Let Your Heart Be Good Clay in the Hands of the Potter: The Bible in Lent Day 25
Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet. While I’ve read parts of his prophecy before The Bible in Lent challenge, reading it all together (and in order) has highlighted for me just what a difficult calling this was for him.
He was hated and scorned by the people he prophesied against. His message does not include the same comfort of Isaiah promises but speaks of the imminent destruction the people have brought upon themselves by breaking God’s promises.
God provides several metaphors and visuals to Jeremiah to use in explaining what has happened to Jerusalem and what His desires are for His people, but the one that has always stood out to me is the image of the potter and the clay.
When I was a little girl, I thought pottery would be the ideal task. The spinning wheel looked peaceful and the end products always left me wide-eyed. Watching friends work on their wheels via Instagram the last few months has left me with the same wonder. Their skill at molding and shaping their clay with slight movements of their hands amazes me.
So when the Lord sent Jeremiah to watch the potter work, I perked up.
So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 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.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? says the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” – Jeremiah 18:3-6 RSVCE
After Jeremiah witnessed the potter shaping the clay, reworking the spoiled pieces into a new, unspoiled vessel, the Lord revealed the metaphor to him, that Israel was the clay and the Lord was their potter.
But the people were not clay that was ready to be worked with by the potter.
They rebelled like spoiled clay, hardhearted and unwilling to listen.
The Lord continued on, saying that He would not destroy a people who repented from their evil ways but that neither would He continue to bless a nation that turned to evil and resisted His instruction.
The metaphor of the potter and the clay has been one that resonates deeply with me. I wonder what type of material I am. Am I allowing God to work with me as He sees fit, to craft me into the vessel of His choosing? Or am I resistant, fighting as if I know better from my little vantage point than the potter who sees all?
This passage calls me to examine my own actions and heart. Am I, like Israel, praising and claiming God with my lips but denying Him with my thoughts and actions? Do I listen to the word of God, even when it’s hard, or do I follow those who deceitfully tell me God is saying what my itching ears want to hear?
Jeremiah’s message of repentance was written for specific people at a specific time but at its root, still applies today. Because we still see cycles of sinful people turning from God and saying, “We will follow our own plans, and will everyone act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12 RSVCE).
And it would reflect well on all of us to examine our lives and turn each and every breath over to the Potter, to do with what His good will determines.