Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 18

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-23

Chapter 18

Now in chapter 18:

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel ( Jeremiah 18:1-6 ).

Here, again, as with Isaiah, the figure of the potter and the clay, showing God's awesome sovereignty over man's destiny. God can make of you whatever He pleases. And as Paul the apostle said in Romans 9:1-33 , "Who art thou, O man, who says unto the Lord, 'Why has Thou made me thus?' Hath not the potter the power over the clay, to make of it whatever kind of a vessel He desires?" ( Romans 9:20-21 ) In those chapters nine, ten and eleven of Romans where Paul speaks of this awesome sovereignty of God over man, he uses the same figure of the potter and the clay.

Now with Jeremiah it is interesting God said, "Go down to the potter's house and I'm going to speak to you there." He went down to the potter's house. He saw him as he was working a work on the wheels. So the three objects-the potter, the wheel, the clay-speak of God's dealing and working with man. The clay, a common worthless material in its native state, and yet a material that has a potential of great value and utility, according to the skill of the potter. The potter, his total control over the clay to make of it whatever he desires--God's awesome power over our lives. The wheels--the circumstances of our lives by which God molds and shapes us.

Now in this case as he watched the potter, the vessel was marred in the hands of the potter. He was making this vessel on the wheel, but suddenly the vessel took a wrong shape. It maybe had a hard lump in the clay or something. The vessel was marred. And so the potter just took and crumbled the clay again or compacted it again and then made of it a vessel as was good unto him to make. And God spoke and said, "Is not Israel, the nation Israel, like clay in My hands?" And though Israel had been marred, yet God would remake them. He would work in them again a new work. The vessel had been marred, but not to be discarded. God would work yet again in making them that which He desires and intended them to be.

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it ( Jeremiah 18:7 );

Now you remember in chapter 1 when God called Jeremiah He said, "I have called you over the nations. I've called you." And his ministry was to pluck up, to pull down and to destroy. Now that's quite a ministry to be called to. "Uproot things, Jeremiah. Pluck them up. Destroy them." You see, there comes a time when the system gets so corrupt there's no renewing it. There's no reformation possible. It's gone too far. So before you can rebuild and plant and rebuild, you got to just get rid of everything that is there. And that is what God is saying. They've gotten so bad we're just going to have to get rid of it. Go back to zero and then we'll start all over again. But you've got to tear down, root out, destroy that which exists. So He brings him back to the first calling in chapter 1.

And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, [verse Jeremiah 18:9 ] to build and to plant it ( Jeremiah 18:9 ).

So in verse Jeremiah 18:7 he speaks of the plucking up, pulling down, destroying.

Now if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, and repent of that which I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it. If you do evil in my sight, that it not obey my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Now therefore go and speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return you now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart ( Jeremiah 18:8-12 ).

So they would not listen to Jeremiah. They said, "There's no hope, you know. We're all going to go for it at this point."

Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who has heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing. Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? ( Jeremiah 18:13-14 )

That beautiful, crystal-clear snow water that comes out of the ground at the base of a mountain there in Lebanon. Will a man leave that beautiful crystal snow water?

Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity ( Jeremiah 18:15 ),

This is forsaking Me, that fountain of living water. They have forgotten Me; they have burned incense to vanity.

and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; To make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passes by shall be astonished, and wag his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them my back, and not my face, in the day of their calamity. Then said they ( Jeremiah 18:15-18 ).

Jeremiah delivered this message to them. And then they responded saying,

Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words ( Jeremiah 18:18 ).

And so Jeremiah said,

Give heed to me, O LORD, and hearken to the voice of them that contend with me. Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them ( Jeremiah 18:19-20 ).

Now here Jeremiah said, "I have been interceding. I have been praying for them and now they're devising to do me in, God. Remember how good I was, Lord, and remember how evil they are."

Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; and let their wives be bereaved of their children, and be widows; and let their men be put to death; let the young men be slain by the sword in battle ( Jeremiah 18:21 ).

In other words, I'm not going to intercede for them anymore, God. Go ahead and give it to them.

Let a cry be heard ( Jeremiah 18:22 )

He was a melancholy, no doubt, if you'd done any personality type of analysis. A great melancholy, and it will show up even more forcibly as we move on into chapter 20. We see the melancholy at his classic height. Verse Jeremiah 18:23 :

LORD, you know all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger ( Jeremiah 18:23 ).

So the prophet is really upset with them. Heard again that they're plotting to get him and all. And this time he's had it. "God, just take care of them. Do whatever You want. Wipe them out. I'm not going to pray for them any longer." How different this is from Moses. You remember Moses as he interceded. "O God, forgive their sin. And if not, blot, I pray Thee, my name out of Thy book of remembrances." I have a hard time identifying with Moses. I find a very easy time identifying with Jeremiah. I come to my car and I find someone has ripped off something from my car, boy, I pray, "God, get them. Smite them, Lord. Let them fall and break their legs. Just really do them in, Lord." I have no mercy for thieves and people that go around ripping people off. It just really upsets me. "Let the angel of the Lord pursue them and just give them a bad time, Lord." So I would classify more with Jeremiah than I would with Moses.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-18.html. 2014.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile