In the Potter’s House

{On February 8, 2019, I had the privilege of preaching at my Great Uncle’s Funeral. Here is the manuscript from the service}

We are here today because of the consequences of sin. By sin, I mean the willful disobedience to the commands of God. In Genesis 1 and 2 we learn about how God created all things goods. But in Genesis 3 we learn of Adam and Eve’s willful participation in rejecting God’s commands; both knowing full well that this disobedience would result in death. This was a devastating moment then, and even today we still feel that devastation. But immediately in God’s disciplining of Adam and Eve God also promises a solution to the problem of death and sin. In Genesis 3:15 we learn about a seed of woman that will crush the serpents head and how that serpent will bruise the heel of the seed. From that point forward the Bible begins to unfold God’s promise to save his people, and people’s continued rebellion against this living and holy God. This set the scene for the passage we will look at today. This passage demonstrates God’s plan to save his people even in the midst of his people rejecting him.

Standard introduction of a prophetic saying. This prophecy may not deal with a foretelling of a spectacular future event, but it is still prophecy. Prophecy in the Old Testament deals primarily with the prophets of God telling God’s people to obey the covenant or else suffer the consequences.

The word of YHWH first required that Jeremiah go to hear. Yes, God meets us where we are at, but he never leaves us there. Jeremiah is sent to the house of a potter to hear what word, what message that God has for him. The message is not one the Jeremiah has to fabricate. Nor is it a message that requires super-spiritual activities to stir up YHWH to speak. Instead, YHWH is informing Jeremiah that YHWH is himself will cause Jeremiah to understand the word. God is not capricious. In other words, he is not whimsical in making his word known to us. Instead, he is very consistent and very clear. But not only is God very clear in his message to his people, God is also the one who causes us to understand his word. Although God’s ways are above our ways, and his thoughts are above our thoughts, that does not mean that he does not condescend to make his ways and thoughts known to us. The question is not, “will God make his word known to us?” Nor is the question, “can God’s word be known?” The question is, “will I obey the word the God will make known to us?”

There the potter was, throwing clay on the wheels. The modern term for creating pottery on a wheel is ‘throwing clay’. The Hebrew term is ‘working a work on the wheels’. Pottery is a dirty job that requires strength, firmness, and gentleness. If you are not strong enough you cannot get the potter’s wheel up to speed. If you are not firm enough you cannot form the stiff clay. But if you are not gentle then you will destroy the clay you are throwing. For any who have an opportunity should certainly go to a studio where clay is still thrown to watch a skilled worker throw a fresh lump of clay. If you don’t where to find a studio like this, then consider searching for pottery videos on YouTube.

The first vessel broke while in the process of being made. This is a common experience among even the most experienced of potters. Sometimes it is an imperfection in the clay, other times it is an error of the potter. But when the piece being made fails it is frustrating and requires starting from scratch.

The word came after the observation. The word came after the waiting. The word came from YHWH and not from the event. The word also came to a prophet which was then to be communicated to God’s people. We should understand carefully that just because we can learn certain things about God through observation we can only learn particular things through special revelation. In other words, yes, go and watch a potter throw clay but do not watch a potter to discover the word of God. We already have that, the Bible.

We must remember that this text is first delivered to Israel, God’s chosen people. To the house of Israel belonged the covenants (Rom. 9).

The first lump of clay may have failed in the hands of the potter, but that does not mean the purposes of the potter failed. Ultimately the potter crafted exactly what he intended to make. The resistance of the clay created no lasting hindrance to what the potter planned to do. It was temporary at best. How much more is this the case in regards to God and the house of Israel? Israel may attempt to resist the work Gods hands, but their resistance is no match for the will and sovereignty of God. What God intends to do he will accomplish. And not even God’s chosen people can subvert the divine purposes of God.

Calamity upon a people is not accidental. We must come to terms with the sovereignty of God and his full control over every circumstance—whether a moment of joy or of sorrow.

God is not capricious. He is not random, or volatile. He is steady and certain in his actions. His actions are righteous and his plans are just. His declaration of what is required is written upon everyone heart. His offer is clear. If a sinner repents he too will relent of his planned disaster. But if a sinner remains steadfast in his sin God too will remain steadfast in his judgment. Both judgment and protection are from God.  God’s purpose is not to be angry but to demonstrate the consequences of sin and the holiness of God.

God had plans at many times to do good. Just like in the Garden of Eden. His plan was not to destroy, but he knew that even his plan to not destroy would not hold his hand back from doing so.

In other words, even if a people or a place is called apart for his work, he will not overlook disobedience. God is looking not for a people who are rebellious, but a people who are obedient. Jesus, who clearly claimed to be God, said ‘if you love me you will obey me.’ Often people claim a love for God but they refuse to obey his commands. Our love of will drive us to obedience, not to complacency. Some might say that a loving God would never pour out wrath and judgment on people. But this stands in contradiction to the well-known verse of John 3:16 where God the Father demonstrates his love by pouring out his wrath on God the Son.

What kind of evil person offers terms of peace before bringing disaster? None. Evil men and evil God have no concern for the temporal or the eternal welfare or people. But not YHWH, the living God. Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not the Living God, who came in the form of a man, lived a perfect-sinless life, died as a criminal on a tree, and rose from the dead three days later. Today there are those who would consider themselves obedient followers of Jesus Christ. But today there are also those would not consider themselves as obedient followers of Jesus Christ. If you’re not sure then ask yourself, do I obey the commands of Jesus? For these two groups of people, there are two very different views on Darryl’s death. For those who are obedient followers of Jesus Christ, we look at the earthly death of Darryl and know that this is temporary. One day Darryl will rise again, but until then he is present with Christ in the throne room of Heaven. And so although the pain of loss may be deep, it is at best temporary. But for those who would not consider themselves obedient followers of Jesus may I offer a Biblical understanding of death. Please consider Darryl’s death as one more mercy of God to demonstrate to you that God is real. That his promise of eternal life is real. That certain judgment for willful rebellion is real.

Ecclesiastes 7:2

It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.


Repent and Believe – This is a miracle!

Repent and Believe – (1 John 1:5-1)

Rejoice that Death has been defeated – the sorrow we experience today is only temporary for the people of God. (Romans 12:15; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)