The Potter and the Clay
by Daniel Botkin
“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?’ Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”—Romans 9:20-21
God is likened to a potter, not only in Romans 9 but also in Jeremiah 18. No doubt these passages of Scripture were the inspiration for the lines of a well known hymn written nearly one hundred years ago: “Thou art the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”
Clay is a good material to represent man. The very first man, Adam (whose name means “man”), came out of the ground (adamah in Hebrew). Adam was a piece of lifeless clay until God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus clay reminds us of our humble origins and of the fact that we owe our existence to our Creator.
The frailty of clay vessels reminds us that human life is fragile. When my wife and I did volunteer work on the archeological dig around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in 1976, we discovered, while sifting through the soil of New Testament times, that the most common archeological finds are usually bits and pieces of broken pottery. The millions of broken clay jars that lie buried in the earth remind us that the ground is not only our origin, it is also the destiny of our fleshly body.” In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19)…
(this article is an excerpt from the Jan–Feb 2006 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)
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