My wife and I were spending a wonderful vacation together in the mountains many years ago and wanted to purchase something that would be a reminder of the experience. We visited several artisans and watched them create beautiful works of art from wood, stone, clay and canvas. Some of the most interesting artisans were the potters who took dry lumps of clay and changed them into works of art. As I watched them work with clay on the potter’s wheel I thought about how the Bible referred to God as a Potter.
As we consider Satan’s continual attack on the Lord’s Church and the work of evangelistic apologetics God has called us to perform, I am reminded of the powerful words of the Prophet Isaiah spoken during Satan’s attack on the people of Israel.
“And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities. 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. Do not be furious, O Lord, Nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!” Isaiah 64:7-9
God has used the image of the potter to help His prophets and people comprehend the true relationship they have with Him. Jeremiah is a good example. God told Jeremiah that He was going to judge and punish Judah. God required Jeremiah to say harsh things to the leaders and people and he often struggled with his prophetic calling, even saying – “Woe is me, my mother, That you have borne me, A man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!” (Jeremiah 15:10)
God knew Jeremiah was the right person for the job and gave him many wonderful insights into his calling as a prophet. One of the most beautiful and powerful insights came when God sent Jeremiah to the house of a potter. The potter and his work at the wheel became a visual aid to help Jeremiah understand God and His ways better.
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.’ 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. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?’ says the Lord. ‘Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. ‘Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” Jeremiah 18:1-11
The people of Judah rejected Jeremiah’s prophetic warnings, refused to turn away from evil and suffered the punishment God had warned was coming. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and turned Judah into a wasteland.
The Apostle Paul reminded Christians of this truth in his letters to the Church – “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:20-21)
As we watched the potters working the clay on their wheels, modeling the clay, drying the clay, firing the clay and finishing the clay, my wife and I talked about how that’s what God does to us and for us, conforming us to the image of His Son.
Keep this image of the Divine Potter in your mind as you defend the faith because it’s an important aspect of the Gospel. The “good news” is that there is a Creator who has the desire and the power to accomplish His will in the world.
When we talk with atheists, agnostics and others who accuse the God of the Old Testament of being – to quote Richard Dawkins – “the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” – we need to remember they are talking about the Creator God, the One who formed the thing formed.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”