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The Potter’s Hands

This past Monday evening in our Next Steps class we were discussing the topic of authority. In our discussion we noted how it is our responsibility to be directed by God, who has the right to rule (inherent authority), and we are to heed that direction that God gives, giving us the right to act (delegated authority). One of the passages we noted was in Romans 9:20,21 where Paul says, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

Paul described man as being the clay and God being the potter who has power over the clay. That which is clay, being man, is to be submissive to the potter that is God, so He can make us how He desires to make us.

We see this illustrated in the Old Testament as well in the book of Jeremiah 18:1-12. In the text, we find the prophet Jeremiah being divinely directed to go to a house of a potter. By Jeremiah going to the potter’s house, he would be able to not only hear the message that God would give him but would have it illustrated before him.

In your studies of the Bible, it is quite common for the Lord to use physical things, common things, to illustrate and convey a spiritual message. This was not the first time Jeremiah had a spiritual message illustrated through physical things: one is found in Jeremiah 13 with a linen sash. There are numerous places in the Bible where we find the Lord using physical things to illustrate spiritual lessons through the prophets and of course we know Jesus did such in the use of parables in the New Testament gospels.

So, the prophet Jeremiah goes to the potter’s house and observes the potter making something at the wheel. As Jeremiah continued to observe, Jeremiah noted that the vessel that the potter had made of clay was marred/ruined in the hand of the potter. That means that the vessel was not suitable, it was not able to be useful for the purpose it was intended for.

So, Jeremiah watched as the potter took the clay and began remolding it in his hands to form a vessel that would be useful and suitable for its intended purpose.

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah as noted in verse 6. The Lord is identified as being “THE POTTER”. As we get the imagery here, we see God making something and that which is being made is not suitable for His purpose, not useful. The Lord doesn’t just toss the clay, rather He begins to remold it.

This attests to the Lord being in control. He is the POTTER. The potter is the one who shapes, the one who molds. The potter knows what he is making, and just as the potter that Jeremiah was watching noticed that the clay was marred and not suitable or useful for the potter’s intended purpose, patiently the potter begins remolding the clay. That’s what the Lord was doing with the people of Judah, that’s what He is doing with us today. Get that in your mind as the Lord being the POTTER.

So, with God being noted as the POTTER, then we are of course the CLAY. We must keep that in the proper perspective. We are clay in the hands of the mighty God. As mentioned already, the Lord who is the POTTER knows what vessel He intends for us to be, one that is useful and suitable for His service. As the clay, we are in His hands, to be made and molded (cf. Isaiah 64:8).

Again, in Jeremiah 18:4, Jeremiah saw that the clay in the hand of the potter was not developing properly, so it had to be reworked as it seemed good to the potter to make.

The problem comes when the clay begins to harden and not able to be made or molded into a vessel that will be suitable and useful… rather it continues to not develop properly.

This happens when the clay, when we do as Israel and the people of Judah were doing. Notice what the prophet Isaiah would say in Isaiah 29:16Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?” The Lord through Isaiah would further say in Isaiah 45:9, “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?”

The attitude as portrayed in the days of Isaiah still exist today. As the potter, the Lord desires to mold us the clay, to continue working on us, but the clay must be soft and pliable, willing to develop in the potter’s hands. How thankful the people of Judah should have been and we also today that the Lord, the POTTER is willing to shape us, and reshape us, if we will just allow the POTTER to have his own way with us. The Lord desired for the people of Judah to be re-formed into a vessel fit and useful for Him. As the Lord proclaims to the Jeremiah, that He can do as that potter Jeremiah was watching… he can re-shape the clay in His hand.

Repeatedly, the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah has told the people that the Lord is willing, but the people were becoming hardened. Clay that has hardened, not willing to be made/molded or shaped as the Potter so desires.

Friends, I know this is quite simple and that’s the intention. God is the POTTER, we are the CLAY. WE are the work of His hand.

If you’re that clay that is marred in the hand of the potter, the Lord that is the POTTER is not going to simply throw you away or discard you, but as CLAY that is soft and pliable, He will continue to make you into a vessel that is suitable and acceptable, as seems good to Him to make.

Will we allow the Lord, the Master POTTER to make us and mold us into what He wants us to be? Will we allow the Lord, the Master POTTER to make us and mold us into a vessel of honor, useful to Him, prepared for every good work? (2 Timothy 2:20-22)

As I was thinking about the people of Judah and becoming vessels of dishonor, vessels that desired to hold their comfortable marred status. The people of Judah wanted to remain in their comfortable state of self-serving, selfish sinfulness. For the POTTER to reshape them was something that would push them from what they desired in their comfort zone.

You see, there is no promise that being shaped/molded would be an easy process. The process of a POTTER making a beautiful masterpiece is not an easy task, rather it takes time and effort. The POTTER IS WILLING, but is the CLAY?

God is willing, but are you?

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂

About Author

DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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