Jeremiah 19 has the prophet delivering some sobering news to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God sends Jeremiah to the entry at the Potsherd Gate and asks him to take the elders with him, along with a potter’s earthenware flask. This message is going to include a visual, not just harsh words for the people to hear. But to begin with, God gets right to the point. “I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle”. Destruction is coming. Then God makes it crystal clear why…..
He lists off the reasons for the coming catastrophes:
- “Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods
- because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents
- and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal”
God has never commanded human sacrifice – that is always related to worship of idols and other gods. But suffice it to say the people have moved completely away from God and are worshipping Baal with practices that God will not tolerate. He says “I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind”. What was happening was so far outside God’s plan it was completely against His nature.
God doesn’t speak in generalities when it comes to describing the outcome that is coming. And He makes it clear, this is personal and coming directly from Him:
- “I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem
- and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies
- I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth
- I will make this city a horror
- I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters”
This is some pretty radical stuff, and God is going to cause all of it to happen. He absolutely will not allow what is going on to continue.
After Jeremiah was to deliver these strong words that described the why and the what, then God tells him to use his visual prop. “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so that it can never be mended’”. God told Jeremiah to break the clay bottle as an illustration of the destruction to come. It’s going to get bad, and they aren’t going to be able to talk their way or prayer their way out of it.
Jeremiah got their attention, and issues the final word. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words”. He wants to make it very clear that they are going to reap based on how they have lived. The coming disaster is not just something God is doing to them, but something they are doing to themselves because of how they have lived and their rebellion and refusal to hear God and receive His word and correction. How we live matters. God is paying attention.