I wonder how Jeremiah cajoled some of the elders of the people and the priests into following him in chapter nineteen? After all, Jeremiah was persona non grata to most of them. However he did it, the group followed him to a potter where he bought a jar, and then, to the potsherd gate of the city.
We don’t know where this gate was. It is mentioned only here in the Bible. The King James Bible translated it “east gate,” and if it was the east gate, it was also the gate through which God traveled in Ezekiel when he abandoned Jerusalem and Israel.
They went to Ben Hinnom, which had been a valley devoted to the worship of the god Molech prior to the time of Josiah. The king desecrated the valley so that sacrifices could no longer be offered there. By Jeremiah’s time, it was a garbage dump. Through the prophet, God promises to so fill Jerusalem with the dead that they will have to resort to burying them in the land fill of Ben Hinnom and even that place will not hold them all. Jeremiah breaks the pot and casts it to the dump. It’s what you do with objects that have become worthless – as Israel has become.
The Valley of Hinnom is called Gehenna in the New Testament, often translated “hell.” It was the place where the fires of burning garbage never went out.
Why would God be so mean and cruel? He wasn’t. He was being just. The God who made heaven and earth demands total fidelity, and that not only means worshiping only Him, but worshiping Him His way. Mankind does not get to decide how to approach God, or even whether to approach Him. God is good, but He means what He says and brooks no compromise.