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He takes no delight in it at all. Isaiah calls it God's "strange" work. Judgment is not according to the desire of his heart. What he is doing is bringing pressure, molding and shaping the clay, forcing it up and out and into the shape of the vessel he wants it to be, hoping the clay will conform. And when it yields to his touch, he breathes a sigh of relief: "This is enough pressure, I don't have to bring any more.

But there is also the sigh of sorrow, the sigh which says, "Oh, it has to be done, there's no other way out.

There is the heart of the potter, hoping that the pressure he is exerting will be enough so that he can sigh with relief as the clay yields to his hands. But as verse 12 makes clear, in Judah's case it did not happen:. Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams? That is, "Does this ever happen in nature? Does snow melt away from the tops of the high mountains?

Do the waters of these streams ever run dry when the snow is continually melting? No, it is absolutely contrary to nature. That is the Potter, smashing the clay down into a lump again, that he might begin anew and make it yet a vessel according to his own design. Evidently the king and the government of Judah are upset at the message of Jeremiah.

They do not like this proclamation of sudden and certain doom, so they decide to take action against him. Then they said, "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words. In other words, the government conspired, from the king on down, and began to plot against Jeremiah. They said to themselves, "We want to make one thing perfectly clear: This man is not going to change anything in this country.

There is going to be no change. The law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. In all three branches of government -- legislative, executive, and judicial -- there will be no change. Nothing is going to happen because of this man. No recession no problem will come into the land.

Then they launched a campaign of defilement and defamation against Jeremiah. They conspired together to undermine his authority and to speak against him as a person. Perhaps they even bugged his house, that they might find words to defame him. This drives Jeremiah back to the Lord in prayer. He runs to God with prayer -- the right place to go -- but consider this prayer:.

Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. He reminds God how faithful he had been to intercede for these people, this very nation, how he had pled with God to turn his wrath away from them and spare them. And now what he gets for his pains is a campaign of defilement and defamation against him, and a plot against his life.

Look how Jeremiah takes it:. He could weep before God and pray for these people, intercede for them, as long as he was not personally involved. But when he got into the plot, and they were aiming at his life, then it was a different story.

Jeremiah 18-19:13

See what a "good evangelical" Jeremiah was?! Now, does this surprise us? This is but confirmation of that word Jeremiah learned about himself in Chapter "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt," Jeremiah a RSV. Even a prophet's heart can give way to the temptations of the flesh. Rather than following his Lord, and praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" Luke , Jeremiah's cry is, "Wipe them out, Lord.

They're after me, now. Lord, pay 'em back in full measure, in kind! One of the most instructive things in this book is to see how this mighty prophet, who fulfilled a faithful ministry to this nation, had his times of weakness and trembling, of fear and of reaction in the flesh, as this prayer makes clear. God sent Jeremiah back again to the potter's house:. Thus said the Lord, "Go, buy a potter's earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests, and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you.

Back to the potter's house he went, this time not to watch the formation of a vessel in the hands of the potter, but to buy a potter's flask, a vessel already fired in the kiln, hardened, brittle.

He was to take it outside the gates of the southern part of Jerusalem to the valley of Hinnom, which is called, in the New Testament, the valley of Gehenna. This was the garbage dump of Jerusalem, the place they threw all the refuse from the streets of the city. All the bodies of dogs and cats and other animals that died in the streets were left there to rot.

It was the place where bodies of criminals were thrown after execution, to rot in the sun and be food for vultures -- an evil, stinking place. There Jeremiah was to take the elders of the people and some of the senior priests and say these words to them:. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon this place that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle.

Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents[This was a place where altars were erected to the god Molech, a fearsome, grinning god inside of which was built a great fire, and then through whose mouth the people passed their living children to be burned alive.

And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem There is the sovereignty of the Potter over the clay. Men make plans. God makes other plans. Napoleon had to learn that lesson. He once said, "God is on the side of the army with the heaviest artillery. Helena, he said, "Man proposes; but God disposes. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth.

And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed [whistled] at; every one who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss[whistle] because of all its disasters. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and every one shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them. These words came literally true. In but a few years the armies of Nebuchadnezzar surrounded this city, laid siege to it, and the resulting famine grew so severe, as we will see in this very prophecy, that the people resorted to cannibalism and killed and ate their own children, and one another, in order to live.

Then the armies broke down the walls of the city and leveled them to the ground, so that later those passing by would whistle in amazement at the destruction which came upon this city. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury.

Jeremiah 18 ESV - The Potter and the Clay - The word that - Bible Gateway

Thus will I do to this place, says the Lord, and to its inhabitants, making this city like Topheth. The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah -- all the houses upon whose roofs incense has been burned to all the host of heaven, and drink offerings have been poured out to other gods -- shall be defiled like the place of Topheth.

The chapter really ends here. We will reserve that till next Sunday. But Jeremiah was told, in the striking figure God employed for the benefit of these people, to take the potter's vessel he had bought and dash it to pieces on a rock. And as they watched it fly into smithereens, so that it was impossible to bring it back together, these people were taught that they were dealing with a God whose love is so intense that he will never alter his purpose -- even if he has to destroy and crush and break them down again.

You see, that is the way the world sees God right now. They see the hell which is coming into our nation, the hellish things which are taking place. And soon it will be worse, according to the prophetic Scriptures. There will be worse signs taking place, worse affairs among men, in which "men's hearts will fail them for fear of seeing the things which are coming to pass on the face of the earth.

That is all the world sees. But the people of God are taught further truth. Jeremiah had been to the potter's house. He had seen the potter making a vessel, and he knew that it was love behind the Potter's pressures, and that when the vessel was marred, the Potter was capable of crushing it down again, bringing it to nothing but a lump, and then molding it, shaping it once again, perhaps doing this again and again, until at last it fulfilled what God wanted. That is the great lesson Jeremiah learned at the potter's house, and that we can learn at the potter's house, as well. In Paul's second letter to Timothy he says,.

If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble[those practices which appear just before this in the context -- wrongful attitudes, contentiousness, ungodliness, doctrinal aberrations, iniquity] then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work. One of the great lessons we can learn from the New Testament's use of the figure of the potter is in the book of Acts -- the incident when Judas brought back the thirty pieces of silver and flung them down at the feet of the priests, after having betrayed his Lord.

The priests gathered up the money and took counsel together, and bought with the money a potter's field. And it was known thereafter as "the field of blood," Matthew This once again is God's wonderful reminder of the heart of the Potter. For if you watch this Potter very carefully, at work in your life, you will find that his hands and his feet bear nail prints, and that it is through blood, the blood of the Potter himself, that the vessel is being shaped into what he wants it to be. What a tremendous lesson, what a beautiful lesson Jeremiah learned at the potter's house -- one which I hope will guide us and guard us under the pressures which are coming into our lives these days.

Remember that the Potter has a purpose in mind, and the skill and ability to fulfill it, no matter how many times he may have to make the vessel over again. For permission to use this content, please review RayStedman. Subject to permissions policy, all rights reserved.

God is the Potter – We are the Clay

I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions. We will continue with our own plans; each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart. A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel. Do its cool waters from distant sources ever cease to flow? They made them walk in bypaths and on roads not built up. So come, let's attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.

Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them. Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men be put to death, their young men slain by the sword in battle. Do not forgive their crimes or blot out their sins from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger. Clay in the hands of God, the master craftsman, is given a will of its own.

God wants us to become beautiful and useful vessels, not to carry water or hold food, but to carry the good news of his love, forgiveness, care and purpose for humanity. He gives his creation a will that is designed to do just that. Sometimes things go wrong. However, regardless of the reason we go astray, God is always there wishing to reshape and remake and renew us; to make us into the beautiful people he intended us to be.

Sometimes the only thing God can do is to break the clay down into a lump and start again. This is what Jeremiah warned his people about. Because of their wilfulness and greediness, because of their arrogance and tolerance of injustice and idolatry, God would need to break them down; otherwise they would never reach their potential as his chosen people. God would demolish them, not to throw them on the rubbish heap but to start once more from the beginning.

It is okay to be broken down by God. It had to happen to Israel as a nation and it happens to many of us as individuals. We do need to be broken down by God, and to let the master start again remoulding us. God does this through speaking his clear Word to us that defines what kind of people we ought to be. It could be that our hearts have been hardened by a lack of forgiveness.

God smashes us down with "Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him?


  • Understanding the Potter and the Clay in Romans 9.
  • The Potter and the Clay.
  • Why will ye die, O house of Israel?.
  • The Potter and the Clay is not teaching Determinism.

Seven times? These words remind us how stingy we have been with our forgiveness and let self-righteousness and indignation dictate how we treat those who have offended us.

The Potter and the Clay in Jeremiah 18

Or maybe our speech has been anything but kind and caring and God smashes us down with "Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed" Eph Or it could be that we have let other things or people or activities come between us and our worship of our God and Saviour or we have let our loyalty and commitment to Jesus be compromised and God smashes us down with the words we heard in the Gospel reading, "None of you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you have" Luke or with the words of biblical command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.

Or maybe we have become self-centred and selfish and refuse to offer help to those in need. Our flaws are clear, our blemishes are exposed, our weaknesses and defects are laid bare by the Word of the Lord. This starting again begins with trusting in God and turning to him in repentance. Repentance is a painful business. It strikes not just at our comfort but at our pride. It is admitting that what we have made of ourselves is not good enough. It is letting go of the familiar, the distorted shape of our lives, and going back into almost obscurity like a shapeless lump of clay. It is becoming a nobody that we might, by the mercy of God, become really somebody - a somebody who is made a joint heir with Jesus Christ — a somebody who in God's eyes is about as perfect as anyone can be because of the blood of Jesus.

Our repentance is really a work of the potter as he begins to reshape us and mould us into something beautiful and new and perfect. Our God is an incredibly patient potter. Our God is not a throw away God but one who seeks to redeem that which has gone badly wrong. God does not give up on us but tragically, some people use their free will to give up on God. God does not discard them, they discard God. They choose a misshapen existence. They prefer to be anything but perfect like the people to whom Jeremiah was sent.

Our God is our Saviour who is always willing to start again and again as many times as necessary and gladly makes us into perfect pots.


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This message of the potter and of the clay is a beautiful message because it tells us that we always have another chance; that when we have failed; that when we have lost the beauty that we should have; that when we have gone off on a path that is not helpful; that when we have become discouraged and dejected; that God can rework us; that God can salvage us, and make us beautiful; and that it is God's purpose to do so.

In fact, so intense is God in his plan to remould and remake us that he sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to renew, remould and remake us.

10. Let God Mold You Into the Specific Person He Wants You to Become in Him

He forgives our weaknesses and flaws. In Jesus he even takes on the form of a lump of clay and becomes one with us and makes it possible for us to repent, to turn around, to be remade into what God intended us to be. It is the Holy Spirit who awakens in us the need to be remade and remoulded and leads us to look to Jesus as the only one who can do it.