March 9, 2012


Our first Bible reading of the day, at Meadhouse, was Jeremiah 18, "The Potter and the Clay."

Never mind how it came up in our conversation: What do you make of it?


Chase said...

"first Bible reading of the day"?

Please Do tell more . . .

Always thought it represented the need to bend to the will of the creator. The field is full of shards that couldn't be used - blessed - for anything of value because they wouldn't bend top the creator's will.

rhhardin said...

Nobody needs ashtrays anymore.

pduggie said...

Its a pretty important text to apply to other matters of interpretation. God speaks in terms of absolutes of blessing (say in Deuteronomy) or cursing (say, to Jonah). But to Jeremiah is revealed that God reserves to himself the choice of not following through for the sake of gross sin or repentance.

v 12 is an interesting response from the people: "Not interested in what you have to say, God!" Certainly not interested in Jeremiahs claim that our syncretism (YWHW plus other Gods) is offensive.

Jeremiah is a thorn in their side. He's attacking every elite in the society: priest, wise man, and prophet. But attacking to warn, and offer restoration in return for repentence. But the people have none of it, and just attack. So Jeremiah calls on God to act justly and punish those who seek his life. As God's ambassador, the way you treat him says something about how you regard God himself.

hows that

m stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMink said...

It tells me we will have a new president.

And it applies to people who know and say they love God, not unbelievers. America was not judged and given this president because of the behavior of unbelievers, but because of the behavior of believers.

Believers have repented by the millions, so Barak the judgment will be lifted.


Quayle said...

The Lord told the 12 tribes that if they didn't keep trust with Him, He would scatter them among the nations.

The 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom were carried off and are scattered among the nations.

The particular trouble that Jeremiah was referring to, IMHO, happened shortly thereafter when the Babylonian Kingdom came in and carried off the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

But God said through Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Isaiah that eventually He would gather the other tribes back from where He scattered them.

(See e.g.: Jeremiah 16:14-16; Jeremiah 31:7-14)

So keep clear that use of the term Israel refers not only to the Tribe of Judah, but to all the other tribes.

How and where is this gathering taking place?

Who among us has a systematic, self-renewing program to hunt and fish out the scattered tribes and lead them back?

Now that's something to think about.

LarsPorsena said...

rhhardin said...

Nobody needs ashtrays anymore.


Rusty said...

You can extend that idea, if you choose, to other unbelievers. If so, the chapter destroys the popular myth that "God takes in everyone."

Jeremiah is old testament. The revelation of Christ was G*ds forgiveness.
He is infinitely just, but he is also infinitely merciful.

Bob said...

I'm boggling that there are Bible readings at Meadehouse. When did this start? I'm reading about the Carthusians currently, myself.

Quayle said...

But one thing is clear in the history of God's dealings with his covenant 12 tribes: the polity is usually getting in the way and making things worse, not making thing better.

And the polity usually relies on their own brains and power, and ignores the pleas of the prophets until they are in great peril, then they coming groveling for help.

And God uses the polity when He needs to, and then brushes them aside when when He's done with them.

(And I am not talking about political parties here - I'm talking about snakes and weasels from any and all parties which are in the polity because they lust for and are drawn to the levers of political power.)

Ann Althouse said...

Bob said... "I'm boggling that there are Bible readings at Meadehouse. When did this start? I'm reading about the Carthusians currently, myself."

Well, Bob, boggle this: We had a 2-hour conversation this morning, and one of the subjects, in addition to "The Potter and the Clay," was the name "Bob"!

I kid you not.

garage mahal said...

He is infinitely just, but he is also infinitely merciful.

As long as you are flexible and mouldable like a clump of clay, and submit to being manipulated by someone else!

edutcher said...

I think she's going to vote the Right way this time.

PS Not to paint the Mrs as a heathen (largely because we've had evidence she isn't), but the more I learn about Meade, the more I like him.

Bob said...

You should have a poll "Which Church Would Meade & Althouse Attend?" and let readers decide where Meadechurch would be, based on their amateur psychoanalyses of Meade and yourself. (that's presuming you don't already attend a church, of course).

Paddy O said...

pduggie, very nicely said.

Some added thoughts:

For me, this relates to the very essence of God's relationship with humanity and with the world. God created out of a personal choice, and sustains creation out of his identity. In this perspective, reality is defined by God, who takes seriously how people live, not only what rhetoric they claim but also how they live with each other.

God is not the unmoved mover, or any of the other impersonal analogies, just putting stuff into motion. He's personal and responsive to the contexts. He does what he will.

With this too, is a more universal version of 1 Corinthians 12-13.

traditionalguy said...

When we read the Bible, the Bible reads us. It becomes a mirror to us that shows us what we look like from God's viewpoint.

That humbles us, and interestingly that also raises our self esteem. God thinks much better of us than most people do.

IMO the Judeo-Christian heritage is the reason people respect the individual rights of weak people in the USA, but have no respect for them in other cultures.( That is Obama's achiles heel too).

The clay represents a covenant person, be they a Jew under the Old Testament/Covenant or a Christian under the New Testament/Covenant. We cannot argue with God unless we are one of those covenant persons.

Practice Tip: God always wins in the end, because we all die. And without God's grace we are separate from Christ, excluded from the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.

ken in sc said...

PC-USA is one of the few denominations that do not require you to check your brains at the door. A United Method Church in a college town would be pretty much the same. However I would not be surprised if Meadhouse went to an Episcopal or Lutheran church.

Rusty said...

garage mahal said...
He is infinitely just, but he is also infinitely merciful.

As long as you are flexible and mouldable like a clump of clay, and submit to being manipulated by someone else!

Ancient Hebrew scholars tried to resolve the apparent contradiction of predestination and free will. I think Boethius tackled it pretty effectively.

Freeman Hunt said...

What do I make of it?

That God cares whether or not people in a society keep the faith and live by it.

Or, specifically as this regards our own society, "Danger, Will Robinson!"

Freeman Hunt said...

I like the Molinist solution to the free will versus total sovereignty of God debate.

craig said...

God owes us nothing. As the saying goes, the graveyards are full of indispensable men.

The biblical Israelites were fond of invoking Abraham's covenant as if it were a purchase agreement that God was bound to honor even though they refused to make payments on the note. In this they were common: it is a disease of prosperous cultures that they consider themselves entitled to God's blessings regardless of their lack of interest in respecting Him. Museums are littered with the artifacts of many such vanished societies. For the last 2000 years, the Catholic Church has outlived all of them.

But it's good to note that the strain of thought that calls America "the shining city on the hill" and "the last best hope of mankind" (it's not) is itself a kind of idolatry. God does not need America to carry out His designs; we would do well to remember that.

gail said...

I heard an excellent teaching on v. 1-4 by a pastor who uses KJV and consults Hebrew and Aramaic texts as needed for clarity. She creates pottery as a hobby.

think in these terms:
clay = people, potter = God, wheel = the work or our life, and what else does an earthly potter need to do his work? water = spirit of God and the Word, fire/kiln = to set pottery, bake it so it will not change (Eph 2:7)

v3; read as: Then I went down to the potter's house, and behold, He wrought His work on the wheels.
v4: And the vessel that He made of clay was marred (translates better as transformed) in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (transformed via free will)

There are 4 "principles" as the pastor (can't remember name) pointed out:
1. God is boss, does the clay have a right to talk to the potter? (Romans 9)

2. what purpose is the clay for? His purpose (Gen 2:6,7)

3. the process involves the wheel (does it appear the clay transforms singing the praise of the potter or appears to be hanging on for dear life?)

4. the person: must trust the hands of the potter (God) (Eph 4)

Nihimon said...

It's never too late to repent and be made anew.

God also repents.

wildswan said...

I used to live in house where a potter worked. When a pitcher or cup went bad as the potter was shaping it, then the clay was thrown back into the general mass of clay there to be worked with. See, this is before firing when the clay is wet. So I take these verses to mean that no group has a lock on God. He can and will cast a partial form back into the general mass and reshape the whole. In fact those who have received promises but have broken their side of the covenant might suffer the punishment that they expect to be meted out to the infidel. It is a little mysterious to me because God's promise to Abraham seems so absolute. Still, it is true that all nations have been blessed in him by the birth of Christ. Perhaps we are to think that no promise by Him as understood by us removes the need on our side to live up to our conscience.

C R Krieger said...

As Wild Swan suggests, better the wheel than the floor.

Regards  —  Cliff

Kurt said...

A potter friend once told me, that in making ceramics, there's what you want to do, and what the clay wants to do.

I don't think it's just about God asserting his will on us and us complying. God knew us before the foundations of the world. His plans for us take our 'clayness' into account. He knows our limits.

He's running a potters wheel, not a mold press, so He is not interested in creating cookie-cutter Christians, but looking for people who are willing to follow His lead and become uniquely who He intends them to be.

Paddy O said...

Now I'm curious what you and Meade made of it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Now I'm curious what you and Meade made of it."

Most literally, the clay was an entire nation, and God was threatening to destroy it and use the land to make another nation that was more to his liking.

But, I said, I'm sure today's clergy would say that God wants to remake you into a better person. Threatening to destroy Israel is rather unpleasant!

Oh, yeah, I said: "This sounds like where Margie Phelps gets her ideas."

But the subject of that passage came up in the context of an anecdote from Meade's past. He can tell it if he wants. Then I looked up the passage and read it out loud.

wyo sis said...

It seems to me that is is about God's relationships to nations, particularly to Israel. He seems to be saying that unless Israel repents and turns around it will be destroyed. And, that's exactly what happened.
I suppose the Phelps could get ideas from that, but it's pretty hypocritical to assume it's because of what other people are doing.

Paddy O said...

I think today's clergy would say that, but they have to be careful. Much more safe to talk about individuals, both because of the politicizing issue and because it's pretty easy to steer into false prophesy--saying something certainly applies to a contemporary situation.

I think there's still something to the nation thing, though. We do seem to see nation's rise in historical moments.

I think it can also be applied to the Church, a big reason why I'm not Catholic or Orthodox, in fact.

Most prophetic literature isn't limited to a specific scope. It can be self-similar across scales.