Potter’s Hands

Read: Jeremiah 18-19

The imagery created by this parable touches many of the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and even taste if you’ve spent time in an artists workshop. As the Lord moves Jeremiah to visit the local potter’s house to teach this lesson, it’s easy for me to put on those shoes, to be transported back to the time when I would take our girls to places like Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA camp where we spent a lot of time in the arts and crafts workshop. Great memories help this scripture come to life for me.

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:3-4

“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel…” Jeremiah 18:6

I’d like to say this very visual illustration is all about how God shapes and molds us into wonderful creations that are perfectly designed to carry out his plan for the world, but that’s not the story and not the point of the metaphor. God is trying yet another approach to get our attention through Jeremiah.

This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests Jeremiah 19:1

They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. Jeremiah 19:5

“Nor did it enter my mind…” — powerful words that attempt to get the attention of those who are hearing the words and watching the demonstration.

“Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. Jeremiah 19:10-11

Pause. Imagine. Run the video in your mind. See the jar smashed. Hear the sound as it hits the stone pavement. Feel the shards and chunks of clay in your hands as you try to piece it back together. Smell the fresh clay as the dust rises. My mouth is dry and the taste of clay is in my mouth.

14 Jeremiah then returned from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the Lord’s temple and said to all the people, 15 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.’” Jeremiah 19:14-15

They didn’t get the message. Lord, help us to not be “they.” Use this imagery to move us to the place you would have us today.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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