In the days when Jeremiah was God’s prophet to Judah one of God’s illustrations to help His prophet understand the Lord’s heart was for him to visit the potter’s house. He was to watch the potter and see how he handled the situation when a pot or bowl he was making didn’t turn out as he wanted it to. He noted the potter would reform the clay to make it into something that was more in harmony with his desires. Notice God’s application of the illustration in Jeremiah 18:5-11. “Then the word of the Lord came to me: O house of Israel, ‘can I not do with you as this potter has done?’ declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, everyone from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.”
In this passage God’s primary focus was the Nation of Israel or the people of Judah, who were his chosen ones. They were a nation over which God wanted to rule as king. Their feeling was that God would never turn against them because they were his chosen people. They had cried out that God would always be with them because the temple of the Lord was in their main city, Jerusalem. Even the other prophets in the land and the priest of God in the city, were telling people that Jeremiah was wrong and God could never forsake his people. There were lots of times when Jeremiah became overwhelmed with questions and doubt about the whole situation.
In the middle of all those emotions, doubts and fears from Jeremiah, God laid out some vital principles about his relationship with different people groups for all time. These principles are just as desperately needed in the twenty-first century as they were during the sixth century become the coming of Christ into the world.
One of those questions about the nature of God is whether he can change his mind. What about when God has made a promise to his people that he would be with them and bless them and they would be his people and he would be their God? God explains that when he makes a promise to a nation or people, how he carries out that promise will depend on the behavior of the people. Even if he promised to tear them down and destroy them, if they repent and turn back to him with their whole heart, he will relent and turn around t0 bless them, because of the change in them and that they are now doing what is right. Israel had been headed in the wrong direction for some time by the time of Jeremiah and many thought that nothing could change. Destruction was coming on them no matter what the did now.
It seems to me that I don’t ever forget the warnings of challenging times that are coming. The evil in the world often seems overwhelming and growing at a rate of speed beyond explanation. When God sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them and tell them to repent they were in such bad shape that he had Jonah to tell them in forty days he would destroy the city. Yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah and God changed his mind and spared them. As bad off as Judah was at that point, so bad that God had said to Jeremiah not pray for them or ask God to give them more time or opportunities, yet if they would repent and turn their actions around He was ready to forgive even now and give them a fresh start.
At the same time, God told Jeremiah that if God promised to bless and prosper a nation and they stopped living for him and headed in their own direction or into the worship of idols he would change his mind and not bless them at all.
It is arrogance on the part of any nation to think that God will continue to bless them no matter how they live or what they worship. God’s promise is that as idolatry moves up His blessings for a nation will go down. There is no question that the United States of America has been richly blessed by God through the years. The future of such blessings will certainly depend greatly on how the citizens live and who and what they choose to worship. When we make ourself into our God, we have no reason to expect blessings from anyone beyond us.