Jeremiah had a hard gig as a prophet. What he brings in today’s reading is going to get him beaten by the religious leaders and put in the stocks (ch 20)! Jeremiah is bold and courageous, because when he is released, he renames the religious leader “Terror on every side.” There’s a time to speak up and out, even if it isn’t popular. The timing is after Josiah’s reign. Josiah had brought the people back to God. They are now in the early reign of Jehoiakim when the king and the religious authorities are hostile to Josiah’s reforms.
God uses the potter and the clay often in imagery starting in Gen 2:7-9 (that one is not as obvious in English as in Hebrew). We are put in our place as clay with the Lord as the craftsman who lovingly but firmly shapes us (Ps 119:73 and Isa 64:9). This prophetic passage is on the national level rather than a personal prophetic word v7,9 – the still pliable clay pot is a mess and needs reforming, remaking. It needs squashing and re-placing on the wheel! The word is about the moment the potter decides to alter the design to start again with the clay. This isn’t capricious and is consistent with God’s will. The Lord is looking for repentance and perseverence.
However stark the prophetic prediction – it is nearly always open to change based on the response of the recipient.
As examples, on one hand there is Jonah’s prophecy of “Yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown”. They repented and so God relented. On the other hand there is God’s promise of “for ever” to the house of Eli in 1 Sam 2, which is then revoked with a “but now.”
Conditional prophecy is just that. God will do the amazing thing if we will do what he asks – repent or persevere.
The call to repent is rejected in v12f.
Back on a personal, do you have any unfilled prophecies from the Lord? Are they conditional on anything? Do you have to do or not do something to see them come to pass?