The Scriptorium

The Vessel Smashed

The threatened judgment arrives at the gate. Jeremiah 21.1-14

The Potter and the Vessel: Jeremiah 18-21 (6)

Pray Psalm 57.1-3.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up.

Sing Psalm 57.1-3.
(Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Lord, be gracious, gracious to me, for my soul retreats in You.
In Your shadow keep me safely till the storms of life are through.
I will cry to You, the Most High; You do all things well for me.
You will save me when I thus cry, routing all who threaten me.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 21.1-14.

1. What did Zedekiah want Jeremiah to do?

2. What did Jeremiah say to tell him?

The Potter is about to smash His vessel; Zedekiah, Jerusalem, and the people of Judah will all fall to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. This is the sum of Jeremiah’s message to Zedekiah, King of Judah.

The king sent Pashhur and Zephaniah, two priests, to get some favorable word from the Lord. We can count on the fact that all the other “prophets” were tickling the king’s ears; but he wanted to know what Jeremiah might say. The long-threatened Babylonians had arrived, and Nebuchadnezzar had laid siege to Jerusalem (vv. 1, 2).

Jeremiah did not hesitate. He sent the priests to Zedekiah with the message of complete destruction. God Himself had come to Jerusalem in the person of Nebucahdnezzar to shatter His chosen vessel Judah and send the people into captivity (vv. 3-7). The only word of hope Jeremiah had for the king was that they should surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and go into captivity without resisting. That way, at least, they would save their lives (vv. 8-10). To resist Nebuchadnezzar was to resist the Lord Himself; and all such resistance would be futile.

Jeremiah called on Zedekiah to do the right thing and give himself and the people up to Nebuchadnezzar (v. 11). Only thus would he be able to deliver the people from death at the hands “of the oppressor.” If Zedekiah did not do this, the full wrath of God would fall upon the city and all who were in it (vv. 11-13). This is not what Zedekiah wanted to hear.

The Word of God is not required to conform itself to our interests, hopes, tastes, or convenience. It is what it is. Our duty is to hear and obey, for God always knows what’s best for us and for His glory. If we dither before the clear Word from the Lord, we may miss His blessing and come under His discipline (Heb. 12.3-11).

1. How do we see that God is sovereign in the arrival of Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon?

2. Why was God smashing His chosen vessel at this time? Does God still do this? Explain.

3. Even in the face of disaster, God offers hope. How do you see that in these verses?

They had become first torpid in their evils, and then such was their contumacy that they sought to subject God to themselves. As then their stupidity and their obstinacy were so great, the Prophet could not, with any hope of success, have exhorted them to repent and offered them the mercy of God; it was therefore necessary for them to be so smitten as to perceive that they were wholly lost, and that God was so angry with them that they could not be saved by any human means. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 21.5

O Lord, keep me in the path of righteousness, and do not let me stray, so that I…

Pray Psalm 57.4-11.

Exalt the Lord, and call on Him to keep your footsteps from straying or becoming ensnared in sin today.

Sing Psalm 57.4-11.
Psalm 57.4-11 (Faben: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him)
Send Your truth and lovingkindness; raging lions seek my soul.
Threats and sland’rous words without rest they against me fiercely roll.
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

Nets and pits they set before me; overwhelmed, my soul bows down.
Let them all in their own works be thrown and scattered on the ground.
Let my heart no more be shaken, I will sing Your praises, Lord!
Harp and glory, now awaken to extol God’s faithful Word!

Praise and thanks among the nations I will sing with all my might!
For Your truth and love are stationed far above the highest height!
Be exalted o’er the heavens, let Your glory fill the earth!
To Your Name all praise be given, let all men proclaim Your worth!

T. M. Moore

You can also now listen, each Lord’s Day. Click here for last week’s summary of Jeremiah 16 and 17.

Visit our website,, to discover the many new resources available to help you in your walk with and work for the Lord.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

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