Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher brought an arm-load of chains and manacles to the pulpit one Sunday. He threw them to the floor and the sound reverberated throughout the auditorium. "God have mercy on a nation that puts men and women in the chains of slavery," he thundered.
Another memorable visual occurred in the Old Testament. The prophet Jeremiah stood before the leaders of Judah and smashed a clay vessel into hundreds of pieces. "Thus says the Lord," he thundered. "Judgment is coming and the nation will be destroyed" (Jeremiah 19: 10-11).
His forthright preaching caused the priests to lock him into stocks for public humiliation, but Jeremiah was correct. Hisoolish countrymen were afraid of Babylon and brought in false gods to protect them. Jeremiah declared for this and other sins the people would face God's judgment. The Babylonians were the instrument of God's hand and the nation was punished in 586 B.C.
Sometimes it seems the judgment of God moves with leaden feet, but his word is sure and his judgment is complete.
Someone noted that we don't break God's laws; instead God's laws break us when we make foolish choices. Foolish choices bring judgment.
Jennifer worked at an airport car rental counter. Lecherous businessmen came by every week and told her how pretty she was. Because she didn't hear that much at home, she believed them. When one man continued to ask her to lunch she accepted. Soon her marriage was doomed. She in effect took a vessel labeled "marriage" and smashed it to pieces.
I met Jimmy in a prison class. He told me his arrest for drug use came when his son was 12, and that his son recently celebrated his 18th birthday. During his son's impressionable teen-aged years, his father was absentee. Jimmy took a vessel labeled "family" and smashed it to pieces.
Bob was an insurance agent and quite a talker. He was well-loved at the church where he served as treasurer. However, an audit revealed irregularities. Bob had to admit that he'd routinely taken cash offerings for himself. He took a vessel labeled "integrity" and smashed it to pieces.
But Jeremiah also wrote of another analogy. God sent him to the potter's house. He observed the potter taking a marred vessel and remaking it into something beautiful and useful (Jeremiah 18: 1-6). The apostle Paul used the same analogy when he wrote, "He will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).
Jennifer, Jimmy and Bob found the Lord's mercy, and with his help began to serve him. The God of the Bible specializes in refashioning broken vessels into vessels of honor.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column by Michael Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. and adjunct instructor of speech at Jefferson State Community College, Hoover. Permission is given to use this material with attribution.
Michael J. Brooks
10696 Highway 119 S.
Alabaster, AL 35007
Office - 205.663.7904