Chapter 18 starts with the Lord using a metaphor of a potter and his clay. The nations are the clay, and the Lord is the potter molding them as he wishes. The fact that nations are addressed as “nations” means in God’s economy such things exist as morally accountable entities. Some of the Christian left, to say nothing of the secular left, believe nations are artificial boundaries with no ream ontological meaning. I’ve even heard conservative Christians say God doesn’t punish or bless nations, which is completely contradicted by the beginning of this chapter. He does both, and we know what’s coming for Judah.
The rest of the chapter is God again predicting punishment, yet again, and the people plotting against Jeremiah because they don’t want to hear it. And Jeremiah is in no forgiving mood; given Judah’s leaders want to kill him, that is understandable. He tells the Lord to bring it on, show no mercy.That comes later, almost 600 years later. God never seems to be in a real hurry.
In chapter 19 we read why God is bringing his judgment against Judah:
4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. 6
It sounds like their sin has reached a pinnacle of perversion. Burning their kids as a sacrifice to a satanic God? Can it get any worse than that? Maybe not, but killing children in the womb as a sacrifice to our God of convenience isn’t all the different. The Lord then tells Jeremiah to go to the very court of the Lord’s temple to prophecy to “all the people” the coming destruction. As we’ll see in the next chapter, this doesn’t turn out well for Jeremiah. The people don’t take kindly to the bearer of bad news.