Read Judges 7:15-19
The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? Romans 9:21
It is fascinating to watch a potter transform a lump of clay. My daughter and niece are both artists and have enjoyed the art of the wheel, creating useful and beautiful bowls and vessels. In her college pottery class, my daughter learned how fragile the pottery is as many of her pieces broke in the process. Rather than throwing the broken pieces away, she chose to rescue and incorporate them into her canvas paintings. As a result of her creativity, she gave a new value to the broken pieces. A new value. A new use. Redeeming the broken.
Gideon, full of courage and the assurance that God was going to give the Midianites into his hands, chose rather unusual weaponry. Rather than equipping his mere 300 men to advance on the 135,000 fortified Midianites with swords and arrows, he gave each soldier a pitcher, a trumpet and a torch. At Gideon’s command the men were instructed to break the pitchers, revealing the light of the torches inside. The sound of the trumpets and the penetrating lights around the Midianite camp forced the enemy to flee. “And when they blew 300 trumpets, the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army.” (Judges 7:22) The enemy fled and in their confusion God turned them on each other. What an incredible military strategy!
The simple clay water pitcher became the source of victory. God took the common and gave it honorable use. But just like my daughter’s painting, the common only became valuable once it was broken. It reminds me of the woman recorded in Mark 14 who came with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, broke the vessel and poured the perfume over the head of Jesus. Some were angry at what they deemed as a wasteful act, for the perfume’s value was a worker’s pay for an entire year. But Jesus honored her good deed, an anointment of his body beforehand for his burial. The common vessel became valuable when it was broken because of what it contained. Once the vial was broken the aroma filled the room. Once the pitcher was shattered the light permeated the darkness.
Paul says that we are a fragrance of Christ- and aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15,16) Jesus calls us the light of the world and commands our light to shine. (Matthew 5:14-16) Our light and our aroma will not permeate the world unless we willingly allow our Potter to use us for His purpose. He alone can take the common and give it honor through the process of being broken. David said, “I am like a broken vessel.” (Psalm 31:12) God took the broken pieces of David’s life and made a new heart, a man after God’s heart.
A pitcher as a weapon to defeat an insurmountable army seems more than unusual. But God chooses the weak, the insignificant, even the broken to show His power and victory.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) In the hands of the Artist, even the broken can be redeemed.