18 The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.
Now God’s message comes through another prophetic drama played out in a potter’s shop somewhere in the city. The prophet sees an ordinary event but receives an extraordinary message.
Eternal One: 2 Go down to the potter’s shop in the city, and wait for My word.
3 So I went down to the potter’s shop and found him making something on his wheel. 4 And as I watched, the clay vessel in his hands became flawed and unusable. So the potter started again with the same clay. He crushed and squeezed and shaped it into another vessel that was to his liking. 5 In that moment, I heard again God’s word for His rebellious people.
Eternal One: 6 O people of Israel, can I not do the same to you as this potter has done? You are like clay in My hands—I will mold you as I see fit. 7 If I declare that I am going to uproot, stamp out, or destroy a nation or kingdom because of its wicked ways, and 8 then that same nation I warned turns away from its evil, then I will change My plans. In My compassion, I will not destroy it. 9 If at some other time I declare that I am going to build up and establish a nation, 10 but then it ignores My voice, thus committing evil right in front of Me, I will hold back the good I had planned for them.
(to Jeremiah) 11 Now, prophet, say to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem these words from the Eternal: “Look! I am planning and shaping disaster against you. Like clay on a wheel, I will shape you and your destiny. Turn back from your evil ways—all of you—before it is too late. Do what is right and good.” 12 But they will tell you, “It’s no use trying to persuade us. We have our own thoughts about how we should live, and each of us is firmly committed to our own way, evil or not.”
13 Who has heard of such betrayal as this? Ask the nations around you.
Even they won’t believe this dreadful thing the virgin Israel has done to Me.
14 Does the snow ever melt on the peaks of Lebanon’s mountains?
Does the cool water of those mountain streams ever run dry?[a]
15 They have forgotten Me. Instead, My people offer incense to worthless gods,
worshiping them as though they are real.
They have lost their way, stumbling from the ancient path of blessing.
Now they walk in the ruts of rebellion instead of taking the high road of obedience.
16 Because of their forgetfulness, their homeland will become a wasteland;
those who pass by will hiss and whistle;
Disturbed at the sight of this eerie desolation,
they will shake their heads in horror.
17 As the strong east wind off the desert scatters the dust,
so I will scatter My people before their enemies.
Just as they turned from Me, now I will turn from them.
I will not even look their way on the day of their disaster.
The strong words of Jeremiah and the warnings from God are difficult to hear. But it seems when evil is entrenched in a life, when people stubbornly persist in their wicked ways, such words are not just difficult, they are infuriating. The people of Judah now conspire again to silence this outspoken prophet.
People of Judah (to one another): 18 Come on. Let’s devise a plan against Jeremiah, for there is no way the teaching of our priests, the wisdom of our elders, or the words of our prophets are going to be lost and proven wrong. Do we really need to hear any more from him? Let’s attack his reputation, ruin his standing among us, and ignore everything he has to say.
19 Jeremiah: O Eternal my God, please listen to me.
Do You hear what my enemies are saying?
20 Should good be repaid with such evil?
They have set a trap for me.
Remember how I stood before You in prayer,
begging You to do them good,
Pleading for You to turn Your anger away from them,
and this is how they repay me!
21 Well then. Let their children starve!
Let their young warriors fall in battle!
Let their wives become childless widows!
Let their husbands be struck down and killed
and their young men die in battle!
22 Let them scream from their houses
when You suddenly release the attackers on them.
Why? Because they have set a trap for me;
they have hidden snares along the way to trip me up.
23 Yet, You knew this already, Eternal.
You know of their plans to kill me.
That’s why I am asking You not to forgive them,
not to forget their sins or erase their crimes from Your sight.
Let them be overthrown and killed before Your eyes.
Deal with them while Your anger is still hot.
- 18:14 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.