When Jeremiah the prophet was watching a potter, he saw a vessel that he was making marred in his hands, and “so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” (Jeremiah 18:4). From some defect in the clay the growing vessel was crushed into a shapeless mass of mud and, beginning again, he fashioned it into a totally different vessel. The entire story of the potter and the clay is a story of intense interest and importance to us! “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” (Jeremiah 18:1-9).
Some lessons are so evident from this action of the potter as described in Jeremiah’s parable.
GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EVERY LIFE! THE POTTER HAS A PLAN, A PATTERN AFTER WHICH HE PROPOSES TO FASHION HIS VESSEL. There is a divine pattern, and as the vessel conforms to what the potter desires, so God intends that we conform to what he desires. He has revealed his will, which forms character and shapes the destiny of men. Jesus is the perfect example of compliance to God’s will. Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37).
A SECOND LESSON, AND A MUCH-NEEDED WARNING, IS THAT A LIFE MAY BE MARRED IN THE MAKING. In the living of life, we often fail to come up to God’s beautiful ideal. Even though our lives are subject to God, yet it is true there is a difference between a lump of clay and a human life. A lump of clay is helpless in the hands of a potter. It has no will power, no power of choice, no chance to make a decision. But we have a will, and we can choose. “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21). “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).
We can resist the Potter. We can defeat God’s purpose in our lives. We can spoil the design. It is our fault when we sin and rebel and thus make sad work of ourselves, even though God is seeking to make us great, a beautiful and a useful vessel. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
God’s pattern is Christ! “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21). For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30). Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, (Colossians 3:9-10). God desires to make every person like Christ.
A THIRD AND VERY IMPORTANT LESSON IS THIS, THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A MARRED LIFE TO BE MADE OVER AGAIN. “So he made it again.” (Jeremiah 18:4). How grateful should we be for God’s patience? He wants all men to be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). “Who would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4). He did not cast off the life that failed of its first and best possibility. God is always anxious and willing to give us a second opportunity. Though the raw material at his side was plentiful, he continued to work with the same clay. Though the other clay was as good or better by nature, he toiled patiently with what he had.
Israel had often marred in His hand, yet He continued to work. He implored her to repent and offered forgiveness. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.“ Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:16-20).
Though Simon Peter denied the Lord three times, the Lord continued to love him and brought him to repentance. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61, 62). What a powerful vessel Peter became when the Potter reshaped the vessel and “made it again.” Though we mar in the Potter’s hand, he does not cast us aside – He brings us to repentance. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).
Has your life been marred by sin? If so, it will show some scars, and the flight cannot be as high as if sin had never hurt it. You are always worse off for having sinned. However, let us remember that the bird with the broken wing is not useless. YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN. ”For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12). There is always another chance. There is no doubt that marred lives can be useful. Do the best with what remains in life. Submit yourselves to the Divine Potter, that the marred life may be made over. “SO HE MADE IT AGAIN.” THANK GOD FOR LIFE’S SECOND CHANCE.
FORGIVENESS – PASS IT ON
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Psalms 103:11-14
Forgiveness – there is no sweeter word to the human ear. Granted to us through the grace of God and the blood of his Son, forgiveness brings an uncommon peace.
Forgiveness – there is no more important word to human relationships. When estranged from the Father because of our sin forgiveness brings reconciliation. Being reconciled to the Father opens the way to reconciliation with my fellow man. Learning from Him about the nature of forgiveness, I can now forgive others as he has forgiven me.
Forgiveness—there is no greater reason for Christianity. I am saved to serve. Since I know the power of forgiveness it becomes my mission, my purpose, my ministry to sow the seed of His good news.
During this season of giving, think about the greatest gift of all. As a recipient of that gift to whom will you now give the opportunity to receive its sweetness, power and importance?
In this time of year when some people think about Jesus and why he came, let us remember that it is about forgiveness. The Hebrew writer stresses to us that it took Jesus offering himself as the perfect sacrifice to redeem us, forgive us and give us hope for something better than this life. As we have gone through most of 2020, the message we need to hear now is that God is in control and he wants us to be with him. We could not receive forgiveness were it not for God’s great love – and that is something Christians rejoice in constantly.
If God went to this extent to save us by giving Jesus to die for us, should we not seek the good of our friends, loved ones and yes . . . . even our enemies? Do I have the heart of God and Jesus? Am I willing to forgive? Am I willing to talk with a brother that has sinned against me? Am I willing to talk with a brother or sister that I have sinned against? Can I start 2021 off right by seeking reconciliation?
We forgive because he has forgiven us. We love because he has loved us!