The Sign of Twelve
Why twelve apostles? and not eleven or ten?
The old prophet called on some of the elders and senior priests to walk with him to the valley. The people of Israel had set up altars for Baal there, and also used it to fling and burn all their trash. Jeremiah walked in front of the group, carrying a large clay pot on his back. When they got to the Potsherd Gate, the opening to the valley, he turned around to face them, and put the pot on the ground.
Hear the Word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and men of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. I am going to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it even enter my mind. Therefore the days are coming, says the Lord, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter. And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will make them fall by the sword of their enemies, and by the hand of the who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds and to the wild animals. And I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its disasters. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and all shall eat of the flesh of their neighbors in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.
He bent over, picked up the pot, and held it up for all to see. Glaring at them, he smashed it on the rocks.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: So I will smash this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, so it can never be mended. In Topheth they will bury until there is no more room to bury. Thus will I do to this place, says the Lord, and to its people, making this city like Topheth. And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled like the place of Topheth. All the houses upon whose roofs offerings have been poured out to other gods.
The Lord has used prophets and signs to demonstrate his work in the earth. Here, he had Jeremiah smash a clay pot as a sign of her utter destruction. In another instance, he instructed Isaiah to walk naked for three years to show Israel the humiliation of being taken captive by Assyria.
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Twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve apostles. What was He telling us when He instructed Jesus to choose twelve? Coincidence? There was nothing coincidental about the Son of Man. But hadn’t God abandoned his promises to Israel? The scriptures tell us not so; her unfaithfulness didn’t nullify his faithfulness. So what of this choosing of twelve? What is the message of this sign to Christians living in the 21st century?