Wednesday, July 22, 2015


“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”  (Jeremiah 18:6)

I took two years of art in High School, and then a couple of years in distance learning beyond that.  It has been a long time, in the hectic pace of life, that I have used that ability.  I spend much of my hours painting word pictures rather than landscapes!  One of the areas of study was pottery.  We had the opportunity to sit at a wheel with a lump of clay and shape a vessel.  Little did I know at the time that the experience would afford an illustration of spiritual truth, but that is the substance of these devotional thoughts. 

In the eighteenth chapter of Jeremiah’s prophecy, we take a trip to the potter’s house because God has a word for His messenger—and for us (v.1-2).  Jeremiah observes the potter sitting at the wheel, shaping the clay, with the pressure of his hands as it spins.  Suddenly, it begins to come apart.  The moist clay will have to be broken down and reformed—nothing else will do (v.3-4). 

I can recall the feel of that wet clay as I applied the pressure, and up and up the walls of the vessel would begin to rise as I pumped the wheel with my foot to make it spin.  Then, to much disappointment, it began to unravel before my eyes!  There was a small piece of grit—an impurity in the clay—that necessitated removal.   After breaking down the vessel, the process started all over.

Do you see the illustration?  God is the Potter.  Israel is the clay.  His intent for His people has been marred because of their resistance to His shaping.  The only way the Jews could be mended is by breaking them down and beginning again.  God will use the Babylonian empire to accomplish that painful discipline (v.5-17).

Do we understand that this is eternal truth and speaks to us today?  Certainly, the unchanging character of God means He will deal with our nation as He did with rebellious Judah, for He consistently judges any nation that resists His will, while offering blessing to the people who submit to His hands (v.7-10). 

Let me be even more direct.  I am a lump of clay in the hands of a sovereign God.  He has an intended result He wants to accomplish as He shapes me.  The pressure of God’s hands molds us.  Those pressures come in many forms.  The circumstances of life whether physical affliction, difficult people, financial stress, and a host of other possibilities may be used of God to shape us for His purposes.  I find myself to be as dull of understanding as a lump of clay, however.  I want the pressure gone—without realizing I cannot be what God intends apart from it.  When I resist His work—when an unyielding lump results—He will break me down.  It is not that He is cruel—quite the opposite.  Impurity in my life will necessitate that God break me down and keep working with me. The Potter is intent on molding us into a vessel to use here and display as a trophy of grace and glory for all eternity.  We live life forward, but understand it backward.  Today, may we be pliable clay, praying, “Not my will, but Yours be done!”

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