't love it, or barely know the story beyond Sunday school wale pictures, I highly recommend sinking your teeth into this commentary for a life affirming read!
Bethan is a second year studying at Corpus Christi