CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 18.
The Lord comes again to Jeremiah (verse 1), telling him to go to the potter’s house (verse 2). Jeremiah goes and watches the potter work the clay on the potter’s wheels (verse 3). Jeremiah watches the potter work the clay and make different kinds of vessels, each one as the potter felt was best for that piece of clay and the vessel he needed it to become (verse 4). As he watched, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah again (verse 5), comparing Himself to the potter and the people of Israel to the clay (verse 6).
The Lord says that He knows what is best for the people, and that He understands what will most help them become who He knows they can be (verse 7). He says He knows what kind of nation they will be by whether they repent or not, and how they respond to His call for repentance (verse 8). He says that He can speak to the people, wanting to establish it and make it strong (verse 9), but if that cannot happen if the people do not follow His directions (verse 10). As Jeremiah understands this better, the Lord tells him to now go and testify to Jerusalem about it and to call them to repentance so that He can make them into the people He knows they can be (verse 11).
When Jeremiah speaks to the people about these things, they do not want to do what he says. They want to live life their own way, and do things their way instead of God’s way (verse 12). The Lord asks them to consider what kind of vessel they are becoming, saying that if they are not set apart and made holy then they will be no different than the people who do not know God (verse 13).
The Lord makes another comparison, reminding them how their cold and refreshing water comes from the snow in the hills of Lebanon (verse 14). Would they reject the snow and still expect to get fresh water? But the people have forgotten the Lord and the ordinances that bless them (verse 15), and so are in danger of losing the very blessings that provide for and protect them (verse 16). If the people do not repent, they will be scattered until they are no longer a people (verse 17).
The people were so upset that Jeremiah told them these things, that they began to talk back to him and be angry about his words (verse 18). Jeremiah called out to the Lord, asking for help because the people were being contentious and difficult instead of humbling themselves and repenting (verse 19). Jeremiah is able to report to the Lord that he did deliver the message in full and complete the task assigned to him, even though the people did not accept it (verse 20). Jeremiah is now in agreement with the Lord, unable to advocate for them because he sees the people have rejected his words. He knows this means they have already chosen, and that the Lord must respect their agency and deliver the consequences – even their own destruction (verse 21).
Jeremiah says that because the people did not cry tears of repentance, they will still cry – but it will be the tears of suffering from the consequences they have chosen (verse 22). Jeremiah declares himself faithful for having diligently delivered the Lord’s message even when he was in danger, and so claims the protection provided by covenant keeping – even in the midst of the destruction of those around him (verse 23).