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A Potter's Work

James Grayston

Jeremiah 18:1- This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 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.

Then the word of the Lord came to me. 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. 


In this passage we find that God has spoken to Jeremiah and told him in verse 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” Now we know the potter is God and He is speaking specifically of Judah or the house of Israel as referred to in verse 6.  We can still apply this verse to our own nation, fellowship, or ourselves as individuals.  Looking at verse 3 Jeremiah says “So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. ” Then he continues in verse 4 by saying, “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.” 

To understand this you need to know a little bit about how a potter’s wheel works. It consisted of two wheels, one large wheel and one small wheel. The wheels were on a vertical axis and they were connected by a wooden rod. The large wheel was on the bottom and the small wheel was on the top. The large wheel was turned by the feet that would in turn spin the upper wheel. To us this wheel represents the circumstances of life that are used by God to mould the believer, but in order for there to be a work on the wheel there was some things the potter had to have before he could mould us.

I. SOMETHING TO MOULD 
This was the clay. Clay is basically useless when it is dug out of the ground.  It is shapeless, has no purpose, no beauty, it is no good and is of basically no good to anyone.  This is a picture of us when we were in our depraved state. We were sinners and like a piece of clay we were shapeless and had no purpose.  There was no beauty in our life, but the potter put us on the wheel and we became a work on the wheel and the circumstances of life started us spinning

II. THERE HAS TO BE A MOTIVE
We didn’t end up on the potter’s wheel by mistake.  There is a motive behind everything the potter is doing.  When he is forming that vessel he already has something in mind of his will for us. He knows what kind of vessel he wants to make.  A potter doesn’t sit down to make a vase and by chance make a bowl.

Romans 8:28-29 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

There is a perfect Will of God for each and everyone of us but it is up to us to find it.

III. HE HAS A METHOD
The wheel begins to spin starting to work. The ugly piece of clay is on the wheel and the potter has kneaded it out like dough so he could have something to work with. He uses some water just in case the clay gets a little dry or to hot. It doesn’t have any form yet and is laying there helpless. It cant stand on it’s on.  While the clay spins around on the wheels, it is never out of contact with the Potter’s hands. He is in constant control. Molding, shaping and bringing the clay along through his guidance. If he were to ever remove His hand, the clay would spin right off the wheel and would be lost.

The potter begins to apply a little friction causing the clay to stand upright giving it a little power to stand on its own.  He then applies some pressure. This pressure was applied to get out some the small stones and anything out that cause imperfections.  Then the potter trims the clay. He cuts all of the excess away and finally, he uses the heat to purify his work. He puts it in a oven and covers it up.  The temperature must be so hot it burns the impurities out of the clay and creates a new bonded substance. Too much heat too fast and it cracks and falls apart. Sometimes we, as the clay, think that we can’t take any more heat. But the Potter knows the degree of heat to set and also how long it must be in the oven.

For a potter there would be many vessels that would have gone in, but some of them came out bent or broke and couldn't be used, but this time the potter pulls the vessel out of the oven and to his delight he sees that piece of clay that was without shape and was ugly and useless, now has shape and is beautiful. But he wants to see if it is useful

So he takes it and gives it the ultimate test. He pours oil in it.  Oil in the bible represents the Holy Spirit, and if the vessel can hold the oil it is a vessel of honour.

Have you become a broken or bent vessel? Are you unable to hold oil any more? If you hesitate or question yourself at these questions do yourself, do your church and more than anything, do God a favour and come back to the potter and be a work on the wheel.

Isaiah 64:8 - Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.