]Jonah wasn’t a very good missionary. He was a stubborn man, fearful and selfish. From the start he was reluctant to obey God’s call to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. Jonah didn’t seem to care much about the people on his mission field, whether they repented and lived or not—not a good trait for a missionary! Yet God used his ministry to accomplish something remarkable in a pagan city. And still today, the book of Jonah is one that instructs and encourages God’s people.
The story of Jonah is of course familiar. In family Bible readings, every child soon meets this recalcitrant prophet who gets ingested by a great fish. But apart from the well-known features of this story, do we really ponder Jonah the missionary? In this way, the book of Jonah is like a mirror. What do Jonah’s disturbing failures reveal about our own tendencies in the prophetic task, including our attitude towards non-believers, toward the urgency of sharing the gospel, and the work of mission itself?
In this book, Rev William Boekestein explores the story of Jonah in order to draw out a Christ-centred and challenging message for the church today. In ‘Stubborn Prophet, Faithful God,’ he combines careful exegesis and practical application throughout. It soon becomes clear that Jonah is a complex character, and one who is uncomfortably relatable. And while Jonah did not have an expressly ‘gospel’ message to bring to Nineveh, Boekestein contends that this story teaches us important truths about mission today, together with many other valuable insights into the Christian life. Through Jonah, we learn to see the pattern of our stubborn hearts and the blessing of God’s faithful love for the lost.
The author is the pastor of Immanuel Fellowship Church (URCNA) in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has written several books. Can I mention that he has authored some beautifully illustrated volumes of church history for children and young people? They are ‘The Quest for Comfort’ (telling the story behind the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism), ‘The Glory of Grace’ (the story of the Canons of Dort), as well as ‘Faithfulness Under Fire’ (the inspiring life of Guido de Brès). While ‘Stubborn Prophet’ isn’t illustrated like some of Boekestein’s other books, it is colourfully written and engaging in style—a real pleasure to read.
Besides offering a basic commentary on Jonah 1-4, Boekestein includes three helpful chapters on ethical questions that arise in Jonah: How Can I Know God’s Will? Is Fasting Finished? Why Should I Care about Animals? At the end of the book is a series of study questions for each chapter, which makes the book well suited for group discussion. Gladly recommended!
Evangelical Press (2022)
Available for purchase online and at the Pro Ecclesia bookshop in Armadale WA
Rev Reuben Bredenhof
FRC Mount Nasura