“Sovereign – Pt 1” – Jeremiah 18:1-23

August 25th, 2019

Jeremiah 18:1-23 {1-12}

“Sovereign – Pt 1”

Aux. Texts: Romans 9:6-29

Call to Worship: Psalm 135 

Service Orientation: God created heaven and earth.  He is sovereign.  He can do whatever He desires.   But God always acts within His character and nature.  Therefore, as human response to God changes, God’s actions towards humans change.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. — Isaiah 64:8


Background Information:

  • These events probably occurred during the reign of Jehoiakim, the king who burned Jeremiah’s prophetic scrolls (36:21ff.). Unlike his father, King Josiah, Jehoiakim had no love for either the Lord or His prophet.  He wasn’t the least bit interested in what Jeremiah had to say about things political or spiritual.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 98)
  • (v. 2) Over thirty words in the Hebrew vocabulary relate directly to pottery, because the manufacture of pottery was a major industry in the Near East in that day. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 98)

 (vss. 5-10) Jeremiah speaks of the Lord in strongly anthropomorphic terms to accommodate our human inability to comprehend the divine mystery of God’s ways–viz., that he always acts in grace in keeping with his spiritual laws.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 491)


 (vss. 7, 9) The language by which the oracle continues goes back to Jeremiah’s commission in Jer 1:10, where God appoints Jeremiah “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow.”  On the other hand, and again reverting to the language of Jer 1:10, God can also choose that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted.  (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah, Lamentations, 140)


 (v. 8) The anthropomorphic term repent (NIV – relent) indicates not so much a change of mind as of the treatment to be accorded Israel because of her modified behavior (cf. Nm 23:19).  Again the responsibility is laid upon the people themselves, since they determine their destiny.  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 109)

  • (v. 14) The sense seems to be that the nation’s sin is completely irrational in character, as contrasted with the course of nature, which is steadfast and consistent. Such unnatural and apostate behavior from a covenant people can only result in punishment.  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 109)
  • (v. 18) As the people reject Jeremiah and his message, they encourage each other by saying that they still have these vehicles of divine revelation. Get rid of Jeremiah and there will still be a conduit to the divine.  However, the broader context of Jeremiah leads us to believe that these priests, sages, and prophets are not legitimate; rather, they say only what the people themselves want to hear.  (Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible: Jeremiah, Lamentations, 141-2)

 (vss. 19-23) Although there are parallels to such cries elsewhere in the OT, notably in the Psalms of lament (e.g. Ps 109:1-20) it is difficult not to be disturbed by Jeremiah’s words, these “unevangelical prayers” as they have been called.  (Robert Davidson, Daily Study Bible Series: Jeremiah, 154)

  • (vss. 19-23) If Jeremiah seems too angry to us, perhaps some of us today aren’t angry enough at the evil in this world. Thanks to the media, we’re exposed to so much violence and sin that we tend to accept it as a normal part of life and want to do nothing about it.  Crusading has given way to compromising, and it isn’t “politically correct” to be dogmatic or critical of ideas that are definitely unbiblical.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 102)


The questions to be answered are . . . What can we learn about God’s sovereignty?  How does it jive with human free will?   


Answer: God is most certainly sovereign.  He rules over all that is.  But, God sovereignly chooses to give humans the freedom to choose as creatures created in His likeness and image.  God always acts according to His nature.  So as human choice alternates between obedience and disobedience, God’s actions alternate between blessing and curse.


The doctrinal point of this passage can be stated very simply: God can do whatever he wants with you.  This is what it means for him to be God.  Because God is God, he is free to do whatever he pleases.  In his hands rest all power, rule, control, authority, kingdom, government, and dominion.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 294)


The Word for the Day is . . . Sovereign


What can we learn about God’s sovereignty?:

I-  God is sovereign.  He is the Potter.  We are clay.   (Jer 18:5-6; see also: Gn 2:7; Dt 4:39; 32:39-43; 1 Sm 2:6-8; 1 Chr 29:11-12; 2 Chr 20:6; Job 10:9; Ps 103:13-14; Isa 29:16; 45:7-13; 64:8; Acts 17:24-26;  Rom 9:19-21)


Jeremiah was impressed by the control which the potter exercised over the clay.  Whatever the reasons for dissatisfaction, he took the material and worked on it until it met his specifications.  In the same way God has absolute control over His people, and will dispose their destiny according to His purposes (cf. Rom 9:19ff.).  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 108)


Jeremiah’s message is about clay in the hands of an angry potter.  If God can do whatever he wants, then he has the right to destroy you for your sins.  God is the one who brought you into this world, and he can take you out of it.  Until you recognize this, you have not fully reckoned with the sovereignty of God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 296)


When there was a flaw in the clay, he did not throw it away; he worked it into something else.  F. B. Meyer calls that pot “a memorial of the potter’s patience and long-suffering, of his careful use of material, and of his power of repairing loss and making something out of failure and disappointment” (F. B. Meyer, Jeremiah: Priest and Prophet, 80).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 301)


No human judge can read a man’s heart, neither does he have foreknowledge.  But God has such knowledge.  He is able to make JUST choices between people.  Even if He didn’t, He would still have the right to do anything He wanted in manipulating the affairs of men.  After all, He is God.  This world is His to do with as He pleases.  He made it and everyone in it.  Beyond that, the Scriptures reveal Him to be a JUST person.  It is His nature to be just.  Therefore it is impossible for Him to make an unjust decision.   (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Romans, 244)


God uses many different hands to mold our lives–parents, siblings, teachers, ministers, authors–and we can fight against them.  But if we do, we’re fighting against God.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 99)


The Divine Potter controls the clay and can do with it as he pleases.  But he has chosen to delegate the outcome to the choice of nations and individuals.  What Moses said on God’s behalf to Israel, Jeremiah said for God to the Israel of his day:  “I have set before you life and death. . . Now choose life, so that you . . . may live” (Dt 30:19).  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 182)


The proper attitude for clay is to be pliable rather than stiff, receptive rather than rebellious, and grateful for the potter’s touch rather than resentful of the potter’s purpose for us.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Romans, 187)


The picture of potter and clay is doubly appropriate to describe God’s relationship to us.  First, we are made of clay.  The Catechism for Young Children asks, “Of what were our first parents made?” (Q. 17).  The answer begins like this: “God made the body of Adam out of the ground” (A. 17).  The words are taken straight from Scripture: “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground” (Gn 2:7).  God was the potter; Adam was the clay.  The word Jeremiah used for “potter” comes from the word translated “formed” in Genesis 2.  The first thing we learn about our position in the universe is that God is the potter and we are the clay.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 294)


The dustiness of humanity is recognized to the present day.  “Dust in the wind,” sang the popular group Kansas, “all we are is dust in the wind.”  On the television program Star Trek: The Next Generation, human beings were referred to as “carbon units.”  It may sound insulting, but it is sound theology, not to mention good science.  The bodies of human beings are made from the dust of the ground.  We are but clay.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 295)


The main idea Paul is putting across is this:  If even a potter has the right out of the same lump or mass of clay to make one vessel for honor, and another for dishonor, then certainly God, our Maker, has the right, out of the same mass of human beings who by their own guilt have plunged themselves into the pit of misery, to elect some to everlasting life, and to allow others to remain in the abyss of wretchedness.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Romans, 327)


Jeremiah used two symbolic actions involving pottery to instruct the people.  First came a lesson from pottery-making (18:1-10).  Then came a lesson from pottery-breaking (19:1-13).  Following both symbolic acts, the Lord announced he was preparing or shaping disaster on Judah (18:11; 19:15).  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 176)


As the potter reworked the clay when it was marred in his hand, so Israel was in God’s hand.  He would deal with the nation on the basis of her choices.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 178)


The chief point here is the power the potter had over the clay.  The clay was in his hand and under his control.  The defects were in the clay, not the hand of the potter.  The potter’s perseverance must not be overlooked at this point in this passage.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 491)


The clay does not have the right to question the potter; but much more significant is the claim that the potter has intentions of preparing vessels for his glory and fit for his mercy.  In the process of fulfilling these purposes, vessels can be shaped and reshaped and used in ways not understood by the vessels themselves.  Their “essence” is not thereby violated but taken up and used by the God of grace.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 190)


II-  If condemned sinners repent, God will relent.   (Jer 18:7-8; see also: Mt 9:13; Lk 13:1-5; 18:13-14; Acts 2:38-40; 3:19; 8:22; 1 Pt 2:25; 1 Jn 1:9)


It is not, of course, that we can fully understand what God reveals about His sovereign election and predestination.  It can only be accepted by faith, acknowledging its truth simply because God has revealed it to be true.  As believers, we know that, in ourselves, we deserve only God’s rejection and condemnation.  But we also know that, for His own sovereign reasons, God has elected us to be His children and, in His own time and way, brought us to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, we also know that our human will had a part in our salvation.  Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me.”  That is the choice of God’s will.  But Jesus immediately went on to say that “the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (Jn 6:37).  That is the choice of man’s will, which God graciously accedes to for all who believe in His Son.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 9-16, 37)


III-  If those promised blessings fall, God will reconsider.   (Jer 18:9-10; see also: Dt 32:15-30; 2 Chr 15:2-4; 28:9; Ezra 8:22; Ezek 3:20; 18:26; 33:12-18; Rom ch 9-11; 2 Tm 2:12)


Responsibility for the ruin and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem lay fully with their citizens.  Blame could not be placed on an irascible and indifferent God, but destruction and ruin were the consequences of their own self-willed folly.  By the same doctrine, however, repentance and a right choice towards God on a national and an individual basis could establish the ground for a wholly new beginning: “If at any time I declare concerning a nation, or a kingdom, that I will build and plant it. . .” (v. 9).  The divine grace at work in providence was applicable to every nation and individual and was such a better future.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 114)


Perhaps you have heard it said that God’s sovereignty ends where human free will begins.  Maybe you have even said it.  It is blasphemy, of course, because if God’s sovereignty is limited by our free will, then we are sovereign.  We do have free will.  We have the ability to choose what we want to be.  That is true freedom, but it is always and everywhere limited by God’s sovereignty.  Any time man’s free will bumps up against God’s free will, who wins?  It is no contest.  It is God’s good pleasure to save his elect that he may show forth his grace in salvation.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans, 324-5)


IV-  Beware the Fallen point of no return.  (Jer 18:11-12; see also:  Isa 55:6; Mt 5:13; Lk 9:62; Jn 3:19-21; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Tm 4:2; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-39; 2 Pt 2:20-21)


Immediately following Yahweh’s first word to the prophet, he provided another.  This message resembled the one given to Isaiah in his call and inaugural vision (Isa 6:9-10).  “The people will not hear you!  Their pride, along with other forms of wickedness, has infiltrated and saturated their lives.  They have thus developed a stubbornness of heart which has immunized them against any kind of repentance.  They not only will not repent, but they cannot repent.”  Nevertheless Yahweh said in essence, “Tell them this same thing another time.  Give them one more warning.”  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 183)


From Genesis to Revelation we see that God’s abandoning a sinner to wickedness is not an act of unrighteousness on his part; it is a manifestation of his perfect justice.  It is as if he is saying, “You want to sin?  Be my guest.  I am not going to strive with you anymore.  I am going to take the wraps off.  I am going to loosen the leash and let you do what you want, because I know that the desires of your hearts are only wicked continually.”  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans, 330)


12-17.  Time has run out for Judah (cf. 2:25).  National sin is so ingrained that repentance is out of the question.  (R.K. Harrison, Tyndale OT Commentaries: Jeremiah, 109)


Christ is the stumbling stone.  This is an astonishing figure of speech until we look at it closely.  Then we realize how God presents Christ to us, and how that presentation offends everything that is in the natural heart.  Men are willing to accept a Jesus of their own description, but they refuse the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Covenants, 57)


And there must perhaps always be just enough lack of demonstrative certainty to make free choice possible:  for what could we do but accept if the faith were like the multiplication table?  ”  (Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, 99)


I remembered Pascal arguing that God has given us just enough light so that we can understand and just enough darkness or obscurity to deny the truth, if we wish.  That was it.  Of course, God cannot reveal Himself in a rationally irrefutable manner.  If God were plain to us as the tree outside our window, as one great theologian once wrote, we would have no need for faith.  If we saw God in His true character, in His glory, in anything like the way we see the world around us, our free will would be meaningless.  We could not help but believe in God.  It would be impossible to deny Him.  This would destroy the possibility of choosing to believe–of faith–and with it the possibility of love, because love cannot be compelled.  We cannot love God if we are not given the option of rejecting Him.  Remember, God has given us just enough light to see by, but not enough to eliminate the need to see with eyes of faith.  Our pride has to get out of the way, and we have to recognize that faith is not faith unless it is accompanied by doubt–or at least, as Catholic piety would say, difficulties.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 380)


Worship Point: Worship the God Who never changes but relates to us.  His actions will change relative to human free choice.  Only a sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing God has the security and confidence to give humans this kind of dignity, responsibility and power.


“‘Your thoughts of God are too human.’ said Luther to Erasmus. This is where most of us go astray.   Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of His limitless wisdom and power.  Because we ourselves are limited and weak, we imagine that at some points God is too, and find it hard to believe that He is not.   We think of God as too much like what we are.  Put this mistake right, says God; learn to acknowledge the full majesty of your incomparable God and Savior.” (J. I. Packer; Knowing God, 78-9)


The Lord presented two scenarios that illustrated His sovereign power over nations (Jer 18:7-10).  If He threatened to judge a nation and that nation repented, then he would relent and not send the judgment.  He did this with Nineveh when Jonah’s preaching brought the city to repentance (Jon 3).  On the other hand, if He promised to bless a nation, as He did Israel in His covenants, and that nation did evil in His sight, then He could withhold the blessing and send judgment instead.  God neither changes in character nor needs to repent of His actions (Mal 3:6; Nm 23:19), but He has the sovereign freedom to alter His actions depending on the responses of the people.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 99)


Man’s will is free because God is sovereign.  A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures.  He would be afraid to do so.  (A. W. Tozer; The Knowledge of the Holy, 111)


To be sure, there’s mystery involved in the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but we don’t have to explain the will of God before we can obey it.  We live by divine promises and precepts, not theological explanations, and God isn’t obligated to explain anything to us. (If He did, we probably wouldn’t be able to grasp it!)  “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Dt 29:29).  Jesus promised that if we obey what we know, God will reveal more of His truth to us (Jn 7:17).  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 99)


God is sovereign.  But man also has free choice and will. How can these be reconciled?

     I’m sure no one can answer this question fully, but I think much insight might be able to be gleaned by considering these thoughts that came to Brad Shaw and myself on 5-15-07 during a talk that afternoon:

     God created laws that the universe was designed to follow.  God ordained that there be a real cause and effect built into the universe.  That is what gives our human choice and actions meaning and significance.

     If God is not sovereign, He could not rule over the universe to insure that those laws are followed.

     God wants those laws of the Universe to be followed because it is only by having consistency in the universe, 1- That real learning on the part of man can take place.  2- That our actions can possibly have any real meaning or significance.  3- It is the only way that we can interact with the Universes in any real significant or meaningful way.

     Therefore, God wants to insure that the Universe has a cause and effect that obeys the Laws of the Universe that Wisdom (God) laid out at the foundation of the world.

     Satan, on the other hand, has been trying to disrupt those cause and effect connections since just prior to the Fall.  He will do and has done all that he can to try and get us to believe that there is in fact, NO cause and effect between our actions and the consequences.  Especially in regard to spiritual cause and effect—when it comes to disobeying God’s Laws.  Simply remember his strategy in the Garden.

     Therefore, it is God’s sovereign control over the universe that allows us to have any meaningful choice at all.  Satan is trying to diminish and/or destroy that connection.  We need to make sure that we do not put into conflict God’s sovereignty and man’s free choice.  They are not mutually exclusive.   They are, as it turns out, I believe, intimately tied together.


God’s control of things is not contrary to the responsibility of man.  It is the very foundation of it.   If God were not in control He could not hold man responsible.  Man is accountable to God because God is sovereign; he should obey God because God is in control of things.  Moreover, man has significance because God has sovereignly ordained significance for man.  Whatever responsibility we have is founded on God’s sovereignty, not in spite of it.  Without God’s sovereignty man would have no responsibility. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr., Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, p. 120)


He gave him reason and understanding.  He made him essentially different from the animals.  Animals live according to their lusts, their instincts, their desires; not so man.  He was given a critical faculty.  He was given the power of looking on at himself and of making estimates.  He was able to curb and to control himself.  He was different, not a part of creation but the lord of it.  God, in other words, gave something of his own power.  He could not have paid a greater compliment. 

     And not only that, God gave freedom.  Man, as he was originally made, was absolutely free, with free will, complete freedom of choice.  And not only that, God set before man a very glorious possibility.  He told him that if he obeyed the commandments of God, he would be glorified and would never die at all.

     That is how God made man and set him in this world.  And God here argues that he has a perfect right, therefore, to lay down conditions for men and women and to make demands of them.  There is nothing derogatory in that.  There is nothing derogatory in asking them to acknowledge the lordship of the Almighty. ( D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 140-1)


George Adam Smith says, “By figure and by word the Divine Sovereignty was proclaimed as absolutely as possible.  But the Sovereignty is a real Sovereignty and therefore includes Freedom.”  God may change his course of action as circumstances change.  But God does not change with regard to his essence, his attributes; he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 182)


We do the sinning ourselves; God does not do it.  It is not sin with which God cooperates, but human freedom.  (Thomas C. Oden; The Living God, 284)


Although the abuse of free will was foreseen by God, it could have been prevented by God only at the price of depriving human existence of its most noble attribute, namely, free will.  (Thomas C. Oden; The Living God, 298)


Jeremiah rightly recognized that there was a fundamental error in thinking of God primarily in terms of power–especially power available for the protection of his people–rather than in terms of love and righteousness.  The very “Godness” of God would be impugned if it were thought to be a willingness to defend and uphold Israel regardless of their conduct.  Jeremiah rightly recognized that a major issue of the theology was at stake in the sharp hostility shown towards him.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 117)


18:7-10.  Jeremiah was a prophet who covered all the bases when he spoke God’s will.  He had made clear that Yahweh was in charge and would never relinquish his sovereignty.  But he needed to point out the flip side of this coin.  His message was no inflexible pronouncement of a rigid determinism that ignored human personality.  Neither was Yahweh a deity who was enslaved by his previous decrees.  Both he and his creatures have choices.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 181)


God is sovereign, but we are also responsible.  The Scriptures place these two ideas side by side, without apology and without much explanation.  In fact, we see this principle throughout the Bible.  Here are a few examples.  You undoubtedly could add others:

  • “In his heart a man plans his course [our responsibility], but the LORD determines his steps [God’s sovereignty]” (Prv 16:9)
  • “The horse is made ready for the day of battle [our responsibility], but victory rests with the LORD [God’s sovereignty]” (Prv 21:31).
  • “Unless the LORD builds the house [God’s sovereignty], its builders labor [our responsibility] in vain” (Ps 127:1).
  • David wrote, “I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies (Ps 44:6). David didn’t trust in his bow, but in God.  But neither did he throw his bow away.  He used it with all the skill he could muster.
  • Paul wrote, “To this end I labor [our responsibility], struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me [God’s sovereignty]” (Col 1:29).
  • Paul wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it [our responsibility], but God made it grow [God’s sovereignty]” (1 Cor 3:6). (Patrick Morely; Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror, 96-7)


Gospel Application: Keep your eyes on Jesus Who is proof positive that God loves us and desires for all things to work for our good.


As believers, we must rest in this:  God is not answerable to man for what he does.  However, he can be relied upon to act consistently with his character, which has been disclosed supremely in Christ.  With such a God, why should any of us question his ways?  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Romans, 179)


Can it be thought that God would permit, let alone ordain, the destruction of Israel when they are “his” people?  The prophetic answer is that this can be so, as shown by the analogy of the potter beginning anew by reworking the original clay (v. 4).  It becomes demonstrably clear that the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem is to be understood as fully within the range of the working of divine providence.  There is a further hidden element in the analogy that may or may not have been intended: After the original pot had been spoiled, it was nonetheless “reworked into another vessel.”  We may discern in this feature of the analogy a positive message of hope indicating that God could begin to fashion his people Israel anew.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 112-3)


Spiritual Challenge: Live your life in view of a sovereign God Whose love for us is without disputation.  Allow the Potter to make something beautiful of you (the clay).


We come into this world like so many clay pots.  Our lives are pitted with blemishes and impurities.  We are neither useful nor beautiful.  As clay goes, we are not all that easy to work with.  We need to be created all over again, which is what the Holy Spirit does in the life of a sinner who trusts in Christ.  He makes him or her into something useful and beautiful.  If you know Christ, then you are a memorial to God’s patience and long-suffering, his careful use of material, and his power of making something out of failure.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 301)


The clay is not attractive in itself, but when the hands of the potter touch it, and the thought of the potter is brought to bear upon it, and the plan of the potter is worked out in it and through it, then there is real transformation.  (J. Wilbur Chapman)


Paul took up this analogy of potter and clay in his reflection on the state of Israel according to the flesh and God’s larger design in calling the Gentiles to new life in Christ (Rom 9-11).  It is God’s sovereign right as the “potter” to make a common vessel (and to judge it) as it is to select one for special service (9:19-21).  The apostle saw in God’s sending of Christ the outworking of a plan to bind all over “to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (11:32).  God’s sovereign mercy is the foundation of the apostle’s wrestling with the difficult subject of Israel’s disobedience and her future.  He was convinced that Israel’s rejection of Christ as the Messiah was a hardening of the heart that God could use.  It would not mean the final rejection of Israel but the opportunity for the Gentiles.  God is a merciful and righteous “potter,” not a puppet master pulling chains.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 188)


Spiritual Challenge Questions:

A-  What is there about the sovereignty of God that makes it so hard for us to comprehend and accept?


B-  What would like be like if we embraced whole-heartedly God’s sovereignty?


C-  What can we do to better equip ourselves to embrace God’s sovereignty?


So What?: You want to never worry?  See God as sovereign.  You want to live free of fear?  See God as sovereign.  You want to live at peace with yourself and God?  See God as sovereign.  You want to be content with your lot in life?  See God as sovereign.  You want to live life with joy and gratitude no matter what the circumstances?  See God as sovereign.  You want to live with a proper fear of the Lord?    See God as sovereign.


There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne…for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.  —C.H. Spurgeon.


You can’t be free until you are secure.  And you can’t be secure unless you know the sovereign God who is ruling this whole show.  —Steve Brown


The famous Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte used to say that the victorious Christian life was a “series of new beginnings.”  No failure in our lives need be fatal or final, although we certainly suffer for our sins.  God gave new beginnings to Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, and Peter when they failed, and He can do the same for us today.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 100)


In authentic discussions about God’s purpose and goodness, there is an inherent reference to a future entrusted to God; it is a future not completely understood from a finite human perspective.  One is called to trust in the work of the potter, to walk by faith and not by sight, and to accept God’s judgment in the present in the hope that the Potter will reshape the future.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 190)


When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on . . . .and then swing!  —Barbara Johnson








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