The Potter and The Clay
When Yahweh’s people Israel entered Palestine, they were one nation of 12 tribes, like the United States of 50 states. They continued so until the death of King Solomon in 975 B.C. The ten northern tribes formed a separate kingdom, keeping the ancient name Israel. Meanwhile the two southern tribes 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 temple at Jerusalem, they might also renew their political loyalty to Jerusalem, so he led them into idolatry, 1 Kings 12:26‑33. Though they rebelled in religion, they still retained Yahweh’s laws for their civil government 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, “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” KJV Israel at first refused, but finally obeyed the will of Yahweh, Judah professed to obey, but really did not.
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. 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 cause thee to hear my words. 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.” KJV 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.
However Judah had a different destiny, its hypocrisy could not go on forever. Jeremiah 19:1‑11 gives another parable, this time for Judah. “Thus saith the LORD, Go and get a potter’s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee, And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them. Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.” KJV
The Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian and Germanic nations, who are really the Israel of the Bible, have often been stubborn and rebellious. Often Yahweh has called them a stiff‑necked people. Yet Yahweh is their God and they are His people and in the end they will do His will. If the rebellious clay twists in His hand and is marred, He still molds it again into the vessel of His choice and over the centuries it serves His purpose.
The people of Judah, that were still in Palestine, had become integrated with the scribes and Pharisees. It was difficult to tell them apart as they had intermarried and taken on the beliefs and actions of the people they were living among. This is what happens when you integrate, mongrelization inevitably follows. The few pure Israelites and their mongrelized brothers all had to partake of the judgment that was to come upon this area.
They gave lip service only, but no honest performance could come from them. As Isaiah 29:13 says, “This people draw near Me with their mouth and with their lips do honoreth Me, but have removed their hearts far from Me; and their reverence toward Me is taught by the precept of men.” Remember how often Yahshua denounced the Jews. “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”
Accordingly, both of Jeremiah’s parables were fulfilled. The nation of Judah, those still remaining in Palestine, was irreparably broken at its siege by the Romans in the years 69 and 70 A.D., when they were actually reduced to cannibalism and the city was destroyed, as Jeremiah had prophesied. Israel, on the other hand, was remolded by Yahweh to serve His purpose. What was this purpose? Isaiah chapters 43 & 44 tell us, “Ye are My witnesses, saith Yahweh and My servant whom I hath chosen: “I, even I, am Yahweh and beside Me there is no savior. “Therefore ye are My witnesses, saith Yahweh, that I am God. “This people have I formed for Myself: they shall show forth My praise. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake and will not remember thy sins. Thus saith Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer: I am the first and I am the last and beside Me there is no other god. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time and have declared it? Ye are even My witnesses. Thou art My servant O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions.”
The Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian and Germanic nations have served this purpose. They have been the great missionary nations proclaiming to the entire world the identity of the one true God Yahweh. They have translated the Bible into all languages in the world.
They have shown the world the high standard of justice and prosperity, which can come to a nation, which is governed by Yahweh’s laws. True, there have always been some persons among them who have fallen below this high standard. This is only the failure of those individuals, not the failure of the whole nation. These nations are not totally perfect, you say?
Just show Me one among the other nations, which reaches just half as high up on the scales! As to our critics, Yahweh has said in Isaiah 54:17, “Every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh and their righteousness is of me, saith Yahweh.”
Like the son in Yahshua’s parable, they first refused, then repented and did their father’s will. Like the marred clay in Jeremiah’s parable, they were remolded by Yahweh, into the pattern He had determined. Let no man tell you that Yahweh’s word has failed, for we the Anglo Saxon, Scandinavian and Germanic people, are the Israel of today. (Taken, in part, from a study entitled “The Potter and The Clay,” by Bertrand L. Comparet)