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Posts Tagged ‘Potter and clay’

WordIsaiah 29:16(NLT)

How foolish can you be?
    He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
    “He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
    “The potter who made me is stupid”?

Jeremiah 18:1-10 (abridged)(NLT)

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Then the Lord gave me this message: “ . . . can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom,10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

Isaiah 64:7-9 (NLT)

Yet no one calls on your name
    or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
    and turned us over to our sins.

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.
Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
    Please don’t remember our sins forever.
Look at us, we pray,
    and see that we are all your people.

 

If you have been to any museum of ancient history, you have seen pots and clay vessels of all kinds, some finely painted, others quite plain and ordinary.  The most common artifact found at virtually any archeological site are the shards, the broken pieces of pottery, and these pieces of broken clay reveal much about the times and the lives of the generations who lived at that site.

Isaiah and Jeremiah draw on one the of most common, most familiar images of the ancient world, the relationship between a potter and the clay with which he works, to reveal the nature of the King of All Nation’s relationship to a nation—any nation—all nations!

In these three passages, the prophets speak to three very different lessons nations should learn from potters and their clay. 

First, it is a stupid jar who claims to have been spontaneously or self-generated! Nations are not just clay, they are potter’s clay, not just any clay. This clay has been found and prepared by the potter in order to be molded into something useful.  The clay, prepared for molding, then is kneaded and sculpted, pressed upon and turned, until it is exactly what the Potter intended it to be.  What about the nations?  These ancient words are specifically intended to teach that nations who believe they exist by either their own will or by some random act of history, that these nations are stupid!

Second, the Potter’s hands make or break the clay, they have complete control over the beginning and the end of this creation.  We don’t really like this image very much because we want to be in control of our own national destiny.  We want to believe that the freedom we enjoy extends absolutely into every national issue. That is not the lesson of the potter and the clay.  If a nation fails to become what the Potter intended, does He not have the right to abandon that design and start over?

Third, for a rebellious nation, the power of the Potter is frightening. The threat of annihilation is real. But for a submissive nation, the possibility of being renewed and restored brings hope! If the Potter is the nation’s father, then his absolute power over the clay proceeds from a father’s love, the reshaping is done by the hands of one who cares, who wants to create beauty, not destruction. The power to reshape even misshaped clay into something new and useful is a blessing to the nations who submit to the Potter King of All Nations.

 

Prayer:  Mold us and make us according to your will, not ours, Sovereign Lord. We long to be objects of beauty and usefulness because you have put this into our hearts—even as a nation. Keep our national identity from the stupid belief that we have created ourselves, and bring our national will into harmony with yours. You are the Potter; we are the clay—and we are glad!  Amen.

 

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