The possibility of a perfect piece of clay seems almost impossible. I’ve bought my fair share of collectible pottery over the years. Our time in Europe fostered an interest in collectable “Polish pottery,” by my wife and many of our friends. Many would make a frequent pilgrimage back to Poland to “complete their collection,” or replace lost or broken pieces.
I was not too well versed in the making of pottery, but I did find it fascinating. I tried to become somewhat of a student of the art, at least to help my wife make wise purchases. But what I soon discovered, is that almost never was there a piece completely blemish free. In fact, on the bottom were the markings indicating their level of imperfection. The painted part was usually the easiest to repair, but if the pottery itself was near to perfect, it was better, easier to start all over with the same piece of clay and fix that imperfection. As soon as that clay began to harden, it would stay in its final stage, it couldn’t ever become better quality again.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1–6 KJV.
I love the imagery in this passage. God wanted Jeremiah to see what He needed to tell him. God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house just to observe, how a master creates. He started with clay and shaped and molded it, working it over and over, until it became what the potter envisioned. And if in the process of molding and shaping, an imperfection appears, as long as the clay stays moldable, the potter isn’t done with that piece of clay. He can recreate it. He can improve it from its previous state but only if it stays moldable.
As God spoke, if it wasn’t clear before, God helped Jeremiah understand that though Israel was wayward, was marred, in the hands of their Potter, this could all be fixed. Israel was marred, perhaps beyond recognition of what God intended, but God’s promise to Jeremiah was that He would offer hope through Jeremiah, that if Israel, though marred, would make themselves moldable, God could restore them to the perfect state in which He had initially created them. It would be a monumental task for Jeremiah to convince Israel to turn from their wicked ways. And so first, Jeremiah would need to be convinced, which is why God sent him to see a potter.
Far too often I encounter people who feel as though they too are far too wicked and wayward for a loving God, a masterful Potter to make them into something beautiful again. But the words of the Lord to Jeremiah hopefully offers hope. That God as a masterful Potter, can take the sins of an entire nation, the flaws of their own doing, marred and almost unrecognizable, and then make them into something entirely new. An entire nation, allowing themselves to be remolded, pliable in the Potter’s hands, can be renewed, can be reborn, then there is no reason to doubt, He can remold you!
Dr. Ronald James Barnes, Jr.
February 7, 2023