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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 18

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-4

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 18

LEARNING THE SECRETS OF DIVINE

GOVERNMENT

Chapters 18-20, like the four that precede them, are concerned with the judgment decreed against God’s own people because of their sin. Midst the anguish of imminent peril, Jeremiah has envisioned the place of true sanctuary as the glorious throne of God. Here the sovereignty of God is recognized and interpreted. By the sign of the Potter’s House, Jeremiah is instructed into the secret of divine government. For the benefit of the people, he is given the sign of the marred bottle, which the potter rejected and crushed. But, the clay is not discarded; it is re­designed into a vessel of lesser glory than that originally purposed.

Vs. 1-4: AT THE POTTER’S HOUSE

1. Jeremiah is commanded to go down to the house of the local potter - where God will instruct his heart through the use of visual aids, (vs. 1-2; Jeremiah 19:1-2; comp. Jeremiah 23:22).

2. There he finds the potter at work on the wheel, (vs. 3-4).

a. As Jeremiah watches the operation, the vessel of clay, on which the potter is working, is marred in the hands of the potter.

b. Though, obviously, disappointed by its failure to properly respond to his hands, the potter does not abandon the clay; instead, he fashions it into another KIND of vessel - one for which his skillful hand knows it to be best suited.

Verses 5-12

Vs. 5-12: THE DIVINE POWER AND HUMAN CLAY

1. A balanced view of this lesson requires the recognition of

three basic things:

a. THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED: that of Divine Sovereignty the absolute RIGHT of God to do what He will with his human clay.

b. THE DEFINITE PURPOSE in the mind of the Divine Potter -the intent and design which lies behind the divine action.

c. THE PERSON OF THE DIVINE POTTER: This can never be grasped apart from an experiential knowledge of the Son of Man Who is: loving, compassionate, tender, patient, merciful and kind.

2. Does not God have a SOVEREIGN RIGHT to do with Israel as the potter has done with his clay? (vs. 5-6; Isaiah 45:9; Romans 9:20-21).

a. As the clay in the hands of the potter, so is Israel in the hands of her God.

b. And this is equally true of ALL MEN, and ALL NATIONS; God has a RIGHT to do with us as He sees fit!

3. Men must be very careful (especially theologians) not to lay down carnal rules to govern the exercise of DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY! (vs. 7-10).

a. God is not arbitrary in the exercise of His sovereignty; His action toward men is ALWAYS in accord with men’s behaviour TOWARD HIM!

b. Though He declares His intention to pluck up, break down and destroy a nation because of its sins, He will SUSPEND and TURN FROM the purposed judgment if the threat of His outstretched hand causes the people to turn from their sin! (vs. 7-8; Jeremiah 7:3-7; Jeremiah 12:16-17; comp. Ezekiel 18:21-23; Hosea 11:8-9; Joel 2:12-14).

c. And, though God declares His INTENTION "to build and to plant" (either a kingdom or nation), He will TURN FROM His purposed course if, in rebellion and disobedience, their hearts are turned away from Him! (vs. 9-10; Jeremiah 31:27-30; comp. 1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Samuel 13:13­14; Ezekiel 18:24; Hebrews 10:30-31).

d. While such mercy and flexibility may tend to drive dogmatic theologians mad, it is not at all out of harmony with the divine character of Him Who is ABSOLUTE holiness, faithfulness and truth!

4. Having revealed to His servant this PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE ACTION, God sends Jeremiah to announce impending judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem unless they repent and turn from their evil way, (vs. 11; Jeremiah 11:11; 2 Kings 17:13-18; Isaiah 1:16-19).

5. In essence, they tell the prophet that he might as well SAVE HIS BREATH! They will stubbornly follow the devices of their own evil hearts! (vs. 12; Jeremiah 2:25; Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 7:24; Jeremiah 16:12; Deuteronomy 29:19-21).

Verses 13-17

Va. 13-17: JUDAH’S SIN IS CONTRARY TO NATURE

1. Jeremiah often protests the UNNATURALNESS of Judah’s attitude toward the Lord, (Jeremiah 2:11; Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 5:22-23; Jeremiah 8:7).

2. The horrible things that have become the habitual practice of "the virgin of Israel" is UNPRECEDENTED AMONG THE NATIONS! (vs. 13; comp. Jeremiah 5:30; Jeremiah 23:14; Hosea 6:10).

3. While the course of nature moves, from age to age, according to unchanging principles, the actions of this people have become both inconsistent and IRRATIONAL! (vs. 14). ,

4. In their transgression, they have utterly forsaken the ancient path and the covenant wherein they once enjoyed the fellowship of Jehovah their God - forgetting the true and living God, that they may burn incense before stocks and stones! (vs. 15a).

5. What may they, then, expect, but that the curses of a broken covenant shall fall upon them? (vs. 15b-17; Isaiah 65:6-7).

a. Having stumbled, they no longer follow the highway of holiness, but rush headlong down the path that leads to destruction, (vs. 15a).

b. The covenant LAND also suffers, in - consequence of Judah’s sin; such is her desolation that those who pass through shake their heads, in astonishment, at the stupidity of a people who would forfeit so much to lavish their affections upon that which is NO-GOD! (vs. 16; Jeremiah 25:9; comp. Jeremiah 50:13; contrast: Isaiah 37:21-22).

c. The Sirocco (a hot, dry, scorching, suffocating and destructive east wind) symbolizes the nature of their scattering before the enemy, (vs. 17; Jeremiah 13:24-25; Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 32:23; comp. Proverbs 1:24-31).

Verses 18-23

Vs. 18-23: A PLOT TO SILENCE THE VOICE OF WARNING

1. Weary of having their sins so persistently exposed, the rebels of Judah determine on such a conspiracy as will silence the voice of this faithful prophet, (vs.18,11; Jeremiah 11:19).

a. They can conceive of no possible circumstance in which the nation would be left without guidance; they had capable leaders, without having to listen to such a disturbing voice as that of this FANATICAL PROPHETI (vs. 18b; comp. Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 8:8-9; Jeremiah 5:12-13; Malachi 2:7).

b. Thus, they agreed to LAY THEIR TONGUES AGAINST THIS MAN - evidently bringing some serious political accusation (perhaps a charge of outright treason) against him, (Jeremiah 20:10; Psalms 52:2­5).

c. They even schemed to find some way whereby they might SLAY him, (vs. 23a).

d. Whatever else might develop, they would NOT HEED his words! (comp. Jeremiah 43:1-3).

2. No wonder Jeremiah is so concerned that the Lord hear what they are plotting against him! (vs. 19).

a. His faithful warnings have been recompensed with evil; they have dug a pit for his very life! (vs. 20, 22; comp. Psalms 35:7; Psalms 57:5­6).

b. He has often stood before the Lord to plead their defense -to turn away the Lord’s anger from them, (comp. Psalms 106:23).

3. At last he sees the absolute necessity of divine judgment, (Jeremiah 11:21-23; Jeremiah 14:16-17; comp. Psalms 109:9-20).

4. More important than a call for personal vindication, Jeremiah’s concern is for the maintenance of the divine cause, as set forth in the principles to which the nation had pledged itself at Mt Sinai.

5. Thus, he not only ASSENTS TO DIVINE JUDGMENT, but URGES the manifestation of righteous indignation against the adversaries of Jehovah, his God I (comp. Psalms 137:9).

6. And we need to understand that indignation and anger with sin is NOT INCONSISTENT with the Christian responsibility TO LOVE OUR ENEMIESI (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:20; Ephesians 4:16); to ignore sin is the first step toward accepting it!

May the Lord grant to His people hearts that desire to FLEE from the very APPEARANCE OF EVIL - while finding their greatest joy in yielding themselves fully to the rightful sovereignty of God over every area of their lives!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-18.html. 1985.
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