The Potter’s Hand

Jeremiah 18:1-6

There are those who believe that people don’t ever really change. Some say that even God cannot change them. However, I have witnessed people experiencing complete transformation in their lives. The impossible became possible when they allowed themselves to become like clay in the potter’s hand.

God, speaking to Jeremiah and also through him to those in Judea and Jerusalem, said: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.” (Jeremiah 15:19) Then, as we read in Jeremiah 18:1-6, God spoke to Jeremiah again: “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So, I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 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. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘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.’”

Why did God tell Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house? Because He wanted him to see the potter at work, shaping a clay vessel. The scene gave a powerful message for Jeremiah’s time—and ours today: The process of moulding involves action that can seem almost violent at times. The potter must put some force and pressure upon the clay if it is to become what the his vision is for the raw material. A lump of clay is useless until the potter works on it.

In verse 4 we read: “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hand; so the potter formed it into another pot.” That is a picture of all of us. We need a lot of work; we have imperfections; we need to be reshaped, remoulded, and changed. In fact the Christian life is one of continual transformation and change.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect, the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

However, there is a difference between the clay on the potter’s wheel and a person on God’s worktable: The clay that a human potter works on has no way of responding to the potter’s call or placing itself on the potter’s table for mercy and to be changed, just like the lost silver coin of the woman in the parable Jesus told in John 15.

The silver coin could not respond to the calls of the woman so she searched for and found it. In a similar way, the potter brings the clay and puts it on the table to start the work of transformation.

The prodigal son in the parable did have a choice; he could have stayed where he was feeding and living with pigs, or he could return to his father’s house and change his ways and his life.

God is the potter; we are the clay. God the potter is waiting to see and hear the willingness of the “clay”—us—to be moulded and transformed into a precious vessel. God has a plan for everyone who responds.

The first part of that plan is salvation. We come to Him as a lump of clay ready to be shaped into something new.

Then, to be able to see the Master’s plan for us, we need to fully surrender our own selfish plans to the Master Potter. And, just as the clay sits on the potter’s table to be moulded and transformed without complaining or arguing with the potter, so should we submit ourselves, while God shapes us into the individual vessels that He wants us to become, instead of telling Him what to do with us.

Charles Spurgeon once said: “We are literally clay in the Potter’s hand. This is, and should be, a humbling thought. However, we often think of ourselves as much more than ordinary clay. In fact sometimes we don’t even think of ourselves as clay at all. Instead, we see ourselves more in the role of the potter than the clay.”

God can choose to mould us into something other than what we might expect or want. As a potter works on the clay and sees how the clay responds, he continues shaping it into a special and useful vessel.

As mentioned earlier, the potter uses pressure while he works, but he also uses water and heat. Pressure helps define the new shape of the clay. Water softens the clay and makes it pliable. Heat makes the finished product stronger.

When the potter applies pressure to the clay, his steady hands protect and shape the clay. When you experience pressures and problems and you think you will break down into little pieces, just remember that the Master’s steady hands are on you, perfecting you.

The potter uses water to make the clay more flexible and “obedient” to his will and plans. We obey God by responding to His conditions:

1.  Salvation

2.  Baptism

3.  Holy Living

Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When the transformation has taken place and the clay becomes a precious vessel, the potter places it in the kiln, a type of furnace or oven, to make it strong and less fragile. So it is with believers: We become stronger when the “heat” is turned up on us.

I would like to close with the words of a chorus by Espinosa Eddie:

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true.

Change my heart, O God,

May I be like You.

You are the Potter,

I am the clay,

Mould me and make me,

This is what I pray.

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true.

Change my heart, O God,

May I be like You.

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian