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19 May. Jeremiah chapters 18-22
There are two references to the potter in this reading (a common enough occupation in ancient times). First in chapter 18 Jeremiah sees how the potter re-works a faulty or broken pot into a new one. The parable is not interpreted but it seems obvious – God will take what is broken (the nation of Judah) and re-form it a generation later. The acted parable of the smashed pot in chapter 19 has a similar meaning – in the sight of the rulers Jeremiah smashes the pot after prophesying disaster. Only this time there is no re-working, for the rulers are the most guilty of all and they will not be among those who return.
Increasingly through the course of the book we read of opposition against Jeremiah, for his outspoken words against all the people but especially the king and priests. When he is insulted, put in the stocks and even threatened with death, he turns to God in complaint, at one point (18:19-23) even praying for the downfall of his enemies and their families. Like the ‘imprecatory psalms’ it seems that even the holiest of people can reach a point where they can no longer love their enemies but have to give vent to natural emotions of anger and hate. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as we do not let those emotions take us over, but as soon as we can turn back to praising God (chapter 20).