Jeremiah 18:6 as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand
“Apart from being a memorable image of the omnipotence of God, this image of the potter reinforces the covenantal relationship of the Lord with his people. He has the power to form them as individuals and as a nation and to then destroy them and start over again. In history, when the pot has become marred, the Lord has destroyed it and started over again. He has done this on several occasions throughout scriptural history, such as the Flood, the destruction of the Nephites, and the Apostasy and the Restoration.” (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 226)
“(Sunday, 19 Dec. 1841) Elder Heber C. Kimball preached at the house of President Joseph Smith, on the parable in the 18th chapter of Jeremiah, of the clay in the hands of the potter, that when it marred in the hands of the potter it was cut off the wheel and then thrown back again into the mill, to go into the next batch, and was a vessel of dishonor; but all clay that formed well in the hands of the potter, and was pliable, was a vessel of honor; and thus it was with the human family, and ever will be: all that are pliable in the hands of God and are obedient to His commands, are vessels of honor, and God will receive them.
“President Joseph arose and said—‘Brother Kimball has given you a true explanation of the parable.’” (History of the Church, 4:478)
Harold B. Lee
"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand" (Isaiah 64:8). I've read that verse many times but had not received the full significance until I was down in Mexico a few years ago at Telacapaca, where the people mold clay into various kinds of pottery. There I saw them take clay that had been mixed by crude, primitive methods, the molder wading in the mud to mix it properly. Then it was put upon a potter's wheel and the potter began to fashion the intricate bits of pottery, which he was to place on the market. And as we watched, we saw occasionally, because of some defect in the mixing, the necessity for pulling the whole lump of clay apart and throwing it back in to be mixed over again, and sometimes the process had to be repeated several times before the mud was properly mixed.
With that in mind, I began to see the meaning of this scripture. Yes, we too have to be tried and tested by poverty, by sickness, by the death of loved ones, by temptation, sometimes by the betrayal of supposed friends, by affluence and riches, by ease and luxury, by false educational ideas, and by the flattery of the world. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 76)
Hugh W. Pinnock
The Lord explained to Jeremiah that when we make mistakes, as ancient Israel was making, we can take what we have marred and begin again. The potter did not give up and throw the clay away, just because he had made a mistake. And we are not to feel hopeless and reject ourselves. Yes, our task is to overcome our problems, take what we have and are, and start again. (Ensign, May 1982, 12)
Heber C. Kimball
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as the potter? Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand.” (Jer. 18:6) They dishonored themselves and were rebellious, and I have cut them off and thrown them in the mill, and they shall grind until they are passive. And I have taken a gentler lump, to see if I cannot make a vessel unto honor. By and by that lump will dishonor itself, and be thrown back into the mill, and God will take Israel and make of them a vessel unto honor.
Some time ago, when I spoke to the congregation in words of rebuke, it made a wonderful stir with a few men, that is, with those who were hit, and with those who were filled with sympathy for them, because they were such fine, accomplished gentlemen. After I went home from the council that same evening, I dreamed that I was at work at my old trade of making pots, that I had a kiln, and that brothers Brigham, Grant, and others were there. The kiln was full of earthen vessels, and we had burnt wood in the arches until it became red hot, but the blaze was coming out of the flues. It did not draw as we wished it to, for the wood was not sufficiently dry. We went and got some good, dry wood, but were gone sometime, and when we came back the kiln got considerably low in heat. We put in some dry wood, and soon brought it back to the same heat it had before we left it. But when I began to look around, I saw a great many vessels, off on one side, that were not good for anything, they would not stand the fire and began to fall in when nobody was touching them; a whole tier of them fell in at a time. Said I, “Why have you made these vessels so thin? You have made them two-thirds larger than they ought to be, with the amount of clay that is in them. Their skin is too thin, you have stretched them too far, and not given them the thickness in proportion. What shall we do with them? Let us break them up and put them into the mill, and grind them up again. The material is good, but they all need making over.”
Do you understand that dream? The Elders or somebody else, had stretched those vessels too much; they had got the big head, that is, their heads were larger than the substances would sustain, and they fell in—the vessels fell in. The clay was good, but the vessels were made too big in the start; we must not stretch them too much. Potters always work according to the amount of clay on hand; if it is a small lump they make a small vessel, and make it all the way of a thickness, as near as possible. (Journal of Discourses, 2:162-163)
Jeremiah 18:7-10 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation… to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy
Remember the process of creation? How does God do it? Since the elements obey his voice, he merely speaks and life is created. “For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither… at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Hel. 12:8) During the creation, “the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.” (Abr. 4:18) The same idea is represented here regarding the creation or destruction of a nation. God can speak, and “poof” it will happen. What’s the point? Well, Jehovah is saying, “Look here backsliding Israel, all I have to do is say the word and you are toast! One word and you’re done! But do you care? Do you repent? Do you fear my power to destroy you?”
It is apparent that no matter what may be the characteristics of a nation, if it will turn from its evil, the Lord will repent of the evil that he thought to do unto it, and vice versa. Thus, all nations and people have free agency and, according to their choice, the Lord will do unto them. (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 345)
The Lord is determined to raise up a people that will worship Him; and if He has to whip, and scourge, and drive us through a whole generation, He will chastise us until we are willing to submit to righteousness and truth, or until we are like clay in the hands of the potter. The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we never could have passed through without. I hope, then, that we may learn from the experience we have had to be faithful, and humble, and be passive in the hands of God, and do His commandments. (Journal of Discourses, 2:198)
Jeremiah 18:12 they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices
James E. Faust
We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, “The devil made me do it.” I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him… So Satan and his angels are not all-powerful. One of Satan’s approaches is to persuade a person who has transgressed that there is no hope of forgiveness. But there is always hope. Most sins, no matter how grievous, may be repented of if the desire is sincere enough. (“The Great Imitator,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 35–36, italics added)
Jeremiah 18:17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face
The east wind is always the wind of destruction, famine, draught, heat, and misery. There was nothing but hot desert east of Jerusalem and “the east wind” never brought anything good.
Most of Jeremiah’s prophecies are immediate. They occur in his lifetime to his generation. Think how quickly most of his scriptures are fulfilled. It is not many years after he warns the king, the elders, the priests, and the people that Babylon is coming to destroy them. Similarly, the scattering will soon begin: Lehi’s family to the New World, Mulek’s group to the promised land (Omni 1:14-18), a remnant that takes Jeremiah to Egypt, (Jer. 43) and the main body of survivors to Babylon (Jer. 52). Some are scattered to save them and plant them as a branch in the nethermost part of the vineyard (Jacob 5:14) and others are scattered as a punishment. Whatever the reason, when God decides to turn his back upon his people, it’s not good. Hopefully we never actually experience what that feels like.
Jeremiah 18:18 Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah
“The people's response to Jeremiah was anything but positive. The men of Anathoth, Jeremiah's home town, sought his life (see Jer. 11:21), leading him to cry unto the Lord to know why the wicked prospered. (See Jer. 12:1.) He further lamented over his being born ‘a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth.’ (Jer. 15:10.) His enemies devised ways to oppose his counsel and sought to take his life. (Jer. 18:18, 23.)
“Jeremiah was taken before the princes of Judah and accused of being ‘worthy to die’ for having prophesied against Judah. But as he faced his accusers in the temple courtyard, Jeremiah fearlessly repeated his prophecy. His life was spared, however, because of the intervention of a high-ranking officer. (See Jer. 26:1Jer. 26.) Jeremiah was placed in stocks overnight for prophesying against Jerusalem and all Judah's cities. (See Jer. 19-20.) This was a punishment to bring public scorn and ridicule upon an offender. It was apparently effective in Jeremiah's case, because he said he would refuse to speak in the name of Jehovah (that is, to prophesy) anymore. However, the Spirit acted so strongly upon him that he could not restrain himself. The actions of the people around him further precipitated his return to the Lord, as he realized that the Lord was with him and that his enemies would be confounded. Jeremiah still cursed the day he was born.” (“Jeremiah's Prophetic Warning Rejected by People of Jerusalem,” LDS Church News, 1994, 12/31/94)
Jeremiah 19:2 go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom… and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee
Bruce R. McConkie
Outside Jerusalem, to the south and west, lies the Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna. In the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, infants were sacrificed to Molech at a Topheth or high place built in this valley, causing it to take on a sinister significance and be called "the valley of slaughter." (2 Kings 23:5, 10; 2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; Isa. 30:33; Jer. 7:31-34; 19:6, 11-15.) Thereafter Gehenna was further desecrated as a garbage and rubbish heap and as a place where bodies of criminals were thrown out; to help prevent pestilence, overburning fires were kept smoldering in this infested refuse.
Under these conditions, it was natural for the prophetic mind to use the term gehenna to signify the burnings, torment, anguish, and unspeakable horrors of hell. Our Lord himself made frequent use of gehenna to signify hell and its attendant horrors. (Matt. 5:22; 29:30; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5; Jas. 3:6.) His statement, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:48), becomes even more expressive when viewed in the light of the numerous crawling things and perpetual burnings of that Gehenna of which his hearers had personal knowledge. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 308)
James E. Talmage
Examples of Atrocious Idolatry—The worship of Moloch is generally cited as an example of the cruelest and most abhorrent idolatry known to man. Moloch, called also Molech, Malcham, Milcom, Baal-melech, etc., was an Ammonite idol: it is mentioned in scripture in connection with its cruel rites (Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; see also 1 Kings 11:5, 7, 33; 2 Kings 23:10, 13; Amos 5:26; Zeph. 1:5; Jer. 32:35). Keil and Delitzsch describe the idol as being "represented by a brazen statue which was hollow, and capable of being heated, and formed with a bull's head, and with arms stretched out to receive the children to be sacrificed." While the worship of this idol did not invariably include human sacrifice, it is certain that such hideous rites were characteristic of this abominable shrine. The authors last quoted say: "From the time of Ahaz, children were slain at Jerusalem in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and then sacrificed by being laid in the heated arms and burned" (2 Kings 23:10; 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; Jer. 32:35; Ezek. 16:20, 21; 20:31; compare Ps. 106:37, 38). Many authorities state that the sacrifice of children to this hideous monster long antedated the time of Ahaz. "The offering of living victims was probably the climax of enormity in connection with this system, and it is said that Tophet, where it was to be witnessed, was so named from the beating of drums to drown the shrieks and groans of those who were burned to death. The same place was called the Valley of Hinnom, and the horrible associations connected with it led to both Tophet and Gehenna ('valley of Hinnom') being adopted as names and symbols of future torment." For foregoing facts, and others, see The Pentateuch by Keil and Delitzsch, and Cassell's Bible Dictionary. (Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 419. Footnote 8, chapter 24)
Jeremiah 19:4-6 this place shall no more be called… The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter
One of the wickedest Jewish kings was Manasseh.
And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (2 Chron. 33:5-6, italics added)
Jeremiah 19:7-9 I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies… their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls
Prior to entering into the land of promise, the children of Israel were given the Law of Moses a second time. They were also warned of the consequences of breaking their covenant with the Lord. The Lord specifically warned them of the consequences. Jeremiah is really reiterating the warnings recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.
The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies (Deut. 28:25)
Thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth (Deut. 28:26)
Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues… Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt (Deut. 28:59)
Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters… in the siege (Deut. 28:53)
Jeremiah 19:9 I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters… in the siege
If you think of cannibalism as the pinnacle of human depravity, then the only thing that could be worse would be to eat your own children. It might happen in the animal world, but not even the cannibals of primitive tribes would eat their own. There is no record of the fulfillment of this prophecy in the siege by Nebuchadnezzar but we should not doubt that it was fulfilled to the letter. Josephus records the fulfillment of this prophecy at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD.
There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary… She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time… while the famine pierced through her very bowels and marrow, when also her passion was fired to a degree beyond the famine itself; nor did she consult with any thing but with her passion and the necessity she was in. She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child sucking at her breast, she said, "O thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews." As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the [neighbors] came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them, and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror and amazement of mind, and stood astonished at the sight, when she said to them, "This is mine own son, and what hath been done was mine own doing! Come, eat of this food; for I have eaten of it myself! Do not you pretend to be either more tender than a woman, or more compassionate than a mother; but if you be so scrupulous, and do abominate this my sacrifice, as I have eaten the one half, let the rest be reserved for me also." After which those men went out trembling, being never so much aftrighted at any thing as they were at this, and with some difficulty they left the rest of that meat to the mother. Upon which the whole city was full of this horrid action immediately; and while every body laid this miserable case before their own eyes, they trembled, as if this unheard of action had been done by themselves. So those that were thus distressed by the famine were very desirous to die, and those already dead were esteemed happy, because they had not lived long enough either to hear or to see such miseries. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, 3:4)
Jeremiah 19:10-11 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee
What a dramatic object lesson! How easy was it for Jeremiah to throw down the potter’s vessel and shatter it to pieces? Then he speaks for the Lord, “even so will I break this people and this city.” Once shattered, that vessel “cannot be made whole again,” meaning that they were beyond the point of repentance. It was no longer clay on the potter’s wheel that could be recycled. The vessel could no longer hold water, it was completely useless. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13)
“Jeremiah took with him certain elders to hear his condemnation of human sacrifice, a horror never to be resorted to, much less used in worship of the Lord (Jer. 19:1-7). The prophet made dire predictions of parallel horrors to develop under siege and broke the pottery jug as a sign that neither it nor the idolater could be reshaped, hence they would be broken and cast away. Grim predictions of starvation, death, and conflagration followed; and history shows that all those horrors came with the Babylonian invasion. Why did the Lord not prevent it? He could not do so and preserve principles of agency and law in His world. With their agency, the people had ‘hardened their necks, that they might not hear [his] words’ (Jer. 19:8-15).” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1993], 556)