The Potter’s House
The Potter’s House
One of Israel’s greatest prophets second only to Isaiah was Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s name means “Yahweh exults or extremely joyful”. During this period of Israel’s history they had very little to be joyful about. This was the period in their history prior to them spending 70 years of exile in Babylon. Some of Jeremiah contemporary prophets were Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Ezekiel. Jeremiah was a young man when he was called by God to be a prophet. His prophecy spans the last five Kings of Israel and the first years of their captivity in Babylon.
Jeremiah 18:1-10 – God tells Jeremiah “go down to the Potter’s house”. Throughout history God has called men of spiritual stature to guide His people. Jeremiah was one of those summoned to discharge a very important task. This task was made all the more difficult because of the continued deterioration of the nation of Israel. It is very interesting to note that Jeremiah is one of the individuals that does not have a lack of trust recorded in Scripture. He may have distrusted God at some point in his life but I cannot find it recorded in Scripture.
Jeremiah was very disappointed and frustrated in the results of his effort to reform the nation of Israel. One of his disappointments must have been when Josiah was killed. Josiah was reforming Israel – 2 Chronicles 35:25. Jeremiah experienced a succession of political crisis, interspersed with brief periods of hope for the nation of Israel.
Jeremiah 18:1–10 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”
Pottery making was a familiar activity in Jeremiah’s day and time and God chose to use this as a parable for us. The clay that the potter fashioned was somehow spoiled and marred or some mishap occurred. We may find the cause in: Ecclesiastes 7:29 See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
We know that God does not make mistakes. Frequently the potter threw the clay into the trash pile when it was spoiled or marred. In this case the potter made it into another vessel. Whatever the cause of the vessel becoming unsuitable the potter worked with the clay to make it into a usable vessel. God in the same way has complete control over His children. He just molds our destiny according to His purposes. Romans 9:19–21 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Jeremiah asserts the sovereignty of God over all of mankind. This is also asserted in a number of other passages; Amos 9:17; Micah 1:2-4; Ezekiel 33:8-9; Ezekiel 33:11. Ezekiel also states in his writings God’s ultimate purpose is salvation for all of mankind.
God recorded all what happened to Israel for our benefit. All the principals God was teaching Israel applies to us today. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. It is stated a little different in Numbers 23:19 – it is on our choice.
The message that Jeremiah gave to Israel is they will be molded by means of the time that they spend in exile in Babylon. The same principle can be applied to us today. We can be molded by our adversity. God is the potter we are the clay – he can make us into the vessel that he desires. God teaches Jeremiah and us a very important lesson that we must never forget. God must not be over us in one area of our life and not over us in another area of our life. God must be over all areas of our life.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. God knows what he wants to accomplish in our lives.
How has the adversity in your life changed your life?