The Potter’s House
Jeremiah the prophet wrote; “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. 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.” (Jeremiah 18:1-10)
“The bellows blow fiercely”
God sent Jeremiah the prophet down to the potter’s house and there Jeremiah observed the potter handling the clay and working it on the wheel. Undoubtedly the potter was hammering the clay to get rid of the lumps and the imperfections in the clay. When the clay refused to be moulded the potter reshaped it into another vessel. Even though the clay resisted the potters hand at the time Jeremiah also recognized that in the end the potter would get what He wanted from the clay. Israel is still the clay in the hand of the divine potter. Over the centuries up until 70AD He had been trying to get Israel’s attention but they were not listening. As Jeremiah also writes; “The bellows blow fiercely, blasting away the lead with fire. The refining proceeds in vain, for the wicked are not purged.” (Jeremiah 6:29)
The Pottor’s wheel
For almost 2,000 years ‘the clay’ (Israel) lay dormant and seemingly discarded, yet not cast away by the divine potter (God) Then in 1948 “a nation was born in a day! “ God gave a rebirth to the nation of Israel! For long centuries Israel had suffered the curse of the law and because at the Lord Jesus’ trial they had called a curse down upon themselves and their children, one which is still hanging over the nation today. Israel are currently in their ‘labour pains’ and labouring to throw off the curse of the law even if for most Israelis they do not recognize it because on the whole, apart from a faithful remnant of Messianic believers, they are spiritually dead as a nation and rejecting the only one who can save them. Their troubles are numerous and go unabated at the potter’s wheel and through their afflictions the divine potter is trying to hammer out the lumps of resistance that are in the clay and He has to hit it hard to remove them. This is what God is doing in Israel and as He has done in the past He is using Israel’s enemies to refine them spiritually. Of course once He has used their enemies God gets rid of their enemies’ big time! History shows this to be true and God is the God of history!
Blessings and curses
In the Torah there were blessings and curses attached to the law as we see clearly in Deuteronomy chapter 28. When Israel sought to keep the law they were blessed by God but when they broke it they came under the curse of it and when you read the list there are far more curses than there are blessings because sin is a very serious matter to God especially when “there is sin in the camp” of God’s people. When the Lord Jesus died at the cross He not only atoned for the sins of the whole world but also for Israel’s sin “being wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities and having the chastisement of their peace placed upon Him” and became that curse by taking upon Himself the weight of sin and as the pure and spotless lamb of God, being without any sin or imperfection, was striped, beaten and pierced for Israel’s transgressions. When He was dying on the cross He did not curse Israel but prayed to His Father that He would forgive them because in their spiritual ignorance and folly they were killing the author of life and the only one who could save them from Satan’s power and from their enemies and from the hands of all who hate them. At that time those crucifying Him did not really know what they were doing.
There is no doubt that before 1948 Israel were scattered among the nations and God was at work in the Gentiles who were responding to the gospel of the kingdom. Having said this since the time of Augustine, replacement theology has been rampant within Christendom as we have seen in the persecution of the Jewish people within Christendom down through history. Ironically, multitudes of ‘Christians’ claimed to love God and the Lord Jesus, yet hated and denigrated His brothers and sisters’ in the flesh. Jeremiah the prophet spoke about a final time of the Big Trouble for Israel, a time of testing, tribulation and affliction not only for the nation but for the whole world and one attested to by the prophet Daniel, the Lord Jesus in the gospels and by the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Even though this would be a time of Great trouble for Israel they will be saved out of it as a nation. (Jeremiah 30:1-10) In 1948 God remembered the New Covenant He had cut with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah in the atoning blood of the Messiah our Lord Jesus. (Jeremiah 31:31) Israel was restored nationally but their spiritual restoration as a nation is yet to come, but come it will! (Zechariah 12:10-14) (Ezekiel Chapter 37)
The former and the latter rain
On the day of Pentecost the former rain of the Spirit fell upon a remnant of faithful believing Jews in Jerusalem and saw David’s fallen tabernacle restored. (Amos 9:11-12) (Acts 15:16) This was the former rain of the Spirit as spoken of in the prophet Joel. (Joel 2:23) In the last days we are told that there will be the latter rain of the Spirit and this is not primarily speaking about the Charismatic movement but in its Biblical context concerns the Spirit of God being poured out once again upon Israel which the Day of Pentecost was the harbinger. (Joel 2:28-32) (Acts 2:16-21) On the Day of Pentecost many were saved and those who had believed the prophecy of Jesus about the destruction of Jerusalem were miraculously delivered from the city around 40 years later but the majority perished in the holocaust perpetrated by the Roman armies because of Israel’s refusal to believe in their Messiah. The curse of the law had not been removed from them experientially even though factually it had been removed through the atoning work of the blood of the Messiah.
A heart of flesh
70AD is going to happen again in the future and Jeremiah foretold this. Many will perish in the land according to the prophet Zechariah and Jerusalem itself ransacked and even the women violated and the city divided but a remnant will pass through the fire and as clay in God’s hands will be fashioned according to His will on the wheel of circumstances and come forth as gold to reflect the face of the potter. We must always keep in mind that the hardening of Israel’s heart towards their Messiah is a partial hardening but in these last days God is going to remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh and one that is capable of responding to God as the clay responds to the hand of the potter. (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
Like Clay in the Potter’s Hand
Zechariah also speaks about this remnant of clay vessels having been purified from all imperfection and hardened by the refining process and fit to be filled with the glory of God for all the nations to see in the Messiah’s Millennial glory and splendour. Their Messiah will reign over them in that day and His reign will be glorious to behold! As Isaiah proclaims; “On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10) And again the prophet Isaiah proclaims; “In the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law (Torah) will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD (The Word of Yeshua, the living Torah) from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-3) Indeed God is still saying to Israel today; “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand, Israel.”