God instructs man by allegories as in the case of what we have discussed in the previous post, of the potter working with clay that was marred. In this chapter we are shown an object lesson. In the verse 1 Jeremiah was to take the potter’s earthen bottle to the valley, the name of which is of significance. It bears value for us as knowing the place that stands testimony to divine Judgement. The valley of the son of Hinnom as a result shall be known as the valley of slaughter. It is tagged by the Spirit for our instruction and in the order of Sodom and Tyre and Mighty Babylon that fell when the angel threw a great millstone from heaven (Re.18:21) it is named that is all. Divine judgement by fire brimstone, stone meteor or asteroid, flood of water are all inextricably bound with the physical reality of the earth. God instructs us with our very physical make up in a manner of speaking. (‘Dust to dust, ashes to ashes…’). By the same argument what is an earthen vessel? An object, is it not? What is the most important aspect of it what is an object or the space that it carries within? Suppose a cup of tea is served its contents is the most part and it is one way God tells each of us the most vital aspect of human life. God as the creator God has shaped a vessel and that inner space (in terms of theology ‘inner man’) is what determines our standing with God.
Yesterday’s post dealt with the potter who worked with clay which was marred. The potter’s wheel is to be understood as divine Will. The vessel that he worked on got its shape as he had willed it. Nevertheless in the previous case the clay was marred not because of God’s poor workmanship but because of something intangible as we speak of soul. So how was Israel’s standing with God but as a marred lump of clay? Their formalism outward show of piety were surely awesome judging from what one get to see. But in their soul or inside it was all spoilt, marred as a whitewashed sepulchre. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matt.23:27).” King David sinned and it was grievous fault of the flesh overcoming aa man after the heart of God. In committing it he showed that it was not. Suppose he had insisted on the testimony of God in the past to justify his deed it would be tantamount to make God an accomplice to his sin. It was what Israel doing consistently not owning up to ‘all uncleanness.’ Contrast this with King David’s prayer,”/You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. / My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Ps.51:17)”. For this reason St Paul’s advise as to the right spirit in which a believer has to take communion is valid in our own standing with God. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged(1 Co.11:31)”. Our interior life has a color of its own and for a child of God it is where the Holy Spirit like an in-house tutor conducts instruction lessons, a state which is like a sleep. (Wakeful rational man as against natural state of the inner man. It is qualified as the eye. Compare what Jesus said of light of the eye being darkness.)
We have in spiritual terms an earthy visible life and also a sleep as babies lulled to sleep “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child (Ps.131:2). Let us consider this verse: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep (Ps.127:2). Here we see two aspects of living, physical and inner lives. On one level it is all toil for bread of sorrows. A metonymic expression of ultimate end of heritage in flesh. It may be wealth, fame and prestige but it shall suffer the fate flesh is heir to. Whereas inner lives are like the Spirit of God upon the face if the waters(Ge.1:2). It is what St Paul had in reference while he wrote,”For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Co.4:6)”. It is the glory with which we grow while our outward form is wearing out, little by little so slow a man merely notices his mortality when he hits mid fifties and it is an intimation as to your heritage. Is it of flesh or of spirit. In the creation account we read that the earth was without form and void. Similarly soul of man is a question mark and it also can throw hints to him as he gets on with living if he is doing right. Conscience is a powerful tool for a child of God and to profit from. The word of God creates faith by hearing and acting according to the prompting of the Spirit(Ro.10:17) Spiritual body has a shape just as the earth had. So the glory of it as part of the Church, Body of Christ is our heritage in the Spirit.
In the book of Jeremiah we find more than any other prophet his introspection which the Spirit has set down for our instruction. It is similar to the song of praise Jonah sang from the belly of the great fish. Here spiritual songs are in your inner man,”Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ep.5:19)”
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;
2 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,