I thought about preaching through Jeremiah once. Then I tried to outline it. I decided I would postpone that Jeremiah series for a time when it made a little more sense. After reading A Mouth Full of Fire: The Word of God in the words of Jeremiah, I might be a little closer to a Jeremiah series.
Andrew Shead attempts to unify the book of Jeremiah around the central theme of “the word of the Lord”. Shead believes that it is best described as “the story of what happened when the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah”. And as we listen to this story it helps us shape our own doctrine of the word of God. This book, then, serves as both a discussion on Jeremiah and a discussion on the doctrine of the word of God.
The book begins with an attempt to defend his thesis and outline the suitability of Jeremiah to give us a solid theology of the word of God. He then goes about structuring Jeremiah. After engaging in these introductory matters, Shead, then shows how his argument bears on our doctrine of the Word. He looks at the Word and speaker, Word and hearers, Word and power, and finally the Word and permanence. He closes the book with a “conversation” with Karl Barth.
I got a great deal out of this book. It helped me to think through Jeremiah and read it more cogently. Furthermore, Shead does a great job of defending his thesis. I’m convinced that he is correct in his theme of Jeremiah. If I ever do preach through Jeremiah I will be sure to go back to Shead and structure the book accordingly.
What is most helpful in this book, in my opinion, is the distinction that is made between “word” and “words”. His chapter on The Word and Speaker was very beneficial to me. I write and speak the Word frequently. His statement that, “a prophet is made by God into a word-shaped person” hauntingly shows that you really cannot separate the messenger from the message.
Should You Buy It?
The book will not be for everyone. It is written in the middle of a scholarly discussion on the nature of the word of God. If you aren’t already introduced into that conversation it might be a little difficult to get brought up to speed. However, the book is not so pedantic that a casual reader couldn’t pick it up and benefit.
Those most likely to benefit from this book would be someone that is studying the doctrine of the word of God. This needs to be part of that study. Furthermore, someone attempting to study or preach through Jeremiah would benefit greatly by giving this book at least a perusal. Shead helps outline Jeremiah in a way that I haven’t really seen before. It is profoundly helpful if given to the right audience.
Purchase A Mouth Full of Fire today.