The Potter and The Clay
When Yahweh’s people Israel entered Palestine, they were one nation of 13 tribes, like the United States of 50 states. They continued so until the death of King Solomon in 975 B.C. The ten tribes with approximately ½ of the tribe of Levi, formed the so-called Northern Nation of Israel. Meanwhile the two southern tribes and ½ of the tribe of Levi formed the nation of Judah, keeping the old capital city of Jerusalem. In each of these kingdoms, even at their worst, there were always some people who were loyal to Yahweh.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah kept its official national loyalty to Yahweh, at least in name and form, almost to its end. However, the number of its people who really lived up to the national religion became fewer and fewer through the years.
Almost immediately after it broke away from Judah, Israel rebelled against Yahweh. Israel’s first king Jeroboam, feared that if his people returned to the temle at Jerusalem, they might also renew their political loyalty to Jerusalem, so he led them into idolatry. (1 Kings 2:26-33) Though they rebelled in religion, they stil retained Yahweh’s laws for their civil goverment until their sixth king Omri. After that, they abandoned the laws of Yahweh for the statutes of Omri. Despite all this, Yahweh allowed Israel two centuries more for repentance before their Assyrian captivity and exile. This was a long time in the lives of men, but a short time in the life of a nation. Though Israel was then rebellious, Yahweh knew that it would eventually do His will.
Judah still officially proclaimed the old religion and gave lip service to Yahweh’s laws. Yet, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel give eloquent testimony to the hypocrisy of the pretense. It was a religion of form only without the understanding of its truths. Oppression, usury, robbery, adultery and murder were commonly practiced, even by the ruling classes of priests and nobles whose duty it was to enforce the law.
Yahshua illustrated the condition of the two nations in one of His parables. In Matthew 21:28-31 He said:
“A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and said Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said I will not; but afterward he repented and went. He came to the second son and said likewise. And he answered and said I go sir, and went not. Which of the two did the work of his father? They say unto Him, The first, Yahshua saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of Yahweh before you.”
Israel at first refused, but finally obeyed the will of Yahweh, the Jews professed to obey, but really did not. Yahshua was addressing this parable to the priests, scribes and Pharisees of the jews and was telling them they they could not get into the Kingdom of God. For He was telling them that they did not obey Yahweh but were doing what their father the devil told them to do.
But Yahweh does not wait until after the thing has happened before He speaks of it. While Israel was still rebellious and Judah was making empty promises, the prophet Jeremiah was told to explain this. The time was 601 B.C., over a century after Israel had been conquered by Assyria and deported from Palestine, never to return.
“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I WILL HEDGE UP THY WAY WITH THORNS, AND MAKE A WALL, THAT SHE SHALL NOT FIND HER PATHS.” (Hosea 2:5-6)
It also was the beginning of Judah’s 70 years captivity in Babylon. In Jeremiah 18:2-6 Yahweh said:
“Arise and go down to the potter’s house and there I will case thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house and behold, he wrought a work on thewheel. And the vessel he made of clay was marred in the hands of the potter, so he made it again another vessel as seemed go to the potter to make it. The word of Yahweh came to me saying, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, CANNOT I DO WITH YOU AS THIS POTTER? Saith Yahweh. Behold as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”
Israel’s captivity and deportation from their land was not their destruction, it was only Yahweh’s remolding them into a vessel fit for His use in the future.