26 February 2016

Jeremiah 18:1-6

“Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” (v. 6)

Psalm: Psalm 49


The account of Jeremiah's visit to the potter's house is probably one of the better known parts of his story. This everyday scene became, for the prophet, an analogy of the relationship between God and the people. It is clear from the opening four verses that the potter is able to shape the clay in the way he wishes. This point is then taken up into the other two verses of the passage in relation to God and the house of Israel.

One of the difficulties with analogies is that we need to be careful how far we push them. Verse 4, for example, says that the vessel was spoiled in the potter's hand: was that due to a lack of skill or was it because of something wrong with the clay? The implication is that the prophet thinks it is the latter. The verses that follow today's passage (verses 7-11) depict God both destroying and restoring nations, in particular, Judah (verse 11); they are reshaped by God in order to fulfil the divine purpose.

To Ponder

  • Do you find the analogy in today's passage helpful? Why?
  • Singers of Daniel Iverson's song 'Spirit of the living God' ask the Spirit to fall afresh on them and to break, melt, mould, and fill them. How do you relate that song to today's passage?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Stubbens

Neil Stubbens is a Methodist presbyter who is currently the connexional ecumenical officer. Previously, he has served in the Barnsley, Southport, St Helens and Prescot, and Sankey Valley Circuits.