Book Review – The Message of Jeremiah (Derek Kidner)

Although Jeremiah is one of the longest books in the Old Testament, this volume in the Bible Speaks Today series is comparatively short. At 176 pages including appendices, it means there are an average of 2 or 3 pages of comments per chapter of Jeremiah. Given its short length, I was a little surprised that they didn’t include a commentary on Lamentations in this volume as well.

The introduction sets the historical scene for us, and throughout the book, Kidner does a good job of keeping us up to date with where we are in the overall timeline. This is especially important for the book of Jeremiah, as it does not follow a straightforward chronological sequence. He then gives an overview of Jeremiah’s message. Occasionally he makes some very brief comments on how the prophetic words of warning apply to our own generation, but there is perhaps less of this than might be expected in an expository commentary series like BST.

If found helpful his setting of chapter 11 into its context of Josiah’s reading of the law. Similarly chapter 22 with its messages to different kings benefits from additional historical information. Kidner understands the passages speaking judgement on the nations as having an end times as well as historical fulfilment, although does not speculate on how this may occur. In chapter 51 he finds parallels with the sections in Revelation on the judgement of Babylon.

There are of course a number of places in Jeremiah, where the new covenant is in view. For example, chapter 30 looks forward to this time and even ahead to the new Jerusalem. I did feel however that some of the key passages (such as Jer 31:31-34) could have been dealt with in a bit more depth. As in his excellent commentary on Hosea, Kidner provides some useful appendices to help us fit the prophecies into the historical scene a bit better.

Overall, this volume of the BST will serve well as a devotional guide for those reading through the book of Jeremiah a chapter a day, especially if you struggle to make sense of the flow of the book. It might also provide some useful pointers to those preparing Bible studies, but its brevity means that other commentaries as well are likely to be needed.

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