”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.'”
Jeremiah 19:10-11 “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.””
Sometimes Jeremiah not only taught the Word, but he also illustrated it quite graphically. On this occasion, he was to take a flask in his hands as he spoke to the people. They would see themselves as the earthen vessel that had been created by the potter. At some point in his message, he cast the flask on he ground and the people watched as it shattered into pieces. These shards of pottery now spoke of the broken lives of those who continued to resist the Lord, and stubbornly followed the dictates of their own hearts. It does not take a genius to realize, it would be better to have a life like a beautiful piece of pottery, than a broken shard of clay.
Instead of resisting the Lord and fighting against His word, we should submit to His ways, no matter how counterintuitive they may seem. When we do, we are allowing ourselves to sit on the potter’s wheel and be shaped into His image. There is nothing greater than to be transformed into a vessel that is useful to the Potter.
2 Timothy 2:21 “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
2 Chronicles 10:4
“Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”
Solomon’s expansive building projects did not come cheaply, and had a devastating effect upon the nation of Israel. The people sat under a heavy yoke of taxation. After Solomon’s death, the people had enough. They sought relief from the tax burden the government had imposed on the nation. Young King Rehoboam, in his arrogance, believed the government knew better than the people, and rather than relief, he promised an increase in the tax burden, and workload of the people. His words drove the citizens to rebel against his leadership, and resulted in ten of the twelve “states” separating from the union. The northern tribes formed a new nation, and this became their independence day. Having experienced a heavy yoke, they broke away in order to have freedom. Sadly, the northern tribes never experienced true freedom. Soon after the nation was formed, they set up a system of idolatry, leading the people into a bondage that was much worse than the taxation they had experienced. Their example speaks volumes to us about bondage and true freedom.
The Bible explains, man is in bondage to sin and can only be set free by trusting in the work of Christ on the cross. His sinless sacrifice is the means to setting us free from the bondage of sin, death, and hell. True freedom is found, not when we consider ourselves to be free to behave however we want, but rather, when we are set free from the power of sin, and able to live lives that bring honor and glory to God.
“He who the Son sets free is free indeed.” (John 8:36)
1 Chronicles 12:15
“These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month, when it had overflowed all its banks; and they put to flight all those in the valleys, to the east and to the west.”
As I read through 1Chronicles, I am struck by the heroic actions of those who served alongside king David. His reign led Israel to the height of their success as a nation, and resulted in establishing peace with the surrounding nations. This success was not accomplished alone, but was a result of heroic men who stood tall in the midst of great difficulty and opposition. This seems to always be the case. One person put it this way, “Heroes are not born they are made”, and it is clear it is the circumstances they faced that made their actions heroic. In other words, Heroes are made when men and women stand up against insurmountable odds and risk their own lives for the sake of others.
Those who have studied heroism, have found that the people who are most likely to take heroic steps are those who have been trained in helping others. For example, a person trained in CPR is more likely to step in and help a person who’s not breathing, than someone without any training. Our training in helping others will often spur us to act, rather than run or freeze in a crisis, even if we have never faced that particular problem before. Simply put, we can train to become a hero. As I look at this text, I am particularly encouraged by the training of David’s mighty men. Since their heroic act was crossing the swelling waters of the Jordan River, we can be certain they trained by carefully studying the pages of God’s word. It was in the quiet moments alone with God, and while sitting with others, being reminded of God’s victories in the past, that stirred faith in these men to tackle the obstacles in front of them.
In many ways, the future is uncertain; we are never sure what difficulties we may have to endure, but we can prepare for them daily, by spending time in the Scriptures. Paul reminds us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The more we familiarize ourselves with our Bible, the more likely we are to become a person who will act in heroic selflessness when difficulties arise in our own lives, or in the lives of others.
” Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.’“
As the sun begins to set on Joshua’s life, he has yet, another encounter with the Lord. This time God refers to the age of his servant and to the work he is doing. Joshua is reminded that while he is old and has accomplished much for the kingdom, there still remains very much land to conquer and possess. The application of this truth for Joshua was that he needed to gather the tribes together and exhort them to get busy, finishing the work he had started. The application for you and me is that there is a lot God still wants to do in our lives, no matter how long we have walked with Him, or how much we have accomplished.
Each tribe had taken some land and established themselves in it. They had walled cities to live in and pasture and farmlands for their sustenance, but there remained large portions of the land they were yet to conquer, possess, and reap rewards from. If they were to continue what they had started, it would require daily obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. They would have to seek God for direction, strength, and victory, as they continued to overcome their enemies.
The same is true for us. It is very tempting, as a Christian, to settle into the comforts of the accomplishments of our past victories, while neglecting to realize, there is still so much more God wants to do in our lives. Many of the attitudes we have come to accept as part of who we are, may be an enemy encampment God wants to destroy. Instead of resting on what we have done, let’s look forward to what else God may want to do in and through us.