The Potter and the Clay
Jeremiah 18:1-10
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,…

The revelations of God are often given in unlikely places, and common circumstances and scenes may symbolize the divinest mysteries. The profoundest things in God's universe are side by side with the simplest. If the mind be open and the spirit susceptible we shall see God in everything. Is there not a fitness in this ancient handicraft of the potter becoming the symbol of the eternal action of God? The potter's clay suggests -

I. THE INFLUENCE OF GOD UPON HUMAN DESTINY. Some of the forms into which human life builds itself impress the imagination with the presence of a power greater than human, which conditions and determines them. The race, the nation, the Church, represent relations and affinities which are not of merely human origin. But even the individual life, if properly studied, will be found to be associated with the same mystery and full of the same suggestion of a Divine influence. In the case before us it is the Jewish nation which is suggested to the mind of the prophet. The hand of God is apparent in its formation and history. God's influence upon these is felt to be

(1) omnipotent,

(2) sudden,

(3) irresponsible,

(4) to create or to destroy.

II. CIRCUMSTANCES IN HUMAN NATURE THAT AFFECT DESTINY. The clay in the hand of the potter was marred and had to he remolded. The allusion here was to the idolatrous practices of the Jews in Jeremiah's own time. The causes at work, therefore, in the marring of the vessel are not mechanical or constitutional in their nature, but moral. The history of the same people has shown that external circumstances are of little account in this question. The chief hindrances to God's purposes with man in nations, institutions, and individuals arise from

(1) original depravity and

(2) willful disobedience. The free-will of man may thwart even the grace of God.

III. THE PURPOSE OF GOD WITH REGARD TO MAN. This is essentially and persistently a creative one. The first effort of the petter is formative; and when, through the marring of the vessel, he has to reduce the clay into the lump again, there still remains an intention to form anew. The effects of sin are shown to be profound from the fact that the potter is obliged to remake what has been marred. The effort of restoring love succeeds upon another, and "where sin abounded grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). There is no nation which has not had many opportunities of recovering its position and influence forfeited by unfaithfulness and unbelief, and there is no sinner hardened in his sins who has not repeatedly rejected a heavenly voice. Each proclamation of God's Word is a fresh opportunity which may avail for salvation to every one who will embrace it. - M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

WEB: The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,

The Potter and the Clay
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