Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: Genesis 4:3–7; Numbers 21:1–9; Isaiah 29:16; Romans 9:18–21; Jeremiah 19; Hebrews 5:14; Jeremiah 13:1–11
It’s shocking what people will pay for a little mud these days. When it comes to a specific type of clay, the numbers can go through the ceiling. The world’s most valuable vases come from China where porcelain, also known as “white gold” is made from fine clay called kaolin. This ceramic material is made by heating materials in a kiln at temperatures up to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Porcelain is beautiful, tough, impermeable, and translucent. It is informally called china or fine china since China is the birthplace of porcelain making. The first porcelain was probably created under the Han dynasty between 202 BC and AD 220. Some of the most valuable glazed porcelain vases come from the Ming dynasty between 1368 and 1644. One Ming dynasty vase sold for over $10 million.
Perhaps the most expensive vase ever sold was a Qing dynasty piece accidentally found in the attic of a home in a small suburb outside of London. A brother and sister were cleaning out their parents’ home after they passed away and stumbled on the valuable porcelain vase. The Qianlong vase shocked the art market when it fetched over $66 million!1
In this week’s Sabbath school lesson, Jeremaih uses the analogy of a potter and clay to describe the relationship between God and the house of Israel. While observing a potter take a marred vessel and remake it into a new and beautiful vase, so the Lord has the power to change the heart of wayward people.
Human beings were created from the “dust” of the earth (Genesis 2:7). But in the eyes of our Creator, we are much more valuable than the most expensive works of art on the market. All heaven was poured out to redeem people from eternal death. What is most surprising is that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Such grace shines through the illustration of Jeremiah 18:1–10. A broken vase is salvaged and made anew. It is not tossed in the trash heap or left hiding in an attic. God recreates us into the image we were intended to have—exquisite, first-rate, and beautiful. No price was too high for the Creator to pay.
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