Chapter eighteen provides yet another illustration for Jeremiah’s preaching ministry. God told him to visit a potter and watch him work (Jeremiah 18:1-4). What he saw was that the clay was totally submissive to the potter’s hands and desire. If things were not going the way the potter wanted, he could use the same clay to start over at any time. 1 Interestingly, the principle, according to God, is not that he can do anything he wants with anyone or any nation, as some people interpret it.2 Rather, God said that he, like the potter, has a desired outcome, and that he will do what is necessary to accomplish it (Jeremiah 18:5-12). 3 The call to action was for Israel to stop their wicked ways and save themselves the punishment because of their sins, but they would not. Even among the pagans this attitude toward a national or tribal god was unprecedented (Jeremiah 18:13-17). God actually called the pagans as his witnesses against Israel, whose attitude was contrary to all religion and nature itself. Even the pagans knew to cling to their gods, who they thought protected and provided for them. All the while Israel rejected the only true God.
In Jeremiah 18:18-23 Jeremiah once again became privy to plans that were made against him. The people of Judah believed that they could receive the “real” messages from God through the priests and prophets, even though God had already declared them to be corrupt. So Jeremiah again prayed, not only for his only deliverance, but also for the destruction of those who planned to kill him.
- Although he quoted from Isaiah 29:16 or Isaiah 45:9, this passage was almost certainly also in Paul’s mind as he wrote Romans 9, a significant passage regarding the future of Israel which also refers to the potter and clay. ↩
- This is not to say that he cannot. However, that is not the principle found in this passage, as God interpreted it himself. ↩
- Jeremiah 18:7-10 provides a general principle for all nations, unlike 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is often misused to call America to God. God has never made special promises directly for America, but he does punish sin. However, if any nation repents of their sin, the destruction promised for sin will be withheld. Jonah’s account of Nineveh is a perfect example of this truth for Gentile nations, not just Israel. ↩