Jeremiah 18

The potter; the east wind.
.1 ¶ The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
 2  Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
.3  Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
 4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
.5  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
 6  O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

   3 - At the potter's house God tells Jeremiah that He wanted to make the nation of Israel over again like the potter remade the vessel.
   In verse 8, God says that he would not punish a nation that repents. Jeremiah's people didn't repent and God sent them into captivity. When their Messiah came, they rejected Him and the torch was passed to the Gentiles.
   This passage has a strong message for us as individuals, too. The master potter would shape our lives into a vessel for his glory, if we would only turn them over to him.
The context of the first 10 verses takes a biblical viewpoint of God and how He relates to His creation. "As Jeremiah observes the potter at his wheel, the clay becomes marred and the potter reacts and forms a different creation (verse 4) ...." God is in control of His people, Judah. This means that the chosen people may lose that status. At the same time, God does not change, nu2319, 1sa1529, mal0306. Although this is true, He knows the future and He changes in a way that people can understand. While God is beyond us, He bows to hear and see us. Beginning at verse 5, Yah-Whe (God) communicates personally through His prophet, Jeremiah. He reshapes us who are clay in His hands. <These thoughts have been drawn from a paper by John Peckham, Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, Spring, 2007, page 129 and following.>
.7  At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
.8  If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
 9  And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
 10  If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
  8 - I will repent As in the case of Jonah jon0310. Prophecies that depend on human responses are conditional. This principle is important. Divine repentance here is used symbolically for changing from a warning of punishment. See ge0606, jl0213.
  10 - Repent of the good Go had given a great blessing enabling them to be lights to spread the divine invitation to the world is6001 but in refusing to use their gift, they would lose it.
.11 ¶ Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
.12  And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
  11 - Frame From yasar meaning "form" as in ge0101. The word translated "potter" is from this root.
  12 - No hope Not hopeless in the sense of having no way to turn but of not choosing hope. They had lost their love for righteousness re0204.
  12 - Imagination Rather "stubbornness."
 13  Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.
 14  Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
 14 Shall the snow of Lebanon cease from the rock of the field? Shall the cool flowing waters coming from afar be dried up? (Darby)
 13 - Such things This was strange even in the eyes of the heathen nations je0209-11.
  13 - Virgin of Israel How could it happen to the nation with the pure religion? 2ki1921. It was horrible je0530.
  14 - Snow The chosen people were to be as the refreshing water of life for the pagan nations. This is seen in the alternate, older, translation at the left.
.15  Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up;
.16  To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
  15 - Caused them to stumble The false prophets and teachers have led the people to sin. je1413.
  16 - Hissing (1Ki 9:8). In sign of contempt. That which was to be only the event is ascribed to the purpose of the people, although altogether different from what they would have been likely to hope for. Their purpose is represented as being the destruction of their country, because it was the inevitable result of their course of acting. (JFB).
  16 - wag ... head "in mockery (2Ki 19:21; Mt 27:39). As 'wag ... head' answers to 'hissing,' so 'astonished' answers to 'desolate,' for which, therefore ... others rather translate, 'an object of wonder'" (Jer 19:8) (JFB).
.17  I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.   17 - East wind The area east of Palestine was desert and winds from that direction were hot and dry. Not good for crops. Invading armies would avoid the desert and travel where there were some rivers passing by Damascus and coming south into Palestine. See map. Also je0411, jb1502, ps04807, jon0408.
.18 ¶ Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
.19  Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me.
.20  Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.
  18 - Devices against Jeremiah He was calling people to repentance as the priests should have been doing. Priests and false prophets thought they should have been the ones to decide right and wrong.
  18 - Smite him with the tongue Reminding us of the dragon's pouring out a flood in re1215.
  20 - Pit for my soul Compare ps119085.
.21  Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let their young men be slain by the sword in battle.
 22  Let a cry be heard from their houses, when thou shalt bring a troop suddenly upon them: for they have digged a pit to take me, and hid snares for my feet.
 23  Yet, LORD, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.
  21 - Therefore deliver up ... pour out Jeremiah could have been feeling sorry for himself but, more likely, he recognized the justice of God and that He knew was was best.
  23 - Forgive not A solemn call for judgment which gives us all reason to search our hearts.

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