Today we take so much for granted. Take for example a cup or mug for drinking tea or coffee from. We take it out of the cupboard without giving a thought as to how it was made.
In the Bible we see God using the theme of earthen vessels made by the potter as a way of teaching us about the relationship between the Him our Creator and His Creation.
These days few potters prepare their own clay, but in times past they had to dig the clay and then prepare it, which consisted of mixing it with water until it was of a consistency that could be shaped on a wheel. It had to be completely smooth and flexible, not too dry or too wet and free of stones and gravel.
Jeremiah writes: “I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was making something at the wheel” 18 v 3. It was a familiar sight in those days as all pots were made by hand. If you have ever tried your hand at making a pot on a wheel, you will know that what looks easy in the hands of a skilled potter, can be hard in the hands of a novice.
Jeremiah describes for us the potter at his work: first of all suitable clay is needed, then its prepared. In the potter’s skilled hands the vessel slowly takes shape—or maybe it is spoiled so that the work has to begin again, until the lump of clay is gradually formed into a vessel for use or for beauty.
Jesus referred to of one of his disciples as a “vessel”, when speaking to his faithful disciple Ananias about the persecutor Saul, he said: “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” Acts 9 v 15.
Later, Saul, (whose name was changed to Paul), when writing to Timothy, uses the same figure of speech: “If anyone cleanses himself . . . . he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” 2 Timothy 2 v 21. Also when Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he said: “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” 2 Corinthians 4 v 7.
One righteous man Job, was also aware of his origin, when he said to God: “Remember, I pray, that You have made me like clay. And will You turn me into dust again?” Job 10 v 9.
Another man Isaiah wrote: “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand” Isaiah 64 v 8.
God is teaching us that He is the Potter and we are the clay. For clay to be worked into a vessel it needs water. As the potter turns the wheel and shapes the clay with his hands, he constantly dips his fingers in water adding a little to the clay, without the water the clay cannot be shaped.
God teaches us, that He wants us to be vessels suitable for His purpose. He has provided the way we can achieve this by giving us the Bible, which is full of His words they are a fountain of living water, made freely available to us. We are told this in book of Isaiah: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters. And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat” Isaiah 55 v 1.
Are we allowing God to carry out His purpose by availing ourselves of His provision? He has done His part, are we doing ours?
If we don’t we are told in the book of Jeremiah what will happen, “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters.” Jeremiah 17 v 13.
All quotations are from the New King James Bible.