We all know that visuals pique the interest and attention of the minds of listeners. As a former teacher, visuals were the lifeblood to helping students discover new ideas while tying learning to what they already knew. To merely tell students was one level. To show and tell students was the next level up. To include listening students in the process took them to an even higher level of understanding and assimilating the concepts you are trying to teach. Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught us how to use this method of teaching and learning who received it from God, His Father and ours who believe.
God tells Jeremiah to go buy a clay pot, preach what He tells him, then smash the pot in front of the leaders, (those who opposed Jeremiah), as a great visual to solidify understanding. Read to the end to see the outcome.
Jeremiah 19, The Message
Smashing the Clay Pot
1-2 God said to me, “Go, buy a clay pot. Then get a few leaders from the people and a few of the leading priests and go out to the Valley of Ben-hinnom, just outside the Potsherd Gate, and preach there what I tell you.
3-5 “Say, ‘Listen to God’s Word, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem! This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel. I’m about to bring doom crashing down on this place. Oh, and will ears ever ring! Doom—because they’ve walked off and left me, and made this place strange by worshiping strange gods, gods never heard of by them, their parents, or the old kings of Judah. Doom—because they have massacred innocent people. Doom—because they’ve built altars to that no-god Baal, and burned their own children alive in the fire as offerings to Baal, an atrocity I never ordered, never so much as hinted at!
6-9 “‘And so it’s payday, and soon’—God’s Decree!—‘this place will no longer be known as Topheth or Valley of Ben-hinnom, but Massacre Meadows. I’m canceling all the plans Judah and Jerusalem had for this place, and I’ll have them killed by their enemies. I’ll stack their dead bodies to be eaten by carrion crows and wild dogs. I’ll turn this city into such a museum of atrocities that anyone coming near will be shocked speechless by the savage brutality. The people will turn into cannibals. Dehumanized by the pressure of the enemy siege, they’ll eat their own children! Yes, they’ll eat one another, family and friends alike.’
10-13 “Say all this, and then smash the pot in front of the men who have come with you. Then say, ‘This is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: I’ll smash this people and this city like a man who smashes a clay pot into so many pieces it can never be put together again. They’ll bury bodies here in Topheth until there’s no more room. And the whole city will become a Topheth. The city will be turned by people and kings alike into a center for worshiping the star gods and goddesses, turned into an open grave, the whole city an open grave, stinking like a sewer, like Topheth.’”
14-15 Then Jeremiah left Topheth, where God had sent him to preach the sermon, and took his stand in the court of God’s Temple and said to the people, “This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies to you: ‘Warning! Danger! I’m bringing down on this city and all the surrounding towns the doom that I have pronounced. They’re set in their ways and won’t budge. They refuse to do a thing I say.’”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Today the world is not budging on many issues of faith, justice, mercy, and grace, with a version of love being humanized and demoralized. For people who follow the prince of this world and the father of lies love is demanding. They demand that love is only what it does for me. Love is manipulating others to get what you want from them. Love is shallow, tainted, and merely a way for sexual desires to be fulfilled. Love is jealous, unkind, self-seeking, demanding it’s own ways, impatient and full of hate. All these messages and behaviors are not of God. It is the opposite of God.
At the command of the Lord, Jeremiah made a second trip to the potter’s shop, this time as a customer and not a spectator, and he took with him some of the Jewish elders. Knowing their evil plots against him, Jeremiah showed great faith by being willing to walk with them and then to declare in their very presence that disaster was coming to the land because of their sins. Obviously, his prayer to the Lord had brought him peace and courage. Jeremiah bravely did what God told him to be, say and do.
God so loved the world that He gave His Son. God sent His Son to seek and to save the lost living under bondage in a very dark world. No more smashing of pots to show how the world had gone mad. Instead, New Plan came to visualization to restore the relationship between God and mankind. Approximately four centuries after Jeremiah spoke and smashed pots, God gave the best visual of His love for all to see—the greatest visual of all times! Jesus visualized for the world who love is and how to love like God loves us. God’s prophets spoke of His coming without completely understanding it for themselves. God sent His Son to be born of a virgin with her espoused husband helping her deliver Him who would someday deliver them from all sin.
Jesus came to illustrate, demonstrate, and communicate what God is like, who He is, what He does as only the Son of God could possibly do. God is love. Jesus demonstrated that love which is unlike human love. Believing in God, by believing in Jesus, helps us to grow in HIS love which is opposite of what the world has communicated.
Paul, apostle of Jesus, communicates the love of God, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
Jesus illustrated God’s love in living a life directed by God. Jesus demonstrated the extent of God’s love by washing dirty feet (John 13) then laying down His life for ours on a cross to pay the debt of sin. Jesus communicated the love of God with words and actions.
Jesus says to his follower…love like I have loved you.
Can nations and individuals sin so greatly that even God can’t restore them? Yes, apparently so as an outcome of their own making. As long as the Clay is pliable in the hands of the Potter, He can make it again if it’s marred, but when the clay becomes hard, it’s too late to reform it. “They’re set in their ways and won’t budge. They refuse to do a thing I say.” The clay is too hard to make new.
May Your love prevail in our lives. May we never get set in our own ways, not budging, not yielding to your best work that you want to create in us. May we turn to you, offer our very lives as an offering, so that we may discover daily your perfect and pleasing will for each one of us. May we walk in Your love. May we illustrate, demonstrate, and communicate your love which each breathe we take and each step we make…
In Jesus Name, Amen