Jeremiah 18

DateVersionReading Plan
@July 10, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The potter and the clay


The chapter opens with a word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in an example of a potter shaping clay. As the potter worked the clay, it became spoiled in his hands and so he reworked it into another vessel. In the same way, Israel had become spoiled and so God reformed it, saying, “like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” (Jer. 18:6).

In Jer. 18:8-11, we see that that if any nation set for destruction turns for its evil, God will relent of the disaster intended for it (Jer. 18:8). Conversely, if any nation does evil in his sight and does not listen to his voice, God will relent of the good He had intended for it. God’s intention is always to do good. It is only because we sin and chase after things that do not deliver that God must act in correction.

In Jer. 18:12, the people respond with a complete rejection of the word that came by Jeremiah, saying, “That is in vain! We will follow our own plans…”

In Jer. 18:13-17, God called on the nations to verify that Judah had done a most horrible thing in defecting from Him. They had forgotten God and made offerings to false gods, leading to God declared that “Like the east wind I will scatter them…I will show my back, not my face” (Jer. 18:17)

In Jer. 18:18, the people spoke out, plotting against Jeremiah that the “law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet”. They foolishly believed that divine revelations would continue and that life would go on as usual despite Jeremiah’s gloomy predictions.

In the remaining verses (Jer. 18:19-23), Jeremiah asks the LORD to exact retribution against his adversaries. He expresses regret that he ever asked God to spare them and prayed that “their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.” (Jer. 18:21). Such a prayer would scarcely be suitable for believers in our age of grace.


The idea of God as a potter and we as clay in His hands is such a wonderful image to ponder. Made from the dust, each of us begin as amorphous lump which, through years of forming and shaping, are made into something unique and beautiful. The the strength and delicacy with which His hands work are truly a wonder.

But, much like clay spinning on a wheel, things go awry. Not by way of the potter but because of the the nature of clay. We as sinful creatures veer from the shape and purpose He has for us; the distortion being as distinctive as each person formed. But the love of the Potter is shown in His faithfulness to redeem and restore; that while we were still sinners, misshapen and deserving of refuse, Christ died for us. He looks on us with an infinite love, choosing not to wholly reject but to reform us into something new. Ours is to acknowledge our gracious Lord, keeping our hearts soft and malleable to His working within us.

Scripture Journal Notes

Commentaries & Resources