Jeremiah 18:6 - God Is The Potter; We Are The Clay.
Jer.18:6; God Is The Potter; We Are The Clay.
CONTENT; What's in the verse; Translations; Paraphrase; Word
Jeremiah 18:6 (KJV) 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.
Jeremiah 18:6 (CWR) "Don't I have a right to do with my people
as this potter does with the clay? As the clay is subject to the
touch of his hand, so the future of Israel is subject to me.
Jeremiah 18:6 (MsgB) "Can't I do just as this potter does,
people of Israel?" God's Decree! "Watch this potter. In the same way
that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel.
Potter. The Hebrew for this word is translated "Maker" in 10:16
with reference to God. [NIV SB]
Like clay . . . so are you. Biblical imagery often pictures
mankind as made of clay by a potter (see Job 4:19 and note). [NIV SB]
CONTEXT; What's around the verse; Overview; Topic:
In view of the coming disaster, Jeremiah was forbidden to live a
normal human life (16:1-21). Three causes of Judah's failure were
identified (17:1-13), leading Jeremiah to cry out for personal healing (vv.
14-18). Judah was then challenged to put God first by honoring the
Sabbath (vv. 19-27). At the house of a potter God announced again the
certain disaster He was preparing against Judah (18:1-23). Jeremiah
smashed a clay jar to symbolize the devastation destined for Jerusalem
(19:1-15). Pashhur had the prophet beaten (20:1-6), leading to another
anguished complaint by a weary and bitter Jeremiah (vv. 7-18). [The
365-Day Devotional Commentary]
18:1-23 Just as the potter had control over the clay on his
wheel, the Lord was sovereign over the nations of the earth--to build
them up or to destroy them. The potter's "wheel" (18:3) consisted of
two flat, circular stones connected by a vertical axis. The potter
turned the lower stone with his feet, which caused the upper "wheel" to
revolve. The rhetorical questions in 18:14 sought a negative answer. The
point was that while nature pursues its God-directed course unchanged,
the nation had unnaturally changed its course by turning from God.
In response to his enemies' plot against his life, Jeremiah prayed
that God would bring upon them the curses of the covenant (18:18-23;
cf. Deut. 28:15-68). The theological basis for this prayer is found
in God's promise in Genesis 12:3. [New Bible Companion]
18:6-17 God has the power and the authority as the sovereign
Lord to accomplish His own purposes in human history as He sees fit.
He is Creator and owns all. We are like clay in His hand; yet we
can trust Him to act fairly with us, warning us and seeking to
redeem us prior to judgment. [Disciple SB]
18:1-11 This parable of the potter teaches the absolute
sovereignty of God over nations, not capriciously, but with sensitivity to
the possibility of their repenting (v. 8). [Ryrie SB]
18:1-3 The Lord uses the potter to teach Jeremiah a profound
lesson about His sovereignty and His right to discipline Judah until
she conformed to His plan. [Passages Of Life SB]
18:6 All nations are subject to the Lord, who directs their
histories according to His will, just as He fashions the individual and
his course of life according to His own divine pleasure (cf. Ps
139:13-16). [Believer's SB]
The Potter and the Clay (18:1-23)
CROSS REFERENCES; What's in verses elsewhere.
Ex. 15:18 (KJV) The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.
Deut. 4:39 (KJV) Know therefore this day, and consider it in
thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the
earth beneath: there is none else.
Isaiah 64:8 (KJV) But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are
the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Matthew 20:15 (KJV) Is it not lawful for me to do what I will
with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against
God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou
made me thus?
COMMENTARY / APPLICATION: Moving From The Head To The Heart
What is God teaching here? What does it teach about Jesus?
Cannot I do with you? God here speaks to Israel, not as
individuals and not with respect to personal salvation, but as a nation and
in terms of its covenant relationship with Him (see v. 7). All
God's dealings with Israel in ages past had been based on the call of
Israel to serve as the custodian of His revealed will (Rom. 3:1, 2) and
to be His special instrument for the salvation of the world (Gen.
12:1-3; Deut. 4:6-9, 20; 7:6-14; see pp. 26, 27). God had clearly set
before His people the fact that strict obedience on their part was
prerequisite to His blessing them and making them a blessing to others (Deut.
28:1-14), and that disobedience would inevitably bring a curse and the
eventual rejection of Israel as His chosen nation (Deut. 28:15, 63-66).
Here, through Jeremiah, God reaffirms what He had already spoken
through Moses, and adds a warning that disobedience on their part will
invalidate the promises of blessing, and the assurance that sincere
repentance will render the threats of rejection ineffective (Jer. 18:7-10).
For a statement of the principles on the basis of which God deals
with nations, see on Dan. 4:17; see also on Ex. 9:16, 17.
As the clay. As a nation Israel had voluntarily entered into the
covenant relationship (Ex. 19:3-8 (24:3-8). In so doing they accepted God
as their King (see 1 Sam. 8:7), to direct the affairs of the nation
in such a way as to accomplish the salvation of the world through
them (see John 4:22; see pp. 26-30). By virtue of their own choice in
the matter they became as clay in the hands of the potter. In the
days of Jeremiah the "clay was marred in the hand of the potter"
(Jer. 18:4), and, as master potter, God would have been justified in
discarding them as a nation. But in mercy He was willing to reclaim the
worthless clay vessel and to make "it again another vessel" (v. 4). All
that had been promised might yet come to pass if they would only
learn to love and serve God (Zech. 6:15; cf. Isa. 54:7; Eze. 36:11;
43:10, 11; Micah 6:8; Zech. 10:6; see also pp. 31, 32). [SDA
As the potter molded or shaped a clay pot on the potter's wheel,
defects often appeared. The potter had power over the clay, to permit
the defects to remain or to reshape the pot. Likewise, God had power
to reshape the nation to conform to his purposes. Our strategy
should not be to become mindless and passive--one aspect of clay--but to
be willing and receptive to God's impact upon us. As we yield to
God, he begins reshaping us into valuable vessels. Our society
admires assertiveness, independence, and defiance of authority. In a
relationship with God these qualities become stubbornness, self-importance,
and refusal to listen or change. Left unchecked, stubbornness
becomes a way of life hostile to God. [Life Application SB]
The visit to the potter's house taught Jeremiah that God would
not destroy the house of Judah if they repented of their sins. God
is willing to withhold punishment if we are repentant and
cooperative. This is not an automatic, mechanical reaction. To punish or not
to punish is God's free, personal decision in light of His purpose.
However, our stubborn rebellion will finally result in punishment and
suffering. [Disciple SB]
In Jeremiah's time potters placed lumps of clay on a round
platform, which they turned with their feet. Under their skilled hands,
the clay took on whatever form they intended. As Jeremiah watched a
potter at work, God told him to remind Judah that the nations are like
clay in His hands! He can destroy, or restore. But the people of
Judah rejected this explicit invitation to turn to the LORD. They
said, "It is no use. We will continue with our own plans." Yes, God is
sovereign. But this truth is intended to bring hope! The heavenly Potter
has sovereignly determined to bless all who turn wholeheartedly to
Him. [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary]
The prophet Jeremiah learned something about God in a potter's
shop (Jer. 18:1-10). The craftsman was working at his wheel, shaping
a pot from the clay that swirled through his hands. Then something
went wrong. Perhaps there was some impurity in the clay. But the
potter did not fling the clay aside; instead, he started forming
another pot with a new design.
That's a picture of how our Lord works. He is continually
shaping His people. He takes our flawed material and turns it into a new
Notice something else about the potter and his wheel. A potter
must be willing to get his hands into the clay. God is involved with
His creation--and God is involved with you. He does not stand at
arm's length from His work. He gets His fingers and hands into it. He
saw that we needed a Savior to rescue us from our sin, so He sent
His Son Jesus Christ to give His life in our place (Jn. 3:16; Ti.
When we believe in Christ, we become new creations (2 Cor.
5:17), which God then molds and shapes to make us like His Son (Rom.
8:29). God is the master craftsman, and when we are submissive to His
fingers we reflect His creative touch. --HWR
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. --Pollard
God's Shaping Hand; Jeremiah 18:1-17
One of my sons just got braces. He is not happy about it. For
the next three years his mouth is going to be full of metal and
rubber bands that push and pull his teeth and jaw back into shape.
Three years seems like a long time, but moving flesh and bone is
difficult. Braces are inconvenient and painful, but they will improve my
son's mouth and health for the rest of his life. God is interested in
shaping us, not just our teeth, but our whole being. It's a big task.
Shaping souls is difficult, takes time, and requires divine power and
skills. Unlike gums, teeth and bone, souls don't always yield to the
shaping pressures of the divine hand. If they do, it takes a lifetime of
God's pressures to conform to the end goal, the image of Christ.
Jeremiah didn't know about braces, but he did know that God is in the
business of shaping our lives. [Quiet Time SB]
Giving Up Control; Jeremiah 18:1-6
We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
Giving up control may be difficult for us. When we get ready for
God to remove our shortcomings, we still may want to control how he
does it. We are so used to calling the shots that we'll ask for God's
help as long as he does it on our terms. We may demand that the
changes happen on our timetable, or in the order we feel ready to give
them up, or at a speed convenient to us. God doesn't work that way.
That is why humility is such an important part of this step. God told
Jeremiah to go to the house of the potter to learn a lesson. Jeremiah
said, "I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel.
But the jar that he was forming didn't turn out as he wished, so he
kneaded it into a lump and started again. Then the Lord said: ... Can't
I do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in
the potter's hand, so are you in my hand" (Jeremiah 18:3-6). God
told Isaiah, "Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the
pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms
it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' or the pot exclaim, 'How
clumsy can you be!'?" (Isaiah 45:9). When we put our life in God's
hands he will reshape it as he sees fit. It is our humility that
allows us to accept the fact that he is the Creator. Our new life may
be similar to the one we left behind, or entirely different. God is
the master craftsman. [Life Recovery SB]
Let God have your life--He can do more with it than you can.
[Our Daily Bread]
True or False: Salvation is a free gift (before you answer, read
True or False: Discipleship is a costly pursuit (before you
answer, read Luke 14:25-33).
For Jeremiah, following God and obeying His will involved paying
an enormous price: the price of lost comfort, restricted freedom,
and personal sacrifice (16:1-13). Jeremiah willingly endured some
unusual restrictions in order to accomplish a unique mission in life.
Similarly, Christ urged those who would follow Him as His
disciples to sit down first and count the cost. Salvation is a free gift,
but discipleship is a costly pursuit.
What might that cost involve for you? Perhaps it means giving up
a lucrative business ... a cherished ambition ... the applause of
the crowd. Whatever it is, you will discover it by asking and
answering this question: "What is there in my life today that is
complicating the possibility of my following in the footsteps of the Master?"
Let God speak to you from Jeremiah's example. Then if spiritual
surgery is necessary, give God the freedom to use the scalpel of His
Word on your life. Discipleship is often painful, but it is always
profitable. [Your Daily Walk SB]
It costs to follow Jesus Christ, but it costs more not to. [Your
Daily Walk SB]
We should give God the same place in our hearts that he holds in
the universe. [Daily Walk Bible]