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This is the best book I ve read this year If you want to be blown away by a story that feels familiar, yet is so deep read this book. The book of Jonah is every bit as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago.I ve been a fan of Timothy Keller since college The first book of his I read was The Reason for God I really admire the work Keller has done pastoring in Manhattan and reaching millions with his books Another of my favorites was The Prodigal God, where Keller explores the deeper meanings of the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 The Prodigal Prophet is a natural follow up to that book Keller emphasizes the The book of Jonah is every bit as relevant today as it was 2500 years ago.I ve been a fan of Timothy Keller since college The first book of his I read was The Reason for God I really admire the work Keller has done pastoring in Manhattan and reaching millions with his books Another of my favorites was The Prodigal God, where Keller explores the deeper meanings of the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 The Prodigal Prophet is a natural follow up to that book Keller emphasizes the fact that Jonah represents both brothers in Jesus parable, the younger brother in Jonah 1 and 2, the older brother in Jonah 3 and 4.Kellers latest book and the story of Jonah are extremely timely for our political religious climate The story of Jonah, Keller argues, emphasizes topics like nationalism, racism, prejudice, and religious elitism Jonah reveals the dangers of conjoining religion and patriotism and placing national pride over devotion to God.Jonah is full of reversals The prophet of God refuses to pray while the pagan Gentile sailors cry out to their own gods and become worshipers of YHWH Jonah remains hard hearted and even violent in his view of the Assyrians while the Assyrians hearts are softened and they turn from their violent, evil ways Jonah s biggest issue is not with the Gentiles, it s with God who would offer mercy and forgiveness to his enemies.I appreciate Keller s honesty and courage to present the truth about justice, grace, mercy, and forgiveness onthan just an individual scale Through the story of Jonah, God is showing that he cares for all people everywhere, even the pagan, Gentile sailors even the brutally violent Assyrian Empire God cares God wants to show grace and forgiveness Are we willing to follow a God who wants to show love to those we consider our enemy Overall, Keller s latest book is a quick, thrilling read diving into the story of Jonah and its implications for the 21st Century This would make an excellent series to preach through or teach in a Bible class setting I d recommend this book for all church leaders, pastors, and teachers, especially if you are concerned with issues of justice Keller has me enjoying the story of Jonahthan I ever have before And NOT because of what I learned from the prophet Jonah, but what I learned about me and my tendency to be just like Jonah at times in my life I underlined, marked, and made notes throughout the book 139 markings in all In other words, a large swath of this book made an impact on this preacher s heart Keller, if you have never read him, writes with a depth that few current authors write with He almost reminds me of those Keller has me enjoying the story of Jonahthan I ever have before And NOT because of what I learned from the prophet Jonah, but what I learned about me and my tendency to be just like Jonah at times in my life I underlined, marked, and made notes throughout the book 139 markings in all In other words, a large swath of this book made an impact on this preacher s heart Keller, if you have never read him, writes with a depth that few current authors write with He almost reminds me of those Puritan writers of yesteryear In matter of fact, this is the first in a series of books dedicated to an historic figure This happens to be dedicated to the Rev John Newton, of Amazing Grace fame Newton s testimony parallels the life of Jonah the prophet in many ways and has, through his writing letters, been a tremendous help to the author his wife throughout the years.Although Keller introduced some of these overarching truths re Jonah in his previous book Counterfeit Gods, he really drills down and spends time digging for truth And, to God be the glory, we are the beneficiaries This book will help any Christian wanting to learnabout the story of Jonah and how it applies to Christians in the 21st century It will also help pastors, preachers, teachers regarding attitudes that we often miss within ourselves that need to be exposed As Keller states in chapter 12 of the book, One of the messages of this book is that anyone, even a successful prophet or preacher , can be in the dark about grace Another theme that Keller highlights and addresses masterfully is the theme of social justice the message of God s saving grace Keller,than others I have read, rightly divides the tension between both of these themes Far too often, those who preach a social justice do so minus the truth of God s anger wrath toward sin And those who preach God s anger toward wrath sin often ignore God s desire for justice in society Keller parses the two and shows from the book of Jonah the proper emphasis for BOTH.Read this book I could not put it down that is why I read it from start to finish in five days and it challenged me in so many ways The following are some favorite excerpts Jonah had a problem with the job he was given But he had a bigger problem with the One who gave it to him p 15 The classic Old Testament example of these two ways to run from God is right here in the book ofJonah Jonah takes turns acting as both the younger brother and the older brother In the first two chapters of the book, Jonah disobeys and runs away from the Lord and yet ultimately repents and asks for God s grace, just as the younger brother leaves home but returns repentant.In the last two chapters, however, Jonah obeys God s command to go and preach to Nineveh In both cases, however, he s trying to get control of the agenda When God accepts the repentance of the Ninevites, just like the older brother in Luke 15, Jonah bristles with self righteous anger at God s graciousness and mercy to sinners p 20 The dismaying news is that every act of disobedience to God has a storm attached to itThe Bible does not say that every difficulty is the result of sin but it does teach that every sin will bring you into difficulty p 24 The lack of mercy in Jonah s attitude and actions toward others reveals that he was a stranger in his heart to the saving mercy and grace of God p 42 While love of country and your people is a good thing, like any other love, it can become inordinate If love for your country s interest leads you to exploit people or, in this case, to root for an entire class of people to be spiritually lost, then you love your nationthan God That is idolatry, by any definition p 103 If we feelrighteous as we read the Bible, we are misreading it we are missing its central message We are reading and using the Bible rightly only when it humbles us, critiques us, and encourages us with God s love and grace despite our flaws p 106 As long as there is somethingimportant than God to your heart, you will be like Jonah, both fragile and self righteous p 110 The Bible records Jesus Christ weeping twenty times for every one time it notes that he laughs He was a man of sorrows, and not because he was naturally depressive No, he had enormous joy in the Holy Spirit and in his Father Luke 10 21 , and yet he grieved farthan he laughed because his compassion connected him with us Our sadness makes him sad our pain brings him pain p 124 God does not just accept Jonah and leave him alone He does not allow Jonah to remain undisturbed in his foolish, wrongful attitudes and behavior patterns God sends a storm, a fish, a plant He commissions him again and again and in the end counsels and debates with him directly Here we see God s righteousness and love working together He is both too holy and too loving to either destroy Jonah or to allow Jonah to remain as he is, and God is also too holy and too loving to allow us to remain as we are p 132 Sin always begins with the character assassination of God We believe that God has put us in a world of delights but has determined that He will not give them to us if we obey Him p 138 One of the main reasons that we trust God too little is because we trust our own wisdom too much We think we know far better than God how our lives should go and what will make us happy p 139 While we are not all called to be preachers or prophets or missionaries, every believer is called to GO It means to be willing to leave safety security in order to share the good news of Jesus with others This may or may not entail leaving physical social locations, but it always means risk vulnerability p 186 Most of us are like Jonah We must have multiple exposures both to our need for God s grace which usually comes through experiences of disappointment and failure and to the gospel message p 219 Another very well written book by Timothy Keller who manages to write Bible based Christian books which are simultaneously concisely readable and powerfully insightful This book starts out by setting out Jonah as effectively two almost parallel scenes which it calls Jonah, the pagans and the sea Chapters 1 2 and Jonah, the pagans and the city Chapters 3 4 both of which have three parts Jonah and God s Word God s Word comes to Jonah, the message he is asked to convey and his response Another very well written book by Timothy Keller who manages to write Bible based Christian books which are simultaneously concisely readable and powerfully insightful This book starts out by setting out Jonah as effectively two almost parallel scenes which it calls Jonah, the pagans and the sea Chapters 1 2 and Jonah, the pagans and the city Chapters 3 4 both of which have three parts Jonah and God s Word God s Word comes to Jonah, the message he is asked to convey and his response Jonah and God s World a word of warning, the response of the pagans and their leader to that warning and how it compared favorably to Jonah s response Jonah and God s Grace and how God taught Jonah grace through an animal or plant Keller also draws out a theme he will return to at intervals Jonah foreshadowing new testament ideas in the introduction he draws in particular on the idea of Jonah effectively playing out in turn in each scene the roles of younger and then elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son later of course he draws on Jesus s own parallels between Himself and Jonah.Thereafter the book first steps through the story chronologically before in three closing chapters examining in turn, drawing on but not restricted to the Jonah story, the subjects of each of the three parts us and God s word, us and God s world and us and God s grace Keller sees Jonah as effectively holding Israel s national security as effectively an idol that he was too caught up in his own self righteous identity as a non pagan to really understand God s grace for others He makes it clear that in human terms, given the atrocities of the Assyrian regime and its active threat to Israel as well as Jonah s own role in 2 Kings as prophesying Jeraboam s restoration of the boundaries of Israel Jonah s actions made sense, but that ultimately he did not trust God in contrast say to an Abraham He also examines the importance of a message that combines social justice with God s judgement and God s mercy and of a grace fuelled Christianity that actively embraces the other.Grace and God s mercy is the fundamental area that Keller examines in this excellent book This book is a decent introduction to social justice Keller draws on a lot of moral and biblical principles as to why we must love our neighbors I think he does a nice job of appealing to all audiences whether they are Christian or not He makes a lot of good philosophical arguments for why we are called to sacrificialy love others and how ultimately true sacrificial care for one another can only be done from knowing Christ I believe Keller really challenges the excuses that I make as a Chris This book is a decent introduction to social justice Keller draws on a lot of moral and biblical principles as to why we must love our neighbors I think he does a nice job of appealing to all audiences whether they are Christian or not He makes a lot of good philosophical arguments for why we are called to sacrificialy love others and how ultimately true sacrificial care for one another can only be done from knowing Christ I believe Keller really challenges the excuses that I make as a Christian to love my neighbors and calls for a radical change in mindset because that is in line with God s character Specifically, Keller draws on the need for us to care for those in the mission field and in urban settings because God cares for these settings Overall a decent book Not too sure if I d recommend it to others but if you re a non Christian who s heard of the Jonah story but want to understand a Christian perspective on it this is not a bad one Another excellent work by Keller, where he displays some of his most central contributions to 21st century Christianity, including the centrality of the Gospel of grace, Jesus as the true and better Jonah, tackling our idols, and popular apologetics for establishing the plausibility of Christianity against secular worldviews In addition to these, his insights into the text are excellent Keller has a way of seeing what s going on at a deep level and yet explaining it in accessible terms Perhap Another excellent work by Keller, where he displays some of his most central contributions to 21st century Christianity, including the centrality of the Gospel of grace, Jesus as the true and better Jonah, tackling our idols, and popular apologetics for establishing the plausibility of Christianity against secular worldviews In addition to these, his insights into the text are excellent Keller has a way of seeing what s going on at a deep level and yet explaining it in accessible terms Perhapsunique in this volume is Keller s treatment of nationalism Drawing on C.S Lewis, Keller tackles the subject of patriotism both the good form of national pride and the dangerous enticement to national supremacy It is a much needed word in our current day It seems every Keller book is a must read, and this one is another winner Being a lazy reviewer, I m just going to drop in a couple of quotes Jonah s whole problem was the same as ours a conviction that if we fully surrender our will to God, he will not be committed to our good and joy But here is the ultimate proof that this deeply rooted belief is a lie A God who substitutes himself for us and suffers so that we may go free is a God you can trust When Christian believers carefor t It seems every Keller book is a must read, and this one is another winner Being a lazy reviewer, I m just going to drop in a couple of quotes Jonah s whole problem was the same as ours a conviction that if we fully surrender our will to God, he will not be committed to our good and joy But here is the ultimate proof that this deeply rooted belief is a lie A God who substitutes himself for us and suffers so that we may go free is a God you can trust When Christian believers carefor their own interests and security than for the good and salvation of other races and ethnicities, they are sinning like Jonah If they value the economic and military flourishing of their country over the good of the human race and the furtherance of God s work in the world, they are sinning like Jonah When Keller sticks to exegesis and explaining how Jonah typifies Christ, this book is awesome As soon as Keller takes his conclusions and applies them to social justice and politics it starts to go off the rails Though social justice, racial reconciliation, and being balanced in your politics have their place and are important, I think that calling that the point of the book of Jonah is a stretch. If people know anything about the prophet Jonah, they know he was swallowed by a big fish Consequently, because we live in an anti miraculous age, people tend to dismiss Jonah s story as just another fish story, the product of an ancient, credulous imagination That dismissal is a shame, for the Book of Jonah tells a story with a timely message for people who live, as we do, in a moment of resurging nationalism.The timeliness of that message is evident throughout The Prodigal Prophet by Timothy If people know anything about the prophet Jonah, they know he was swallowed by a big fish Consequently, because we live in an anti miraculous age, people tend to dismiss Jonah s story as just another fish story, the product of an ancient, credulous imagination That dismissal is a shame, for the Book of Jonah tells a story with a timely message for people who live, as we do, in a moment of resurging nationalism.The timeliness of that message is evident throughout The Prodigal Prophet by Timothy Keller The book grew out of a series of expository sermons Keller preached at various times in his ministry It reflects evangelicalism at its best a biblical, Christ centered, relevant call for conversion, not just in our spiritual lives, but in the totality of our lives.We first meet Jonah in 2 Kings 14 25, which says that Jeroboam II, ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel, restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher Although Jeroboam II did evil in the eyes of the LORD verse 24 , God kept covenant with His people verses 26 27 and the territorial promises He had made to them Jonah was the prophet of God s promise keeping.Jeroboam II reigned from 792 751 B.C., a period during which the Assyrian Empire, which had earlier threatened Israel, had stagnated After his death, however, it resurged and began to threaten Israel once again In 722 B.C., it conquered Israel, brutalized its victims, and deported the population Israel never recovered as a political entity When we read the Book of Jonah, we need to keep the tension between Jonah s prophecy of territorial expansion and the subsequent history of Israel s destruction in mind, for it is key to understanding the book s message.It explains Jonah s reluctance to take the word of the Lord Jonah 1 1 to Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria Though God instructed Jonah to preach against that great city verse 2 , Jonah knew that God s judgment implicitly carried a promise of mercy to the repentant I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity 4 2 As a patriot, the prophet didn t want to see good come to his nation s enemies But God did, and so He asks Jonah verse 11 should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there arethan a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left The tension between Jonah s prophecy and Israel s destruction also explains the book s continuing relevance to us The book ends without an answer from Jonah to God s question The main purpose of God is to get Jonah to understand grace, Keller writes The main purpose of the book of Jonah is to get us to understand grace Grace is God s kindness and compassion to all people, not just our kind of people Its ultimate embodiment was the incarnation of the Son of God, who died as the substitute for our sins and rose as the harbinger of our eternal life When we understand this, it not only changes our hearts, but it changes the ways we relate to others That is why God s question at the end of Jonah is left unanswered It is a question those who claim to follow God must answer anew in every generation.The Prodigal Prophet makes for compelling reading It explains the meaning of the Book of Jonah in its original context, but it draws out the implications of that meaning for our context It shows the baleful ways Christians can worship ideological idols, misuse Scripture, and fail to love their neighbors as they should But it also shows what a gospel centered mission looks like, as well as how the gospel shapes our relationship with neighbors in our everyday lives I ll close this review with Keller s penultimate paragraph, which itself ends with a question We live in a world fragmented into various media bubbles, in which you hear only news that confirms what you already believe Anyone whose uses the internet and social media or who even watches most news channels today is being daily encouraged in a dozen ways to become like Jonah with regard to those people over there Groups demonize and mock other groups Each region of the country and political party finds reasons to despise the others Christian believers today are being sucked into this maelstrom as much as, if notthan, anyone else The Book of Jonah is a shot across the bow God asks, how can we look at anyone even those with deeply opposing beliefs and practices with no compassion How you answer that question reveals what s in your heart.Book ReviewedTimothy Keller, The Prodigal Prophet Jonah and the Mystery of God s Mercy New York Viking, 2018.P.S If you found this review helpful, please click Helpful on my.com review page.P.P.S This review is cross posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission `READ EBOOK ⇔ The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy ☠ An angry prophet A feared and loathsome enemy A devastating storm And the surprising message of a merciful God to his peopleThe story of Jonah is one of the most well known parables in the Bible It is also the most misunderstood Many people, even those who are nonreligious, are familiar with Jonah A rebellious prophet who defies God and is swallowed by a whale But there s much to Jonah s story than most of us realizeIn The Prodigal Prophet, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller reveals the hidden depths within the book of Jonah Keller makes the case that Jonah was one of the worst prophets in the entire Bible And yet there are unmistakably clear connections between Jonah, the prodigal son, and Jesus Jesus in fact saw himself in Jonah How could one of the most defiant and disobedient prophets in the Bible be compared to Jesus Jonah s journey also doesn t end when he is freed from the belly of the fish There is an entire second half to his story but it is left unresolved within the text of the Bible Why does the book of Jonah end on what is essentially a cliffhanger In these pages, Timothy Keller provides an answer to the extraordinary conclusion of this biblical parable and shares the powerful Christian message at the heart of Jonah s story