…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Isaiah describes our relationship with the Lord as,
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
Our God, our Father, .. is the potter,
we are the humble clay.
The clay is moulded and crafted into the work of God’s hand.
From formless clay, … to a useful, beautiful, valuable pot.
Thus, … change, … transformation … with God’s help,
to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29)
Paul echoes Isaiah’s words, … of the work of a skilled potter’s hand,
For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago
Epheians 2:10 (NLT)
God’s masterpiece … created anew … to do good things He planned
Jeremiah 18 and 19 tells the story of 2 pots.
In Jeremiah 18, the Lord showed Jeremiah a message through a parable illustration of the making of a pot.
In Jeremiah 19, the Lord directed Jeremiah to perform a prophetic act in smashing a pot.
In this post we’ll explore the tale of 2 pots.
Let’s read about the parable illustration of the first pot.
Jeremiah 18:1-9 (NIV)
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.
Reading verse 4, in other translations:
He was using his hands to make a pot from clay,
but something went wrong with it.
So he used that clay to make another pot the way he wanted it to be. (NCV)
And as I watched, the clay vessel in his hands
became flawed and unusable.
So the potter started again with the same clay.
He crushed and squeezed and shaped it into another vessel that was to his liking. (Voice)
First, … a quick guide to pottery:
Pottery pots, usually functional vessels, that are made by hand out of clay that must be fired.
A substance made of natural materials which, combined with the right amount of water,
is soft and plastic,
and when heated to a high enough temperature,
becomes hard and glass-like.
So when we talk about making pottery, we will be thinking in terms of making clay vessels by hand.
In shaping the clay, the potter patiently works with the soft, pliable, mouldable clay.
The clay replicates and yields to the potter’s every move and desire,
as it becomes the vessel envisioned by the potter’s plan & purpose.
What Jeremiah saw …
was the potter moulding a pot from clay.
However, something went wrong with it,
the pot became flawed and unusable
And … thankfully … (for us),
the potter started again
with the same clay.
He crushed and squeezed and shaped it
into another vessel that was to his liking.
He did not throw the clay away! 🙂
he used that clay
to make another pot
the way he wanted it to be
God’s plan for us is dynamic.
God’s plan for us is not fate-talistic, … rather its faith-talistic,
as long as we respond in faith and trust, .. following Him & His ways.
another pot the way he wanted it to be
God did not give up on Jonah,
He turned Jonah from a reluctant, runaway prophet,
to one who inspired the whole city to turn to God,
as God worked upon Jonah’s heart and attitude.
Similarly, God was bigger than Peter’s denial, …
God is bigger than all our stumbles and all our mistakes.
God turned Peter’s fear during Jesus’ trial into
the bold evangelist/prophet who led 3000 people into the kingdom of God on the day of Pentecost.
After Jesus resurrection,
Jesus restored Peter (John 21) by specially re-creating the scene when Peter first met Jesus (the sea, the boat, the huge catch of fish).
Jesus did not rebuke Peter, or expressed His disappointment.
Instead, Jesus tenderly asked him just one question,
“do you love me?”
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
Matthew 12:20 (NIV)
We are the clay, you are the potter
we are God’s masterpiece, the work of His hands.
He crushed and squeezed and shaped it
As we humbly yield to the Lord’s tender, loving hands,
during moulding and shaping,
sometimes, its uncomfortable, … even painful,
sometimes some things need to be removed,
till … we become the vessel that was to his liking … a vessel of honor.
Let’s now look at God’s interpretation of the message about this pot that He showed Jeremiah,
Jeremiah 18:5-10 (NIV)
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.
7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil,
then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,
10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me,
then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
The Lord describes two nations,
one where He announced disaster, and the other He announced good.
However, depending on the response of the clay in the hand of the potter,
the outcome was reversed for both nations!
As long as the clay is soft and pliable, … cooperative,
the skilled potter will tenderly & lovingly fashion the pot,
in the way He wanted it to be, .. to His liking
… even if something went wrong along the way.
“Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?”
declares the Lord.
Thus, God’s promise and covenant with us is … conditional to our response.
Not a blank cheque.
For the first nation, when it repents of its evil,
God relent and not inflict on it the disaster God had planned.
Eg. Jonah: the city of Nineveh repented, and was not destroyed (Old Testament)
(By the way, … the people in Nineveh were Gentiles)
God is the God of the second chance, …
as seen through Jesus, … in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31)
“But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:21 (NIV)
Amen! Praise God!
and parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7)
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.
Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country
and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home.
Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says,
‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:3-7 (NIV)
The good shepherd
go after the lost sheep … until …. he finds it
until – in love, the good shepherd pursues, … relentlessly searches, … not giving up …
God is actively, lovingly seeking for us to come into His presence.
and when the sheep is found,
joyfully, .. rejoice, … rejoicing in heaven!
To every believer, the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
— Fanny Crosby
In truth, … we’ll all broken vessels, … needing the Lord’s restoration work …
to be shaped, moulded, … restored … into God’s masterpiece,
as He patiently and faithfully works in and through our lives
… through the everyday events in life.
With the Holy Spirit’s help … we humbly yield to His hand,
as He moulds, sculpts and crafts us into His masterpiece,
…. like Joseph, David, Jacob, Paul.
The Lord loves to restore broken vessels,
Matthew 9:10-13 (NIV)
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house,
many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The many tax collectors and sinners humbly received from Jesus,
they got their lives and bodies fixed by Jesus, the carpenter from Galilee,
while the Pharisees in their pride, … did not.
There’s Not a Broken Vessel God Can’t Mend
Let’s look at the second pot in Jeremiah 19.
Jeremiah 19:1, 10, 15 (NIV)
This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter.
Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests
10 “Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching,
11 and say to them, ‘
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
I will smash this nation and this city
just as this potter’s jar is smashed
and cannot be repaired
15 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them,
because they were stiff-necked
and would not listen to my words.’”
because they have hardened their necks,
and would not hear my words. (GNV)
you have stubbornly refused to listen to me (NLT)
This second pot is no longer soft and pliable clay.
Its been in the kiln, and the clay has hardened
The shape of the pot has been set, … no further change is possible.
God likened the second pot as people who have
… hardened their necks, … stubbornly refused to listen to the Lord
The pot although is hard,
… it’s also brittle, fragile, breakable.
This pot was
and cannot be repaired
Smashed into fragments, … beyond recognition,
all its past glory gone … in an instant
Useless, … fit for the rubbish heap.
One who becomes stiff-necked,
after many reprimands
will be shattered instantly— beyond recovery.
If you get more stubborn
every time you are corrected,
one day you will be crushed and never recover.
Proverbs 29:1 (HCSB, GNT)
Sadly, the people who heard Jeremiah’s words,
did not heed to his message, the word of the Lord,
and soon Jerusalem was conquered, the temple and walls destroyed.
The people who survived, were sent into exile for 70 years.
“Wail, you shepherds, and cry; And wallow in ashes, you masters of the flock; For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come,
And you will fall like a choice vessel.
Jeremiah 25:34 (NASB)
Years later, when Jesus was in the temple in Jerusalem, He warned the leaders through the parable of the landowner who was looking for a fruit from his tenant vine growers (Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19). Earlier that day, Jesus cleared the temple of merchants and money changers (Matthew 21:12,13), … and He cursed the unfruitful fig tree which only had leaves (Matthew 21:18,19).
The temple was destroyed in AD 70.
God’s patient grace has a limit.
In the days of Noah,
The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth,
and He was grieved in His heart.
Genesis 6:6 (NASB)
Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul.
And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Samuel 15:35 (NASB)
Thus, Paul wrote:
4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
5:18 … but be filled with the Spirit
6:17 And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
6:18 With all prayer and petition
pray at all times in the Spirit, …
Ephesians 4:30, 5:18, 6:17,18 (NASB)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
25 If we live by the Spirit,
let us also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16, 25 (NASB)
With the Holy Spirit help, and the guidance of the word of God,
let us walk and live by the Spirit, … following Jesus.
To avoid the tragic end of the second pot in Jeremiah 19,
the writer of Hebrews exhorts us,
1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling,
fix your thoughts on Jesus,
whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:1, 7-13 (NIV)
Today, … May we fix our thoughts on Jesus,
not harden our hearts,
not have a sinful, unbelieving heart
not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness
not hearts that are always going astray
Let’s fix our thoughts on Jesus
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God,
is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 51:17 (NIV)
The good shepherd, the father … is here … arms open wide
to receive us, … restore us, … and use us again,
if we are willing … to let Him.
13 for it is God
who works in you
and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
let’s look at 2 verses where Paul uses the analogy of earthen jars and vessels,
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us
the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure
in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 (NIV)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.
We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.
That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.
By the grace of God,
we are earthen jars of clay,
… unadorned … clay pots of our ordinary lives
filled with treasure – the knowledge of God’s glory in Christ,
to bless others with God’s treasure — Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:20, 21 (NIV)
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels,
but also vessels of wood and of earthenware,
and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things,
he will be a vessel for honor,
sanctified, useful to the Master,
prepared for every good work.
In our homes, we will use vessels that are clean (bowls, dishes, pots, etc), rather than dirty, unclean ones.
In a similar way, the Lord uses and fills clean vessels.
from between honorable or dishonorable works,
… to every good work
i.e. all kinds of good work for the glory of God.
The key is to become a vessel of honor.
Thus, if anyone cleanses himself from these things,
he will be a vessel for honor,
sanctified, useful to the Master,
prepared for every good work.
useful to the Master, … prepared for every good work 🙂
Every good work, … God’s work, … (great … or … everyday/ordinary )
begins with a clean heart,
a vessel for honor
So, what is God moulding and restoring us to become?
For those whom He foreknew,
He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …
Romans 8:29 (NASB)
To be like Jesus.
God shaping each of us as seemed best to him,
a vessel of honor … useful for every good work.
We are … God’s masterpiece … created anew … to do good things He planned
as we humbly yield to His loving, tender hands.
God is working
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
April 16, 2017
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
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