Summary: A sermon for those who need a second chance at life.
“The Prophet and the Potter”
Jeremiah 18:6 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.
The spiritual history of the nation of Israel is cyclic in nature. By that I mean that there would be a time of struggle and conflict and deliverance by God leading into a time of peace and prosperity followed by a period of backsliding and decline. Jeremiah was ministering during one of those times of backsliding and decline, as a matter of fact God had sent a large portion of the population into captivity. In our text the Lord directs the prophet to go to the house of a potter to personally see an “object lesson” illustrating what God wanted to do for His people. God asks the question, “…cannot I do with you as this potter?” The answer is obvious. So today let’s observe what the potter does:
First: The work of the potter.
I. The Potter’s Design
A. He separates the clay
The first thing that the potter does is to separate the clay from the common lump. Now that might seem unimportant but it is absolutely necessary. God sees each of us as individuals and deals with each of us personally and the amazing thing is He does this simultaneously!!! That truth suggests that God places a value of each of us, you and I are important to Him. You may feel that no one knows who you are or what you are going through or what your burdens are but let me assure that God cares and as the Scripture says, “…He never slumbers or sleeps!”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts (plans) that I think toward you, saith the LORD… ”
B. He sets the clay on the wheel
Without the potter’s wheel there can be no vessel. To me the wheel represents the place, circumstances and situation that he has put us in. In Jeremiah’s case “the wheel” was imprisonment and hardship. For the nation of Israel it was their deportation to a foreign country as slaves. For Moses it was a boat in the bulrushes, a penthouse in the palace and ultimately an unmarked grave on Mt. Nebo. For the Lord’s disciples it was a violent death for all with the exception of John and even he suffered exile on a rocky island in the Mediterranean. For Cory Ten Boom it was a German concentration camp; for Fanny Crosby it was a lifetime of darkness; for Joni Erickson it is a life spent in a body that does not feel or sense or move. God has a wheel for all of us. The potter determines the speed of the wheel and how long the clay stays on the wheel. Now some of you might say that you don’t like the wheel that God has you on and that you are not happy with what He is doing. You even question what He is doing.
Isaiah 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
C. He selects the form
There are more containers and vessels than we can number and more uses for those vessels too. The potter might decide to make a pot to carry water, or a bowl to put food in, or a vase to put flowers in. The design of the vessel would depend in large part on its use. Its form is determined by its function! At any rate this potter “…wrought a work on the wheel…” and the potter determines what he wants to make based on what he chooses to do. It can be of simple design or it can be very intricate. It could be something for use in the home of a poor man or prince. You say to me that you don’t like your hair or eyes or your nose or some other part of your anatomy. Of maybe your 5 ft. 9 and you wanted to be 6 ft. 4. Or you wanted to be a musician but you can’t carry a tune in a tow sack! Listen to what Paul has to say:
Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, (finer use) and another unto dishonor (common use)?
Second: What happens next?
II. The Potter’s Discernment
A. The defect in the vessel