Repentance (Step 4)

Both the books of Isiah and Jeremiah contain illustrations of God as a potter and his chosen people as clay. Isaiah wrote, “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter, and we all are the work of thine hand” (Isaiah 64:8). Jeremiah was told a parable in which the clay was marred in the hand of the potter and had to be remade into another vessel (Jeremiah 18:4). The LORD said to Jeremiah, “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” (Jeremiah 18:6).

The process of repentance includes a willing relinquishment of the outcome of our lives. In order to get us to give up what we once thought to be essential for our happiness, God sometimes has to break our hearts. A broken heart is not about producing sadness, but about the view we have of ourselves that is central to our identity. The heart, according to Hebrew scriptures, is the whole inner man. “It includes not only the motives, feeling, actions and desires, but also the will, the aims, the principles, the thoughts, and the intellect of man”  (3820). In one sense, you could say that a broken heart results in the person you are ceasing to exist.

God’s punishment of his people was intended to change their character. He wanted them to be free of the pride and arrogance that caused them to refuse his help. It says in Lamentations 4:1-2, “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hand of the potter!

God had to use extreme measures to get his people to stop worshipping idols. It says in Lamentations 4:6, “For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughters of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.” Sodom’s quick destruction was considered a merciful act because there was no awareness of what was happening. When Israel and Judah were destroyed, not only did God tell them what was going to happen, but he also forced some of them to survive and go into captivity where the memory of what happened would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

It says in Lamentations 4:18, “They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.” This passage most likely came from someone that witnessed the destruction of Judah and saw first hand the Babylonian soldiers hunting down people as if they were animals to be killed in sport. This type of ruthless brutality no doubt had a lasting impact on those who survived. Through this experience, the hearts of God’s people were changed forever.


One of the ways salvation is sometimes described is described is surrendering your life to Christ. The act of surrendering is often associated with criminals that have been caught by the police or an army that is taken prisoner by its enemy. There is usually some element of capture involved and the loss of freedom. When I became a Christian, I didn’t really surrender my life to Christ. I surrendered a part of my life, the part that was messed up and needed fixing, but most of my life was still under my control. Over the course of about 30 years, I slowly and gradually surrendered the rest until I was completely surrendered to Christ.

Most of the vessels in Solomon’s temple were made of brass (2 Chronicles 4:18), but some were made of gold. A list of articles made of pure gold can be found in 2 Chronicles 4:20-22 and it also indicates that “the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold.” The word translated perfect, miklah means completion (4357). Miklah is derived from the word kalah which means to end or be finished (3615). Kalah may refer to the end of a process or action, so the perfect gold may have been gold that was processed to remove impurities. The word translated pure, cagar means to shut up or imprison and figuratively it can mean to surrender. The likely source of this gold was an underground mine. Therefore, the reference to its purity is not about its quality, but its location.

Thinking about myself as a resource to God, I have no value unless I am where he wants to be when he wants to use me. Part of the process of my surrender was getting into a location where I would be available for service in a particular church/ministry. In some ways, my gifts and talents are now like a gold deposit ready to be mined when they are needed.