- Sermon Notes
He Is Still Working
Intro: Not done yet.
As we open to Jeremiah chapter 18, we find ourselves in the middle of the ministry of Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah lived in a time and amongst a people who continually chose to go the opposite way of the plan the Lord had in place. Despite it all, the Lord still had plans and desires for His people.
Read: Jeremiah 18:1-6
Throughout the book of Jeremiah, the Lord through Jeremiah was trying to get the people of Israel to turn from their own way and follow Him. In Jeremiah 6, we see the people implored to walk in the good ways, walk in it and find rest for your souls, but the people said, “we will not walk in it.” In Jeremiah 7, the Lord said “walk in all the ways I command you, that it may be well with you”; but they did not incline their ear. Despite their unwillingness to hear, the Lord continually desired them to draw near, to heed His voice and understand what He would do in and through them if they would remain in His hands.
For 40 years, Jeremiah saw little change, for 40 year none would respond or turn as a direct result of his words spoken. The people were hardened they were broken, stiff necked and unwilling to change. But the Lord was still working, and here, as Jeremiah draws near to the potter’s house, he is shown and reminded that God is still working despite brokenness, still working despite the way things seemed, and prior to what he would say, it was important that Jeremiah first see the example personally.
As it was in Jeremiah’s day, the Lord works much the same today. He knows the plans He has, but it is imperative we remain in His hands. No matter how long it has been, despite the place you find yourself in, the Lord still has a plan, He will still make a way for you, He is still working. And as we look to the house of the potter working intently on the clay, we will discover insight into just what He can do with me and you, when we remain in His hands.
As Jeremiah is told to go down to the house of the potter the Lord makes clear that after his eyes were set on the scene inside the potter’s house He would announce His words to Jeremiah. It was a picture, a scene, that the Lord would give to bring about greater meaning and powerful lesson. It was something Jeremiah needed to see, prior to what he would say to God’s people.
It is an illustration that depicts the lives we live and the relationship we have to our Lord. The Lord gives the picture, here is it applied to Israel, but its application it not only for Jeremiah and Israel to understand. It is also for you and for me as we endeavor to become all the Lord has intended us to be.
I. The Potter Has a Purpose
- In the potter’s house there are three things that are immediately of interest and set up the scene: there is the potter, the wheel, and the clay.
- The potter represents the Lord, we are the clay, and the wheel is the platform upon which the clay spins.
- The picture of God as the potter and His people as the clay is not something specific to Jeremiah 18, but is found in and throughout Scripture.
Isaiah 64:8, But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.
- The analogy of God as the potter and His people the clay is given by the apostle Paul in Romans 9 as well.
- The picture of the potter and the clay gives insight into the way in which the Lord works in the lives of His people.
- Like the potter works with clay, the Lord is working and forming you and me today, despite what our situation may look like presently, the Lord is still working, still forming continually.
Jeremiah 18:3, Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something…
- As Jeremiah looks upon the potter, the potter’s attention is not drawn away or distracted from that which he is working on. He is very intent upon his work, and there is a purpose to his work. He is making something out of that clay.
- He is not manipulating the clay for play, or amusement. Though Jeremiah did not know what exactly the potter was making or how his actions applied to the clay would allow him to make what he was intent on making, it was evident that the potter had a plan in mind, he was making something.
- Like the potter and the clay, the Lord in your life and mine, is doing the same. He has a plan, and a purpose, He is making something.
- Certainly, there are times or seasons where one might question what or how that is going to happen. But the picture we are pointed to here, as well as throughout Scripture, is that the Lord is doing a work in you and in me.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- The word Paul uses “workmanship” is poiema, it is where we get our word, “poem.”
- He has a purpose for those who are in Christ, and His purpose is not just to make you a piece of pottery, but a work of poetry.
- The potter is mindful and intent on the clay. Just as the Lord is intent on you and me today.
Psalm 139:17-18, How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Illus. What a picture.
- While this verse is printed on more t-shirts, screensavers, and bumper stickers than many other verses, its interpretation is important to its application.
- The Israelites were going to be held captive in Babylon for 70 years, but the Lord wanted them to know the thoughts He had for them. That the season they were in would mold them, and the Lord makes sure they are reminded of His thoughts, despite difficulty.
- He knows the thoughts He thinks, the plans and purpose He has…and He has and is intent upon that which He is working and writing. Day by day, situation by situation, line by line, turn by turn.
- Remain in His hands
- The clay begins formless, common, and without much value, however, as the hands of the master potter take the clay, removes it from the ground and places it upon the wheel whereby a work can begin. It is there that you see that that which once was common, walked over, and walked upon, is now placed upon the place where the One who can make something out of it, can begin to work on it.
Jeremiah 18:3, …there he was, making something on the wheel.
- The wheel is the instrument that the potter uses to do his work. As the potter begins to spin the clay on the wheel, there is a pace at which he applies his adjustments and will upon the clay. As the hands of the potter are applied to the clay, it responds. It moves according to plans of the potter’s hands.
- The clay, so common and easily found in the ground, was about to be made into more than it ever would or could be if it had been left alone.
Illus. Not certain.
Psalm 40:1-2, I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.
- David says the Lord brought him out of the miry clay. A place with mud, filth, surrounded with darkness. David was taken out of the horrible pit, the miry clay, coming out he would have been barely recognizable. But the Lord brought him up and out, He set his feet upon a rock and began to establish his steps.
- The potter’s wheel had a circular piece of stone on the top where the clay would lay. Wherever it was picked up or brought from mattered no more. The clay, after being brought into the potter’s house, would be placed on the very place where the master potter could have his way with the clay.
- Like David, we too have been brought up. Ephesians 2:6, reads “raised up in Christ and seated in Him in the heavenly places.”
- We, like clay, are brought up and placed upon the rock, so that the Potter, according to His kind intention, and perfect plan, will mold the clay, it becomes so much more in His hands.
Philippians 1:6, I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
- While we are likened to clay, but there is one key difference between us and the clay…We are clay with something to say.
- As the wheel spins we wonder why so fast, or why so slow. We have people to see, places to go. But the Lord is working in the midst of it.
- The potter begins to apply pressure to the clay as it spins, the process whereby the clay will become a finished work, begins.
- The process is made possible as the clay is pushed on in this way or that way, formed into something it could not be formed into any other way. The pressure is coming from the hands of the potter.
- And like I mentioned, we are clay with something to say. So, we say, “I’m done!” as the Lord is saying, “I’ve only just begun.”
Illus. “You have circled this mountain long enough.”
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Illus. We’ll see.
- When you feel pressure applied, when you have to walk by faith and not by sight, don’t get stressed, consider yourself blessed.
- The Lord knows what He is doing, Just as I have heard it said, the moment you fight against God and hear the words “you win,” it is the moment when you lose.
Isaiah 45:9, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’
- If the Lord says, “have it your way,” those are not the words you want Him to say. Remain in His hands, He knows the thoughts, He knows the plans He has, He will work it all for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
- Trust Him as He makes something new out of you
- Rather, remember that God will do exceedingly abundantly far beyond what we would ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
Jeremiah 18:3-4, But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so, he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.
- The word here is spoiled, other translations say “marred,” it is a word in Hebrew that means ruined, corrupted, spoiled, or marred.
- Something changed, something got in the way of that which the potter was intending to make.
Illus. It was a picture.
- The clay here had become marred for whatever reason. But that reality did not stop the potter. The potter continued with that which was in his hands and remade it, reformed it into another vessel as it pleased the potter to make.
- He did not stop, he did not throw it out in the midst of doubt, he was determined despite the direction the clay was going in, to keep on working.
- The words then spoken by the Lord to Jeremiah, were the words he would speak to a people who had become “marred,” but needed to be remade.
- And God is saying to Israel, though you have resisted, I am going to make you into something that is good to me and pleasing to me.
Jeremiah 18:6, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
- Can I not deal with you as the potter does? Can I not form you? Lead you? Guide you? Mold you and make you as the potter with the clay?
Illus. Picking up the pieces.
1 Corinthians 6:20, You were bought with a price.
1 Peter 1:18-19, For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ.
Illus. Can He begin?
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.