God the Master Potter

By MICHAEL BROOKS | Guest Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet of the Old Testament. He was sad because of his lot in life. He labored alone since he was commanded not to marry. And his countrymen branded him a traitor since he called for submission to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

He was sad also because of the foolishness of Judah. The people regarded Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem as a good-luck charm—they thought God lived there and they were invulnerable. Accordingly they fell into willful rebellion, idolatry and immorality.

Jeremiah continued to listen to the voice of God and learn about his plans for Judah.

One of the prophet’s most well-known experiences happened at the potter’s house (Jeremiah 18). There he saw the craftsman fashioning a vessel, but the vessel was marred. Then the potter remade the vessel into something useful.

This experience spoke to the residents of Judah who had turned from the Lord. God told Jeremiah to warn the people: “So now, say to the men of Judah and to the residents of Jerusalem, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am about to bring harm to you and make plans against you. Turn now, each from your evil way, and correct your ways and your deeds’” (Verse 11).

The clock was ticking for Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was at the gates of the city. However, there was yet time to repent and trust God. The Lord could turn back the army of Babylon as easily in that day as he turned back the army of Egypt in Moses’ day.

Jeremiah has a message for the modern church as well when we find ourselves marred in the potter’s house.

Jennifer worked at an airport rental counter where she heard lecherous men call her “beautiful” every day. She went to lunch with one frequent traveler and became physically involved with him. A vessel named “marriage” was marred.

I met Jimmy in a prison class. He was arrested when his son was 12, and his son visited him on his 18th birthday. Jimmy acted foolishly and missed being a father. A vessel named “family” was marred.

Bob was a volunteer at church including serving as church treasurer. When an audit revealed irregularities, Bob admitted he’d been taking some of the cash offerings. A vessel named “integrity” was marred.

Our stories may not be as dramatic as these, but each of us has a story of brokenness.

Jeremiah said the potter remade the vessel “as it seemed good to him” (Verse 4). The potter had a good purpose and a good design for his creation.

The potter, of course, represents the Lord. The God of the Bible specializes in taking marred vessels and making them useful.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.