Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Mon, 07/12/2009 – 15:05
Bible Book: Jeremiah / Jeremia
Chapter: 18
Verse: 1 – 10
Text: Jeremiah 18:1-10

In 1902 Adelaide Pollard used the image we find in Jeremiah 18:6 to write a song that has become famous till this day. “Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielding and still.” Maybe you also have recollections from you childhood of singing adaptations of this song.

The problem is that a well-known song like this can create the impression that the Bible passage to which it refers means exactly what the song is about. In this way the song becomes our key to unlock and understand the Bible text. However, it is necessary to remember that the passage from the book of Jeremiah was written about two and a half millennia before Pollard wrote her marvellous song.

A first impression after reading Jeremiah 18:1-10 may be that this passage is about God’s sovereign power to do with Israel what He wants. Listen to verse 6b: “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” However, when we listen more closely, we realise that this is not about God’s resolve, leaving Israel without any influence at all. In verses 8 to 10 it becomes clear that God’s “forming and reworking of the clay” (cf verse 4) is being influenced by whether Israel “turns from its evil” (verse 8) or “does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice” (verse 10).

There is a strong appeal in this passage for us to be obedient to God’s Word and warning us that disobedience will have dire consequences (cf verse 10).

However, Jeremiah 18:1-10 is more than a serious warning. In this image – where Israel is like clay in God’s hands (verse 6) – there is already the essence of the wonderful message that Paul describes in Eph 2:10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (RSV).

The Potter has indeed wonderful plans for his clay. In and through Christ He creates us as his artworks – even though it may be necessary to rework the clay once more. When we understand this, we can sing with Pollard: “Mold me and make me after Thy will”.
To think about (or discuss): What comfort is there in Jeremiah 18:1-10 for someone who has discovered that he/ she is living with HIV?

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English

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