Getting on the same page as God

Jeremiah 18 SCC 1/8/17

Remember that one of Jeremiah’s responsibilities, as God’s messenger was to tell God’s people that He was about to destroy Jerusalem. The people that lived there were unwilling to listen to or hear it.



God gives Jeremiah an illustration.

18:1-2: The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the potter's house, where He would give him further instructions.

18:3-4: The prophet observed the potter making a vessel on his wheel. As he worked, the vessel became damaged, so he made it into a different vessel so he remade it into another vessel. The point is not the vessel but the potter, who did with the vessel as it pleased the potter.

Application: God reaches out to His people to help them understand Him better. He comes down to their level. God speaks our language. In this case it’s to illustrate his sovereignty.

God explains that illustration  

18:5-6 The Lord's message for the nation was that He had the right to deal with Judah as the potter dealt with his clay. Judah was like clay in God's hands. God was also like a potter. He created and shaped.

18:7-8 The Lord might purpose to destroy Judah, but if the people changed by repenting, He could change His mind concerning that. The Lord has done this with countless individuals throughout history when they turned to Him in faith (Ruth, Simon Peter, Saul of Tarsus).

18:9-10 conversely, if He purposed to bless a nation, and then it did evil and was disobedient to Him, He could change His mind. God does not repent as humans do, but He does relent. That is, He does not abandon evil ways for good ways, nor does He change His mind about everything, but He does become less severe (or more severe) in dealing with people.

God applies that illustration

18:11-12 Jeremiah was to tell the people that He was planning to bring calamity on them and that they should repent. However, the people said repentance would not bring any change. The situation was hopeless from their viewpoint. Actually, they did not want to change. Its incredible that people won’t stop acting a certain way even though they had been warned that their behavior will result in disastrous disaster. And this is what God says about Israel. They are headed for disaster. God is going to destroy Jerusalem. The temple will be leveled, unless you turn back to me. And they say, “No thanks, we’ll continue with our own plans.” We’re fine. And God is amazed. Who ever heard of such a thing?

Application: If people will turn away from their wicked ways, God will turn away from judging them. Likewise, if they turn toward sin, God will turn toward judgment. There are some situations in which people continue in sin for so long that it becomes impossible for them to repent and, therefore, for God to relent. Judah finally reached the point.

Explanation: God has designed enough flexibility into His government of the world so that people's attitudes and activities sometimes affect how He works. There are some things that God has decreed that will inevitably come to pass, regardless of human behavior like God's plans for Israel and the Gentiles, and Christ's second coming and reign on earth. God has not locked Himself out of His own universe, however. He can and does intervene in response to human activity. Ephesians 1:11 says that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass: what actually happens. This is the sovereign will of God. This verse does not say that He has also foreordained when, how, and by whom everything that will come to pass will come to pass. Evangelism, prayer, and other human activities do have significant objective effects in many cases.



18:13 Judah stood alone among the nations in her stubborn refusal to follow her God. Israel has done a most appalling [worse than expected] thing. God indicted the people of Judah through His prophet, asking if any other nation had ever done what Israel had done. As a virgin, she had done something appalling. She had polluted herself with the practices of pagan religion including sexual immorality. She had played the harlot.

18:14 God points out that the snow on the mountains of Lebanon never leaves the mountain. If it left it would just be snow. What makes it the snow of Lebanon is that it is on the mountains of Lebanon. The cold water ceaselessly flowed from those same mountains too. Its cold-water runoff is more dependable than God’s people. What makes Israel; Israel is their relationship with God. If they turn away from God, they’ll stop being Israel.

18:15 Israel had abandoned God to worship worthless idols instead. His people stumbled off the safe, well-established highway of God's will and had turned aside to walk in pathways that were not roads. They think being kicked off their land is going to make them lose their identity. But God is pointing out that they’ve already given up their identity. They’ve forgotten their God. And their identity comes from Him, not the land. From the ancient paths [see 6:16—the ancient paths of obedience to God] they strayed onto road of potholes.

18:16 So what’s God going to do? He’ll take away their land. This action would result in their land becoming desolate. Onlookers and passersby would whistle to themselves in amazement over its terrible condition, and shake their heads in astonishment at what had happened to it because of Israel's foolishness.

18:17 God would scatter His people from their land before the enemy, as when the strong east wind blew the tumbleweeds in the windy months. Their enemy would come from the east, specifically Babylon, though the soldiers would descend on them from the north. God would turn His back on His people when this calamity fell; He would offer them no help or favor.

Application: God’s creation isn’t going the way He intended it to go. This clay pot that He’s shaping isn’t what He hoped. But notice that the potter doesn’t just throw away the clay he was working on. He lumps it back together and starts over. So that’s what God is going to do. This is one of the ways that God works in our lives. He remakes us. He destroys so that He can rebuild.



18:18 Some in Judah plotted to kill Jeremiah. They justified their sinister plans by noting that even if they killed him, the Mosaic Law and the counsel of other wise men and other prophets would still remain. Thus they rationalized their sin. They did not believe that their lives would change radically because of their failure to repent. That they were heading for exile. Jeremiah's prophecies were false.

18:19-20 Jeremiah became aware of the plot and went to the Lord in prayer about it. He asked God to listen to him and to what his opponents were saying. Would God allow evil to happen to him, after he had done good to these opponents by telling them what was good for them? They dug a pit for him!

18:21-22 Jeremiah asked the Lord to bring calamity on them for the calamity they planned to bring on him. Since they refused to repent and had tried to kill God's messenger, let the invasion and all its horrors overtake them v 21. They are digging a pit to capture and contain him v 22.

18:23 The Lord knew all that they were planning. Now the people turn against Jeremiah, and he now knows what God has been feeling. He says, “Do not forgive their iniquity or blot out their sin from Thy sight. But may they be overthrown before Thee; deal with them in the time of Thine anger!” If Jeremiah seems too angry to us, perhaps today we aren't angry enough at the evil in this world.

Application: Thanks to the media, we're exposed to so much violence and sin that we tend to accept it as a normal part of life and want to do nothing about it. Crusading has given way to compromising, and it isn't 'politically correct' to be dogmatic or critical of ideas that are definitely unbiblical.


So What?

1. The call to ‘turn back’ or ‘turn from’ is to repent. We should practice a repentant lifestyle. This is the foundation to maintaining fellowship with God because it’s a process that deals with our sin.

2. Our fellowship with God is something that needs to be maintained, developed, nurtured, strengthened, and encouraged. So what are you doing in 2017 to ensure this maintenance?

3. Our sense of justice is godly for sure. Wanting to see evil judged wants what God wants. Pray for it. Long for it. Ask for it. The execution of justice is the reason for final judgment.