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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 18: Prophecy at the potter's house


[Preliminary Comment: We have divided the chapter as follows:

Part 1: v.1-11: A Prophetic Picture & its interpretation

Part 2: v.12-18: The People refuse to heed it

Part 3: v.19-23: Jeremiah prays

A comment follows each Part.]



Part 1: v.1-11: A Prophetic Picture & its interpretation


v.1-4 Jeremiah told to go and watch the Potter at work

v.1  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:

v.2  ‘Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message.'

v.3  So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.

v.4  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.


v.5,6 Israel are like the pot in God's hands

v.5  Then the word of the Lord came to me.

v.6  He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?' declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.


v.7-10 The outcomes of repentance and disobedience

v.7  If [i] at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,

v.8  and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

v.9  And [ii] if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,

v.10  and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.


v.11 The Lord warns of the disaster He is planning [option 1 – v.7 above]

v.11  ‘Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, “This is what the Lord says: look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.”


[Comment: We have another prophetic action picture, this time a prophecy based on what Jeremiah witnesses the Potter doing. Even as the Potter demolishes and reshapes the po on the wheel so that Lord can demolish and reshape Judah – which, in the light of their refusal to heed, is what will happen.]



Part 2: v.12-18: The People refuse to heed it


v.12 But they will ignore the chance to repent

v.12  But they will reply, “It's no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.”'


v.13,14 The Lord wonders if such folly is seen anywhere else….

v.13  Therefore this is what the Lord says:

‘Enquire among the nations:
    who has ever heard anything like this?
A most horrible thing has been done
    by Virgin Israel.
v.14  Does the snow of Lebanon
    ever vanish from its rocky slopes?
Do its cool waters from distant sources
    ever stop flowing?

v.15 …. for His people continue in their idolatrous ways….

v.15  Yet my people have forgotten me;
    they burn incense to worthless idols,
which made them stumble in their ways,
    in the ancient paths.
They made them walk in byways,
    on roads not built up.

v.16,17 …. so judgment will fall on them

v.16  Their land will be an object of horror
    and of lasting scorn;
all who pass by will be appalled
    and will shake their heads.
v.17  Like a wind from the east,
    I will scatter them before their enemies;
I will show them my back and not my face
    in the day of their disaster.'


v.18 His listeners plot to slander Jeremiah and ignore him

v.18  They said, ‘Come, let's make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let's attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.'


[Comment: This Part is an assessment of their refusal to heed the Lord's offer of yet another chance to change. He can hardly believe it, that they set their hearts on continued disobedience and so the only possibility is that He will bring disaster [the destruction followed by a reshaping]. Still they refuse to listen and instead plot against Jeremiah.]



Part 3: v.19-23: Jeremiah prays


v.19 Jeremiah asks the Lord to hear what is going on

v.19  Listen to me, Lord;
    hear what my accusers are saying!

v.20 They are plotting against him, him who is God's representative

v.20  Should good be repaid with evil?
    Yet they have dug a pit for me.
Remember that I stood before you
    and spoke on their behalf
    to turn your wrath away from them.

v.21,22 So it's like he says, “Very well Lord, bring on the judgment you have in mind.”

v.21  So give their children over to famine;
    hand them over to the power of the sword.
Let their wives be made childless and widows;
    let their men be put to death,
    their young men slain by the sword in battle.
v.22  Let a cry be heard from their houses
    when you suddenly bring invaders against them,
for they have dug a pit to capture me
    and have hidden snares for my feet.

v.23 Yet, while waiting for that, please deal with my persecutors

v.23  But you, Lord, know
    all their plots to kill me.
Do not forgive their crimes
    or blot out their sins from your sight.
Let them be overthrown before you;
    deal with them in the time of your anger.

[Comment: The human side of Jeremiah is shown yet again. He is aware of the plots against him by these unrighteous people who refuse to heed the Lord, and so hands them over the Lord, while asking the Lord to also deal with his particular persecutors.]



Continue to Chapter 19