Today’s blog post isn’t a study about the gematria values of this verse, or the equidistant letter spacing code in that verse. This blog post is instead a simple application of the biblical principles we can find in clay. But first, we have to understand who the clay represents, and who is the one working the clay. Scripture makes it very clear:
Jeremiah 18: 1-6
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear My words.”
3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
6 “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?” saith the Lord. “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel.
7 At the instant I shall speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to pull down and to destroy it,
8 if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
In its rough form, clay is a sticky, gooey mess. Sometimes it’s reddish-brown and sometimes it’s a murky gold color. We uncovered the latter form when the hole for our swimming pool was dug by a giant backhoe and it was thankfully more pliable than dry clay, which is unyielding. A little water in the mix makes a big difference in the malleability of clay. That's true of us, as well.
Think about the addition of water to clay in biblical terms.
Water is an absolute necessity for life. It’s needed for sustaining our bodies’ natural functions, for cleansing, for cooking, and for agriculture. Without water, the earth is dead. We’re dead. How beautifully appropriate that baptism takes place in water, and that the deliverance of Israel from Pharoah’s army took place by passing through water.
After wandering 40 years (the number is often used to count a period of testing, like Jesus in the desert), Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land by passing through the Jordan River, with the Ark leading the way and stopping up the waters all the way back to a town called Adam. Once of my first scripture studies describes this in detail.
Let’s get back to talking about clay.
According to my friend Amy, who shapes clay into beautiful and useful pieces of art, clay can be moistened and dried as many times as needed in order to refine the shape and smooth out imperfections, prior to firing. A lump of moistened clay is placed on a potter’s wheel where it spins around and around – much like we spin our blue and green planet. If you’re one of those Flat Earth people, just ignore that comparison and push through, please.
If a piece of clay is thrown out of shape and left to spin without the capable hands of a potter to form it, the piece will wobble and collapse, just like we would. But don't worry! It’s not beyond redemption. Thankfully, that’s also true of us in our Potter’s hands. We, just like the misshapen blob of clay, can be scraped up into a lump and put back on the wheel for another chance at shaping.
And another chance. And another chance. For as long as it takes.
But there’s a point at which clay can no longer be shaped, and we cannot forget this. It involves firing in a kiln. That's as true of clay as it us for us. If we want to know when we can expect our point of no return, we can look at the book of Revelation in chapter 22, (the end of a cycle, numerically speaking).
Revelation 22: 1-13
1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6And he said unto me, These sayings [are] faithful and TRUE: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7Behold, I come quickly: blessed [is] he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard [them]. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Verse 11 speaks of a permanent state, just like clay after it's fired. We know it will happen again, because it's happened before.
God’s reached a point of such dissatisfaction in the mankind that he needed to scrap the whole bunch of clay that was walking the Earth, washing away the impurities with a LOT of water. God selected Noah's family of 8 people (8 is symbolic of a new creation) and
loaded them into the Ark, sealing them inside for 7 days for their safety. God had even given people a 120 year period to return to Him for shaping, but they refused. It's important to know that we're about 120 Jubilee Years from creation, or about six thousand years. Remember how everything comes back around in this wheel we call Earth.
True to His promise, God opened the floodgates after the 120 years and washed His wheel clean from the corrupted clay, preserving a small lump of clay that would be shaped into something beautiful. This was a new beginning for mankind – a huge reset to preserve a remnant of God’s beloved creation by rescuing them from rampant evil, introduced by the fallen angels who corrupted every bit of clay they could get their hands on.
After the water receded, God promised Noah that He would never again
flood the earth to cleanse it. Given no rain had fallen until the flood, what a
kindness it was for God to reassure Noah that the next spring shower wouldn’t
result in total destruction and send Noah and his family scurrying back to the
Ark in fear, yelling, "Oh no! Here it comes again!"
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
OK. No more floods would be used to cleanse the earth. But there is still a finite point of malleability for the clay of our day, and it's perfectly aligned with the simile we’ve been talking about. Our clay is about to be met with a fire hotter than any pottery kiln:
2 Peter 3:7
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.Malachi 4:1
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”
My friend Amy, the artist, explained the rest of the process of making pottery. After being worked, the pottery looks ready. It’s pleasing to the eye, and has been thrown into a smooth and balanced work. An untrained eye would judge it ready for firing, based on its outward appearance.
A Master Potter, however, will be better able to detect imperfections, impurities, or weaknesses that could cause a piece to fail when faced with the high temperatures of a kiln. You’ve seen examples, no doubt. Maybe it’s a man who talks quietly about Jesus but abuses his wife or children. Perhaps it’s a woman who attends church every Sunday and serves in the children’s ministry, but is having an affair behind her husband’s back. Perhaps it’s a televangelist who gleefully tells you that you need to sow seeds to become wealthy, and is living in a multi-million dollar mansion.
Such a piece of clay will meet extreme conditions when being fired in a kiln. If the clay isn't shaped by a Master Potter, it could easily break into pieces.
Like a clay vessel, we need to be ready before we are placed into a kiln of circumstance that will harden us into shape or worse, pressure us around our imperfections to the point that we shatter. Once the firing takes place, we’re out of time.
With very few exceptions, clay that has been fired cannot be recycled because its structure has completely changed. By contrast, clay that has not yet been fired can be refreshed with water and reshaped endlessly. Being refreshed with living water will keep us malleable in our Potter’s hands, and will prepare us for the kiln.
Stay malleable in His hands. Stay refreshed with living water. At some point, a fire is coming to cleanse the Earth and being well-formed by our Potter is the only way to survive it.
Eyes up! Fire is coming.