The Scriptorium

The Potter's Vessel

Show and tell. Cool. Jeremiah 18.1-11

The Potter and the Vessel: Jeremiah 18-21 (1)

Pray Psalm 33.13-17.
The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His dwelling He looks
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Sing Psalm 33.13-17.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God from His throne looks down on men; He knows our works and made our hearts.
Let not Your Church, let none depend on strength or skill or human arts.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 18.1-11.

Prepare.
1. Where did God send Jeremiah “to hear” His words?

2. What happened there?

Meditate.
Here is a lesson in how the Lord makes His will known to His faithful people. God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house, where he found the potter busy at his wheel, making a “vessel” (vv. 1-4). It wasn’t quite what he wanted, so “he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

”Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. He was like that potter. He owned the clay. He could make a vessel to please Him. But He had the right to destroy any vessel that did not suit His purposes. The vessels were the kingdoms of the world, including the Kingdom of Judah. God had made them and given them their time in history, that they should seek and serve Him (cf. Acts 17.26, 27). If they did not, God, like the potter, was free to refashion or reject them, to “pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy’ (vv. 5-7). But in His mercy, God sent prophets to call the people to turn from their evil ways, so that He might “relent of the disaster” He planned to bring against them (vv. 8, 11).

But those nations and peoples who will not hear the Word of God, and who refuse to turn from their wicked ways, God, like the potter, will break and cast them aside, and begin the work of making a new vessel according to all His will (vv. 9, 10).

Now Jeremiah was ready to go yet again to “speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” about the Lord’s plan to destroy them, and to call them yet again to repentance (v. 11).

The combination of revelation through creation and revelation through the Word was meant to have clear and sure effects on Jeremiah. That potter, at work over his wheel, would have been vivid in Jeremiah’s mind as he made his next round of preaching throughout the Kingdom. And, as we shall see, that vision would serve him in his preaching in the Valley of Hinnom (ch. 19).

God reveals His will through His Word. But He reinforces, makes vivid, and sets the teaching of His Word in our souls by complementing it with revelation from creation and culture. He intends for us to read both these “books” of revelation, with the written Word giving direction to the creation, and the creation clarifying and firming-up the teaching of the Word. In the purest and most compelling form, this twofold revelation – by Word and creation – would be presented to the world in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Reflect.
1. How do God’s Word and God’s world work together to help us know His will?

2. What do we learn about the sovereignty of God from this story of the potter’s work?

3. What can you do to improve your use both of God’s Word and His world to know Him and His will better?

Whatever is discerned by the eyes arrives to the judgment and understanding of the soul through every other sense, through hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, but is retained even more so by the mind. Thus, the prophet was commanded to go to the potter’s house and there to hear the instructions of the Lord. Jerome (347-420), Six Books on Jeremiah 4.2.4-7

Show me Your will, O God, and I will…

Pray Psalm 33.18-22.
Thank God that He watches over you at all times. Call upon Him for help and to shield you against all sin and wickedness as you trust in and walk with Him.

Sing Psalm 33.18-22.
Psalm 33.18-22 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love;
He keeps their souls from death and shame who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, shows you how all the parts of the Bible fit together under one divine covenant. The lessons in this workbook will show you the unity of Scripture and the centrality of Jesus in all the Bible. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore