Summary: Jeremiah 18:1-11 is a parable about how the house of Israel was acting like an unruly adolescent in the spiritual sense.
Text: Jeremiah 18:1-11
Have you ever known someone that you would could consider to be a know-it-all? We know that there is truth to the understanding that the older we get, the wiser we get. There is also the reality that as adolescents, to one degree or another or at one time or another that young people sometimes think that they know-it-all. Only as they get older do they realize that wisdom increases with age. In fact, how often do we hear adults with the wisdom of their years say, “If only I knew then, what I know now”. Perhaps, that is why they say “hindsight is 20/20”.
Consider Psalm 25:7: “Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my trangressions; according to your mercy remember me, for your goodness sake” (NKJV). This was a Psalm that was written by David. It is as if David were saying, “Hey, God, it’s me, David. When you look at the sins of my youth, please remember that I was once young and foolish. So please forgive and forget. In fact, let’s erase that part”.
In Jeremiah 18:1-11, we have a parable that came about through what God revealed to Jeremiah when he went down to the potter’s house. God helped Jeremiah to associate the clay with the house of Israel and the potter with God. The point was obvious. God was saying to the house of Israel through this prophetic parable, “Why will you not let me mold you to be a vessel for my purposes?”
THE DANGER OF INDEPENDENCE
There is not a soul alive who does not enjoy being somewhat independent. Part of how we express who we are is through our individualism. We like having things that are unique. We also like having it our way. When we are growing up or when we grew up, we went through that hard time in the teenage years that is called adolescence. The reason that time is difficult to us is because we are going through or went through a phase in Erikson’s eight stages of psychological development known as “Identity versus Role confusion”.
When we hear the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) we are not told the age of the younger brother we know as the prodigal son. He was young and foolish and thought he had the world by the tail. It would be a safe conclusion to say that he was probably in the latter part of his adolescent years when he seemed to be struggling to find out who he was. It was, it seems, an identity crisis like one an adolescent might encounter in the Identity versus Role Confusion stage.
The danger of the independence area is that there is a tendency to rebel. One of the things that adolescents do as they try to figure out who they are is rebel. We do not mind rebels so long as they have a legitimate cause. But, we tend to question rebels who work hard at being rebellious. When adolescents rebel against all authority and the reason of authority figures, we tend to think of them as unruly. Jeremiah 18:1-11 is a parable about how the house of Israel was acting like an unruly adolescent in the spiritual sense.
I just recently read a story about Benjamin Franklin when he was a young boy. He had just turned seven years old when his friends and family gave him some money for his birthday. It was a pocketful of small coins. The story does not say exactly the amount he was given. Like most all children, he wanted to go to the store and spend his money. On the way to the store, young Ben Franklin met a boy who charmed him with a whistle. Naïvely, young Ben offered the other boy all of his money for the whistle. The other boy took the money in exchange for the whistle. Later, that evening, young Ben was playing his whistle when his brothers and sisters informed him that he had paid four times what the whistle was actually worth. Young Ben was embarrassed and began to cry. As an adult, with some wisdom and maturity under his belt Benjamin Franklin said, “In later years, I think I have met many people who have paid too much for a whistle”. (paraphrased from the following resource: Ernest A. Fitzgerald. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro: Pace Communications, 1988, p. 155).
Although Benjamin Franklin only seven years old in this story, we could say that many adolescents make this same kind of mistake. Sometimes the mistake actually does involve an uneven trade in a money transaction. It also true that even when no money was involved, there have been many who have paid too much for a whistle because of the fact that they thought that they were too wise to be taken (cheated) so easily.