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Lowell Brueckner

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Parable of the Potter and the Clay

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 Chapter 18

 The parable

     1.     The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 

      2.     "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My word

      3.     Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. 

     4.     And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. 

 The allegory of the potter and the clay, learned from this chapter of Jeremiah, is frequently referred to and commented upon by Bible teachers and preachers. It is now before us for our contemplation and we will attempt to learn more from it.

 Verse 1 tells us that the source behind the lesson is the Lord and the Holy Spirit will write with the pen of human lives and their daily occupations, in order to illustrate divine principle. (see 2 Co.3:3) He directs Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house to observe his work and hear the word of the Lord through it. Jeremiah will take his pen and record it for the benefit of his people first, and then the Lord will see that His word will come to all mankind through the Bible (2). I encourage you to pause and think for a moment of the loss and consequences to the world, if there had been unfaithfulness on his part

 So the servant of the Lord faithfully obeys, the ears of His heart open to hear vital instruction, by which all future mankind can benefit. The Hebrew will easily relate to the scene that he depicts, because it is commonly practiced throughout Judah. He finds the potter busy at work with his wheel (3). Isaiah already provided some background to this illustration, God sovereignly teaching the principle in various passages.

Burdens Over Blessings

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Chapter 17

 Engraved sin

 1.      "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; With the point of a diamond it is engraved On the tablet of their heart, And on the horns of your altars,

 2.      While their children remember Their altars and their wooden images By the green trees on the high hills. 

 3.      O My mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, And your high places of sin within all your borders. 

 4.      And you, even yourself, Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever." 

 I am impressed that the Holy Spirit uses the example of Israel, in part, to teach the hopeless condition of the entire human race. Israel’s sin is not hidden; the text says it is engraved, as with a pen of iron, as a clear example of man’s depravity. Then it illustrates the condition of human nature, by referring to the mark of a diamond point, the hardest stone in existence, writing upon the deepest center of man´s being, as if it were a tablet. The wicked impression cannot wear away or be erased (1).

 After showing sin´s presence in the innermost being of the Israelite personality, it shows its mark on the focal point of its religion… that is, upon the horns of its altars. In true religion, there were four brass horns, one on each corner of the altar, and they were to be smeared with the blood of the sacrifice. The altar was to reveal the life-source that was slain as a substitute for the sin of the one, who sacrificed.

 However, the idolatrous altars of Judah show only a nation given over to treason against their Creator and God.  Israel’s case seems especially shameful, because it was the divine choice and extremely privileged. However, I am convinced, that if any other nation would have been in their place, they would have failed just as miserably. The failure is due to the extreme depravation and perversity of fallen human nature.

No Weddings, No Funerals

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                       Capital 16 

               No more funeral rites

1.      The word of the LORD also came to me, saying, 

 2.      "You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place." 

 3.      For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning their mothers who bore them and their fathers who begot them in this land: 

 4.      "They shall die gruesome deaths; they shall not be lamented nor shall they be buried, but they shall be like refuse on the face of the earth. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, and their corpses shall be meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth." 

 5.      For thus says the LORD: "Do not enter the house of mourning, nor go to lament or bemoan them; for I have taken away My peace from this people," says the LORD, "lovingkindness and mercies. 

 6.      Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. 

 7.      Nor shall men break bread in mourning for them, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother. 

 A prophet not only speaks the words of a prophet, but lives the life of a prophet. His calling affects every area of his existence and people around him, not only hear the word of the Lord, but his lifestyle is a sign to them. That is Jeremiah’s case.

 Before we proceed with the chapter, it would be good to look into the situation in the world at the time, when the apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. While Paul introduced the gospel to Corinth, he met Aquila and Priscilla, who were among the Jews, whom Emperor Claudius commanded to leave Rome. Rome was not friendly to Jews or Christians. Claudius reigned from 41 A.D. to 54 A.D.

No Compromise

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Chapter 15

 A limitation to intercession

1.      Then the LORD said to me, "Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. 

 2.      And it shall be, if they say to you, 'Where should we go?' then you shall tell them, 'Thus says the LORD: "Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity." ' 

 3.       "And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction," says the LORD: "the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. 

 4.      I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem. 

 5.      "For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing? 

 In chapter 14, we noted three ways, in which the Lord responds to prayer. The first and most important is a response, which brings positive results. The second response is one that we see applied from time to time in the Bible. When people insist on having their own way, God will eventually give them that,  which they have demanded, but it is to their own misfortune. The third response was the one that Jeremiah experienced in the last chapter… a refusal to even hear his prayer. This chapter begins by emphasizing that refusal.

 Jeremiah must be somewhat relieved to know that he is not the only one, whose prayer is rejected. He has company among some of the most reputable and powerful intercessors (1). The first is Moses. We often recognize, and rightly so, his wonderful intercession for Israel, when God threatened to eliminate the race.  Even so, I think sometimes we underestimate the scope of Moses prayer ministry. His intercessory prayers were set in motion in Egypt, long before that period in the wilderness. Beginning in Exodus 8:8, whenever Pharaoh asked for relief, Moses cried to the Lord and He answered. There is a recurrence in 8:28-30, 9:27-33, and in 10:16-18.

 Samuel was a continuous intercessor for the people of Israel.  After the people wanted to follow the nations around them by asking for a king to reign over them, the Lord consented, but manifested His anger. The people recognized their sin and begged Samuel to pray for them. Samuel answered, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 S.12:23).  

Can the Heavens give Showers?

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   Chapter 14

 The Lord describes a terrible drought

 1.      The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts. 

 2.      "Judah mourns, And her gates languish; They mourn for the land, And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. 

 3.      Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads. 

 4.      Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads. 

 5.      Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, But left because there was no grass. 

 6.      And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; They sniffed at the wind   

            like jackals; Their eyes failed because there was no grass." 

 There is much that we can learn about prayer, the most important is to know that God is a prayer-answering God, Who glorifies His name by responding to the prayers of His people. One of two ladies, Sarah A Cooke (one of two who spoke to D. L. Moody about the Baptism in the Spirit), was at a Chicago train depot, witnessing to the travelers. She came across a couple on their way to Oberlin, Ohio. Learning that the crippled husband had been a member of Charles Finney´s church in Oberlin, she asked if he could recall, personally, any incidents from the ministry of Finney.

 The man began: “We had been long without rain. All vegetation was drying up; everything looked parched. In the prayer preceding the sermon, on Sabbath, Mr. Finney began to pour out his full heart to God for rain: ‘Lord, the cattle in the fields are lowing for water; there will be no food for them for winter, unless thou sendest rain. The harvest will fail - no food for man - unless Thou sendest rain. The little squirrels in the woods are panting for rain.’ The service proceeded, the text was chosen, and for about half an hour Mr. Finney preached, when the rain began to dash against the windows,” That story was published in a book in 1893. God specializes in answering prayer.