July 22: Jeremiah 18

Randall Grossman
"Arise, and go to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words"- Jeremiah 18:2

This is one of the most vivid object lessons in the Bible. It comes from a part of everyday life in ancient times, that of a potter and his clay. Then, the making of pots was a necessity - a clay pot was the common container of Bible times like the cardboard box or paper bag of today. Now we only make clay pots in art class. But the method is the same - a lump of clay is placed in the center of a spinning wheel. When the moisture of the clay is just right, the potter uses his hands to form and shape the clay. The motion of the wheel and the movement of the potter's hands work together to form the clay into a pot. When it is dry, it is baked in a kiln and becomes a useful vessel.

But if something goes wrong - if the consistency of the clay is wrong or if the clay is off-center - the potter can simply push the clay down and start again. He is in complete control.

What is the point of the object lesson for Jeremiah? And for us today? Verses 5-11 make clear that God is reminding Israel he is sovereign over the nation and has power to kill or to make alive, to destroy or to deliver. Because he has that power he appeals to Israel to turn from their sins and live (verse 11). 

In other words, the reason that God reveals this to Jeremiah is in order to move them to repentance, not to paralyze them in fear. 

So it is today. We are not told of God's sovereignty so that we throw up our hands and cry, "Whatever will be will be!" The Bible does not teach such a fatalistic viewpoint. Instead, we are taught of God's power and plan so that we recognize that only through faith in God and obedience to his will can we be found acceptable in his sight. What about you?