“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one
vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:21)
and Clay” METAPHOR
“6 O house of
Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the
clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak
concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down,
and to destroy it; 8 If that nation,
against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil
that I thought to do unto them.” (Jeremiah 18:6-8)
Commentary: The “potter and clay” metaphor
merely teaches that God has the ability to shape our lives as a potter does
with clay. It does not mean that we are literal lumps of clay with no
part to play. Jeremiah tells us that how God shapes the “clay” is determined by
the choices made by the clay.
The “Potter” gives the “clay” choices that determines how
our lives are shaped (Deut. 30:15, 19; Isa. 1:18-20). God reacts toward
us the way that we act towards Him (Deut. 31:16-18; 1 Sam. 2:30; 2
Chron. 15:2; 24:20; Psalm 81:10-16; James 4:6-8; Rev. 3:20). To use the potter
and clay analogy to teach that men have no genuine freedom and all that occurs
in his life is the result of God’s sovereign decree is a dishonest handling of
Scripture in support of an already flawed view that maligns God’s character.
“....the Evil One’s plan is to bring reproach on the Name of God. The Evil One stirs up hate, distorts even DNA sequences, perhaps authors suffering and all destruction of God’s good creation. Satan’s devices may very well include devising virulent germs in order to tear down confidence in God’s loving character.” Ralph D. Winters, Foundations of the World Christian Movement, p. 8
“For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that
they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly,
and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord
commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:20; King James Version)
How it should have been translated:
“For the Lord permitted them to assume courage to
come to battle with Israel, that they might be utterly destroyed, that no mercy
might be shewn them; but that they might be utterly destroyed, as the Lord
commanded Moses.” (Charles Thomson Translation)
Commentary on Joshua 11:20:
“….they were permitted to harden their hearts against all
the wonders of divine Providence. ….All who are conversant in the language of
the Old Testament know, that it speaks of every event which God permits, as
proceeding directly from him; and describes him as hardening the hearts of
those who abuse the divine dispensations, to harden their own hearts in guilt;
though these dispensations display a plain natural tendency to soften and
reform them. - Graves, Richard Lectures on the Four Last Books of the
Pentateuch (Dublin: William Curry, Jun. & Company, 1844), p. 194
7 Casting all your care upon him; for HE CARETH FOR YOU. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, as a roaring lion, walketh about, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR.
Note that God CARES for you and the devil is out to DEVOUR you. It seems to me that the church too often reverses the roles. Some seem to teach that God is an adversary trying to devour us though it is usually phrased in more "pious" and "religious" tones ("God permitted you to suffer that car accident to teach you" or "God gave you that sickness to humble you").
God is not the SOURCE of our problems, He is the SOLVER of our problems. He asks us to give our problems to Him because He cares about us. Satan, on the other hand, is seeking to devour and destroy you. But we give praise to God that he has been defeated through the redemptive work of Christ.
Jesus does not put on you the very thing He died to deliver you from. This is Satan's doing. Resist Satan and don't reverse the roles.
“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the
thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans
God is NOT an
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be
red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18)
“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the
righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that
be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen.
Commentary: God invites us into dialogue to reason
with Him. He allows for us to reverently and respectfully question His
judgements and will, in many cases, change His decree based on our
conversations with Him (see Gen. 18:26).
Herschel H. Hobbs writes, “‘Repliest’ renders a participle
of a compound verb meaning to give off a judgment against, to answer in
contradiction or contention" (Romans: A Verse by Verse Study, p.
120). The problem was not that God was being questioned, but that He was questioned
with arrogance and disrespect. The Amplified Bible reads, “….who
are you, O man, who answers [arrogantly] back to God and dares to defy Him?”
Paul was not teaching that God inflexibly does things while daring us to
question Him. God is not a tyrant.