The Lord tells Jeremiah to take of the ancients (elders) of the people to the valley of Hinnom. He also takes “a potter’s earthen bottle” with him (v.1). There, in the valley of Hinnom where the Jewish people have sacrificed their sons to Baal (v.4-5), Jeremiah proclaims their sure judgment. This valley will become the “valley of slaughter” (v.6) and their carcasses will be made to be meat for the birds (v.7). Then Jeremiah breaks the bottle in the sight of the men with him (v.10). The Lord declares, “Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that it cannot be made whole again” (v.11). God will surely judge this people.
This broken bottle, much as the nursery story about Humpty Dumpty, signifies those things that can never be put back together after they are broken. The New Testament speaks greatly of the grace of God—so much so that we sometimes forget that we still have bottles that can be broken. Yes, God can heal and God can make good even out of bed, but some things cannot be undone.
Purity can be forever lost through fornication, adultery and other forms of uncleanness. Trust can be forever broken through betrayal. Cruel words can never be undone. God forgives and sometimes the wronged one forgives. But the act can never be reversed. The purity cannot be regained; the trust can never be the same. O, how we must strive not to break those earthen bottles! We must teach our children. We must guard our lives. Yea, even our very hearts and minds.