I remember when my sandwich at lunch was covered by folded wax paper. And then mom discovered Tupperware and heaven help you if you didn’t bring home the precious plastic box. Today, we stuff sandwiches (and everything else) in zip lock bags (preferably the water proof kind).
As I was tiptoeing down that memory lane, I got to wondering, so what did they store stuff in during biblical times? Well, there is a broad Hebrew term that is used for “earthen vessels.” “Cheres keliy” is used over 300 times in the scriptures and it can mean a kind of cloth, a utensil, or an instrument of war or even music. It conveys the concept of covering, so something can be carried and stored.
Sometimes the “cheres keliy” were made of wood or metal, but mostly they were formed out of clay.
They were used for mundane functions like carrying water or serving food. Sometimes though, valuables would be stuffed into these “pots” and buried for safekeeping. When the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947, some of those pots contained documents highlighting purchases and land deeds.
But the most amazing use of “cheres keliy” is found in the New Testament in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, he says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
A common, everyday, cheap clay pot has very little value in and of itself. But when it contains the gospel message, it is priceless. The value is not in the pot, or the carrier. It is found in the heavenly communication of grace and mercy.
But don’t miss the point. You and I are the earthen vessel. In and of ourselves, we are not something special. But by God’s great grace, we have been chosen to grasp the message of redemption and share it with others.
It is pretty cool being a clay pot!