This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 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.
Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
“Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! 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.’ But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’”
- Jeremiah 18:1-12
This quest where God sends Jeremiah is to the potter’s house. Yet, God knows what Jeremiah will see when he gets there. The potter is dissatisfied with the pot that he is making. While the clay is still soft, he works the clay into another pot. Can you picture it? The potter gets frustrated. He collapses the odd shaped pot until it is a lump of clay. Then he starts shaping it as if it were a new lump of clay. He doesn’t throw the clay away. He simply starts over.
All of the experts that I have studied say the same thing. With this story, what you see is what you get. As the clay is formed at the will of the potter, so are the people of Judah. God can destroy them utterly, but God still has a plan for them and through them. As the potter simply mashed the clay into a lump in the middle of this spinning stone, God will send the people of Judah into the hands of others. A remnant will return to carry out God’s plan of sending a savior, but for the story of the potter, God is focusing on God’s sovereignty to do as He wills. The people of Judah, and their pride, who worship other gods, will be used. They won’t have a choice. They may be the chosen people, but God will take their kingdom away from them.
All of this is necessary. When the remnant returns, there will be no kingdom of Judah, other than a puppet king. They will be subject to other powers. When eventually the Romans come, there will be a brief period of history when crucifixion is used as a form of punishment. In that window of time, Jesus has His ministry.
God has molded His clay perfectly so that the result is salvation to all who believe and call upon Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Sometimes, it takes the gentle pressure from the hands of a sovereign God to reshape us into something useful.