Monday, November 23, 2015

“Jeremiah's Yoke”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Jeremiah's Yoke"
For the week of November 28, 2015
To grasp as we ought the witness Jeremiah gave in his day, we need to recognize the parallel of his time (the first destruction of Jerusalem) to that of Jesus' day (just prior to the Jerusalem's second fall). Also vital is the parallel between Daniel (who grew up under Jeremiah's prophetic ministry) with his witness in Babylon, enduring its fall, and our day, during the end-time Babylon, with the messages we are commissioned to give about its fall. In fact, the final message of mercy to the world, which unites "the commandments of God" with "the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12) results in the "whole earth" being "lightened with his glory" of "the law and the gospel going hand in hand" (Revelation 18:1; Ellen White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 166, 217).
In our lesson this week, we note some apparently strange instructions God gave Jeremiah regarding his family and social life, in his witness. Considering further, we find some similarities between Jeremiah's, Daniel's, and Jesus' family bonds. Without dealing at length with these, we should note that there are three bonds God created us for, intended for security, unity, and intense joy, all the result of unselfish love. They are the main setting in which the final message to Babylon of our day will be given, as a witness. The order in which these bonds usually occur are:
1. Parent-child;   2. Sibling;   3. Husband-wife
Only Adam and Eve started with number three, having been created mature adults. But we must note that these bonds reflect primarily the connection that God Himself has with us. For after all, the first and great commandment is not, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31). That is the second. The first is:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and    with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5; Mark 12:29, 30)
So while these bonds would appear simply to define at the closest level the relations to our fellow "neighbour" creatures, we actually find God affirming His primary of relationship to us in each of these three bonds.
1. Parent-child:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6; see also Galatians 4:6)
2. Sibling:
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brotherand sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50; see also John 20:17)
3. Husband-wife:
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5; see also Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32)
Again, it is through these bonds in particular that the final message will be given, manifesting the endurance of unselfish love in the face of every one of them being broken or deviled with self.
It is that very dynamic that was behind God's instructions to Jeremiah, both telling him not to marry, and to avoid scenes of social joy and grief that both form and express these bonds. The path of selfish living Judah had been walking led to such devastating results that Jeremiah was to demonstrate the absence of the usual bonds in his human interactions, to show the impending doom of living for self. At the same time, Jeremiah was intensely bonded to God in the primary relationships, and that enabled him to endure both the absence of usual social bonds, and the intense antagonism his message aroused in many who heard it. We can safely conclude that a remnant minority understood and accepted the deeper message, including Daniel's parents.
The false security of attempting to maintain social bonds while living selfishly is what drove the message of the prophet Hananiah. He would deny the accumulating consequences of iniquity, both of his generation, and of his fathers' generations, which led inevitably to judgment. (See Leviticus 26:40-42). This is the very same thing Jesus predicted for our times of judgment.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:38, 39).
As the leaders in Jeremiah's day were attempting to hold things together on a national scale, without any sense of needing to repent (to say nothing of ever deepening repentance; see Jeremiah 8:5, 6; Ellen White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 561), Jeremiah's message of coming judgment, due to that very sense of "everything is okay" and "we must stand strong against our enemies," would have made it appear that he was an enemy of the state. But its doom was certain, and his God-given role was to appeal for a humility and repentance that would make the coming punishment redemptive and actually less intense. Jeremiah's message was intended to produce people like Daniel. All other messages were rooted in denial, though wrapped in "pride of state" and the hubris that accompanies such. They would actually prevent the very preparation that was necessary, and cause the ruin of many who wanted to believe the worst would not come.
The deception of the evil one is always to deny the consequences of living for self. He begins this deception by saying that all live for self (Ellen White, Education, p. 154), and he continues by denying every one of the consequences of living for self, saying they will not happen (like dying; Genesis 3:4), or that they are the result of other causes (such as God). All false prophets are thus in his service. (See Jeremiah 7:3-8; 14:14; 28:15.)
We are in a war between supernatural, mystical forces. The genuine Spirit of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:1; Revelation 19:10) is arrayed against the spirits of devils involved with seduction and deception (Matthew 24:11, 24; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1). The grace of God is given in such times to discern the genuine, which always promotes the worship of the Creator (Romans 1:25), and calls for repentance (Romans 2:4) and denial of self (Luke 9:23).
The yoke of bondage from living for self (the curse that Moses warned of) was what Jeremiah was instructed to wear, in symbolic form, and to give this also as a gift to the leaders of the surrounding nations. The sentence was irrevocable (see 2 Chronicles 24:18-28), as a yoke of iron is unbreakable compared to a wooden one. So the end-time sentence against Babylon is certain.
Only in submitting to the yoke of unselfish love would one find freedom and rest (Matthew 11:28-30), whether in times of national peace or national apostasy and judgment. Daniel revealed the correct attitude, and in turn was also given the genuine Spirit of prophecy, with messages not just for the Babylon of his day, but especially for our day, in the closing days of the fourth kingdom (code named in Revelation "Babylon").
We must not forget that it was Jeremiah who wrote twice, in his days of judgment and destruction, the following prophecies about "that good thing" that God had "promised"--namely, "I will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land." (33:14; 15; compare 23:5).
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (23:6)
The second time he repeated the same with some variations:
In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. (33:16)

Did you catch it? The husband-wife bond is seen in these two verses, for both "he shall be called" and "she shall be called" by the same name! (See Revelation 19:7.) The security of that bond, which nothing, not even death, can sever, we can present to all, as a preparation for the coming judgment. It is in that light that the following words were written on the heels of Minneapolis. I have inserted in brackets some personal observations.
The end [of Babylon] is near! We have not a moment to lose! Light is to shine forth from God's people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. Our work is not to be restricted to those who already know the truth; our field is the world [which will be lightened with His glory]. The instrumentalities to be used are those souls who gladly receive the light of truth which God communicates to them. [Those best can give what they have been given, for they recognize their own need, and how it has been met in Jesus, and see how others will benefit as well.] These are God's agencies for communicating the knowledge of truth to the world. If through the grace of Christ his people will become new bottles, he will fill them with the new wine. [If anyone does not submit to this on-going renewal, it will be impossible for him to retain the new light, and his light will grow dim and go out.] God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered, and replaced in the frame-work of truth; and wherever the laborers go, they will triumph. [The victory of unselfish love is assured, because nothing can overcome giving; the more its enemies take, the more love can give, until even one's life is given. And that is the final victory.] As Christ's ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures, to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error. [The truths and the rubbish span from doctrine to lifestyle.] And every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness. [All "additional light," "every ray of light" will be seen in the light of "one interest," "one subject." "Christ our righteousness"--"the Lord our righteousness" will shine a bright light on every topic, revealing what reflects His glory and what does not. Thus the narrow path of life will be discerned, on which we can follow Jesus through the final storm of judgment.] (Ellen White, Review and Herald, December 23, 1890 paragraph 19; brackets inserted by current author)

~ Fred Bischoff

Friday, November 20, 2015

“Josiah's Reform”

Insight #8 November 21, 2015
Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Josiah's Reform"
For the week of November 21, 2015
Our lesson this week opens to us the truth of God's heart, that we make choices that honor and please Him, and that respond to His Good News of Salvation obtained for all mankind with a heart belief that results in receptivity to the entirety of the gift, including the work of the Holy Spirit bringing to us the righteousness of Christ in our daily lives, which is the ultimate hope of God, that mankind is restored back to the image of God.
2 Kings 23:25  "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him."
The memory text for the week shows that one of the kings of Israel, using free will, chose to do what "was right in the sight of the Lord."  God warns us of the dangers of making wrong choices, as well as the possibility to repent from wrong choices and reenter back into right relationship with Him.  When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience.  Desire of Ages, p 668.  God wants us to see in His redemptive act for an undeserving race the love that surpasses all, and "love because He first loved us." John 14:15.  "If you love me, keep my commandments."  God draws us to Him in everlasting love and kindness (Jeremiah 31:3) and leads us, if we do not resist, to the cross to see the incredible unconditional love demonstrated there for all, and urges us to fall in love with Jesus.  In the parable of the Eleventh Hour Worker, we learn that God will accept and forgive anyone, at any stage of their life, if they would respond to His love. 
The Reigns of Manasseh and Amon of course is revelatory of times in the history of Israel in which great apostasy and evil occurred.  The Good News is that King Manasseh, after being taken captivity to Babylon, was led by the Holy Spirit to repent of his great evils and to see and restore the damage done.  The damage was greater than he had realized, and his son Amon practiced horrible idolatry after taking the throne.  Romans 1 is clear that those who do not give glory to God will be given up to idolatry in many forms; for the goodness of God leads to repentance, and salvation has appeared to all men, and if we resist that love, our hearts and minds will be hardened in sin. 

The warnings about the judgment to come in relation to enemies from the north were intended, conditionally, to bring about Israel's response of repentance.  Jeremiah 18:1-10 reveals the conditionality of God's promises and warnings, and if we turn from our sin, He will turn from the judgment He would otherwise do.  God only does what is necessary. 
2 Kings 22:1  "Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath."
2 Kings 22:2  "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."
A true Christian does right, because it is right, because right doing is pleasing to God.  John 17:3 says that salvation is to know God, and in the NT period, Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  Josiah had an experience which led Him to know God to the point of utmost loyalty and faithfulness.  Josiah of course worked to restore the Temple.  We may see, symbolically, that true leaders restore what the Temple represents, the Character of God and the Gospel. We are called as well, in these last days, to restore the Gospel to the truth of its Universal Justification of all mankind, a gift to be received by the act of believing in God and Christ, which will result in a heart transformation, for Justification, receive ultimately by faith in the heart of the individual, produces obedience to God and His law. 
Phil 2:5 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phil 2:6 "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Phil 2:7 "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Phil 2:8 "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
True revival and reformation results from recognizing the love of the Creator for those involved in the fall, and the love and obedience shown to bring about redemption for mankind.  We need leaders who will call us out of Laodicea, who will have the spiritual discernment to understand the true Gospel, and will call for others to respond to that high calling in Christ Jesus.
True reformation produces a consistency of life and behavior.  God's Gospel is linked to the Heavenly Sanctuary, in which He will write His law on the heart of every human being who is receptive through faith to the gift God has for us.  The people were warned that their senses had been so long dulled by sin that they actually needed the judgment to help ensure they never went back to the horrible idolatry and rebellion demonstrated in their worship and lives.  But even in Captivity, they would be forgiven and used by God if they were responsive to His love and leadership.  God had not withdrawn opportunities for repentance and reformation.  Josiah sought to renew their covenant relationship with God, and thus He read to them God's Law, and took action to remove the idolatrous items that had become intertwined with their worship.  The whole nation celebrated Passover, a type of "corporate repentance" and renewal to the covenant and the atoning substitutionary sacrifice it represented. 
We have examples from the times in which we live as to how low human beings can go, such as the Holocaust, the Counter Reformation, racism, and many other equally troubling examples.  It is God's desire that we both know that we are sinners; that His grace extends to all, that He is actively seeking and drawing us to Him, to accept the gift of His righteousness, obtained in the union of divinity with our fallen humanity, and to experience the intercessory and expiatory work of Christ as our High priest. 
May we all, leaders or common people, seek to have the heart of Josiah, or even the repentance heart of Manasseh. There is place in Heaven for all.

~ Pastor Thomas Cusack

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

“The Crisis Continues”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Crisis Continues"
For the week of November 14, 2015

In Jeremiah Chapter 9 we find the prophet  weeping. "Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night, for the slain daughter of my people!" verse 1. The reason for the weeping is given in verses 5,6 and 13: "They have taught their tongue to speak lies", they "weary themselves to commit iniquity", their "habitation is in the midst of deceit" and "through deceit they refuse to know Me", says the Lord. In the Insight a few weeks ago, we learned that the Hebrew word translated in English as deceit, means "to seize someone by the heel, to betray, to supplant." Supplant means to take the place of. Synonyms would be to replace or supersede. These definitions are helpful as we look at verses 13 and 14 of Jeremiah 9 which tells us that God's people had "forsaken My law which I had set before them", "have not obeyed My voice" and have "walked according to the imagination of their own heart…after the Baal's." This could be summarized as the Baal's have supplanted My laws and My voice. Chapter 10 plainly states the depth of idolatry into which Israel and Judah had sunk to the point that they had to be reminded that these gods did not create, but the God of heaven had. Additonally the "know" in verse 6 of Chapter 9 is not just a casual knowing but the intimate relational knowing that is achieved in the marriage relationship. It is not intellectual ability or informational knowledge but an intimate knowing of the highest relational quality. Verse 6 says that through deceit, supplanting, betrayal, they don't just not know Him but they refuse to know Him. For these reasons we find Jeremiah weeping. Weeping for the transgression of God's people.

The weeping of Jeremiah here can be seen as the weeping of God for His people then and now. There are at least 2 reasons God weeps. 

First Jeremiah Chapter 3:6-10 and verse 14 gives us a hint as to God's relationship to His people and His pain over "My people." Israel had gone upon every high mountain and every green tree and there played the harlot. After everything she had done God loved her still and pursued her, asking her to return to Him but she would not. Hear the language of the intimate relationship of marriage in verses 8 & 14. "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce." "Return O backsliding children…for I am married to you." This is the broken heart of God supplanted, replaced in the heart and mind of His wife! God views His people in marital terms. 

"not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord." Jeremiah 31:32

"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice, In loving-kindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord." Hosea 2:19,20

When God sees His people He sees His wife, and as she rejects Him, refuses to return and supplants Him with idols and refuses to know Him, His heart is broken, He weeps. But how can we in the 21st century relate to these kinds of texts about idolatry , which breaks the heart of God? Two quotes from the pen of inspiration:

"The apostle's words of warning to the Corinthian church are applicable to all time and are especially adapted to our day.By idolatry he meant not only the worship of idols, but self-serving, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion.A mere profession of faith in Christ, a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not make a man a Christian. A religion that seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or that sanctions self-indulgence, is not the religion of Christ." AA317. Ellen White described that it was when the children of Israel sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play, that they threw off the fear of God and made the golden calf. 

"I was pointed back to ancient Israel. But two of the adults of the vast army that left Egypt entered the land of Canaan. Their dead bodies were strewn in the wilderness because of their transgressions. Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers. God especially charged His ancient people to guard against idolatry, for if they should be led away from serving the living God, His curse would rest upon them, while if they would love Him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might, He would abundantly bless them in basket and in store, and would remove sickness from the midst of them. A blessing or a curse is now before the people of God—a blessing if they come out from the world and are separate, and walk in the path of humble obedience; and a curse if they unite with the idolatrous, who trample upon the high claims of heaven. The sins and iniquities of rebellious Israel are recorded and the picture presented before us as a warning that if we imitate their example of transgression and depart from God we shall fall as surely as did they. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1T 609.

These quotes are compelling and worthy of much thought and meditation as to how the sections highlighted above apply. First of all then God weeps because of the rebellion and idolatry of His people.

The second reason Jesus weeps is found in the 2 episodes recorded in Scripture- John 11:35 with the death of Lazarus and Luke 20:11 when Jesus weeps over Jerusalem after the triumphal entry. Again Ellen White's comments are helpful.

Speaking of Lazarus she writes, "It was not only because of the scene before Him that Christ wept. The weight of the grief of ages was upon Him. He saw the terrible effects of the transgression of God's law. He saw that in the history of the world, beginning with the death of Abel, the conflict between good and evil had been unceasing. Looking down the years to come, He saw the suffering and sorrow, tears and death that were to be the lot of men. His heart was pierced with the pain of the human family of all ages and in all lands. The woes of the sinful race were heavy upon His soul, and the fountain of His tears was broken up as He longed to relieve all their distress." 

 Then speaking of Jerusalem she writes this in DA 575 and 576:
"Jesus gazes upon the scene, and the vast multitude hush their shouts, spellbound by the sudden vision of beauty. All eyes turn upon the Saviour, expecting to see in His countenance the admiration they themselves feel. But instead of this they behold a cloud of sorrow. They are surprised and disappointed to see His eyes fill with tears, and His body rock to and fro like a tree before the tempest, while a wail of anguish bursts from His quivering lips, as if from the depths of a broken heart. What a sight was this for angels to behold! their loved Commander in an agony of tears!... In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel's King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony….The tears of Jesus were not in anticipation of His own suffering. Just before Him was Gethsemane, where soon the horror of a great darkness would overshadow Him. The sheepgate also was in sight, through which for centuries the beasts for sacrificial offerings had been led. This gate was soon to open for Him, the great Antitype, toward whose sacrifice for the sins of the world all these offerings had pointed. Near by was Calvary, the scene of His approaching agony. Yet it was not because of these reminders of His cruel death that the Redeemer wept and groaned in anguish of spirit. His was no selfish sorrow. The thought of His own agony did not intimidate that noble, self-sacrificing soul. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus—Jerusalem that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer, and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could heal her wound. He had come to save her; how could He give her up?"

Jeremiah's weeping is for the same reasons that God the Father and God the Son weep. Jesus weeps because He has been a husband to His people and they have scorned His love. He weeps because the result of scorning Him would cause suffering and sorrow and pain to the human family. He weeps because we have rejected the world's Redeemer who alone can heal our wounds and it pains His heart to give us up! 

Jeremiah says that might and riches are nothing to glory in, but knowing and understanding God. "Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord." Jesus Himself says, that "this is eternal life that they may know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." What is it we are to know? After all, Jesus said that it is eternal life. And how does it change us? When Moses asked this question of God, He showed Him His glory, which was His character comprised of both His justice an His mercy (see Exodus 34: 6,7). There is no greater place that the ability to know is manifested more clearly than on the cross of Calvary where as Friday's lesson points out the sundering of the Divine powers pierces the hardness or our hearts. The lesson highlights that in the cry of Jesus, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" is the clearest and most powerful expression of that "sundering", of what it cost the Godhead to save us. 

The beautiful message given to our church in 1888 is the remedy for our backsliding and as it is received into our hearts it will transform us and the corporate church.

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." TM 91,92. 

Several verses are helpful as we unpack this quote above: Rom 1:16,17, I Cor 1:18,22-31, 2 Cor 5:18-21 and Romans 5:6,8,10 and 20.

On page 97 of TM we find this sobering thought:

"I have no smooth message to bear to those who have been so long as false guideposts, pointing the wrong way. If you reject Christ's delegated messengers, you reject Christ."

Jeremiah 26:1-6 is a call to repentance and gives us many texts to review and contemplate: Acts 17:30, Ez 14:6 and 2 Chron6:37-39.

In humility let us pray not only for the angel of the church of the Laodiceans but also for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Amen!

Lyndi Schwartz

Friday, November 06, 2015

“Symbolic Acts”

Fourth Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Symbolic Acts"
For the week of November 7, 2015

Spiritual Pipettes

In every field of work, there are instruments and devices to perform that work.  Each of these has their proper names and a particular use.  In the laboratory where I work, most of the tests are performed with automated and computerized instruments.  There is no need to make reagents.  All that the instrument needs is pretty much supplied by the manufacturer, typically in plastic containers.  One of the tests we do, however, is still performed the old way.  We have to make our reagents.  Making our reagents requires weighing solids, measuring the volume of liquids and mixing.  So, we still use the old type of containers for the preparation of these reagents.  There are many kinds of containers with different shapes and sizes and made out of different materials.  Each of them has a purpose.

When preparing the reagents we pretty much follow a recipe:  you weigh so much of this and add so much that.  It always has to be the same amount.  So, for weighing we have a scale.  For measuring the volume of liquids, we have graduated cylinders and volumetric flasks.   If we need to transfer a certain amount of liquid from one flask to another, we have pipettes.  With a pipette, you suction a certain amount of liquid inside the pipette from one flask and dispense the liquid into another flask.  Unlike, many of the other flasks used for storage, pipettes have only one function: transferring liquid.  So, the pipette has but one principle: you fill them to empty them: just as a pot from a potter.

In Jeremiah 18, the Lord tells Jeremiah to "... arise and go down to the potter's house . . . to hear [the Lord's] words" (Jeremiah. 18:2-6).  Let us read the rest of the story.

Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 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.

In case we missed in the text, Isaiah also tells us Who the potter and the pot represent, "But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand" (Isaiah 64:8).

We learn from this parable that we are a "vessel" the Lord has been forming on the potter's wheel. He has a happy purpose for us to be useful in His great work of lighting the earth with the glory of His "everlasting gospel" message.  But, as a vessel, we are marred from the beginning, because "all" of us "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).  In His mercy, the Divine Savior-Potter never throws any marred vessel (us) in the trash, no matter how lowly it may have become through being "marred."  This act of kindness is the "good news" encouragement. So, the Potter always takes the marred vessel to "[makes] it again into another vessel, as it seem good to the Potter to make" (v. 4). By this action the Potter reveals redemption in action.

However, unlike the real vessel we can resist the Potter's work.  We have freedom of choice and can resist God's will.  This resisting God, Paul considers foolishness.  He says in Romans, "But who are you, my friend" asks Paul, "to talk back to God? A clay pot does not ask the man who made it, 'Why have you made me like this?'"(Rom. 9:19, 20, GNB).  Remember, in this context Paul thinks of himself as the chief of fools (1 Timothy 1:15).  It is obvious that the "clay pot" needs to be reconciled in the heart to the Potter, as Paul did!

The obvious point here is that you cannot fill a marred pot, and empty it effectively, later.  When the Potter remakes us, we are ready to be filled with living water.  Christ told the woman at the well, 

John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Jesus repeats these words to the crowd at one of the feasts.  Let us read John 7:37-19,

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John says that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit.  Paul says that "God has poured out His love [agape] into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us" (Rom. 5:5, GNB).  Filled with His love, we cannot help but love in return.  As Mary Magdalene loved Jesus, pouring all that she had on Him, we will pour all that God has given us back on Jesus in the form of our giving to others in need.  Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 25.  He told the sheep on the right that they'd receive a reward for helping Him in a time of need.  They asked, "When did we do this?"  Jesus replied, "As you have done unto these, you have done unto me."

Brothers and sisters let us take counsel and heed the Word. We are all broken, but, God can remake us.  Let us allow Him to do His work, by filling us with His love.  Only, then, will we truly love others.