Scripture reading for August 8th: Jeremiah 16-20
“Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:5-6
One of the most interesting object lessons I have seen is that of a potter working on his clay while talking about God’s work on us. Watching as the clay was formed gave me a new appreciation of God’s forming me– and a realization that sometimes I failed to cooperate. The clay has to be moistened and worked to make it pliable. It has to be placed on the wheel and spun while the potter applies pressure. He applies his fingers on the outside surface and then thrusts them inside to form the vessel. Sometimes the clay is flawed or needs to be completely reworked and the potter must smash it back down and start over again.
God sent Jeremiah down to the potter’s house and had him watch the potter working on his wheel. As the potter was working, his pot was flawed, and he formed it into another pot, as it suited him. (Jeremiah 18:1-2) God then spoke to Jeremiah about his people being like the clay in the hand of the potter. God was in charge of the clay and the shaping of the vessel that was formed! If the flaws that were in the clay were not eliminated by repentance, then the potter would have to reshape the pot! It was as simple as that!
The result of Jeremiah preaching this message to the people was that they plotted against him. They attacked him with their tongues and then ignored him. (Jeremiah 18:18) Jeremiah cries out to the Lord for help against his attackers. They had viewed his message as evil when God and he had meant it for good! (Jeremiah 18:19-20) They plotted to kill the prophet and do away with him. Jeremiah was angry and asked God to not forgive them! (Jeremiah 18:23)
In response to all of this, God gave Jeremiah another object lesson. He was to go and buy a pot from the potter and take it to the valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. Ben Hinnom was the city garbage dump where there were fires burning all the time. It is a picture of hell. There Jeremiah was to tell the people about all the ways that they had resisted the hand of their Potter and angered Him. Then he was to smash the pot as an example of what would happen to them if they failed to respond. (Jeremiah 19:1-10)
It doesn’t pay to argue with the Potter, God! He is in charge and can do with our vessel as He pleases. If we are responsive to Him, His desire is to make a beautiful vessel of honor for His house. If not, we will be smashed down and reformed. In the end, a useless vessel ends up in the valley of Ben Hinnom broken beyond further usefulness.