Summary: We are placed on the Potter’s wheel at out new birth and are shaped into a vessel, that meets the Potter’s specification.
The prophet Jeremiah functioned in ancient Israel, just before they were carried into captivity as punishment for the sins of idolatry. This text shows us that God was eager to withhold judgement and extend mercy, if only Israel would repent. Unfortunately they would not and were carried off in captivity and ultimately scattered until they lost their identity as a people and a nation.
Jeremiah was instructed to go to the potter’s house. He watched the work in progress, as the potter remade a marred vessel as it suited his fancy. Jeremiah heard the Lord speak, comparing the clay in the hands of the potter to Israel in the hands of the Lord.
Jeremiah 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made
it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD.
Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
We used to sing the song: "Have Thine Own Way Lord."
HAVE THINE OWN WAY LORD, HAVE THINE OWN WAY
THOU ART THE POTTER, I AM THE CLAY
MOLD ME AND MAKE ME, AFTER THY WILL
WHILE I AM WAITING, YEILDED AND STILL
The Lord is the potter and He can shape us as He will and as it suits His purpose. We don’t have a lot to say in the matter. He can make us a vessel of honor such as a fine vase or a vessel of dishonor such as a rough kitchen utensil. It is simply that the vessels are made to be used for His service as He directs.
We also sing the song," When He Was On the Cross, I Was On His Mind." From eternity past, God has had an image in mind for each of us to be conformed to. That is the image of Christ, which Hebrews tells us is the express image of God’s person (better translated substance).
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren .
Our Old Vessel is Marred.
Our old image which we inherited from our father Adam is marred and unfit for the Master’s use. Regardless of our good works and religiosity we have no merit as a proper vessel. Isaiah said, "Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the sight of the Lord."
Jesus made an absolute and unequivical statement on the conditions for entering the Kingdom of God. He said that except we were Born Again, that is, Born From Above, we could absolutely not enter into His Kingdom.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Just as the marred vessel was remade in the hands of the potter, we are born again, by the Word of God, which confronts us and causes a crisis in our lives. Ultimately we either reject it or we say, "Here am I, I give it all to you: My hopes, my ambitions, my friends and family, and my sins and failures. I ask you to remold me as you will."
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Our Marred Vessel Must Die, Before We Can Be Reborn.
We cannot be born again, until we die first. Jesus foretold His cruxifiction with the following statement :
John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He is telling us that just as He was willing to die, we must regard our earthly life in the same way. If we try to hold on to the old self, the old marred image and do things our way, we will lose our life. If we will submit to His demands and let Him shape us as He will, we will live eternally. As they say, "You do the math."