This simple book is an accessible introduction to the book of Jonah, and the important lesson it has to teach us about God’s mercy. The first nine chapters are a step-by-step exploration of the story of Jonah. They lead the reader through the familiar story and unpack their significance for Jonah, the Ninevites and God’s people of Israel. We like to think that we know the story of Jonah well, but as Tim Keller unpacks, the ‘big fish’ is only a tiny part of the bigger purpose of the story, much of which we often miss. As always, Tim Keller’s writing is engaging and interesting; easy to read and understand.
My favourite parts of this book, however, are the final three chapters. Here, Keller takes the lessons of Jonah and applies them directly to our lives today. I found that these chapters brought something substantially new to the table, in a way that the commentary didn’t. Under the headings of ‘Our Relationship to God’s Word/God’s World/God’s Grace’, these chapters really challenge the reader to examine themselves, and see how they are uncomfortably similar to Jonah. In our current culture, perhaps of particular benefit is Keller’s examination of Jonah’s nationalism, in which he helpfully interacts with C.S. Lewis’ discussion of patriotism, in The Four Loves.
If you want the chance to benefit from God’s lessons to Jonah about how to challenge, love and witness to people who don’t share your worldview, this book is a great place to start.
Miriam Montgomery, Free Church Books