Are WE both SHOWING & TELLING the GOSPEL to OTHERS? Thus says the Lord: “Go and get a potter's earthen flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests. And go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the Potsherd Gate; and proclaim there the words that I will tell you...then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to bury’”. (Jer. 19:1-2, 10-11)
In this passage, God directed the prophet Jeremiah to take a potter’s earthen flask for yet another object lesson that He wanted to give to the inhabitants of Judah. With the flask, Jeremiah had to go with a group of elders and priests out to the ‘Valley of Hinnom’ (see 7:31), and there proclaim to the kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem that God would judge Jerusalem because of her idolatry and human sacrifices. The ‘Valley of Hinnom’ would soon become the ‘Valley of Slaughter’ as cannibalism would be practiced during the siege of Jerusalem (see 7:32–33).
To dramatize his message, Jeremiah broke the flask he was carrying and announced that God would similarly ‘smash’ Judah and Jerusalem. Unlike the clay vessel in the previous chapter (18), this flask was not pliable and could not be reworked. If it was not suitable for the task, it had to be irrevocably destroyed by God. In breaking the flask, the prophet pictorially displayed the havoc and destruction to be caused by the Babylonians. Just as the pottery broke into pieces when it was thrown on the hard ground, so would God’s judgment shatter the city and scatter those dwelling there. This would be an actual fulfillment of the prophecy about God: "You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel" (Psalms 2:9). An immediate restoration would be simply impossible for the people of Judah and Jerusalem!
It is commonly said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Through Jeremiah, God used dramatic visual aids in order to help the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah grasp the significance of what He was saying to them. For today’s visually oriented society, it will help us to use non-verbal communication means to relay our message better. We normally tend to communicate more if we can ‘show’ others as well as ‘tell’ them. Through ‘telling’ we pass on information to our listeners, while ‘showing’ tends to involve listeners in our communication process. In the case of Jeremiah, he could communicate both clearly and effectively the terrible message from God, but most of his listeners sadly did not turn from their wicked ways even after watching and listening to him!
In our times, we are in the place of Jeremiah as the ‘prophets’ of God trying to communicate the wonderful gospel to the people around us who are living in darkness. We have the spiritual treasure of the ‘knowledge of the glory of God’ within our earthly bodies (earthen vessels) so that we might be able to share it with others: "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:6-7)
At all times and on every occasion we should have something for others to see, as well as hear. Our most powerful means of communicating the gospel will be not just what we say, but how we live! Just like a vessel that only contains and shares, God asks us to be clean, empty, and available for His work, and He will do the rest. Let us both show and tell the gospel to others!