An Object Lesson from the Making of Pottery
18:1 The Lord said to Jeremiah: 1 18:2 “Go down at once 2 to the potter’s house. I will speak to you further there.” 3 18:3 So I went down to the potter’s house and found him working 4 at his wheel. 5 18:4 Now and then 6 there would be something wrong 7 with the pot he was molding from the clay 8 with his hands. So he would rework 9 the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 10
18:5 Then the Lord said to me, 11 18:6 “I, the Lord, say: 12 ‘O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? 13 In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.’ 18:7 There are times, Jeremiah, 14 when I threaten to uproot, tear down, and destroy a nation or kingdom. 15 18:8 But if that nation I threatened stops doing wrong, 16 I will cancel the destruction 17 I intended to do to it. 18:9 And there are times when I promise to build up and establish 18 a nation or kingdom. 18:10 But if that nation does what displeases me and does not obey me, then I will cancel the good I promised to do to it. 18:11 So now, tell the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem 19 this: The Lord says, ‘I am preparing to bring disaster on you! I am making plans to punish you. 20 So, every one of you, stop the evil things you have been doing. 21 Correct the way you have been living and do what is right.’ 22 18:12 But they just keep saying, ‘We do not care what you say! 23 We will do whatever we want to do! We will continue to behave wickedly and stubbornly!’” 24
18:13 Therefore, the Lord says,
“Ask the people of other nations
whether they have heard of anything like this.
Israel should have been like a virgin.
But she has done something utterly revolting!
18:14 Does the snow ever completely vanish from the rocky slopes of Lebanon?
Do the cool waters from those distant mountains ever cease to flow? 25
18:15 Yet my people have forgotten me
and offered sacrifices to worthless idols!
This makes them stumble along in the way they live
and leave the old reliable path of their fathers. 26
They have left them to walk in bypaths,
in roads that are not smooth and level. 27
18:16 So their land will become an object of horror. 28
People will forever hiss out their scorn over it.
All who pass that way will be filled with horror
and will shake their heads in derision. 29
18:17 I will scatter them before their enemies
like dust blowing in front of a burning east wind.
I will turn my back on them and not look favorably on them 30
when disaster strikes them.”
Jeremiah Petitions the Lord to Punish Those Who Attack Him
18:18 Then some people 31 said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah! 32 There will still be priests to instruct us, wise men to give us advice, and prophets to declare God’s word. 33 Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him! 34 Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”
18:19 Then I said, 35
“Lord, pay attention to me.
Listen to what my enemies are saying. 36
18:20 Should good be paid back with evil?
Yet they are virtually digging a pit to kill me. 37
Just remember how I stood before you
pleading on their behalf 38
to keep you from venting your anger on them. 39
18:21 So let their children die of starvation.
Let them be cut down by the sword. 40
Let their wives lose their husbands and children.
Let the older men die of disease 41
and the younger men die by the sword in battle.
18:22 Let cries of terror be heard in their houses
when you send bands of raiders unexpectedly to plunder them. 42
For they have virtually dug a pit to capture me
and have hidden traps for me to step into.
18:23 But you, Lord, know
all their plots to kill me.
Do not pardon their crimes!
Do not ignore their sins as though you had erased them! 43
Let them be brought down in defeat before you!
Deal with them while you are still angry! 44
An Object Lesson from a Broken Clay Jar
19:1 The Lord told Jeremiah, 45 “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. 46 Take with you 47 some of the leaders of the people and some of the leaders 48 of the priests. 19:2 Go out to the part of the Hinnom Valley which is near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. 49 Announce there what I tell you. 50 19:3 Say, ‘Listen to what the Lord says, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! 51 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 52 says, “I will bring a disaster on this place 53 that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it ring! 54 19:4 I will do so because these people 55 have rejected me and have defiled 56 this place. They have offered sacrifices in it to other gods which neither they nor their ancestors 57 nor the kings of Judah knew anything about. They have filled it with the blood of innocent children. 58 19:5 They have built places here 59 for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices 60 are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind! 19:6 So I, the Lord, say: 61 “The time will soon come that people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Hinnom Valley. But they will call this valley 62 the Valley of Slaughter! 19:7 In this place I will thwart 63 the plans of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. I will deliver them over to the power of their enemies who are seeking to kill them. They will die by the sword 64 at the hands of their enemies. 65 I will make their dead bodies food for the birds and wild beasts to eat. 19:8 I will make this city an object of horror, a thing to be hissed at. All who pass by it will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn 66 because of all the disasters that have happened to it. 67 19:9 I will reduce the people of this city to desperate straits during the siege imposed on it by their enemies who are seeking to kill them. I will make them so desperate that they will eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters and the flesh of one another.”’” 68
19:10 The Lord continued, 69 “Now break the jar in front of those who have come here with you. 19:11 Tell them the Lord who rules over all says, 70 ‘I will do just as Jeremiah has done. 71 I will smash this nation and this city as though it were a potter’s vessel which is broken beyond repair. 72 The dead will be buried here in Topheth until there is no more room to bury them.’ 73 19:12 I, the Lord, say: 74 ‘That is how I will deal with this city and its citizens. I will make it like Topheth. 19:13 The houses in Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled by dead bodies 75 just like this place, Topheth. For they offered sacrifice to the stars 76 and poured out drink offerings to other gods on the roofs of those houses.’”
19:14 Then Jeremiah left Topheth where the Lord had sent him to give that prophecy. He went to the Lord’s temple and stood 77 in its courtyard and called out to all the people. 19:15 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all 78 says, ‘I will soon bring on this city and all the towns surrounding it 79 all the disaster I threatened to do to it. I will do so because they have stubbornly refused 80 to pay any attention to what I have said!’”