Animate Clay

Jeremiah 18:1–13

The story of Jeremiah visiting the potter’s house is probably quite familiar to you.

In many respects, it is an odd sort of story. That is the way it is often used. We are in the hands of God. It sounds good, but that’s not really the point.

Like most of the prophets of whom we have record, Jeremiah wasn’t exactly delivering to the people of Israel. Much of his message was dark and about impending doom.

Like people today who impending doom and disregard the message so too were the people of Israel. They didn’t really want to hear the message. They didn’t really want to pay attention to the world-changing around them.

The greatest deceit and greatest cruelty of the false prophets were that they told the people what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear. They became a “drug” of a sort, dulling the senses to both the Israelite relationship to God and the significant changes (world-conquering kinds) around.

These false prophets fed the desires of false hearts. They told lies that because they were God’s people, nothing bad would happen. They told lies that God really doesn’t care that they pagan gods.

They believed because they wanted to. God tried a different method.

When God talks about treating Israel as a potter treats clay, it is an ultimate question. What is the purpose of Israel in regards to God?

God’s purpose was not to make Israel equal to clay, but to point out that God is…God. God was and is capable of doing so. God is Creator. God is capable of destroying Creation.

God doesn’t. God won’t. Some would say, dangerously, that God can’t because to do so would mean that God denies God’s own (self- and -sacrificing love).

When God brings Jeremiah to the potter’s house, it is not to say that God can and will, but that God can and doesn’t want to.

What was going on around Israel would eventually cause Israel to fall. Israel was spared, for the moment, due to God’s saving hand. Israel could make a different choice.

We know their choice. Our choice is before us.


, may our hearts, minds, spirit and habits be open to your molding work of us. Amen.

1) Do you tend toward the complete potter (destroy/reshape/mold/control) thinking, or more toward the “could, but won’t” understanding of God? What shaped that thinking of yours?

2) Clay does not reach it’s final form (pottery) until it is fired in the kiln. How might the of the kiln provide insight into the Spirit?

3) If (big if) the potter were to destroy his craftwork, how might the pottery be reused to make something beautiful? How might (big might) this provide insight into God

Image courtesy of dingxiaoyou