Editors Of The Signs Of The Times: – It is past the time that I should have renewed, but hope you will excuse my neglect. I herewith inclose one dollar, to be placed to my credit for the Signs; we cannot well do without it. I get very little gospel preaching except through the Signs. I think brother Chick’s article good on the Adamic man and the old man, in volume 74, Oct. 1st, 1906, page 603, and brother Ker’s in volume 75, April 15th, 1907, page 248. I think it the best I ever read on that text. Brother Ker, if not asking too much please give your view on Jeremiah xviii. 4, on the last vessel.
Potter, Ark., April 30, 1908.
The above request has been delayed on account of many duties other than writing. Such requests inspire in us desire to write and speak of the wonderful works of God. Yet there is with us that awful realization of our utter unfitness for these things, and we are continually between the two powers, and often in a strait as to whether we shall give up “the ship “or continue in “the race.”
The Scripture to which our brother calls attention reads as follows: “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.”
It is one of those Scriptures which show the dealings of the Lord with Israel under the law, and yet the gospel is hid in those sayings. In that day the Lord revealed his ways and purposes to the prophets in visions and by signs, and thereby prepared them to speak to “the fathers.” Israel was God’s peculiar treasure – the only people in that age of the world recognized by him and the prophets as his. Their blessings were many, and God’s faithfulness to his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was ever in evidence. Yet the people denied, forsook and rebelled against him, and because of their transgressions and idolatry the prophets were sent to tell them of the Lord’s displeasure and to warn them of the judgments surely to be visited upon them except they repented. If they would repent, God would repent and not do the evil he thought to do unto them. The repentance of God has ever, more or less, confused the minds of his people who are established in the doctrine of his sovereignty and immutability, believing him to be the same yesterday, to-day and forever, that he changes not. We should not forget that he dealt with Israel in the law, in which was every commandment, every ordinance and every ceremony, and also the punishment for every transgression. “The law is holy, just and good,” and in all the messages to Israel, and of all the judgments sent upon them, there was nothing contrary to the law, nor was anything added. When they sinned, the Lord sent prophets to remind them of his anger, as was in the law, but when they were obedient, blessing and prosperity followed, in which the Lord’s pleasure was made manifest according to the law. For instance, we of this country have what are called “United States laws” governing our country. When one transgresses any point of these laws the anger of our government is made manifest. When we live in obedience to the laws, peace is the fruit, but the government has in nowise changed. Therefore it is seen that God in his infinite character and being did not change in that age of the world, nor does he change now. “I am the Lord, I change not.” His anger and his kindness were both made known through the law, neither did he deal with that people in any other way.
In the case before us, Israel had departed from the law and its precepts, and therefore the judgments of the law (anger of God) were to be visited upon them. The Lord sent Jeremiah down to the potter’s house and there made known to him the condition of Israel at that time; he told the prophet that there be should hear his words. When he arrived the potter was at his work, and Jeremiah observed a work wrought on the wheels. The vessel first made by the potter was marred in his hand, but of the same clay he made another vessel as seemed good to himself. This was a sign or figure. Then the word of the Lord came unto the prophet, saying, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter! saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” In this very declaration is the sovereignty of God presented, that as the clay was in the hand of the potter and he could form and fashion it as it pleased him, so Israel was in the hand of the Lord to do with them as was good to him, yet nothing was done to or for them contrary to the law.
To reach the essence of the subject of the potter and the clay we shall have need to go back to the beginning, when the great Potter formed and made a vessel of earth. That vessel was made in the image of the Potter, was good and blessed far above all other vessels of the Potter, so that he had dominion over all others, yet was the first to be marred, but in his fall all other vessels were marred also, and death and decay of all things and beings are in evidence. Shall we say that the chief vessel was marred in the hand (purpose) of the Potter! Most assuredly.
“Life, death and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on his firm decree;
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.
Chained to his throne a volume lies,
With all the fates of men,
With every angel’s form and size,
Drawn by the eternal pen.”
The marring of that vessel was to make known the power and purpose of the Potter to make of the same clay one vessel to dishonor and another to honor. Had not the first vessel (Adam) been marred, nothing more than vessels of earth could ever have existed in this world, and not one of them in heaven. But now there are vessels of mercy, vessels of salvation, vessels of righteousness and vessels to honor according to the purpose of the Potter, wrought, not on the wheels, but by Him who was made of the same clay (flesh and blood), yet holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.
“Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.” Christ must come of that nation, according to the promise to Abraham, therefore the new wine was in the cluster, and the Lord would not destroy that people (clay), but make through Christ, of the same clay, a spiritual Israel who worship him in spirit and in truth, keeping the law not written upon tables of stone, but in their heart, and put in their mind. In which is made known to the vessels of mercy the pleasure and anger of the Lord.
Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, presents the doctrine of the Potter and the clay to prove the doctrine of election, and says there is no unrighteousness with God, though he did make one vessel to dishonor and another to honor. It was his sovereign right as the Potter to make and endure vessels as seemed good to him. It is not the right therefore of the thing formed to say to him who formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus!” The question, Why are we so blessed! or, Why are we so punished! was not the right of the Israelites; they knew by the law why both came to them. Why the Lord chose and blessed Abraham alone and his seed after him, no man has right to ask. Why he hides the things of the gospel from the wise and prudent and reveals them unto babes, is answered by one man only, the man Christ Jesus: “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
Jeremiah delivered the message of the Lord to Israel, and by reading the chapter in which is our text, the result will be seen. We therefore shall state but briefly that which follows the text, and in conclusion try to show its application now in the church. The people said to the prophet, “There is no hope; but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.” They either looked upon God, or his law, as a hard master, requiring that which was impossible for them to perform, or that there was no profit in serving the Lord, as is recorded in the book of Malachi; at any rate it was more agreeable to serve the lusts of their flesh than the law of the Lord. They dishonored God in rejecting his prophet and seeking his life through treachery and falsehood. When Jeremiah was made acquainted with their desire to kill him, he went to the Lord, asking that death and disaster be sent upon them; not that malice or hatred was in his heart, but because of their further rebellion and transgression against the law. Let it be remembered that the words of the prophets to Israel were the words of the Lord, and as true and powerful as though He had descended the heavens and spoken to them as he did from Mt. Sinai when the earth trembled because of his presence and the people feared and quaked because of the dreadfulness of his voice; but many would not hear the prophets.
When the church in the years prior to 1832 departed from the spiritual law and ordained order of the house of God, messengers were sent declaring the word of the Lord, and they beseeched Israel to repent and do the first works. But the messengers were despised and their messages rejected. The Lord had a people, however, among them as in the days of old, who feared him, leaned upon him and stayed upon their God. Hence the work of those servants in those perilous times was not altogether vain. To-day there is again discord, division and declension, every one going his own way or serving the imagination of his own heart, refusing to be warned, hating exhortation, denying the God who bought them, backbiting and devouring one another. True servants of the Lord are continually upon the walls of Zion, sounding the alarm, beseeching the people to flee from “fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” and from highmindedness, which exalts man above all that is called God. But instead of hearing and turning from their evil ways, they persecute the servants of God and would take their lives, in the church, if they could; death and destruction seem to be in their wake; and the only comfort and stay one can find is that we are the clay and God our Potter, he will fashion us as his wise decree determined before time began. This is our only hope and salvation.
We now leave this feeble effort for the consideration of brother Wilson and our readers generally. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 14.
JULY 15, 1908.