“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” (Jeremiah 18:4).
The Breath of Life
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul; (Gen. 2:7).
In the beginning God literally formed man from the dust of the earth. The idea is not that He produced something out of nothing, but He formed, shaped, and molded a man from the clay of the earth having purpose in mind.
“According to the historian Josephus, the Lord God formed man of the red earth mixed with water.”
Science has proven that the substance of his flesh, sinews, and bones, consists of the very same elements as the soil which forms the crust of the earth and the limestone that lies embedded in its bowels.
“MARRED ” – impair the appearance of; disfigure. Impair the quality of; spoil.
When the clay is marred it is no fault of the potter. The clay is not made by the potter; only the vessel is made by him out of the clay. The potter only gives the clay its form, but God supplies both matter and form.
There are two courses open to the potter when dealing with marred clay, he can remold it again and fashion it to his purpose, or if it seems to be hopelessly marred he can break it, cast it away, and with fresh clay mold a vessel.
“Jeremiah make it clear that we are the clay” (Jere. 18:5-8).
To start the process the potter begins by cutting a piece of clay from the block. He takes a portion of the clay and kneads it as the dough is kneaded before it’s baked. This is called the wedging process. A firm hand is required. The purpose of kneading is to prepare the clay for the potter’s wheel. During this process, the potter looks as though he is beating the clay. When the potter is molding and reshaping us, we feel like the clay as it endures the wedging process.
One of the most important steps involved in making pottery is putting the clay vessel into the oven to harden and having the temperature of the oven properly set to produce the desired results. If the clay pot isn’t made correctly before it’s put into the oven, air pockets or debris will compromise its integrity. It’s also possible for that vessel to collapse or explode under the pressure of the heat.
“Isaiah identifies God as the Potter” (Isa. 64:8).
When the potter puts a vessel into the fire he is already sure that it can withstand the heat. The potter never puts a piece of work into an oven until he is certain that it will not be destroyed by the high temperature that it’s exposed. The potter can only be as certain as his skills, ability, and wisdom allow him when dealing with outside factors.
Likewise, God as the Potter controls the temperature of the heat that His vessels are subjected to. Nothing that is controlled by Him is ever out of control. He never leaves the clay when it’s being spun on the wheel. Just as He shaped the clay, He shaped you. We are God’s Art. You can be sure that He knows you more intimately than you know yourself.
“Can I Not Do For You As This Potter?” says, the LORD.
6 Stages of Clay
Slip – potter’s glue is made of a mixture of clay and water the consistency of toothpaste used to stick clay to clay and to decorate.
Plastic or wet – this is the best time to pinch construction, stamping, modeling. Cool to the touch.
Leather hard – this is the best time to do slab construction or carve. It is cool to the touch and has the consistency of hard cheese or leather. There are 3 sub-categories: (1) Early– the clay is still movable and won’t crack or be damaged. (2) Middle – no longer movable, it will crack or be damaged. This is a good time to create textures or carvings. (3) Late – Clay is cool to the touch. Good time to detail and fine-tuning.
Bone dry – the clay is no longer cool to the touch and is ready to be fired.
Bisque – Finished ceramics that has been fired once.
Glaze ware – Finished ceramics that have a coat of glaze for decorating or to make it vitreous (like glass in appearance).
“Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, saith the LORD” (Jere. 18:6).
“LET’S GO DOWN TO THE POTTER’S HOUSE”
The clay cannot resist the potter when it is marred. This is true of believers when we try to resist being on the potter’s wheel. We either willingly yield ourselves to be shaped as he wills or the potter will reshape the clay as he sees fit.
Spiritual maturity allows us to align our will with the Potter’s will. We no longer resist His method of fashioning us into the image of His beloved Son. We learn to trust the Potter to shape our hearts while we’re being molded and then put into the furnace. Our character traits are transformed, our integrity is shaped, and wisdom, faith, and hopes are seared by the heat of the fiery trials that we endure. The loving touch of the Potter’s hands allows us to stand strong until the heat process ends.
Whenever you find yourself under pressure from the vicissitudes of life, remember whose hands you were in before you hit the heat of the oven. Don’t try to get out of the fire before the reshaping process is completed. There are no hands more skilled than the Potter’s hands. Love, joy, and peace are made perfect in the Potter’s hands. Anything outside of His will leads to destruction. Everything God desires for your life is designed on the Potter’s wheel.
Here is a 3 min. 45 sec. video, “Jeremiah – The Potter’s House”, by Bible Theater. This video will aid you visually in understanding the Potter’s job. (Note: the video begins with a short reference to the 66 books in the Bible, followed by the Potter’s Video. Please watch the entire video.) Click here to watch: The Potter’s Wheel