Reading through the Bible together
Clay pots do not like to be dropped. I remember vividly how one of my daughters (when she was much younger!) carried a perilously unstable stack of porcelain plates in the direction of our kitchen sink. I was about to call out to her and tell her to put down the stack, but it was already too late. The top plate started moving and sliding—and shattered on our kitchen floor. Clay is a wonderful material.
A skilled potter can make incredible designs and once they have withstood the white-hot fire we use them as plates, cups or pots. Everyday—sometimes, when we are careful, for years or decades. However, it only takes one tumble and they are shattered and broken. Jeremiah and the survivors of Jerusalem’s fall must have felt like broken clay pots. “The precious sons of Zion, valuable as find gold, how they are regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter!” (v. 2). Jerusalem’s self-understanding, their glorious status as “God’s chosen people,” all this had disappeared when the city and its temple went up in flames.
How do we survive when the rug underneath our feet is pulled away? How do we, again, know our true value in the eye of our Maker, who cared so deeply for us that He became one of us and died in our stead? There is only one way: we need to run into His arms (see in Lam. 5 the shouts of “remember”).
Paul picks up on this imagery of clay vessels in 2 Cor. 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” It’s not the vessel that is essential—it’s its content, Christ in us.
Discover your core identity and value today in your daily walk with the LORD—even if you have to first pass through a dark valley.
Gerald A. Klingbeil, D.Litt.
Assoc. Editor of Adventist Review/Adventist WorldResearch Professor, Andrews University