The Potter and the Clay

Jeremiah 18:1-10

God often uses the commonplace to teach His divine truths. He chose a common scene of Jeremiah’s day for a classic parable on His sovereignty.

“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'” (Jeremiah 18:1). Jeremiah went down as the Lord commanded. He watched the skillful hands of the potter knead the clay and form it into a beautiful vessel. But, before the prophet’s eyes, the potter suddenly broke it.

Jeremiah observed that the potter did not discard the clay, but once more took the shapeless mass and kneaded and pummeled and shaped it on his wheel until he fashioned it into an exquisite vessel.

Then the Lord gives His message to the prophet. God, as the Potter, is the Sovereign of our lives. We are the clay, the vessel in the making. Clay has no intrinsic worth. It is not valued for itself but for its potential. We are but puny creatures on a pygmy planet that is but a speck in the universe. But in the hands of the divine Potter we can become a vessel of eternal worth.

The potter had a pattern, a design in his mind. But something went awry. The design miscarried. Perhaps a foreign substance got into the clay. Something went wrong with the clay of humanity. An impurity entered into mankind by the Fall of our first parents. God had destined humankind for holy living, but sin marred the design.

“So the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him”

(Jeremiah 18:4). What an eloquent statement of the indomitable patience of the divine Potter who has not cast us aside. At Calvary, the divine Craftsman atoned for our flaws and provided a second chance to be made over again.

The potter had to break the marred vessel before he could make it over. God has to break us before He can make us. He has to break our stubborn will, crumble our pride, shatter our selfishness, demolish our sin. God’s fashioning begins with the difficult step of allowing Him to break down our resistance and reservations to His will.

The divine Potter dips into His palette and adorns life with the rich hues of His love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and strength. After all the preparation, the pottery is ready to be put to use. It is created, not for itself, but to be put into service, where in Jewish homes vessels of pottery were extremely useful.

We too may become “an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Henry Gariepy, Light in a Dark Place

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