Jeremiah 17:1-27


Definition of faith and the human heart


Halley has, “Their downfall [is] inevitable. Yet the promise is flung out again and again that if only they would turn to God, Jerusalem would remain forever (24-25).  Verses 1-4, again God defines the sins of Judah, and that they have kindled God’s anger, as he says, forever in verse 4.  Verses 5-10,  J. Vernon McGee says “It might be well for us to put that up as a motto today.  Sometimes we think we can depend on certain men or on certain political parties to work out the problems of the world [or our nation].  You and I are cursed people if we put our trust in men and what men can do.  This is the day to trust God.”  Verses 5-8 shows the fruits of a man not having faith in God as opposed to a man having faith in God, explains the spiritual quality of faith and its rewards.  Verse 9 is the classic definition of what the human heart is like in this world of Satan, often quoted by astute pastors.  It echoes of Paul’s classic statement in Romans 3:9-18 which starts out “There is none righteous, no not one…”  Verse 10, God is the one who searches the hearts of men, with payback to each for his own ways.  God is in the job of searching the hearts of men and women.  Those that show a genuine love for God and the things of God are the ones God reveals himself to, and draws to himself.  I love what J. Vernon McGee says about verse 9, “Sometimes we who are ministers use the expression, ‘Give your heart to the Lord.’  Well, what would God want with that old, dirty, filthy heart of yours or mine?  He doesn’t want it.  The heart is deceitful.  He wants to give you a new heart.”  Cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Verses 11-13 are sort of like a few proverbs the LORD gives us through Jeremiah.  Verses 14-18 contain a prayer from Jeremiah to the LORD.  Then verses 19-27 contain a serious warning to Judah about doing any work on God’s Holy Sabbath-day (which for the uninformed falls on Saturday, sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night) for those believers who observe it.  I always say, for those who observe it, they should observe it according to the dictates and requirements of actual Scripture, and for those who exercise what they believe are their freedoms in Christ to observe another day of worship (see, there are no such requirements, as they see it.


“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of your altars, while their children remember their altars and their wooden images by the green trees on the high hills.  O my mountain in the field, I will give as plunder your wealth, all your treasures, and your high places of sin within all your borders.  And you, even yourself, shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; and I will cause you to serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire in my anger which shall burn forever.”


The Fruits of Men’s Hearts, Who Do You Trust In, Man or God?


“Thus says the LORD:  Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.  For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”


What the human heart is truly like


Verses 9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?  I, the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”


A few proverbs from the LORD


“As the partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; it will leave him in the midst of his days.  And at his end he will be a fool.  A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.  O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed.  Those who depart from me shall be written in the earth [ie, ashes to ashes and dust to dust], because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.” 


Jeremiah’s Prayer to the LORD


Verses 14-18, “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.  Indeed they say to me, ‘Where is the word of the LORD?  Let is come now!’  As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows you, nor have I desired the woeful day [he doesn’t want the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem to come, until it’s absolutely necessary, in the hopes they will change]; you know what came out of my lips; it was right there before you.  Do not be a terror to me; you are my hope in the day of doom.  Let them be ashamed who persecute me, but do not let me be dismayed.  Bring on them the day of doom, and destroy them with double destruction!’


Hallow the Sabbath Day


Verses 19-27, “Thus the LORD said to me: ‘Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, by which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem; and say to them, Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates.  Thus says the LORD: ‘Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers [cf. Exodus 20:8-11].  But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction.  And it shall be, if you heed me carefully,’ says the LORD, to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but to hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain forever.  And they shall come from the cities of Judah and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin and from the lowland, from the mountains and from the South, bringing offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, bringing sacrifices of praise to the house of the LORD.  But if you will not heed me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and it shall not be quenched.’”


Jeremiah 18:1-23


Jeremiah 18:1-11, “There are three basic things: the potter, the wheel, and the clay.  In the Bible on four different occasions this analogy of the potter and the clay is used to express our relationship to God.  He is the Master Potter; my life is the clay.  This picture speaks to us of the sovereignty of God over our lives, the ability of God to make of us whatever he desires.  Clay in its natural form is almost worthless because it is common.  But yet the potter, through his skill, can take worthless clay and make it into a vessel of beauty.  He can make it into a vessel that can be used.  Our lives in their natural state are almost worthless.  [As you grow older, toward old age, you will all realize how decrepit and worthless our physical bodies, composed of physical matter are.  It is the second law of entropy in physics that all matter decays from a higher form of worth and/or energy level to a lower one.  Our bodies do the same exact thing, as you’ll discover, if you haven’t already done.]  There is only one life.  It will soon be passed; only what you do for Christ will last.  The wheel is the instrument with which the potter fashions the clay.  It is under his control, and he uses it to form the clay into whatever shape he wants for it.  And thus the wheel represents the circumstances in our lives that God uses to mold and shape us.  God uses circumstances [in our family, immediate surroundings, and this evil world] to mold our character.  [i.e. look at the circumstances of this evil world God used to mold the character of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshak and Abed-Nego in captivity in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire.]  In this Jeremiah passage, the vessel was marred in the hands of the potter as Jeremiah was watching it.  The thing that strikes me about this is God’s patience.  Though there is the failure and the vessel becomes marred in the hands of the potter, he does not give up.  He will start over and remold and reshape it until it becomes a vessel that pleases him.  Here in this picture, we see the beautiful patience of God by which he works with us and in us as he is forming and shaping us into the image of Jesus Christ.  Paul said, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).  So God is working in you to conform you into the image of Christ, patiently and lovingly.  How I appreciate and thank the Potter for his mercy and his patience with which he has worked in my life.”  [quoted from Pastor Chuck Smith’s “The Word For Today Bible”, NKJV, p. 978] J. Vernon McGee has this to say about God the Master Potter, “…the clay on the wheel down at the potter’s house to which Jeremiah takes us has no will.  I do!  That clay cannot cooperate with the potter [but in pottery, the potter can make clay more “cooperative” if it is too dry or hard, by adding water, which in the Bible is symbolic of the Holy Spirit].  That clay cannot cooperate with the potter.  I can!  I quoted the Genesis account of the creation of man for a purpose---God created man in his own likeness.  He took man physically out of the dust of the ground; he made man.  Then he breathed into his breathing-places the spirit of life, and man became a living soul.  Man today has a free will, and he can exercise it.  That clay has no will.  But you and I do have a will; we can cooperate with the Potter.  Now I want to ask the Potter a question.  What’s your purpose in putting me on the potter’s wheel?  Why do you bear down on me?  Why do you do this?  I’m not being irreverent, but I am like the little gingerbread boy, I talk back.  Why, O Potter, do you do this?  What are you after?  Well, I go back to the potter’s house.  Follow me now very carefully.  I do not discover the purpose, but I learn something more important than the purpose for my life.  I learn that the potter has a purpose, which is more important to know.  I watch the potter there.  He is serious.  He means business.  He’s not playing with clay.  This is his work.  He is giving his time, his talents, his ability to working with the clay.  Notice again in verses 3-4: “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.”  My friend, this is not a cat-and-mouse operation.  This is not the potter’s avocation.  It is his vocation.  It is not his hobby.  This is not something with which he is amusing himself.  He knows what he is doing.  This tells me that God is not playing with me today.  He is not experimenting with us.  He has purpose.  And, friend, that comforts me.  This is the second great principle we see here:  the Potter has a purpose (THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 385)” as Pastor Chuck Smith has already explained to us.  Who really is the Potter, let’s get the big picture.  “Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere will you find such a graphic picture of the sovereignty of God than in this [illustration of the potter].  Man, the clay upon the potter’s wheel, and God, the Potter.  You won’t find anything quite like this.  And our contemporary generation resists it because this is the day of the rights of man.  We are hearing a great deal today about freedom, and every group is insisting upon its freedom---freedom to protest, freedom to do what it chooses.  We seem to have forgotten about the rights of God.  Today men will permit a racketeering gangster to plead the fifth amendment because we must protect his rights.  God has incontestable authority. His will is inexorable, it is inflexible, and it will prevail.  He has irresistible ability to form and fashion this universe to suit himself.  He can form this little earth on which we live to suit himself [as prior creations and climatic conditions to suit them have been clearly seen.  See ].  And, my friend, you, an individual, and I, an individual, can be nothing but clay in his hands.  He has power to carry through his will and he answers to no one.  He has no board of directors.  He has no voters to whom he must respond.  He has absolute authority.  His is God.  You and I live in a universe that is running to please God.  And the rebellion of little man down here on this speck of dust that we live on is a “tempest in a teapot!”  Our little earth, as we see in the pictures taken from the moon, is just a speck in the infinity of space.  And, my friend, God rides triumphantly in his own chariot [turn to Ezekiel 1:1-28 and read this description of what amounts to a portable throne of Yahweh, his “chariot” so to speak.  Read it in the NKJV for clarity.]  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 384] Verses 12-17, God’s warning is rejected.  Halley says, “A very apt illustration of God’s power to alter the destiny of a nation.  Jeremiah used it as the basis for another appeal to the wicked nation [of Judah] to amend its ways.  But in vain.”  Verses 18-23, Jeremiah is persecuted.


“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear my words.’  Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the LORD.  ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel!  The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in my sight so that it does not obey my voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.’  Now there, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you.  Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.’”  Comment:  Now how does this apply to believers in Yeshua, Jesus, now in today’s day and age.  The answer to that question should be obvious. The inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem were Yahweh’s physical children, they received blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience, in accordance to the Torah Laws found recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.  If you as a believer are asking God for something, and you are in a pattern of disobedience, backsliding, do you think you’re going to receive the blessings you’re petitioning the Lord for?  I suspect the pattern of how the Lord dealt with the houses of Israel and Judah is quite similar to the template he uses for us.  Are you faithfully following the road of sanctification the Lord has laid out before you, or are you in rebellion to it?  (See for a lot of resources giving you a full treatment of this important subject.)  Is the Lord “fashioning a disaster” for those in this part of the “Church Age”, for those who are “disobedient”?  Jesus, the former Yahweh, says “I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  What was good for them is good for us, just in case you think having the indwelling Holy Spirit gives you any special dispensation or cuts you any slack ancient Israel and Judah weren’t cut.  (To see what the Lord could be “fashioning” see and  These are very scary times we’re coming into, best to be spiritually prepared for those times.  Next, verses 12 through 17.  Now here’s a question many raise, ‘If Israel and Judah were only receiving physical blessings for obedience, and they for the most part did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit, were Israel and Judah ‘marred in the Potter’s hands’?  When will the LORD refashion them into vessels of honor?  Does he have a plan for that?’  The Body of Christ has many different answers to those questions, or they duck the issue entirely.  See to see this myriad of differing answers, and a link to a potentially true answer at the end of that set of documents.


God’s Warning Rejected


“And they said, ‘That is hopeless!  So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates [Hebrew: stubbornness] of his evil heart.’  Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard such things?  The virgin of Israel has done a very horrible thing.  Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field?  Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?  Because my people have forsaken me, they have burned incense to worthless idols.  And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway, to make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and shake his head.  I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back and not the face in the day of their calamity.’”


Jeremiah is persecuted


Verses 18-23, “Then they said, ‘Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet.  Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.’  Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me!  Shall evil be repaid for good?  For they have dug a pit for my life.  Remember that I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them.  Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; let their wives become widows and bereaved of their children.  Let their men be put to death, their young men be slain by the sword in battle.  Let a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring a troop suddenly upon them; for they have dug a pit to take me, and hidden snares for my feet.  Yet, LORD, you know all their counsel which is against me, to slay me.  Provide no atonement for their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from your sight; but let them be overthrown before you.  Deal thus with them in the time of your anger.”


Jeremiah 19:1-15


This short chapter gets to the heart of what God hates about Judah’s worship of idols, and centers on one particular form of worship, Baal worship, and where it was taking place.  Log onto and scroll to the paragraph title “King Ahab, son of Omri rules in Israel” and read through that paragraph.  It explains the horrible practice of Baal worship, which Jeremiah shows is still going on, but now in Judah.  It is the very reason God caused the ten tribed House of Israel to be driven from its homeland just north of the land of Judah.


“Thus says the LORD: ‘Go and get a potter’s earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests.  And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you, and say, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle.  Because they have forsaken me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into my mind), therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that this place shall no more be called Tophet or 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 those who seek their lives; their corpses I will give as meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth.  I will make this city desolate and a hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of its plagues.  And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair.’”  That was what God told Jeremiah to say to those whom he brought to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom with this earthen flask.  Yahweh instructs Jeremiah what to do next.  Verses 10-12, “Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury.  Thus I will do to this place,’ says the LORD, ‘and to its inhabitants, and make this city like Tophet.  And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Tophet, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods.’  [See and]  Then Jeremiah goes to the Temple and makes a similar proclamation. verses 14-15, “Then Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’s house and said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear my words.’”


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