Scripture reading – Jeremiah 18

Click on this link to translate this Bible study into Russian, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, German, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

This is the second devotional study for today, and it will be taken from Jeremiah 18. This chapter is pivotal in Jeremiah’s ministry. In both Jeremiah 18 and again in the following chapter, the LORD commanded the prophet to visit “the potter’s house” (Jeremiah 18:1-2; 19:1). His first visit to the house of the potter was as a spectator (Jeremiah 18:3-4).

Jeremiah 18


The Potter’s House (Jeremiah 18:1-10)

One of the great proofs of the LORD’s longsuffering was His dealings with Israel and Judah. Sadly, though the people witnessed God’s judgment on their sister nation (the northern ten tribes of Israel), Judah continued in wickedness. That nation’s wickedness was magnified because it was the land of the Lord’s holy Temple.

The Purpose for Visiting the Potter’s House (Jeremiah 18:2-4)

The LORD commanded Jeremiah to observe the potter as he fashioned lumps of clay on the potter’s wheel. (A potter’s wheel consisted of two horizontal disks joined by a rod. The potter moved the lower disk with his feet, and on the upper disk, he “wrought [fashioned] a work [vessel of clay] on the wheels” (Jeremiah 18:3).

The prophet observed the potter fashioning two clay vessels with his hands.  The first was described as “marred” (Jeremiah 18:4), perhaps because a pebble or some other flaw was present in the clay. Removing the impurity from the clay, the potter then compressed or crushed the clay and began again fashioning the lump into a new vessel that “seemed good” (Jeremiah 18:4). 

The Potter’s House  (Jeremiah 18:2-4)

Lesson from the Potter’s House (Jeremiah 18:5-6)

For interpretation, the potter represented the LORD, the clay the house of Israel (humanity), and the potter’s wheel symbolized the cycle and workings of God’s providence. For Jeremiah, the potter’s work was a portrait of the LORD who described Himself as having chosen Israel as a potter chooses clay (Jeremiah 18:5-6).  God asked Israel, “Cannot I do with you as this potter?” (Jeremiah 18:6), leaving no doubt the implication of the potter’s work with the clay.

The destiny of a nation is determined by its response to the will and Word of God. (Jeremiah 18:6-10)

Like clay in the hands of the potter, nations are the work of God. As a potter foresees the vessel he fashions from clay, the LORD had chosen and established Israel (Jeremiah 18:6c). Yet, the LORD has established not only Israel and Judah but all nations. God is Sovereign, and the nations of the earth are clay in His hands. He has the authority to determine the rise and fall of nations and to “pluck up…pull down…[and] destroy” (Jeremiah 18:7).

Though the LORD determined to judge Judah for its sins, He assured Jeremiah how He longed for Judah to repent, “turn from their evil” (Jeremiah 18:8). Reflecting His longsuffering, the LORD declared, “I will repent [forgive] of the evil that I thought to do unto them” (Jeremiah 18:8b). Yet, should a nation “do evil…[and] obey not,” the LORD warned, “I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit [bless] them” (Jeremiah 18:10).

Judah’s Irrational Decision to Reject the LORD (Jeremiah 18:11-12)

The LORD commanded Jeremiah to warn the people that if they continued in their sins, He was determined to judge them (Jeremiah 18:10). Rather than fearing the LORD and repenting, the people rejected His invitation and said, “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12). Judah refused to repent and instead set their hearts to do evil.

The destiny of a nation is determined by its response to the will and Word of God. (Jeremiah 18:6-10)

The Folly of Rebellious Hearts (18:13-17)

Rejecting the mercy of the LORD was so astounding that even the heathen nations were confounded by Judah’s blatant rejection (Jeremiah 18:13a). The LORD chose and cherished Israel as a virgin. Still, the people scorned Him (Jeremiah 18:13b). His promises were as perpetual as the snows on the mountain peaks of Lebanon (Jeremiah 18:14a). He sent waters gushing from the rocks in the wilderness (for He was the Rock, 1 Corinthians 10:4), yet, Judah rejected the LORD.

Judah was on a ruinous path, for the people did “stumble in their ways from the ancient paths (the Laws and Commandments of God), and followed “in a way not cast up” (Jeremiah 18:15; Jeremiah 6:16; Proverbs 22:8). Jeremiah declared that the judgment of God would leave the “land desolate.”

Indeed, the ruins of Judah’s lands and villages would serve as a lasting testimony of His judgment (Jeremiah 18:16). Other nations would look with wonder upon the calamity that would befall Jerusalem (Jeremiah 18:16). Foretelling the imminent judgment of God, Jeremiah declared the people would be scattered like the desert winds from the east. He would turn His face and blessings from them (Jeremiah 18:17).

Judah Rejected the Message and Messenger of God (Jeremiah 18:18-23)

Judah Rejected the Message and Messenger of God, and Jeremiah Prayed for Vindication (Jeremiah 18:18-23)

Judah refused to heed the warnings of God’s prophet and determined to silence and slay Jeremiah (18:18). The people were emboldened in their sins and content with their own priest, wise men, and false prophets (Jeremiah 18:18a). Angered by Jeremiah’s boldness, they plotted against him saying, “Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (Jeremiah 18:18b).

When Jeremiah received news of the plot to do him evil, he pleaded with the LORD and prayed: “Shall evil be recompensed [fulfilled; repaid] for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them” (Jeremiah 18:20).

Closing thoughts –

Jeremiah accepted the harsh reality of how the people had hardened their hearts and resolved to continue in sin. He prayed the LORD would vindicate Him, and God’s judgment would proceed (Jeremiah 18:21-23). Famine, violence, war, sorrows, and deaths would be determined against Jeremiah’s enemies (Jeremiah 18:21). Their households would cry out, and God’s judgment would come upon those who were determined to entrap and destroy God’s prophet (Jeremiah 18:22).

Take courage, believer, for the LORD is faithful to His promises. His justice will not fail, and He hears and answers the prayers of the righteous.

Matthew 5:18“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

* Please subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals by entering your name and email address at the bottom of today’s devotion.

The Internal Revenue Service recognizes Heart of A Shepherd Inc as a 501c3 public charitable organization. Your donation is welcome and supports the worldwide ministry outreach of