235 – THE POTTER
Who is the potter? “‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares Jehovah. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel” (Jer. 18:6). The potter is the maker of the clay pots. If the vessel comes out pretty, then, we say the potter has a good taste. If the vessel does not look good, the potter does not know how to make pretty pots. The problem is not with the clay, but with the potter only. Let us illustrate the issue. A governor contracts a concrete bridge from a construction company. After it is done, it collapses. The governor sues the construction company. The company, in turn, blames the engineer responsible for the work. The engineer says that all calculations are correct, and that the company used inferior material. No one accepts the blame for the disaster.
In the case of Israel, Jehovah accepts the blame for the disaster, for he says that he is the potter, that is, the author of the collapse of the two kingdoms. Jeremiah prophesied at the time of the prophet Ezekiel, when the kingdom of Judah was taken captive to Babylon; Israel had been taken to Assyria 130 years before that. That was the end of the kingdom of Jehovah (Ex. 19:6; Is. 43:15; Ezek. 20:33). The kingdom was destroyed 2,600 years from today. The kingdom of Jehovah did not only historically disappear, but morally and spiritually, too. Ezekiel declared, “There were two women, the daughters of one mother; and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed, and there their virgin bosom was handled. And their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. And Oholah played the harlot while she was Mine; and she lusted after her lovers, after the Assyrians, her neighbors” (Ezek. 23:2-5). “Now her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt in her lust than she, and her harlotries were more that the harlotries of her sister” (Ezek. 23:11).
After the two kingdoms were corrupted and destroyed, Jehovah declares, “We are the clay, and thou our potter”. After the bridge has fallen, the engineer comes in public, and proclaims out loud, “I am the author of this disgrace.” Is Jehovah proud of the ruins of his kingdom? Paul reveals that the kingdom of Israel is a vessel fashioned for doom. “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Rom. 9:21-22). Jehovah created the people of Israel, rather, the kingdom of Israel, for doom. And how come Jehovah declares that he created them for his glory? (Is. 43:7). This is the reason why Paul reveals that the ministry of death and condemnation came in glory (2 Cor. 3:7-9).
Let us analyze the story of Israel from the beginning to see how the potter fashioned the vessels for destruction.
The moral standard of Egypt was similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah (Rev. 11:8). Jehovah formed his people from the offspring of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-2; 22:16-18). He took the offspring of Abraham to Egypt. Why? Was not there a better place? Ezekiel reveals that Israel was corrupted in Egypt (Ezek. 23:1-3). The people stayed in Egypt for 400 years, corrupting themselves. The spirit of prostitution was formed inside of them (Hos. 5:4). They were slaved for at least 200 of the 400 years they were there. The yoke was so heavy that the people of Israel cried out in despair and weariness. Who was responsible for this cruel slavery for such a long time? Jehovah was, for in Psalm 105:23-25 we read that Jehovah changed the heart of the Egyptians to hate the people of Israel. Therefore, the potter wanted the slavery. Jehovah was preparing inside his people the spirit of slavery. Jehovah said, “I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). And Jehovah led his people till Mount Sinai, and from up there he dictated his laws from the middle of darkness (Deut. 4:10-14; 5:22-24).
Paul, in the New Testament, reveals that the covenant established between Jehovah and Israel on the mount was the covenant of slavery. The text says, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. Howbeit the [son] by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the [son] by the freewoman [is born] through promise. Which things contain an allegory: for these [women] are two covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia and answered to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children” (Gal. 4:21-15). The words of the great apostle are clear. The covenant of Sinai is the covenant of slavery. In order for the people to accept this bondage of slavery, Jehovah prepared them for Egypt for over 200 years more. Paul says to the Christians of Rome, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again” (Rom. 8:15). Jehovah’s project was carefully thought of, when he took Jacob and his family to Egypt. To form slaves. Jehovah wanted a people that were slaves, and so ruled through violence, for slaves do not have personal will. He then infused fear through the menace of the curses.
Jehovah tested the people in the desert for 40 years (Deut. 8:2-3). The people murmured and complained. Jehovah changed his plans, for he had promised to cast the Canaanites out (Lev. 18:24-25; 20:23; Deut. 11:23). “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hirvite, the Perizzite, the Girgashites, the Amorite, and the Jebusite” (Josh. 3:10). Seeing that the spirit of slavery was not formed, Jehovah left on the earth the following nations: “The five lords of the Philistines and all Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites” (Judges 3:1-5). Jehovah declared, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant […] I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations” (Judges 2:20-21).
The people disobeyed and did what was evil; therefore Jehovah delivered them into slavery seven times, in a total of 150 years. The period of the judges was of 348 years, of which they were slaves of Sodomite peoples for 150 years. Tired of this evil yoke, the people asked Samuel, the last judge, for a human king (1 Sam. 8:1-7). Jehovah said to Samuel: “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:7). This declaration of Jehovah proves that he was reigning during the time of the Judges. And how did he reign? Delivering his people into the hands of the corrupt ones of Canaan, so that the spirit of slavery was consolidated. The people, tired of their suffering as slaves, preferred a man for a king, in place of the god Jehovah. Jehovah, offended by this, and being the potter, led his people to the extinction of the two kingdoms. The motto of Jehovah is, whoever does not submit, dies (Ps. 7:11-13).
Exactly 587 years after the Babylonian captivity was over, Jesus Christ is born, the promised Messiah. He does not accept to sit on the throne to establish the kingdom of slavery under the law, declaring that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and teaching that his kingdom was not on this earth (John 14:2-3).
The work of Christ is another, for he has said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus Christ came to deliver the captives and the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). The Jewish people had their chance to escape the yoke of Jehovah and his Law; Paul makes this clear in the letter to the Galatians. “Therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. A d I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:1-4).
By PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA