The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,…
Perhaps this second vessel was not quite so fair as the first might have been, still it was beautiful and useful. It was a memorial of the potter's patience and long-suffering, of his careful use of material, and of his power of repairing loss and making something out of failure and disappointment. O vision of the long-suffering patience of God! O bright anticipation of God's redemptive work! O parable of remade characters, and lives, and hopes! Who is there that is not conscious of having marred and resisted the touch of God's moulding hands? Who is there that does not lament opportunities of saintliness which were lost through the obdurateness of the will and the hardness of the heart?
I. THE DIVINE MAKING OF MEN.
1. The potter has an ideal. Floating through his fancy there is the vessel that is to be. He already sees it hidden in the shapeless clay, waiting for his call to evoke. Before the woman applies scissors to the silk, she has conceived the pattern of her dress; before the spade cleaves the sod, the architect has conceived the plan of the building to be erected there. So of God in nature. The pattern of this round world and of her sister spheres lay in His creative thought before the first beam of light streamed across the abyss. So of the mystical body of Christ, the Church, His Bride. So also of the possibilities of each human life. See that mother bending over the cradle where her firstborn baby son lies sleeping! Mark that smile which goes and comes over her face, like a breath of wind on a calm summer's day! Why does she smile Ah! she is dreaming; and in her dreams is building castles of the future eminence of this child — in the pulpit or the senate; in war, or art. If only she might have her way, he should be foremost in happiness, renowned in the service of men. But no mother ever wished so much for her child as God for us, when first cradled at the foot of the Cross.
2. The potter achieves his purpose by means of the wheel. In the discipline of human life this surely represents the revolution of daily circumstance; often monotonous, common place, trivial enough, and yet intending to effect, if it may, ends on which God has set His heart. Many, on entering the life of full consecration and devotion, are eager to change the circumstances of their lives for those in which they suppose that they will more readily attain a fully developed character. Hence, much of the restlessness and fever, the disappointment and wilfulness of the early days of Christian experience. Do not, therefore, seek to change, by some rash and wilful act, the setting and environment of your life. Stay where you are till God as evidently calls you elsewhere as He has put you where you are. In the meanwhile, look deep into the heart of every circumstance for its special message, lesson, or discipline. Upon the way in which you accept or reject these will depend the achievement or marring of the Divine purpose.
3. The bulk of the work is done by the potter's fingers. How delicate their touch! How fine their sensibility! It would almost seem as though they were endued with intellect, instead of being the instruments by which the brain is executing its purpose. And in the nurture of the soul these represent the touch of the Spirit of God working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. But we are too busy, too absorbed in many things, to heed the gentle touch. Sometimes, when we are aware of it we resent it, or stubbornly refuse to yield to it. The wheel and the hand worked together; often their motion was in opposite directions, but their object was one. So all things work together for good to them that love God. God's touch and voice give the meaning of His providences; and His providences enforce the lesson that His tender monitions might not be strong enough to teach.
II. GOD'S REMAKING OF MEN. "He made it again." The potter could not make what he might have wished; but he did his best with his materials. So God is ever trying to do His best for us. How often He has to make us again! He made Jacob again, when He met him at the Jabbok ford; finding him a supplanter and a cheat, but, after a long wrestle, leaving him a prince with God. He made Simon again, on the resurrection morning, when He found him somewhere near the open grave, the son of a dove — for so his old name Bar-jonas signifies — and left him Peter, the man of the rock, the apostle of Pentecost. Are you conscious of having marred God's early plan for yourself? Whilst into the soul the conviction is burnt: "I had my chance, and missed it; it will never come to me again. The survival of the fittest leaves no place for the unfit. They must be flung amid the waste which is ever accumulating around the furnaces of human life." It is here that the Gospel comes in with its gentle words for the outcast and lost. The bruised reed is made again into a pillar for the temple of God. The feebly smoking flax is kindled to a flame.
III. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE GREAT POTTER. Yield to Him! Each particle in the clay seems to say "Yes" to wheel and hand. And in proportion as this is the case, the work goes merrily on. If there be rebellion and resistance, the work of the potter is marred. Let God have His way with you. We cannot always understand His dealings, because we do not know what His purpose is.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,