It is easy to see why God the Father is called a Potter in the Book of Isaiah. Whether it is in reference to the world itself (Gen. 1: 1-2 etc.) or the nation of Israel as His people (Ps. 95:1-7; Is. 43:1), the Father has taken “lumps of clay” and fashioned them into something beautiful. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But now O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are our Potter. And all of us are the work of Your hand.” (Is. 64:8). This is not only an Old Testament concept. Paul proclaimed to the Ephesians that they were God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10) and He told the Philippians the same (Phil. 1:6). God first fashioned the nation of Israel to represent Him to the ancient world (Is. 49:6; Ac. 13:46-48). Today He has expanded that to include the church (Phil. 2:14-16). And while He is certainly working in the corporate sense, He also shapes and molds each one of us to be more and more like His Son through the inner workings of His Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18).
The steps a potter takes to produce a pot is very much like the way God works in us to produce a life that brings glory to Him. First the potter must prepare the clay and remove any excess water from it. The potter does this by kneading the clay like bread dough which removes any air bubbles in the clay. If they were to remain, they would expand and explode when the pot is baked in the kiln. So out they must go! The Holy Spirit works in us the same way, kneading and shaping us so that the sin we are so often tempted by and struggle with is replaced with His fruit (Rom. 2:1-2; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 13:20-21) and a desire to please God instead of ourselves (Jn. 14:15; Eph. 6:5-7; 1 Thes. 4:1).
Secondly the potter places the clay on the wheel and with pressure and gentle guidance from his hands helps the shape and purpose of the vessel to be revealed. Will it be a bowl? A mug? A vase? The potter determines that as the wheel turns and the clay spins around. How does the Lord shape and mold us? He speaks to us through the pages of the Bible (Ps. 119:105). His Word tells us what we should and should not be doing (Ps. 19: 7-14; 119:9-16; Amos 5:14-15: Js. 1: 26-27; 4:17; 2 Tim. 3:16). We learn about faith from the lives of the people there (Take the life of Joseph for example- Gen. 37-50) and receive instruction from the Prophets (Is. 40:28-31; Hos. 6:3) and Apostles (Jn. 21:24-25; 2 Pet. 1:12-21), and most importantly from Jesus Himself (Mt. 5; Jn. 14:23-24). The Potter can also mold us through fellow believers (1 Cor. 12:4-31; Eph. 5:15-21; 1 Thes. 5:11). They encourage us, challenge us, and if they truly love us, even correct us when they see us straying from God’s path (Mt. 18:15-18). His Spirit also molds us to be more like Jesus if we are willing to yield to Him just like the clay yields to the potter’s hands as he forms the pot (Jn. 14:16-17; 25-26).
Lastly the potter allows the clay to dry and then applies a glaze over the pot before it is fired. When the pot comes out of the kiln, what once looked like a dull coat of paint has been transformed into a piece of art. The fire has brought out wonderful colors which enhance the natural beauty of the pot’s shape. No one likes to go through trials or struggles but they actually enhance us and help us to become more like Christ (2 Cor. 4:7-14; Js, 1:1-3). Through them we first understand the trial Jesus undertook in paying for our sin (1 Jn. 1:5-7), but our struggles can also help us to help others who may face the same thing (Rom. 15:1-7) and helping them through those struggles brings glory to God (Heb. 13:1-6).
While the plain bisque pot which comes off the wheel may look nice, it isn’t useful because without a glaze it is porous. Any liquid put into that pot will be absorbed by it. But a glazed pot is useful for a number of things. The Lord brings us through “the fire” to make us useful vessels for His glory. And He will help us to discover what we are useful for if we are willing to serve. Most importantly as that beautifully finished and useful piece of pottery we reflect the One who made us (Rom. 8:28-29) in a world that truly needs to see Him (Rom. 10:14-15).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 7/24/2016