TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 18-22
God’s lesson to Jeremiah at the potter’s house (18:1-10); Jeremiah’s message to Judah based on the lessons from the potter (18:11-17); Israel’s opposition to Jeremiah (18:18-23); Jeremiah fights his calling (19:1-20:18); Jeremiah’s message of opposition to kings (21:1-22:30).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
God is most certainly the Master Illustrator. He has masterful ways of using things in His physical creation to teach us spiritual truth, just as Romans 1:20 says He does. As we move into chapter 18, God is employing this teaching technique in the ministry of Jeremiah just as He had done in the two previous occasions in 13:1-7 and 16:1-9. This time God takes Jeremiah on a little “field trip” to the potter’s house to make this point. God shows Jeremiah that He (God) is as the Potter, and Israel is as the clay, and He can do with them whatever He jolly-well wants! The real point He wants Jeremiah to see is that if Israel would repent, He would instantaneously fashion them into a beautiful and usable vessel, but if they choose to remain rebellious and obstinate, He can mar them in an instant sight in His powerful hands, and as the Potter, it is perfectly within His right to so!
Based on what God showed Jeremiah in his object lesson in 18:1-10, He then tells him to get out there and call the nation to repentance (18:11). Obviously, knowing and understanding God’s sovereignty (“as seemed good to the potter to make it”- 18:4) and omnipotence (“as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand” – 18:6) puts a whole different “umph!” behind a preacher’s message! As you can see in 18:18, the “umph!” of the message wasn’t well received, and as it has consistently done throughout Jeremiah’s ministry, it only brought more hatred and opposition from the people to whom he ministered. As chapter 18 comes to a close, you can see that Jeremiah has gotten fed up with the people, and calls upon God to go ahead and give them what they deserved.
In chapter 19, God wants to use an object lesson in making a point to the people, that was similar to the one He used in 18:1-10 to make His point to Jeremiah. He tells Jeremiah to a take “a potter’s earthen bottle” and go preach to Judah’s king and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He was to preach a strong message about God’s judgment that would come upon them because of their idolatry and rebellion. In effect, Jeremiah said, “You’re kind of like this jar,” and then he smashed it to smithereens right in their face (19:10-12). “God is going to smash you into a million tiny pieces, and you won’t be able to glue yourself back together!”
Well, needless to say, the message didn’t go over real well with the supposed religious leaders, much less the people in general! In chapter 20, Pashur, “the chief governor in the house of the Lord” smacks Jeremiah right in his face and slams him right into stocks in the city jail. Jeremiah tells him, “Just for that, God just changed your name from Pashur (“freedom”) to Magormissabib” (“terror on every side”), and Jeremiah prophesied the “terror” that would soon come upon him and all those who believed his lies (20:6).
But once again, the opposition was wearing on Jeremiah. He registers his complaint against God for calling him to such a long, difficult, and painful ministry. He even felt that God had deceived him. In effect he tells God, “You may be able to take this because you’re stronger than me, but I can’t take it anymore!” (20:7-8). He even vows that he’s never going to preach again, and never even mentions the name of the Lord to anybody (20:9), but he found that God’s Word was so in him, that it burned like a fire in his bones, and that the only remedy was through preaching! It was a major case of what the old black preacher called the “Ah-cain’t hep-its!”. The message was in him, and he just couldn’t help but letting it out. Would to God that His Word would be that deeply embedded in us!
So, Jeremiah preached on. He had come to grips with the fact that it was the right thing to do, but just because it was right, didn’t make it easy. In fact, biblically, it might be better stated, if it’s right it won’t be easy! Paul, most certainly, could vouch for that!
As we move into chapters 21 and 22 in today’s reading, it becomes apparent that Jeremiah had nailed some things in his relationship with God, and concerning the ministry to which he had been called. You can see that he has matured as a believer and a prophet. Just as God told Jeremiah back in 1:17-19, that he would be called to preach to and receive opposition from kings, princes, priests, and the people of the land, in this next section (chapters 21-29), Jeremiah preaches to each of these groups of people, and likewise receives retaliation from each. Each time, however, the more seasoned and matured Jeremiah is able to hand the opposition over to God, rather than blame Him for it.
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the ONE WHO PRONOUNCES JUDGMENT UPON THOSE WHO REFUSE TO OBEY HIS WORD – Jer. 19:15 (John 5:22).