This message by Pastor Kenneth Bent.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 (NIV)
1 ¶ This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2 "Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message."
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
4 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.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me:
6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Five Steps for a Potter Making a Vessel
Step 1: Choosing the Clay
Step 2. Preparing the Clay - Washing and Treading
Step 3. Centered on the Wheel
Step 4. Shaping
Step 5. The Fire
Review Last Week’s Teaching:
1) God’s Design, Not Ours
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
God designs different vessels for different purposes.
Pouring, drinking, food storage, water storage, wine storage
Each one has a unique shape for God’s own choosing and specialized use.
2) God’s “5-Fold” Hand Molds Us:
The hands of the Potter work on us to make us into a vessel fit for the Master’s use.
The image of a hand is often used to represent God using what in our circles is called the “5 Fold” ministry to prepare God’s people for works of service.
Apostle - Thumb - can function within every other ministry, basic, flexible, foundational, functional
Prophet - “Pointy” finger - directional, purpose and guidance
Evangelist - the Long Middle Finger - Reaches out beyond, touches what others can’t
Pastor - “Ring” Finger - covenant compassion and love - tradition says it has a vein that flows blood directly to the heart, a Pastor is a shepherd, keeper of the sheep
Teacher - “Little Finger” - can get in your ears, prober, seeker, extractor of information
We need all 5 ministries in our lives to have a more complete development of our ministries.
3) Upward Pressure
The Potter applies pressure to the clay to mold it.
It is an “upward” pressure - God wants to lift us to higher capacity and usefulness.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
God does not push us down or condemn us, He wants to lift us up in His mighty hands.
He is trying to draw us to Himself.
He is trying to enlarge our capacity.
Without pressure, this would not be accomplished.
When we are under pressure, we need to keep our eyes on the eternal purposes that God is establishing in and through our lives.
2 Cor. 4: 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Affliction = “Thlipsis” = pressure
2 Cor 1: 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
1Th 1:6 -You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
1 Th 3:3- so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.
1Th 3:7 - for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;
No Outward and Upward Pressure = No Development
4) The Heart
At this point in the formation of the clay vessel, the exterior, having had the upward and constant pressure applied, begins to take shape and look attractive.
You can begin to imagine what its ultimate shape might be.
You can begin to see what its intended use might be.
But then, something almost “cruel” begins to happen…
The Potter takes his fingers and forces them down into the center of the vessel.
The inside of the vessel is called, appropriately, “the Heart.”
If the potter doesn’t work on the heart, then the vessel cannot contain anything.
The vessel will only look good on the outside, but will have no usefulness.
The bigger it is ON THE INSIDE, the more it can contain and the more it can pour.
The potter at this stage has one hand inside the vessel, and one hand on the outside.
“God works on the whole man.”
**People observing a potter work on the inside of the vessel CANNOT SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE INSIDE UNLESS THEY ARE CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE POTTER TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE WORK FROM THE POTTER’S PERSPECTIVE!**
**We might begin to criticize an unfinished vessel - and what they are going through unless we get close enough to the Potter to see what He is doing.**
To enlarge the capacity of the vessel, the Potter MUST WORK DEEPLY.
Our hearts are a repository for everything that will come out of us, and thus must be changed, having the Law of God written on them.
Pr 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
5) The Mouth
After the potter has shaped and molded the vessel both inwardly and outwardly, he must finish with the topmost part, which is called “the mouth.”
The mouth is vital - it is the final part that anything inside the vessel touches when it is poured out.
Lu 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
The mouth affects or influences everything that comes out of the heart. Even if what is coming out of the heart of the vessel is pure, if the mouth is broken or contaminated, it can change the nature and the way the pure substance is ultimately perceived or received.
Pr 18:21 ¶ The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
2 Points not covered last week:
6) Always in His Hands
As the Potter works with the clay and the forming vessel, it never leaves the hands of the Potter. At least one hand is on it at all times, even when the other hand is reaching for some more water, or a forming tool.
God keeps His hands on us.
He will not let us spin out of control.
He gently and patiently forms us.
We are always in His hands.
He will never leave us or forsake us.
Even in times when we are being chastened by the Lord, He is putting His hand into our lives to form us increasingly into the image of Christ.
7) Water Poured on the Clay
Water is a type of the Word of God.
We must have the Word continually.
We must apply it to our hearts.
Ephesians 5: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
This Week’s Teaching
- Shaped Vessels must be hardened through trials / fire or they will not stand up to normal usage
- Fire makes the raw clay vessel “stable”
Clay is hardened in 3 ways:
This type of clay hardens in one of three ways:
Air Dry – the simplest but creates the least durable end product
Oven Baked – Not as durable as Kiln Fired clay, but more durable than most Air-Dried clays
Kiln Fired – Kiln Fired clay produces the most durable end product
-requires special equipment to harden, and is the type
-used by many fine ceramicists.
Vessel was first Air Dried in the sun. - removed up to 30% of water content
Modern Kilns heat up to 2400 degrees F.
*Vessels only reach the “Fire” phase IF THEY HAVE YIELDED TO THE SHAPING AND SURRENDERED TO THE HAND OF THE POTTER.
WE BECOME THE PRODUCT BY THE PROCESS
The “trial” of the heat is part of the process.
1 Peter 4:
12 ¶ Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
2 Corinthians 4:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
8 ¶ We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
As God works to mold us and fire us, our original “glob” is hardly recognizable anymore
We are changed.
The Purposes of the Process:
2 Chron 24:14:
they made from it articles for the house of the LORD, articles for serving and offering
Vessel to minister - “serve”
Vessel to offer - “lift up”
Horizontally: - we serve one another
Vertically - we offer worship up to God.
Like Matthew 4:10 - WORSHIP the Lord and SERVE Him only.
Mending a Broken Vessel
Jeremiah says that when the vessel was marred, the potter made it again.
How do we become broken?
- in use - dropped, cracked, chipped
- in the fire - could not or would take the fire
- not enough preparation - only air baked or oven baked
o stressed above our ability to hold together
1 Tim. 3:6 - those desiring ministry responsibility should not be newly planted / novices / newly come to the faith, lest they become conceited and fall into the deception and condemnation of the devil.
11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours; I am a dread to my friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.
- because of slander, fear, plots against him, forgotten by others
- Luke 22:
54 ¶ Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.
55 But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him."
57 But he denied it. "Woman, I don’t know him," he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."
60 Peter replied, "Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the cock crowed.
61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the cock crows today, you will disown me three times."
62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Broken in the heat of the trial of his faithfulness at the time of Jesus’ trial.
He declared he was going to be faithful but wasn’t
He substituted the trial fire for the world’s fire and tried to stay warm.
When he denied Christ, the Lord looked directly at him, the rooster crowed, and Peter runs away weaping.
How was Peter restored?
1) By a Fire that Jesus built - John 21:5
2) By a second “firing”
3) By the love of Jesus - “go tell the disciples AND PETER”
How are cracked vessels restored?
The blood from an insect / tick (some call it a “fasuka”) that clung to the back of oxen and bulls and goats.
The Potter would squeeze the bugs and drop the blood onto dried powder clay and make a paste.
He would then apply the paste to the crack in the vessel
He would then refire the vessel/ repeating the process until all the cracks were filled and repaired and the vessel made strong again.
When you crack:
Apply the blood:
1 John 1: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 ¶ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Genesis hints at the Potter/Clay relationship:
While God is not explicitly called a potter in the Genesis narrative, the presence of the verb yasar “to form, fashion” (which is the root of yoser “potter”) implicitly suggests that God is viewed as a potter. Furthermore, Gordon argues that the “God as the potter and man as the clay” motif occurs more explicitly throughout the rest of the Old Testament, especially in Job. Therefore, he concluded that the Old Testament implies that everyone has been formed out of clay by the Divine Potter.
( http://bible.org/article/genesis-1-2-light-ancient-egyptian-creation-myths )
The Lord's message to Jeremiah for the nation was that He had the right to deal with Judah as the potter dealt with his clay (cf. Rom. 9:20-21). Judah was like clay in Yahweh's hands. Yahweh was also like a potter (Heb. yoser) in that He created and shaped (Heb. yasar) His people.
The ancient Egyptian kiln was much smaller than the one used today (Wilkhinson, II, 192). Most of the kilns are of the crudest form of the "up-draught" variety, i.e. a large chamber with perforated bottom and a fireplace beneath. The fire passes up through the holes, around the jars packed in tiers in the chamber, and goes out at the top. An interesting survival of an early Greek form is still used in Rachiyet-el-Fakhar in Syria. In this same village the potters also use the lead dross, which comes from the parting of silver, for glazing their jars (compare Prov 26:23).
In firing pottery there are always some jars which come out imperfect. In unpacking the kiln and storing the product others get broken. As a consequence the ground in the vicinity of a pottery is always strewn with potsherds (see also separate article). The ancient potteries can frequently be located by these sherds. The potter's field mentioned in Mt 27:7,10 was probably a field near a pottery strewn with potsherds, thus making it useless for cultivation although useful to the potter as a place in which to weather his clay or to dry his pots before firing.
The chemical changes wrought in clay by weathering and firing render it practically indestructible when exposed to the weather and to the action of moisture and the gaseous and solid compounds found in the soil.
There were several types of vessels made by ancient potters that are mentioned in scriptures. For example: a vessel
of honor (2 Timothy 2:20-21), an abominable vessel (Isaiah 65:4), a clean vessel (Isaiah 66:20), and a holy vessel (Isaiah
52:11). When we learn more about these vessels, represented in the context of Middle Eastern pottery making, we can
gain a fuller understanding of their symbolism.
Piles of broken vessels were frequently found on the floor of ancient potters’ shops. These were called vessels of
wrath and were useless to the potter. They appeared perfectly good until they were put into the furnace, but they
came out cracked because they could not take the heat. The potter, being unwilling to just cast them aside, would try to
The potter prepared a certain kind of cement out of blood from a small insect called a fasuka which lived on
the body of a bull. The potter would take the blood of the fasuka and mix it with powdered broken pottery and ce-
ment the crack in his vessel. (The power of the blood to fix broken pottery also alludes to the power of the Savior’s
blood to fix broken hearts.) He would put more wet clay on it, reheat it, re-fire it, and if it held the patch, it was called a
vessel of mercy. A vessel of mercy was used to carry fresh water that was freely shared with stranger