When it comes to Jeremiah 18, it talks about the potter and the clay, a very popular part of the scripture preached all over the world. But the message continues further and shows that prophet Jeremiah is after all only a man like all of us, a person that has emotions, anger, feelings and thoughts for himself and those around him.
Jeremiah 18 (New International Version)
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 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.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Indeed this part of the bible begins by compelling us to become more like the clay and allowing the Lord to shape us as if He was the potter. We cannot deny that He is the ultimate teacher for our lives and He is the almighty one who knows what’s best for us. Because He also knows what is destined for us to do, He will then know the best shape and character that we should be in to maximise the potential that we are meant to achieve on earth.
Jeremiah 18 came on the back of a disastrous outlook for the Israelites. From the very beginning of this book, God has called on His people in Jerusalem and Judah to return to Him but most have turned their backs on Him and followed their hearts desires. It is not just over one season but over generations that this tragic detour of His people has taken place. Surely God has perhaps never been more disappointed than this time after having led them out of the slavery days in Egypt and into the promised land.
In Jeremiah 18, God has also indicated through Jeremiah that if His people repented, He will then forget the plan of destruction He will bring on them which included diseases and violence. The lessons He has planned to teach His people will be removed from His schedule if they were to find their hearts back to the Lord. But even such divine pardon is trampled upon by His people and disregarded altogether. They preferred to go on partying in their own ways, indulging in senseless orgies of plundering their brothers and sisters and violating all laws and principles that were meant to protect the sanctity of livelihood and mankind.
Ever since the beginning of this book, Jeremiah has been the middle person for God. He would instruct Jeremiah to declare or announce God’s words to the people of Jerusalem and Judah, and towards the chapters of 15, 16 and 17, one could see that the conversations with God displayed a three-party discourse between God, Jeremiah and the words from the people. And each time the people’s words were conveyed, they were nothing less than defiance with probably only a small part asking why God has given them such a hard time.
Now, after some failed attempts to inspire the people to come back to the Lord, Jeremiah was met with accusations from the same people he was asked to call back. They chided him for his efforts and also relegated him to nothing more than an irrelevant priest for their personal pursuits of happiness and blinded joy.
18 They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.”
At this point, Jeremiah had probably had enough of the mental beatings and caved in. Instead of asking the Lord to forgive and have mercy upon their souls and misgivings, He asked the Lord to give them the full measure of the punishment.
As Christians, we are often caught in a situation where we would intentionally stand in the gap between God and our friends or families. We will pray for them, care for them, guide them and show them the way to the Lord. We will go the extra mile to compensate for their lost opportunity to learn the right things about the Lord when we had the privilege to do so earlier.
We will also endure the hardships of being chastised and ridiculed by friends and associates for wanting to be the fool to guard the faith we have for the Lord so our unbelieving or backslidden friends and families can come to know the Lord in a fresh new way. Our only plight is so that they will experience what we’ve experienced and that is a real and true relationship with our Maker. While some of our hard work has been rewarded, other times they go without any acknowledgements. But the worst is when we are accused, and any structures we’ve built to support their learning to know the Lord will also be dismantled along with it. This has been and continues to be the most painful part of a Christian’s life.
Friends, if you have experienced the same as Jeremiah, take heart and know that you’re not the first and neither are you the only one. Our great prophet Jeremiah has been accused of the same too and worst, it was at a time when men had little to distract themselves with from their daily lives. Unlike us, they had no mobile phones, apps or the Internet to take away their attention.
Through the scriptures, Jeremiah lived to tell us that such accusations are not something uncommon. For him, it happened at the most crucial point of the people’s lives where God has openly informed them that they either repent and come back to the Lord or He will unleash a series of disasters that will bring death and destruction to them. Sadly, up until Jeremiah 18, a large part of the Israelites in Jerusalem and Judah have not chosen God.
11 “Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.’ 12 But they will reply, ‘It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.’
I might want to implore your hearts to investigate your surroundings right now. We are living in a season of Covid-19 where there have been more than 130,000 infected persons with more than 4,000 deaths so far globally (at the point of writing this back 13 March 2020). This is an unprecedented event and has reached a pandemic level, different from Ebola and SARS where they were more contained.
You might also have been informed of the locusts that have struck the African continent and have reached Pakistan. Other calamities include the persistent wars that have been happening in Syria and pockets of attacks around it.
Your thoughts are as good as mine. Are we living in an era where God too had given us the chance to repent but did not and we now see the plague and deaths? Have we been so insensitive to our Maker that even if we have heard Him calling, we have defied His advances and moved along and ahead on our own terms and intentions? Are we only better equipped with modern technology to communicate wirelessly between ourselves globally but have conveniently forgotten that we’ve always had direct dial privilege to our Abba Father all this time?
I can’t say that all these occurrences like the Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, locusts, wars and more are happening as a direct consequence to our rebellious actions and defiant hearts but I am convinced that at the individual level at least, if we have chosen to exit from God’s holy covering and prayerful love, we are risking our lives and walk on the edge of disasters. But if we abide by Him wholeheartedly with a heart of repentance, I am convinced He will draw near to us and strengthen us even in times of massive destruction.
Friends, we live in a time of many signs but inadequate answers. It may just be the best time for us to ask, where have we gone wrong and what can we do to bring back security, freedom and peace?
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