I’m sure you know what a potter is and what they do. A simple way to put it would be a person who moulds or creates ceramic ware out of clay. And this type of potter is mentioned in the Bible, which God uses as a metaphor for His relationship with His people.

If we go to Jeremiah 18:1-10, God instructs Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house. Some context first. Jeremiah was an Israelite priest who God called in Judah to warn the people of Israel of God’s judgment for breaking their covenant with Him, committing sins such as idolatry.

So in Jeremiah 18, God uses a normal everyday part of daily life to teach Jeremiah, and us, a lesson. 

If we continue to read Jeremiah 18: 3-5, it says,

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.

When Jeremiah sees the potter at work, he sees that the clay seems uncooperative and difficult to work with at first, so the potter shapes the clay into another pot. The chapter continues with, 

Then the word of the Lord came to me.  He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.’

God uses this scenario of a potter at work to teach us of His authority and His judgement which He will bring,  in this case, to Israel. The marred clay represents Israel who turned away from God,  unwilling to be shaped by Him. However, not only does God mention His judgement, the chapter also talks about God’s mercy. God doesn’t ‘need’ to work with the ‘marred’ clay — Israel — God chose to out of his loving mercy. 

So, how does this relate to us? After all, God said this to the Israelites hundreds of years ago. 

As the Potter, God has the right and authority to respond to His people to His will. However, despite that, God still gives us humans free will — the free choice of moral decisions. By looking at the Potter, we can see how God moulds His people to grow in Him and do His will.

Melt me, Mould me

God helps us to grow in Him, even if the road doesn’t seem easy. This reminds me of a little scenario I heard in a podcast a while back. A teacup is made of quality ceramic such as china. But the process to create a functional and beautiful teacup requires a process, such as heating and spinning the clay. And we humans are like that teacup. God may allow suffering to happen in our lives. It’s not easy, especially as we are just lowly humans. I’ve also been angry or doubted God when bad times come, but through this process, God helps us grow. Through suffering, God tests and strengthens our faith, reminding us to be humble as God is in control. We are His creation — we are nothing compared to the Creator. Romans 9:20 says, But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Fill me

God gives us all talents and some more than others. The process may be long and hard As God’s people, we know that God’s design is best. In Jeremiah, we can see that the clay is uncooperative, and not easy to work with. Although the context during Isaiah’s time was the Israelites forgetting their God, we also are guilty of sinning and rebelling against God. As humans, we are born with the tendency to sin, and this world is full of temptations. Through this process, God strengthens His children to do His will and be a light for the world.

After we have been melted and moulded, according to the Potter’s design, what next?

Use me

After we have been shaped by God, what do we do? We need to learn to trust in God, knowing that He is the Potter, who knows the best for us. We need to use our gifts and selves for God’s will and plan for us.

I want to end the article with the hymn ‘Spirit of the Living God.’ It was written by David Iverson in 1926. 

Spirit of the Living God, 

Fall afresh on me,

Spirit of the Living God, 

Fall afresh on me.

Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me.

Spirit of the Living God, 

Fall afresh on me.

Are we willing to trust Him to melt and mould us according to His design? How are we using our God-given talents, time and opportunities? May we ask God to give us a heart that is willing to be moulded by Him.