Jeremiah Saw the Nation’s Sins

A Marred Clay Pot

“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.” Jeremiah 18:6

The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house where he’d receive a message. As Jeremiah watched, he saw the pot was marred. The potter threw the clay back onto the wheel and formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him (Jeremiah 18:1-5).

Like a potter creating vessels, the Lord had created Israel. He told Jeremiah that Israel had become marred and needed to be reshaped into a vessel that would be useful again. He was to tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem the Lord was preparing a disaster for them if they didn’t repent.

Sadly, the Lord told Jeremiah, the people wouldn’t listen; they’d continue in the stubbornness of their evil hearts (vv. 11-12). They preferred to believe the false prophets who told of Israel’s deliverance from their enemies. God would have no choice.

Jeremiah recorded God’s response to their continued sin: a lament full of a combination of anger and grief, “Who has ever heard anything like this? A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel. Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes? Do its cool waters from distant sources ever stop flowing? Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths” (vv. 13-15).

God’s people today are marred clay too. We live in a fallen world which more and more is turning its back on God and doing things he forbade. We’ve made idols out of sports and entertainment. We’re too busy to spend time in prayer and Bible study. God’s throwing us back onto the potter’s wheel and shaping us into useful vessels through experiences, through suffering, and even through blessings which he wants us to share with others. What is our response when he shows us our sin?

Specifically, how will you respond as he reshapes you as seems best to him into a vessel he can use?


Read Jeremiah 18:18-23. What did Jeremiah’s accusers plot against him and what was his lament to the Lord? Can you describe a time when you had a similar complaint?

In Jeremiah 19:1-2, 10-13, the Lord gave Jeremiah a new object lesson to give to the elders and the priests, and he listed their evil deeds. Can you think of ways we do these things today?

A lament is more than a complaint. It’s a cry to God describing the situation, including a confession of sin and repentance or innocence, acknowledging trust in his presence, and a request or praise. See Free Resources:Create A Lament for an explanation and a form to use to create your own lament.

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of our series on Jeremiah.

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