A Message from the Potter’s House
"O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." – Jeremiah 18:6-10
God sent Jeremiah to the potter's house to show him two things about himself. The first thing Jeremiah learned in the potter’s house is this: -- THE LORD OUR GOD IS IRRESISTIBLY SOVEREIGN (v. 6). The God of the Bible is totally, absolutely, irresistibly, uncontrollably, universally sovereign. He created all things, owns all things, rules all things, and disposes of all things according to his own pleasure, even you and me!
God rules everything, absolutely. In creation, in providence, and in grace God is sovereign. God is incontestably sovereign over all his works and all his creatures (Dan. 4:35-37). God exercises his sovereignty with the greatest ease. We cannot resist him. One turn of the potter's hand, one spin of his wheel completely alters the shape of the clay, makes it, mars it, or makes it anew. So it is with us.
We are God’s creatures, the work of his hands. Our times and our lives are in the hands of God (Job 12:23; 34:29; Ps. 107:33; Isa. 45:7; 46:9-13). And God will be glorified in all his works. Vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor both reflect the potter's wisdom and skill. Vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy show forth the praise of God. "The LORD hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Pro. 16:4). But God's glorious sovereignty is most clearly revealed in his works of grace (Rom. 8:28-34; Eph. 1:3-14). The first lesson from the potter's house is this: Our God is irresistibly sovereign. We rejoice in that. But God is not arbitrarily sovereign.
IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS SOVEREIGNTY GOD IS ALWAYS EQUITABLE AND JUST. That is the second lesson Jeremiah was taught in the potter’s house (vv. 7-10). God dispenses his favors sovereignly and unconditionally. Anyone who speaks contrary to that is ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the character of God. But God does not punish men unconditionally. God has not arbitrarily predestinated anyone to hell. Anyone who teaches such a doctrine as that is also ignorant of both the scriptures and the character of God.
Salvation is unconditional, without works. Grace is free. But wrath, judgment, and eternal damnation are conditional, based entirely upon the works of wicked men. Vessels of mercy are "prepared for glory" by God. Vessels of wrath are "fitted for destruction" by their own wicked works. God is always equitable and just (Ps. 89:13-14). When he threatens wrath, if the sinner repents, he will be merciful (vv. 7-8). When he bestows mercy, if men despise his mercy, he will turn against them in wrath (vv. 9-10).