God’s covenant with Israel is stated in Leviticus twenty-six, both the blessing of obedience and retribution of disobedience; like Deuteronomy twenty-eight listening to God’s voice, obeying His commandments brings blessing, but not obeying the Lord’s voice and His commandments, a curse.
Jeremiah is told to go to the potter’s house, and there the Lord will cause Jeremiah to hear His words. The potter is throwing a pot on the wheel that becomes marred in the hand of the potter, so the potter makes it again into another vessel as seems good to the potter.
The Lord speaks, “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord, “Look, as the clay is in the hand of the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!” Jeremiah 18:8
The Lord goes on the say that the instant He speaks concerning a nation to pull it down, but that nation turns from its evil, the Lord will relent of the disaster He thought to do. The same however is if He speaks concerning a nation to build and plant it. But then, if that nation does evil in His sight, He will relent of the good He has spoken to benefit it. The Lord then pleads with Judah and Jerusalem that He is fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against them. So, “Return now everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” Jeremiah 18:11.
Israel’s response is, “That is hopeless! So, we will walk according to our own plans, and we will everyone obey the dictates of his evil heart.” Jeremiah 18:12
Plans are underway to silence Jeremiah. Jeremiah reminds the Lord, “Remember that I stood before You to speak good for them, to turn away Your wrath from them.” Jeremiah 18: 20.
This is a picture of what happens today when someone suggests our actions, as believers, are bringing God’s discipline; and the heart of a prophet who must never want the judgment coming to come.
In chapter nineteen, Jeremiah is told to go to the valley of Ben Hinnom and bring a potter’s vessel. And there, declare that because they had forsaken the Lord, burned incense to other gods, built high places to Baal, and burnt their sons with fire, that the Lord will make the city desolate. There, Jeremiah breaks the potter’s vessel before the elders. Jeremiah is brought up to the court of the Lord’s house to proclaim the same because they have stiffened their necks.
Rather than repentance, Pashhur, a priest, beats Jeremiah and puts him into stocks overnight. Later, Jeremiah bemoans his life and curses the day of his birth, God’s word is like fire in his heart shut up in his bones. Jeremiah is met later with a group of priests sent by King Zedekiah to ask for a good word concerning Nebuchadnezzar and his war against Jerusalem. But they do not get a good word of wonderful help, but that the Lord will fight against the city. Instead, the Lord tells the house of David to “Execute judgment in the morning; and deliver him who is plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.” Jeremiah 22:12
In chapter twenty-two, the Lord speaks to the king of Judah again, telling him what a king really is and what he is not. The Lord continues to speak to the next three kings following Josiah and His rejection of them.
Chapter twenty-three begins with the Messianic reign of Jesus, the Branch of Righteousness. However, the remainder of the chapter is addressing the false prophets. Here is where the Lord declares prophets are to bring His children out of their evil ways and not comfort them in their sins.
Thus says the Lord of host: “Do not listen to the word of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace” and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil will come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16, 17
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My word, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings. Jeremiah 23:21, 22
God’s actions are toward His people, who are called by His name, not the unbelievers of this world. When we, His people who are called by His name, repent of our evil ways, soften our hearts, listen to His voice, and return to Him, then He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ alone. It is His word we are obeying and hearkening to, and not the law. He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:14
The message of Jeremiah, for me today, is to look to my own heart, and not blame others. I am asking the Lord, “What am I to do in order to return to You and live in Your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy?” His Word is active and alive. It separates me, to know myself in the present moment. It shows me the thoughts and intentions of my heart. Repentance is accepting the truth being shown to me about who Jesus is, and who I am, and how I am to submit to Jesus and who He is.
God is always ready to change His mind and send blessings instead of destruction when He finds humility and repentance in His people.