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. Penny says:

    Jill Banks, Israel and Judah are two different kingdoms. After Solomon’s reign, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the north and the south. The northern kingdom was made up of ten tribes, the southern, just two—Judah and Benjamin. You can read about the split in I Kings 12.

  2. Amber says:

    I am reading this about a week behind but I just feel like this whole book of Jeremiah is so telling of our world today. We are a broken world, constantly turning to idols and putting our hope in worldly things, myself included. Now, we are in the middle of a pandemic and there is fear and panic everywhere we turn. But I can’t help but wonder if this is God reminding us we are merely clay and we can try to contain and control and save as many lives as we can but ultimately He is the potter. Not to say we shouldn’t give our best efforts but this is bigger than anything our healthcare systems can contain and I think we needed to be reminded who is in control.

    1. Jennie P says:

      I agree. The western world rose to prosperity and freedom because of the gospel but it has been abandoned and God has every right to judge us. May many return to him in repentance and faith.

  3. Stephie Gray says:

    God knows what is best for me!!! I need to let God have control over my life, like the potter over the clay. Let Him guide me, show me, reveal His truth to me.

  4. Susie Hubacher says:

    During my stint of pottery making. I also learned that as a potter I am limited by the nature of the clay. If it is too dry I have to be careful and possibly not be able to make what I had wanted to. If it is pliable it is a joy to work with and and I can make grand things. Which clay am I?

  5. Jenni TilsonMeyer says:

    The words I keep hearing are: I am HELD. We are held by our Maker. Praise God the outcome of me is at the mercy of His hands.

  6. Bessie H says:

    I’m reading this a day behind. Not ironically, the verse I meditated on this morning was about using whatever gift God has given me to serve others. As God created us out of a lump of clay, He designed us uniquely to do what He intended us to do. He gave us the special gift that was needed to achieve that goal. It seems to me that some people have such a clear gift and are able to use it in great ways. Others of us have a hard time figuring out exactly what that gift is. When/if we do, we don’t think it is as good as other gifts and are possibly disappointed that God didn’t give us a ‘better’ gift. This reading today has reminded me that we are all intended to serve God with our gifts and that none of us were created by accident or by a left over piece of clay that He didn’t know what to do with.

  7. Jill Banks says:

    Are Israel and Judah used interchangeably? Or is God bringing judgement on two different people groups? 18:16 Israel is used and 19:10 Judah is used

  8. Anna Chviedar says:

    Thank you She Reads Truth for choose this book for Lent reading. Jeremiah is a good reminder of the whole humanity falling short before God, whole humanity unable to do good in His eyes, and whole humanity deserving God’s rage. In Jeremiah 19 God asks Jeremiah to bring the pottery to Ben-Ginnom, and he also mantions Tophet a lot, I look it up. Both of those are a place called Gehenna, where Israelites were sacrificing children to idols. In the NT Jesus talks about Gehenna as of a place were sinners will be.

    I remember on one of the podcasts Rachel spoke about the logic of choosing Jeremiah this year for Lent. After reading it to long for salvation, you cry out for help because you realise that you’re no better than Israilites, that you as well deserve death. But. But. But. Thank you Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for working out the salvation for uncapable us.

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