Romans 9:21


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? Romans 9:21

The concept of the potter and the clay is found in many instances throughout Scripture. Not quoting some of the relevant verses would be a loss, so we will cite and briefly evaluate a few. In Isaiah, we are shown that by speaking against the one who forms the clay, we “have things turned around.” –

“Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding'”? Isaiah 29:16

What thing which is created can speak against the One who creates? It is illogical and arrogant. Isaiah precisely defines who is who in the next verse –

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

The Lord (Jehovah) is a Father to His people. As the One who called His chosen people, Isaiah acknowledges that they can be taken and formed as He sees fit. They are the work of His hand and therefore they are at His mercy in all respects.

One final example from the Old Testament was given to Israel as a reminder of this –

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.” Jeremiah 18:3, 4

The clay was created by God and the forming of that clay is at His discretion. Paul, in the New Testament, uses this same terminology to again show us that God is sovereign over His creation. But why is this such a common them and where does it find its roots? The answer is that it goes back to the very beginning of man’s time on earth. In Genesis 2, we see the following –

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (7)

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” (21, 22)

Man was formed from the dust of the earth by the Potter. Take a handful of dust, add in water, and one has clay. The man was molded, the man was formed, the man became a living being. After this, a portion of that clay was taken to form the woman as the Potter saw fit to shape and form. So let us ask some questions about Adam and Eve –

Did God or Adam decide that he would be a man?
Did God or Adam decide his weight?
Did God or Adam decide the time of his creation?
Did God or Adam determine his foot size?

Did God or Eve decide that she would come from man?
Did God or Eve determine her hair color?
Did God or Eve decide she would have white or red teeth?

Such questions could go on infinitely. Every minute detail of the time, place, and form of Adam and Eve was decided and followed through with by God. Even the fact that Adam would be male and Eve a female. Now that the pattern is set, it asks us to accept our lot in these matters. Women are women and men are men. Rejecting this then is an affront to the Creator.

The same is true with our culture, our skin color, the family we were born into, etc. These things were decided by God before He spoke the universe into existence. Our genetic makeup comes from our parents and theirs from their parents…leading all the way back to our first parents.

God, as the great Potter, has the “power over the clay.” Because of His wisdom and His foreknowledge concerning a plan, which is so vast and detailed that we can only see a miniscule part of it, He has determined from this “same lump (Adam) to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor.”

Considering this, it must be stated that from within this lump also came all the genetic makeup for the human side of Jesus. The “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” implies that everything leading to that Lamb had to be known in advance. Every human interaction and every man and woman who would unite to bring another child into the world was factored in. This included the union between brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, kings and prostitutes, Jews and gentiles.

Does the Potter have power over the clay? The answer is, “Yes, O God. Your plan will come about, because You are the Potter and we are the clay.”

Life application: You have been blessed with life at a particular moment in history. Your sex, height, skin color, etc. was all chosen to bring glory to God. Go forth and be an acceptable jar of clay, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, even to overflowing, that others may glorify God when they see you.

Lord God, I am the jay – made of the finest formed clay. Though my exterior be painted black, white, red, or yellow; though I be short and round, or tall and thin; though I be male or female, I am a jar ready to be filled with Your Spirit, even to overflowing. And so use me, O God. You are the Potter, I am the clay. I was formed by You to bring You honor and glory. Yes, fill me and use me, O Lord, for Your glory. Amen.

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