Day 16

Parable of the Potter

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 18:1-23, Jeremiah 19:1-15, 2 Kings 21:10-12, Romans 9:20-21

BY Bailey Gillespie

After retiring in Kentucky, my uncle took up pottery lessons. Over the year, our family began to acquire a collection of iridescent and cobalt blue bowls and flower pots as he experimented like a mad scientist. He loved working with clay for the same reasons most people do. It’s wet. It’s messy. There’s a form of childlike play to it. You can mold and shape it to make something beautiful in the end. The outcome of the clay is at the mercy of your hands. The same is true of us and our Maker.

In the beginning of Jeremiah 18, God says to the prophet: “Go down at once to the potter’s house; there I will reveal my words to you” (v.2). He sends Jeremiah to this house because by observing the potter’s wheel and clay, Jeremiah is given a powerful visual aid. Just like clay in a potter’s hand, the house of Israel is held in its Maker’s hands (v.6). The Israelite people aren’t as independent as they think. They are stubborn and make poor decisions. They abandon their commitment to God and defile the land with idolatry, making it a “horror” (v.16). They don’t realize how fragile they are and what they are risking in order to live according to what they think is right.

In Jeremiah 19, God tells Jeremiah to give a sign act to the people of Judah, which is exactly what it sounds like: a physical act that serves as a sign. He instructs Jeremiah to buy a potter’s clay jar, proclaim God’s judgment against Judah, and says, “Then you are to shatter the jar in the presence of the people going with you” (Jeremiah 19:10). The sign was meant to represent His intentions toward unrepentant Judah.

God takes great care to speak in ways we can understand. He’ll use everything from visual aids to metaphors to get our attention; even the world around us reveals His character. As we read through Jeremiah’s prophecies, may we trust that God knows what is best for us, and look for where He may be trying to reveal His truth to us.

Post Comments (56)

56 thoughts on "Parable of the Potter"

  1. Dorothy says:

    Love what you said Kristen, Angie and Churchmouse
    Sara Terry that little two-year-old is probably your calling right now. Maybe in a year or two you can change careers but being a mom is one of the greatest careers around. I wish I could have been a fulltime mom.
    Struggling Through the Study you and Nashville are in my prayers. Maria I know what you mean about struggling with what God wants and I am praying for you.
    Bailey, I understand completely I went through that but I found that if I just kept reading God’s word at different times I would make it through and my whole life changed.

  2. Bridgette Alvarez says:

    I was immediately drawn to Jeremiah’s reaction to being threatened or plotted against in Jeremiah 18. When he was threatened he immediately took it to God and asked for not only vengeance but also protection. Then God reassured Jeremiah that he needed to stay the course by giving him another message to take to those who rose up against him and Jeremiah immediately obeyed God. I think that God said to Jeremiah, “I sent you to do a work and I will make sure that what I sent you to do will be accomplished.” Wow, talk about someone in the potter’s hands!! To me Jeremiah’s obedience is equally as impactful as disobedience of the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

  3. Sondra Watson says:

    Loving this reading plan Check out “He Didn’t Throw Away The Clay” by Michael English

  4. Ashley White says:


  5. Churchmouse says:

    Reading through Jeremiah during Lent has certainly given me a clearer view of how highly offensive my sin is to God. It’s so easy to minimize my sin (aren’t there always worse ones that mine?? Hmmm). When I read that my sin can cause God to turn His back so that I cannot see His face, it causes me to weep. These Lenten readings are surely purifying me in the refining fire of repentance and helping me to more deeply appreciate Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the Cross. I fall to my knees. In my sin I am indeed wretched and pitiful. But praise God, through His redeeming blood, I am made holy and righteous in His sight. I can stand only because He hung. I can live only because He died. Thank you, Jesus. FOREVER AND ALWAYS, THANK YOU.

  6. Jennifer Anapol says:

    This is a great reminder that God is in control. He made me the way he did for a purpose and a plan. I pray that I would yield to his molding hands.

  7. Maria says:

    I need the reminder that God has a “right over the clay.” He has a right to put us in hard situations and circumstances and he has the right to shape and form us accordingly. Right now, I find myself feeling more inadequately prepared for what is currently required of me than I have ever been for anything else ever before. The part I need to remember is that God formed our family and he will shape/mold/teach and equip me with what I need to meet the needs of its members – even if it feels like I’m failing to do so. God is in charge of his creation and his creation includes me. I pray that I will be obedient to what He asks of me in this hard season.

  8. Hannah says:

    Wow. What a tricky reading on so many levels!
    I think what challenged me most today was that ‘we are held in our makers hands’- we are not as independent as we like to think. As much as I think I can do this on my own and don’t pay God a second thought in my day to day routine, at times, I am not independent. God has got me. He has already shaped me and is reshaping me for his will everyday. How incredible is this!?

    Similarly, how often do we go about putting other things before God? How often do we ‘worship’ things other than God? Am I doing what the Israelites did, because it is so easy to tell them that they are wrong! I might not make altars to Baal as they did but I know that I can spend a lot of my time watching certain actors or following a singer – is this not the same?
    A necessary challenge for me today.

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