Intro: For my 65th birthday, my daughters (in love) and a dear friend took me to a pottery wheel class. I learned quite a bit about the work of a potter with clay while I was there; first thing to remember is the whole process is MESSY! When clay is mixed with water as a lubricant, it causes the particles to slide past one another. Wedging gets the bubbles out and smooths out the clay making it workable. Then it’s time to dampen the wheel with water so the clay sticks when you throw it in the middle of the wheel. With wet hands you cone the clay by bringing your hands together; the clay moves upward through your hands. Then, the challenge of shaping takes place. As long as one keeps the clay and hands wet while on the wheel, reshaping is possible if the end product is undesirable.
In our passage for today, Jeremiah gets a visual object lesson from God when he is taken to the potter’s shop. This process and lesson allowed Jeremiah to understand what God was planning to do to Judah unless they repented. Like a divine Potter, God planned to shape and form Judah like a clay jar according to his standards. If God was not happy with the finished wet clay jar, he would simply smash it down and start all over again until he was satisfied with the final product. In other words, Judah would experience painful times until they turned their hearts toward the Lord.
God’s plan for his children is to shape us (as clay mixed with the water of the Spirit) into the image of Christ. This means our hearts must be pure (quick to repent) and our lives humble and obedient to the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Now, we can fight the process or we can welcome it. However, if we claim Christ the process has been established and Jesus is the standard. So, may the Spirit make us workable clay by providing the wedging we need, centering us in Christ, moving us upward in his character, and shaping us according to his standard, so we can be witnesses to the glorious transformation process. The unredeemed world needs to pay attention, because one day God will allow human clay to dry (remove the water of the Spirit and grace)…shattered lives will be the result. He has spoken. May we listen.
Jeremiah 18:1-11 NLT The Potter and the Clay
1 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, 8 but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.
11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for our object lesson from Jeremiah. Have your way in our human hearts and lives; otherwise, we will be filled with worldly filth and impurities. Help us to listen to the Spirit and cooperate with the shaping that comes through ongoing conviction, repentance, and transformation. Open us up to the truth about our lives and the plans you have for us in Jesus’ name. Amen.