I went down to the potter’s house, and found that he was working on the wheel. And the clay pot he made was spoiled in his hands, but he made another pot again, as he thought it best to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Can not I do with you like this potter, house of Israel?” Says the Lord. Like clay in the hands of the potter, so are you in my hands, house of Israel. ” Jeremiah 18.3-6
When presented to the truth using visible and real illustrations of everyday life, it is easily assimilated. Today’s passage illustrates this methodology perfectly. The Lord wanted to make a statement about his dealings with Israel. Instead of simply enunciating the principle, he instructed the prophet to descend to the potter’s house to observe him while he worked. Jeremiah obeyed and began to look at the craftsman. With the natural dexterity of those who work every day in the same trade, the man took a mass of mud and placed it on the wheel, and then spin it at speed. Continually wetting his hands in water, he slowly worked the clay, until the shape of a vessel began to emerge. Having finished with the external form, began to empty the interior. In a moment, however, the side of the vessel collapsed. With patience, the potter took what was left of his work, kneaded it again and began again to shape it.
At that time, the Lord spoke to the prophet: “Thus I also do with the work of my hands,” he said. In an instant, Jeremiah captured the essence of the persevering spirit that characterizes God, a God who does not give up when things go to waste. On the contrary, it does not deviate its intention to do something useful from mud. Start working again until you get what you want.
This sublime principle must have deep meaning. In the first place, because it encourages us to believe that even when we make the worst mistakes, there is always the opportunity to start over. The fact that Moses murdered an Egyptian did not deviate God’s plan. The fact that Elijah fled into the desert and asked for death did not lead the Lord to abandon him and seek another prophet. The fact that Peter denied Christ three times did not lead the Lord to reject the apostle of the work for which he had called him. In each of these cases, the divine potter simply took what was left of his original work and reshaped it. So also in our lives; he will be able to redeem even our greatest faults.
This should also encourage us with the people we are training. Many times they will make the wrong path. We will be tempted to “throw in the towel” with them. But the Lord reminds us that he does not reject anyone. We must, therefore, arm ourselves with the same patience and kindness as the Lord to finish the work entrusted to us.