Summary: The Potter's House is the place earthen pot people are being formed.
Title: Why Go To Church: It’s the Potter’s House!
Text: Jeremiah 18:1-6
Thesis: The Potter’s House is the place earthen pot people are being formed. (Anticipating that there might be a few snickers in the audience… “pot” is in reference to an earthen vessel. The Potter is not forming earthen “cannabis” people.)
Charlie Steinmetz had one of the greatest minds in the field of electricity… in his day; no one knew more that he knew. Steinmetz built the generators that moved the assembly line in Henry Ford’s first plant in Dearborn, MI. The assembly line worked like clockwork and after the Model A came the Model T with its 177 cubic-inch, 4 cylinder, 20 horsepower engine. Ford boasted you could get a Model T in any color you like as long as it was black.
The assembly line hummed and profits began to pour into Henry Ford’s pockets. And then one day the assembly line came to a sudden halt and the plant went dark. Mechanics tried unsuccessfully to find the source of the electrical problem that had crippled the assembly line. Ford was losing money and finally in frustration he called the brain behind the system. Steinmetz arrived at the Ford plant, pushed a few buttons, fiddled with a few switches and threw the master switch. The lights came on and engines began to whir and the assembly line began to move.
A few days later Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. Although Ford was a rich man he thought ten grand was a bit steep and protested asking Steinmetz how he could charge so much for having spent so little time tinkering with a few wires and switches.
Steinmetz then resubmitted the bill to Ford. It read: “For tinkering around with the motors: $10. For knowing where to tinker: $9,990.”
Henry paid the bill.
In the Christian life we may think of God as something of a tinkerer… God made us. God knows how we are made. God knows where to tinker when we need a bit of tinkering.
However, our text today does not liken God to a tinkerer, but rather to a potter.
Jeremiah was a prophet to the nation of Judah following the reign of the worst administration ever in the history of the Israelite peoples. In II Kings 21:6 it says, “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord provoking him to anger.”
Following his death his son Amon became king and for two years the insanity continued until his own officials conspired and assassinated him. After Amon, 8 year old Josiah came to power. Josiah turned out to be a godly young man who began the process of turning the peoples’ hearts back to God. But they were far from God and there was a lot of reshaping that needed doing before the nation would be a people who lived for and pleased God.
Jeremiah was the guy God sent to challenge them to enter into the process of repentance and the reshaping of them as people and as a nation. So Jeremiah came onto the scene challenging the people to clean up their acts.
In order to help Jeremiah understand what God had in mind, God asked Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house and watch the potter at work… and as he watched God promised to give him the message he was to share with the people.
“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house and watched the potter working at the wheel. Jeremiah 18:1-2
As Jeremiah watched the potter throwing the pot on his wheel, he undoubtedly noticed that the potter was doing what potters do. The blob of clay was shaped and pulled externally until it had a basic form. And then the potter, while shaping the pot’s outside also began to shape the pot’s inside.
Though he has not said so directly, we know that in this story the potter is likened to God and the clay is likened to people.
The making of a piece of pottery requires the balanced application of pressure externally and internally. So we surmise that God uses both external and internal forces to shape us.
The first and most obvious observation Jeremiah made was that the pot the potter was working with became marred.
I. Even when we are messed up, God does not give up on us.
“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:4
To mar something is to detract it from perfection. It can refer to something as insignificant as a chip or a scratch or a ding. When something becomes marred it may also mean that it is ruined or spoiled. We don’t know what happened to this particular clay pot but it was marred to the extent that it was useless as it was. Perhaps it collapsed or went all wobbly and was distorted or misshapen.