I have a large supply of those clear sturdy jars. Every year I stuff them with pickles, jams, tomatoes, and salsa, place them in a canner and subject them to more heat and pressure than a football coach in the midst of a losing season. Every year they seal and protect as they sit on my shelves for the next few months, then are emptied, washed, and placed back in the shed until I need them again.
This year three or four of them broke. I lifted the lid off the canner, and as I peered into the steam, there they sat, emptied of liquid but looking intact until I tried to lift them out and the bottom stayed in the water, while the sides and lid hung from the canning ring. The contents, now limp and useless, toppled into the canning water. I could hardly complain. These jars have served me well for years. Now that we are only two and I don’t need as much, I have plenty of others to take their places on the shelves.
Those broken jars have made canning especially exciting this past year. I never know what I will find when I lift the lids off my two canners. They have also made me think about the way God uses the image of jars in the Bible. As with many other things, He presents them in two ways, one I want and the other I don’t.
He tells Isaiah in chapter 30:12-14, Wherefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely thereon; therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly in an instant. And he shall break it as a potter's vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing; so that there shall not be found among the pieces thereof a shard wherewith to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern. God’s promise of destruction for his rebellious people is frightening, and we must be careful for it does not need to be a national destruction. He can do the same thing to rebellious individuals.
But God also holds out a reward for faithful service that is almost too amazing to believe. And he who overcomes, and he who keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father: and I will give him the morning star. He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev 2:26-29.
I do believe in that reward, and so should you. God has shown us that He will fulfill His promises. That promise in Isaiah is historically verifiable down to the last detail. This one would be too, if history were to continue after it occurs. It won’t, but we will.
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the master's use, prepared unto every good work, 2 Tim 2:20-21.
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