Book Review: The Twelve (Jonah)
Welcome to January’s book review for, The Twelve- A Transformational Journey Through The Minor Prophets, by Parker Bradley.
Drawing from the insights of the Minor Prophets in the Bible, The Twelve, is an encouraging, but also challenging resource for followers of Jesus, and anyone wanting to honestly understand how God reveals Himself in Scripture.
If you haven’t heard the introduction episode, go ahead and do that - it only takes a few minutes and will explain what the plan is going forward. We covered the chapter on Obadiah, last month, and are covering the chapter on Jonah, in this episode.
Bradley starts out by saying the account of Jonah is relatable. In some ways it is, in other ways, it isn’t. I have not been as mad at God as Jonah was - by God’s grace I won’t be. Having said that - Jonah’s anger was not met with anger from God, only compassion. As always, God sees the bigger picture and he sees into the heart. So God saw where Jonah’s anger stemmed from.
Bradley makes a good point - people run from God for all different reasons and that doesn’t stop when you start following Jesus. He mentioned how we could run away from smaller tasks, like sharing our faith with our neighbour, or someone at the bus stop, I might add. It all adds up to running away.
The account of Jonah can stir up emotions in us
Jonas was rebellious!
Why in the world was he so angry?!
Why would he run away from God?
The list could easily continue. Bradley asks us not to judge Jonah. More importantly, God tells us not to judge (Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged). I can’t imagine being as reluctant and angry at God as Jonah had been, but I haven’t been in Jonah’s shoes. Jonah was so reluctant to answer his calling, that he was willing to die. Using that context, Parker Bradley shines the light on the part of Jonah’s account that may always be the focus, because we aren’t given those details in Jonah’s account. But the Bible offers more details in other books, such as Kings, as to what was going on in Jonah’s day.
I remember the cruelty of the Assyrians because of the king of Judah, Hezekiah’s prayer, after the king of Assyria had threatened him yet again. The King of Assyria had sent the threat to Hezekiah through his messengers.
10 “Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, “Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? 2 Kings 19:10-11
Hezekiah’s response was this: And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.” 2 Kings 19:14-19
This was the nation Jonah was called to deliver a message. Hence the emotional rollercoaster of an account we see in Jonah.
Bradley brings up some keys points that it is best to listen to, first hand, via the audio book
We cannot flee from God (referenced by Psalm 139:8-10)
Do we really think about that fleeing from God is fleeing from what is good?
Our rational thoughts versus God’s plan for us. Our thoughts are not like God’s - His are higher.
Our choices may make things worse, because we refuse to humble ourselves to God’s plan.
Assyria responded to God’s message - therefore God showed them mercy. God’s plan is to save, even the people who we do not think should be saved. Thank God for His mercy, wisdom and power. Thank God it is not us who get to judge and say yes or no to who will be saved. Parker Bradley references Matthew 18:10-14 - how God leaves the 99 sheep to search for the 1 that is lost. I liked Bradley’s analogy between the plant and Jonah’s thoughts about God’s mercy towards Assyria. Jonah didn’t consider Assyrians, who were also God’s creation, worthy to be saved. They were also part of the lost sheep. Bradley references 2 Peter 3:9 - God doesn’t wants anyone to perish.
Can we in our Christian walk become jaded, lazy and hardened to the awe of God?
Bradley has a section about whether people thought the account of Jonah was a real event or a parable. I have always thought of it as a real event, as it does not have the same context as a parable. Bradley does an excellent job of referencing scripture and the misguided wisdom of man in expecting miracles to be something that can be understood and explained.
Bradley also does a good job at highlighting what is important about this account
As Bradley puts it: When God shows up you can bet something pretty awesome is about to happen and God’s encounter with Jonah with nothing short of awesome.
God didn’t give up on Jonah - even though Jonah wanted to give up on himself and others (in fact a whole nation).
God told Jonah that the people of Nineveh did not know their right hand from their left (Jonah 4:11). God’s reaction was full of compassion - such is the God of Israel.
God’s character shines as is referenced in Jonah 4:2, ”...for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
Jonah is only four chapters, yet it is truly packed with lessons, and most importantly, God’s character. I had a hard time scaling things down to write the notes for the podcast! Bradley’s review was around 1 hour and 15 minutes and he managed to pack in a lot of scripture based content. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to circling back to this chapter at a later date.
Thank you for reading this review. Until next time - peace be with you.
Book and thumbnail source: www.audible.com