Depraved Clay

July 27, 2018 at 10:31 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 5 Comments
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In Jeremiah Chapter 18 God seems to be addressing in a general way His “right” – His power and authority – to deal with His own creation as He wishes.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

Jeremiah 18:1-2

“Potter” was a very common occupation in the ancient world, including Judah. Passing by a potter’s house was probably an everyday occurence for Jeremiah.

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

Jeremiah 18:3

There was a potter. There were his wheels. And there was the clay.

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.

Jeremiah 18:4

The outcome of the potter’s work depended on the skill of the potter. With human potters, some are no doubt more skilful than others. This is not an issue with God, the Divine Potter. Obviously, there is no lack of skill in Him.

The outcome of the potter’s work was also dependent upon the quality of the tools of his trade (his wheels). Since the wheels were chosen by the potter specifically for his task, they were probably going to be effective, but there was no guarantee. Tools can get old and worn, and they can break. The selection of tools by a human potter is subject to human error. God may use earthly means to accomplish His work, but He also has the perfect wisdom and knowledge to choose faultless means and “tools” when it suits Him.

The biggest potential for problems in the making of pottery by someone who makes pottery by trade is the quality of the clay. And this is what the Divine Potter points to as the reason for rejecting the first vessel and starting over with a new one. The clay itself was “marred” in Jeremiah 18:4, and this is the same word used to describe Jeremiah’s girdle in 13:7. It was corrupt and ruined beyond usefulness.

The existence of marred clay, though, did not end things for the potter or the wheel. God may transform marred clay, or he may cast it away and select different clay. He will do what is right and good and perfect, in whatever way best serves His glory.


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  1. […] intended to give comfort, encouragement, and hope to the future generations after the purging and refining which would take place in the years of the exile and captivity. The purpose of having Jeremiah […]

  2. […] God showed Jeremiah something prophetic in an everyday occurrence (like He had done in the case of the potter’s house), or if God supernaturally made Jeremiah “see” things which weren’t really there. […]

  3. […] saith the LORD, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the […]

  4. […] were all dross. The purifying was pointless. It was time for the whole batch to be discarded. Human beings can be given over to a reprobate mind. There is an urgency in getting to our friends […]

  5. […] potter would not be questioned for casting out marred clay. God should not be questioned for cating out unrepentant, unregenerate sinners, although, by His […]

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