The free gift of GodJeremiah 18:1-12Ⅰ Like a vessel which a potter makes
"Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I shall announce My words to you" (2); Jeremiah was said from the Lord thus, and he met a potter. The text of this morning (18:1 -12) is the words of the Lord that Jeremiah has heard while remembering the scene where he watched in the house of a potter. "Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make." (3-4) Pottery making was done at any land from ancient time. It is no wonder that there was a potter near Anathoth. Most of the quality of soil of the neighborhood was red soil, but because there was Jericho that was below sea level of the Mediterranean near, ceramist might have been able to gather a little high quality clay, and pottery was being done. Making pottery seems to have a trouble to search soil even in prosperous Japan; so in Palestine that had such much trouble, there would not have been many people who wanted to be a ceramist. The article of the potter in the Bible is outstanding in Isaias and Jeremias. However, everyday life cannot miss the ceramics. So, potter few struggled to provide even a little good stuff. Jeremiah drew the state that a ceramist remade a pottery only one time; but surely, that number would not be once or twice. Inspired to God, he would have done first look at the hardship of the potter.
"'Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'" (6) God likens a potter to Himself, and likens Israel to clay, and insists "Can I not deal with you as this potter does?". Probably, it seems that this was told in the form of response to prayer of Jeremiah in 17:14-18. "Do not be a terror to me;" (17); he wondered about who can find refuge under God on the day of the judgement of God. Is it a prophet, or the people hostile to God? It seems to say that Jeremiah was weak at that time and he was not able to say confidently that "The Lord is my refuge!". Those are his anxiety, and it became this painful prayer. The text of this morning was an event that God instructed and respond to Jeremiah who has fallen into such anxiety faith. While remembering the work of the potter, Jeremiah heard the word of God, and he would have regained the confidence of faith.
Ⅱ Which do you choice?
"At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it." (7-10) This is declaration of God likened to a figure of the potter remaking vessel. Israel which is only clay cannot advocate any objection to decision of God. Isaiah says in this way more definitely. "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker--- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'?" (45:9) Possibly, would Jeremiah have read Isaias? No, same God talked about to Isaiah talked to Jeremiah. It would be said that Israel had plagued the prophets of 100 years ago of Jeremiah, and also plagued the prophets of 100 after years. A created person mutters to the Creator that "why?"; it is a problem of the root of the human being of all of us.
A problem of the root of the human being. I want to think about it a little, but a factor totally different from the decision of the potter is given here. Here, two things, salvation and ruin, are talked about, but God entrusts that choice to the will of Israel. It is that if they repent, He will reserve the decision of doom which defeat them, but if they continue to follow the path of evil without repentance, He will close the door of salvation. Two things, "do evil" and "repentance", have been sorted here; it would be that they have been faced with that choice from God. This is a question whether they admit God, or not; He have continued to be their God / the Lord / Yahweh, from Adam to the times of Abraham and Moses, from the time He has admitted them as His people. This was the central problem of Israel. Israel must have heard about that question many times countless in the past. In most cases, they did not answer; but now, they have been made to stand in the unprecedented forked road and have been made to stand before God, and had to answer it. "Respond to God" "answer that question"; itself is the fundamental problem of them, no, it is the fundamental problem of our human. Because, God is asking to us even now.
Ⅲ The free gift of God
A question of God, and our reply. About this, we must step another one step. The question of God to us, and our reply to it; originally, it is not necessary for God at all. Because, He is our God, without our certification that "You are our God". To be God, He does not need our authorization at all. Nevertheless, God demands replies of us. Before we ask about that He makes and breaks us unilaterally as the potter, we must think about it.
God is wishing that we admit "You are my God". It may be said that it is deep love of God who has created us. A figure of God who is trying to avoid the destruction can be seen here, while He is questioning by arranging two things here, ruin and salvation; and He is trying to avoid the destruction. Here, we feel that deep God's mercy, love, and His expectations is inclining to desire to save Israel. Though it is extremely important to meet the love of the person whom even fellow creature loves, but, it is God; He loves us and wants to meet you. We must be more faithful for Him than the time between human beings. However, not only Israel, but its corresponding was also very dishonest at any time of any nation.
Would Jeremiah have felt such a thought about the word of God which has been likened to the potter? He heard it in this way. "So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, 'Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each if you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds"'" (11) Probably, this text was the event in the end of the era of king Jehoiakim. "The devising plan", it has been already carried out partly. The invasion of the Babylonia military of 601 years did not yet arrive in Jerusalem; but, the antagonist of the Cannan countries that became a tool of Babylon began to loot the land of Judah. It might be said that Judah had been forced to stand at the last minute. However, God says that He withdraws "the devising plan"; he hopes to be God of Judah. However, Judah said. "It's hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart." (12) There is many people who says that "This hardly seems to be the say of the person concerned. This is the addition of progeny."; but, if we see this as the voice of a prophet, we will be able to say, a shaken confidence of Jeremiah has recovered. Jeremiah was standing in front of them and God again straightly. He himself was a vessel in the hands of a potter, but would he have wished to be a useful vessel to Judah and also to God? As Paul said, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23), I think so.