This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” Jeremiah 18:1-2 (NIV)
Jeremiah had been given the awesome privilege of being a prophet of God. A prophet was someone who heard God speak directly and then had the responsibility to communicate the actual words God spoke to His people.
Imagine if God said to you, “I will speak to you directly and tell you precisely what will happen to the United States in the next five years. Everything I tell you will happen.” You are God’s chosen spokesperson to the nation. Can you imagine a greater privilege than that?
But the message was the problem. Jeremiah lived in the years leading up to the collapse of Jerusalem, and the words God gave him were extremely unpopular. God told Jeremiah to take a clay jar from the potter’s house and invite the elders and priests to the valley of Ben Hinnom.
Ben Hinnom was a garbage dump outside the city. There were fires burning there, and it was a place of unmarked graves. It was so obscene that Jewish tradition believed the mouth of hell was in that valley. It wasn’t the ideal location for a guided tour or for preaching a sermon.
God wanted Jeremiah to take the community leaders to a burning landfill and tell them that their capital city would be destroyed. Then, while he was preaching, Jeremiah was to take the jar and smash it, and then say to the leaders: “I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired” (19:10).
At this point, Jeremiah must have wished with all his heart that God would speak through somebody else. But Jeremiah did what God said.
Do you sometimes feel that the Christian message is unpopular? If so, how does this affect you? Have you stopped sharing it? Are you discouraged? Angry? All of the above?