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Friday, March 15, 2013


One of my spiritual daughters was reading through Jeremiah and came across the Potsherd Gate. She knew I was teaching on the gates in Nehemiah, so she called to ask me the function and meaning of the Potsherd Gate. The following is what the Lord showed me about this gate. I pray that you are blessed by its message. P. S. I am glad we are under God's grace and not under Law. Praise Jesus for paying the price for us so we can come boldly in love to the loving, caring arms of Our Heavenly Father.

 Potsherd Gate also known as the Dung Gate
Pile of broken earthen vessels

                         The heap of broken earthen vessels is to the left of the Dung Gate
A potsherd is a piece of broken clay from a broken clay vessel. The potters would shatter any earthen vessel that was flawed or marred and would discard it out of the Dung Gate (also known as the Potsherd Gate) into a pile of broken vessels. Once it was broken and shattered, it was useless and therefore carried out of God's Holy City and discarded into a heap of ruins.
           Jeremiah 18:1-2: This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "Go down to the potter's house and there I will give you My message." So I went down to the potter's house and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." God told Jeremiah to “go down” to the potter's house, and there He would give the prophet a message. Jeremiah obeyed. He saw the potter working at the circular, rotating wheel shaping and forming an earthen vessel. Since God uses the things of the earth to teach spiritual messages, God had a message for His wandering people who were in sin, idolatry and rebellion. He would use the potter shaping the clay into an earthen vessel to speak a spiritual truth to His people.
 The wheel of the Potter represents the full circle of the Word. God is the Potter. We are the clay. An earthen vessel in scripture represents a human. We are made from the dust of the earth mixed with water--clay. This particular vessel the potter was shaping was marred and not suitable for that which the potter intended, so the potter started over with this vessel and applied more water to soften it so it was pliable and able to be reshaped. The potter then formed it into another earthen vessel (a new creation) more suitable for his intended purpose. This is a picture of Our Heavenly Father taking our marred earthen vessel full of sin, breaking our fleshly ways, filling us with His anointed Word and Spirit, and reshaping and reforming us into a new earthen vessel who will be suitable to accomplish His purpose in our lives. Jesus makes all things “new” even us. We must, however, be submitted to the Father, Son/Word and Holy Spirit in order for our Heavenly Potter to make us new and useful for His Kingdom work.
A potter lovingly shapes and forms earthen vessels into different shapes and sizes.  Each earthen vessel has a uniqueness, design and purpose. They are fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of God.  The process of molding and shaping the earthen vessel is a slow process.  The potter's wheel is where all impurities and imperfections are smoothed out, where rough edges are smoothed and where cracked vessels will be restored to newness.  In the spiritual, the Potter and His wheel (Anointed Word)  will remove our sinful, fleshly ways and reshape and reform us into a new creation who will be more in the image and likeness of God. The Potter's wheel will also heal our past wounds.  The process is a slow one that can be sometimes painful as we remember our painful experiences in life, but God will be with us through the pain and bring us to healing on the other side.  He will help us walk uprightly with Him and make something beautiful of our life and use us to help others reach their higher purpose also.  The Potter's wheel is necessary to bring us to spiritual maturity that will bear fruit that will remain. God is a loving, patient, long-suffering, gracious and merciful God.  He will be patient, loving and gentle as He reshapes and reforms us back to our original condition in the Garden of Eden before sin entered.  This process will be a continuing process because we still have our flesh that can lead us astray.  
As Jeremiah watched the work of the potter at the wheel, the Word of the Lord came to him and said, “Oh house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.” Jer. 18:5-6  Israel had to know that God is the One who made them, and He is also the One who can change and reform them. God will use our brokenness to reshape and reform us into new creations. He must break our will so we will walk in His will to the glory of His Name. God does this not because He is mean and wants to hurt us but because He loves us and wants us to have all that He wants us to become in His Son. The Man/Jesus did this to Jacob as he wrestled with God's Word/Man. As we wrestle with the Word and submit to it, we are made into new, spiritual men and women of God. He had to break Jacob's strength so he would walk in a new way leaning upon God. It was after Jacob wrestled with the Word/Man that he was given a new name--Israel--which means "one who strives with God."  Israel is Jacob's transformed, spiritual name.
In Jeremiah 19:1, God tells Jeremiah to “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter.”   In other words, this would come at a cost! Jesus purchased His broken earthly vessels at a cost – His very life. We are broken and flawed because of sin. Jesus wants to take our brokenness and reshape and reform us into vessels that are ready for use in His Kingdom. We allow Him to do this because we love Him and know that He loves us and wants what is best for us. Jesus was broken for us.  He wants us to be broken for Him.
Next God tells Jeremiah to take some of the elders of the people and the priests and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There God will speak through Jeremiah to the leaders of the people of Jerusalem. He will use a clay jar and the heap of ruins as a symbol of what He is about to do to the people of Judah because of their stubbornness and rebellion. Jeremiah will stand by the heap of ruins to speak God's message. God will scatter them until they return to Him in humility and repentance. God doesn't do this hatefully. He does it because He loves them and wants them to come to the end of their ways that bring bondage and destruction, and do it His way that brings blessing. Vessels once hardened, broken and scattered cannot be repaired. All the pieces cannot be found to put it together again.   Our hearts can become so hardened that they cannot be transformed. 
The Valley of Hinnom is one of three valleys southwest of Jerusalem that come together. Hinnom in Hebrew means “lamentation/sorrow.” It was the place of idol worship and the sacrifice of children to the false gods. The heart of our loving God was sorrowed that His people had turned from Him and offered sacrifices to false Idols and even offered their own children as the sacrifice to these false gods. Parents who do not walk with God and follow false idols also bring their children with them. In a sense, we offer our children as sacrifices to falsehood and false gods. In Joshua 15:8, the Hinnom Valley was a border line--one that God didn't want His people to cross. God wanted His people to remain within the boundaries of His holy City and Land. The Valley Gate and Dung Gate were bordered by the Valley of Hinnom.
The vessels that were shaped and formed by the Potter and were whole and unmarred were used to carry water and wine for the temple services and feasts. These vessels carried natural water and wine for service in an earthly temple. In the New Testament, we are His living, earthen vessels who carry the spiritual water and wine of the Word and the blood of Jesus to the world. We are His living temples who have allowed His reshaping and reforming so we are prepared for use for His Holy spiritual Temple--Jesus! Those that have allowed the Lord to lovingly shape and form us into new creations will be full of the love of God.
God will soften us by soaking us in the water of His Word and Holy Spirit creating a new earthen vessel who desires to walk with God and serve Him. God is using the natural process of shaping and forming earthen vessels to illustrate a spiritual truth. We are all broken earthen vessels because of sin and rebellion against God. We are sinners. Even though we are all broken and ruined by the sin in us, God can make us whole again.
A smashed, broken, scattered vessel is useless! In this account in Jeremiah, Judah was useless to God in the state of their sin, idolatry and rebellion. When clay becomes hard and brittle, it will shatter into pieces that cannot be restored. It scatters. God will scatter His people for their stubborn rebellion and unwillingness to listen to His Word of warning. Instead, they beat and imprisoned His prophet. God in His grace is warning His people what their rebellious actions will bring to them. They will be made slaves in Babylon for 70 years. If they had listened to God's warning they would have been spared this bondage.  Love is God’s motivation in warning His people.
When a remnant of Judah returns to God after being in captivity in Babylon for 70 years (see Ezra and Nehemiah), they will come with a different heart attitude. They will admit their own sin and the sin of their ancestors. They will return to God and His Land, listen to the Word of God and obey it. Then the temple, the city of Jerusalem and the wall of protection will be rebuilt and restored. God will often have to let His children wander in their own ways and see that it leads to destruction in order to get them to turn back to Him and His ways. This is also true of a believer in Christ. God will make us into a new creation ready for use in His temple if we don't remain stubborn and hard. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.....We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 We are Christ's representatives. If our own life doesn't reflect the Lord and His ways, how will He be able to use us to draw others to restoration and eternal life in His Son? 

Other mention of Potsherd in the Older Testament: 

Job 2:8: (First mention) Job was covered from head to toe with leprosy. He used a potsherd (piece of a broken clay vessel) to scrape off the sores as he sat among the ashes. Leprosy represents sin in scripture. We are sinful from birth. Job took a broken piece of an earthen vessel to scrape off his sores (sin). Jesus' earthen vessel (Body) was broken for us to remove the sin from us. In symbolism, Job reflected this spiritual truth. Even though Job was suffering, he did not sin in what he said. Even though Jesus was suffering on the cross, Jesus also did not sin in what He said. Instead, Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him. Jesus knew He could not go to His Heavenly Father with sin in His heart. We must allow God to scrape off the sin in us so we become vessels of use to Him and His Kingdom. We are saved for a purpose! Sin blocks us from loving God with our whole heart and loving others with His heart.
Psalm 22:14-15-- In this psalm of David, he says that his strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.... David is weakened and broken by the assaults of his enemies. He is dried up, broken, weak like a hardened piece of a broken vessel. He is also thirsty. Jesus quoted verse 1 of this psalm when He was hanging on the cross, weakened, thirsty and suffering. Like David, Jesus' enemies surrounded Him. Jesus quoted Older Testament scripture to show that He was fulfilling it in the seeing and hearing of those around him. Though the sin of the world that Jesus was bearing made Him feel that God had forsaken Him, God never forsook Him, and He never forsook King David. Sin makes us feel that we are separated from God, but God says that He will never leave or forsake us. Surely He would not leave or forsake His very own Son! And He will not forsake us.
The betrayal money of Judas bought the Potter's field of broken pieces of clay. (Matthew 27:3-8) Because this was blood money, it could not be put in the treasury of the temple. The priests decided to use the blood money of silver (metal of atonement) to buy the potter's field for the burial of foreigners (non-Jews). The very blood that Jesus shed paid the full price of the potter's field for those who are broken earthen vessels and dead in sin whether Jew or Gentile. What the devil meant for evil, God turned around for good. The blood of Jesus will give us victory over the enemy of our souls, not defeat. Mt. 27:9: Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled. (Jeremiah 32:6-15) They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on Him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field as the Lord commanded me. According to the Law, thirty shekels of silver was the price paid to the master for a male or female slave who has been gored to death by a bull. (see Exodus 21:32) Judas sold Jesus into slavery for 30 pieces of silver, but our Master Jesus paid the full price of redemption for male and female, young and old, Jew and Gentile. Jesus did not condemn Judas--his own conscience did. Judas spilled his own blood in the potter's field. God turned the tables. (Acts 1:18) God also instructed Jeremiah to pay full price for a field that was under the control of the enemy (Babylonians) of God's people. God told Jeremiah to do this just before Jerusalem was about to fall. Jesus purchased the land of Jerusalem and the whole earth just before Jerusalem was about to fall. Without Jesus, people are under the control of the enemy – the devil.  Destruction is the result.  Jesus paid the full price for those who are under the control of the devil to set them free from the bondage of sin.
God also told Jeremiah to put the deed and documents to that property in a clay jar (earthen vessel) so they will last a long time. v14  Jeremiah obeyed God's Word and had faith in God's promise that a remnant would return to God's Land and rebuild it and plant vineyards and fields of grain. Jesus bought the field of earth by His shed blood in fulfillment of this instruction and act of the prophet Jeremiah. He is in us -- earthen vessels sealed as His own--eternally. Those who love Jesus have hope for a better future. (Romans 8:28) God also gave His people Israel hope. In Jeremiah 33, God will restore Jerusalem and the land of Judah, and bring health and healing to it. He will also heal His people and bring abundant peace and security by bringing both Israel and Judah back from captivity and rebuild them as they were before. He will cleanse them from all their sin and forgive them. Then the city of Jerusalem will be the city of Light who will once again bring honor to God and be a light to all nations because they have accepted the Light of the world Jesus. Jesus will be the One they must turn to in order for this to happen. They must accept and know the Light of the world so they can reflect His Light to the world.
Anointed King David, like Jesus, was surrounded by enemies who mocked him and tried to kill him just as they did Jeremiah when he spoke God's word of judgment for the sin of His people. By quoting this scripture, Jesus was saying that He is experiencing firsthand what David was going through when he wrote this psalm. Jesus who is God took on the flesh of mankind to experience the very same things that we experience so He who is holy can understand the unholy. The Jews who were around Jesus on the cross should have understood why Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. Jesus too was thirsty. He even said, “I thirst.” David was weakened by the battle. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of lions; save me from the horns of wild oxen.” Ps. 22:14-21  Jesus knew all of what David felt as He hung on the cross of suffering. He quoted the first verse of this psalm to show those who would see and hear that He was going through what David went through in order to fulfill it once for all.  They also divided Jesus’ garments among them.  In the greatest act of love the world has ever seen, Jesus suffered for us so we could be set free of sin. The Righteous One suffered for us. The righteous will also suffer for Him.
Isaiah 45:9: Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” In other words, we are a broken piece of hardened clay among other broken pieces of hardened clay. The blind leading the blind. God wants to restore us to wholeness and wellness. God knows exactly what He must do to reshape and reform us.  Don't argue with God. Surrender to His Hand and let Him shape and form you into a vessel for His use.
In this scripture in Isaiah 45, God is speaking about His anointed –Cyrus (gentile) “whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut.” Ps. 45:1-2  In the previous psalm, Psalm 44:28 God says of Cyrus, “he is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, 'Let it be rebuilt, and of the temple, 'Let its foundations be laid.'” Cyrus will be the one who will decree that the faithful remnant of Jews can leave the land of Babylon (captivity) to return to God and His Land to rebuild God's holy city Jerusalem and His temple. God called Cyrus His anointed and His shepherd, the same titles God later gives to His Son Jesus. God will use this gentile king to set His people free from bondage so God could carry out the rebuilding of His holy city and temple. Even though this psalm says of Cyrus, “I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged Me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides Me.” v5-6   In other words, from the east to the west. Even though Cyrus does not believe in Israel's God, God will use him to set His people free. Cyrus didn't even acknowledge that God is God and yet God calls him His anointed. God will anoint anyone to accomplish His purpose. God will use this pagan king in spite of himself.
Isaiah 30:14: God's people have once again disobeyed the Lord's counsel by rejecting His message. He tells them through the prophet Isaiah that their sin will come against them. 30:12-14: Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly in an instant. It will break in pieces (potsherd) like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from the hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” God in His love is warning His people of the consequences of their unholy ways. In other words, they will be scattered and crushed like powder making them useless. God then tells them how to avoid this: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have not hear of it.....”v15 The Lord says that He longs to be gracious to them and show compassion. “For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” God is a righteous Judge. He longs for His people to return to Him in repentance so He can be gracious and compassionate to them. God's heart is not hardened toward His people but He will do what He has to do to get them to return to Him. Love is always His motivation and He wants us to have love for Him as our motivation. But sometimes God has to take drastic measures to get His people to return to Him in repentance. Our humanity can be stubborn, hard and unwilling to listen to Our Heavenly Father. God loves to show love, blessing, compassion and grace to His people. He doesn't want us to be a broken potsherd or cistern, but whole and complete in Him filled with the water of His Holy Spirit and Word and walking the abundant life Jesus died for.
Judah eventually did return to God from Babylon, and the people, temple, city and wall of protection around Jerusalem was rebuilt from its ashes and ruins and restored. The “new” Judah heard the Word and obeyed it, and restored true worship according to the Word. God is a restoring, loving God. He is also patient and long-suffering with us waiting for our return to Him and His ways. We are the ones who take the long road of suffering because of sin. Our loving Heavenly Father has to let us come to the end of ourselves by seeing the results of walking in sin and what it does to us and those around us. We must come quickly to the throne of grace in humility and repentance so God can restore and bless us. His loving arms are always open to embrace a repentant sinner.

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