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Like Clay in the Hand of the Potter

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 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.” 
Jeremiah 18:3-4 NIV

Jeremiah was a prophet of the Old Testament who had the challenging task of proclaiming to the Israelites that they would be destroyed in divine judgement. One day the Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him to “Go down to the potter’s house” Jeremiah 18:3 NIV, to witness a man working at the wheel. To picture this scene, we can imagine that Jeremiah most likely went down the grassy slopes of the Valley of Ben Hinnom near the Potsherd Gate (overlooking the dump for broken pottery). At his house, the potter began shaping a piece of clay at his wheel and it became marred (the Hebrew word means “ruined”) so the potter took the same clay and formed it into a new pot. The Lord then gave Jeremiah a message based on the scene he had just watched. “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? … Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand” Jeremiah 18:6 NIV. This hopeful message meant that even though Israel would be destroyed, God would keep his promise and renew them. The verses here are specifically about Israel, but the Bible also shows us that this metaphor about clay is universal. Isaiah 64:8 NIV says “you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Even though this is an Old Testament story, we can still learn from it today. What strikes me most about these verses is that the potter did not repair the clay he was working with when it became ruined, but he formed it into a new vessel. This means that when we are broken, God does not piece us back together and repair the cracks, but uses the same clay to make a whole new pot. It means that we can be healed completely from our brokenness if we surrender our lives to God and let him mold us. Psalm 30:2 NIV says “O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” Amen to that! Sometimes we struggle for years over something that we feel we can never overcome, but with the realization that healing from these bonds can only happen with the power of God, we put our trust in the right place and find victory through Christ.

In Christ alone,

Erin Tabor

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