Isaiah Study: The Potter and the Clay

As we continue our study of Isaiah 40-66, I want to look at an analogy that’s also used earlier in this book and by the prophet Jeremiah. If you go back and read the first post in this Isaiah study, you’ll see one of the key themes that I wanted to study more was “God as a potter, with us as His clay.” To dig into this analogy deeply, it’s helpful to look at the other messages God gave His prophets using the same word picture.

God’s description of Himself as the Potter and us as His clay also links to some other themes we’ve looked at in this series. Because God is Incomparable and Irreplaceable, He has the power to do what He likes with His creation. Part of what He’s doing relates to The Contrast Between Righteousness and Wickedness and The Lord’s Desire for Justice. He’s working with us to shape us the way that a potter works with clay to turn it into something beautiful and useful.

Danger in Disrespecting the Potter

The first time God describes Himself as a potter in Isaiah is in chapter 29. This passage comes before the section we’ve been studying, but it’s a message to the same people and gives us important background for the theme we’re looking at today.

The Lord says,
“These people say they are loyal to me;
they say wonderful things about me,
but they are not really loyal to me.
Their worship consists of
nothing but man-made ritual.
Therefore I will again do an amazing thing for these people—
an absolutely extraordinary deed.
Wise men will have nothing to say,
the sages will have no explanations.”
Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are as good as dead,
who do their work in secret and boast,
“Who sees us? Who knows what we’re doing?”
Your thinking is perverse!
Should the potter be regarded as clay?
Should the thing made say about its maker, “He didn’t make me”?
Or should the pottery say about the potter, “He doesn’t understand”?

Isaiah 29:13-16, NET

This passage is an indictment against people who think they know better than God. They’re arrogant. They substitute their own rituals for the type of worship God commanded and they think their plans are so clever God won’t figure them out or try to stop them. This is the same attitude that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and experts in religious law for having when He came to earth the first time (Mark 7:2-13).

It’s a trap we can fall into as well. If God tells us to do something and we decide that something else would be better, then we’ve become disloyal to God. We’ve become like pottery telling the potter He didn’t make us and He doesn’t understand what’s best for us. It’s insane, and yet we try this all the time. We think, “Well, maybe God didn’t really mean it like that.” Or we say, “Yeah, but if He knew what my life’s like He’d make an exception.” Or maybe, “Sure He said that then, but this will work better now.” It’s is a very dangerous attitude.

One who argues with his Creator is in grave danger,
one who is like a mere shard among the other shards on the ground!
The clay should not say to the potter,
“What in the world are you doing?
Your work lacks skill!”
Danger awaits one who says to his father,
“What in the world are you fathering?”
and to his mother,
“What in the world are you bringing forth?”
This is what the Lord says,
the Holy One of Israel, the one who formed him,
concerning things to come:
“How dare you question me about my children!
How dare you tell me what to do with the work of my own hands!
I made the earth;
I created the people who live on it.
It was me—my hands stretched out the sky.
I give orders to all the heavenly lights.

Isaiah 45:9-12, NET

I quoted this chapter early on my Isiah study as well, in the post titled “God is Incomparable and Irreplaceable.” Here, God says, “I am Yahweh, and there is no one else. Besides me, there is no God” (Is. 45:5, WEB). He’s the Creator who made human beings, invited us into covenant relationship with Him, and makes plans that will surely come to fruition. He’s not a human who makes mistakes, or tells lies, or says they’ll do something then can’t follow through. And even though He loves us deeply, there is danger in disrespecting and underestimating Him. As His creation, we need to respect the Creator and remember how we fit into the universe.

God’s Right to Shape the World

Isaiah isn’t the only Bible writer to use a pottery analogy. During Jeremiah’s ministry, God sent him to watch a potter working. Jeremiah went to the potter’s house as instructed and watched as the clay the potter worked with became misshaped, so the potter reworked it into a different type of vessel. As Jeremiah looked on, God spoke to him.

Then Yahweh’s word came to me, saying, “House of Israel, can’t I do with you as this potter?” says Yahweh. “Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel. At the instant I speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them. At the instant I speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they not obey my voice, then I will repent of the good with which I said I would benefit them.”

Jeremiah 18:5-10, WEB

God has the absolute right to dispense His justice according to His righteousness. If you remember the article from a couple weeks ago, “Isaiah Study: The Lord’s Desire for Justice,” then you’ll recall that God’s justice involves His governing authority, His desire to make things right in the world, His law, and His offer of salvation. Like a potter has the authority to turn clay into a simple bowl, a practical cup, or an elaborate vase, so does God have the authority to shape the future. We have free will, yes, but the choices we make are contextualized by God’s decisions about how the world works.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” But who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this? Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?

Romans 9:19-21, NET (bold italics a quotation from Isa 29:1645:9)

The context for this statement is Paul explaining how Israel and the Gentiles fit into the New Covenant (Rom. 9-11). Though we’re not getting into that topic today, the statement is one we’d do well to ponder. God’s authority does not negate our own free will nor excuse us from our responsibility to live in accordance with His law. If we ever feel like He’s not being fair or He did something wrong, the problem lies in our limited perception.

When you think about it, it’s the height of arrogance to think that just because we don’t understand what God’s doing that He’s wrong to do it. While it’s often challenging to trust God with the future, it’s something we need to do for our own sanity if nothing else. “One who quarrels with his Maker, like a pot among the pots of the earth” is not going to have peace (Is. 45:9, TLV).

Walking in the Potter’s Ways

God doesn’t ask anything unreasonable or mysterious from us. It’s just that our human reasoning and arrogance get in the way of us accepting His sovereignty and trusting Him with our futures. Even as I write this, a small part of me bristles at the idea of someone else telling me, “Here’s how the world works, so here’s how you should live your life.” Mostly, though, knowing that God’s expectations are clear is a relief.

He has told you, O man, what is good,
and what the Lord really wants from you:
He wants you to carry out justice, to love faithfulness,
and to live obediently before your God.

Micah 6:8, NET

It’s kind of weird–usually I find it comforting to know God’s in control and that He shows me how to live a good life, yet there are still times part of me wants to go my own way. Paul talked about a similar struggle in Romans; our “fleshy” human desires conflict with the spirit-filled life we’re called to live (Rom. 7:1-8:4). That pull between flesh and spirit–between our “old man” and the new work God’s doing in us –is something every Christian battles. We can win this fight with God’s help, though, and “the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4, NET). Then, we’ll be working with the Potter instead of resisting His work.

You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
    those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned.
    We have been in sin for a long time.
    Shall we be saved?
For we have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteousness is like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf;
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
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 by means of our iniquities.

But now, Yahweh, you are our Father.
    We are the clay and you our potter.
    We all are the work of your hand.
Don’t be furious, Yahweh.
    Don’t remember iniquity forever.
Look and see, we beg you,
    we are all your people.

Isaiah 64:5-9, WEB

This is the final section of Isaiah that talks about God as a Potter. Here, Isaiah shows the right way for us to respond to God as He works with, molds, and shapes us. We need to remember, as God does, that we’re made of clay and dust (Job 10:9; Ps. 103:14). No matter how much we might think of ourselves, we’re still little compared to God. We don’t know the future and our ideas about what should happen aren’t always right. We need to trust our Creator to work things out for the best and to work with us to make us our best. If we’ve done something that “misshapes” us in God’s hands, we can still choose to come back to Him for loving correction. He’ll meet those who seek righteousness where they are and then keep working with us to shape us into something beautiful.

Featured image by Inbetween from Lightstock

Putting God in a Clay Pot: How Much Does the Lord Understand You?

Do you ever feel like God doesn’t really know what you’re going through? That He doesn’t get how hard it is to be human or that He expects too much of us?

I think this is an easy thought pattern to fall into. “My problem is something different,” we think. “Other people don’t understand, and maybe God doesn’t either. Sure Jesus was human but that was 2,000 years ago. Things have changed.”

Truth is, though, things haven’t changed that much. “There is no new thing under the sun” because human nature stays the same (Ecc. 1:9). And even if things have changed so much that being human is fundamentally different than it once was, God has still taken steps to make sure He understands us. Evidently connecting with us is very important to Him, because He’s done some pretty incredible things in order to get inside our perspectives and also to share His mind with us. Firstly, He made us. Secondly, He experienced human life by Jesus living as a human. Finally, He indwells His people today through His spirit.

Made

If you make something you understand it. You know all the ingredients in the cookies, you know the hours put into shaping clay into an urn, you know the measurements and materials required to machine that part. God understands us even better than that, for He created all the materials we’re formed from and then fashioned us in His own image.

Like a father has compassion on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows how we are made. He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14, WEB)

Other translations use the phrase “He knows our frame” (Hebrew word yetser, meaning form, framing, or purpose). God made us and knows all about us. We are something formed by him as if we were clay in the hands of a master potter (Is. 29:16 also uses the word yetser).

However, knowing how to make a clay pot isn’t the same as knowing what it’s like to be a clay pot. He could search us and know us more intimately than anyone else (see my favorite Psalm, number 139 for an example), but God in the Old Testament hadn’t yet lived as one of us.

Lived

They say if you want to understand someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. God did much more than that when the Son came to this earth as a man. He walked 33 years in our human form.

Who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, yes, the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:6-8, WEB)

Having created the form of man, God now inhabited it as the Word who took on the same form He created (John 1:1-4, 14). Both Father and Son were involved in creation (Eph. 3:9) and both were involved in the decision to send Jesus as the Messiah (John 5:36-37; 10:17-18). The God-family was in perfect agreement about how important it was for one of them to live and die as a human.

Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil … Therefore he was obligated in all things to be made like his brothers, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:14, 17-18, WEB)

This tells us that one of Jesus’ reasons for coming to this earth was to experience human life and so know first-hand what we are going through. This is an incredible sacrifice for God to make in order to understand you! It’s mind-boggling that one of the two all-powerful beings in the universe would choose to live like one of the clay pots He made all so He could save our lives and understand how to help each of us.

Indwelt

What Jesus did in coming to earth, living as human, and dying for us is amazing in itself. But He doesn’t stop there. He made us, then He lived like us, and now He lives inside us.

For we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake, seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves. (2 Cor. 4:5-7, WEB)

Today, God is still putting His presence in clay pots (us) through His spirit. He has said, “I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will be their God and they will be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16, WEB). This is an intimate level of knowing that goes beyond how we are made or even what it’s like to be human (John 15:4; 17:22-23). Through the indwelling of His spirit, He knows what it is like to be us in the fullest way we could ever imagine.

So if you ever feel like maybe God doesn’t understand you, remember all the ways that He knows you. He made human kind, lived as a human, and now lives in each of us. No one (including yourself) will ever understand you as well as God does. And there’s a great comfort in that, “for we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Our Lord and Savior knows what it’s like to be human and has deep sympathy for all of us (Heb. 4:14-16). Beyond that, He deeply sympathizes with each individual He’s in a relationship with because we dwell in Him and He in us through His spirit.

I know how hard it is when you’re struggling with loneliness, but when we have a relationship with God we never have to feel fundamentally alone or misunderstood. He’s gone to incredible lengths to have a deep, personal relationship with us. All we have to do is recognize that He’s there.

Featured image credit: JamesDeMers via Pixabay

Time and Foreknowledge (Free Will, Part 2)

Last week, I started writing about a question one of my friends asked regarding my views on free will. That post was part 1 and it has lots of background info for this post, so if you haven’t read it yet you can check it out here. Another aspect  of the question he asked, which I didn’t have time to get to last week, was “Do you believe God is omniscient, or do you believe there are limits to His knowledge of the future, etc.”

Omniscience basically means “all knowing,” and I suppose given these two options I’m going to have to go with saying that I believe there are some limits to God’s knowledge of the future. That’s the short answer 🙂 Here’s the long one …

God Knowing Us

Prophecy teaches us that God has knowledge of future events — fulfilled prophecy gives us proof that He was correct in the past and we have faith that He will also be correct about the future. God has a plan for where the world is heading, and He certainly has the power to get it there. This is the kind of thing we talked about last week when looking at the examples of Jonah and Abraham.

Continuing with these two examples, I’ve said I believe that Jonah, Abraham, and Sarah had free will in how they responded to God’s work in their lives. But the fact that God didn’t make the decisions for them doesn’t prove that He didn’t know how they would respond.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. (Ps. 139:1-3)

Many verses speak of God knowing our hearts, but these are mostly present-tense, as far as I can tell. From perfect knowledge of what we are now, I suppose God has a pretty good idea of what we will be and how we will act in the future. I think we still have the potential to surprise Him, through.

I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:10)

If God did know exactly how we were going to live our lives, however, why does He need to search our hearts to determine how to reward us? Probably the best example of this is Abraham’s test. God commanded him to sacrifice his only son, and Abraham was prepared to do so right up to the moment God stopped him. Up until Abraham was at the point where he was about to kill Isaac, it seems that God didn’t know how far Abraham would go to obey Him.

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Gen. 22:12)

God’s Foreknowledge

Some people use Psalm 139:16 to say God knows the day we will die and has all our days mapped out. The King James Version doesn’t give that sense at all, but other translations could. Here’s a few:

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (KJV)

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (NKJV)

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (NIV)

I really have doubts about this interpretation, though. Going back to the story of Nineveh, God told those people through Jonah that He would destroy their city in 40 days. We know “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18), so I can’t believe He told them this if he already knew He would delay Nineveh’s punishment (Jon. 3:1-10).

A similar case occurs in 2 Kings 20. King Hezekiah falls ill, and the Lord sends Isaiah the prophet to tell him, “Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live” (2 Kings 20:1). Hezekiah prayed to the Lord …

And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.”’” (2 Kings 20:4-6)

Again, why would God tell Hezekiah that he was going to die if He already knew that He would give Hezekiah 15 years? This story is one of the reasons we have hope when we pray — because we know God hears us and can intervene to answer our prayers. If everything was predestined, what would be the point of praying? For that matter, what would be the point of obeying the commandments or being loving and faithful? As a commenter on last week’s post pointed out, “If there were no free will, then whether we believe in God & Jesus, and whether we love them or not, would be determined by God, not us. And if that were the case, then it would not be true faith and it would not be true love. For faith and love to be real, there must be a choice.”

Some Ideas About Time

From what I read in the Bible, along with a dab of theoretical physics and a heavy dollop of sci-fi, here’s my pet theory: assuming time and space are connected, then “a God who is not limited by space is not limited by time” (I got that from an old Moody science tape).  I hypothesize that God can step outside of time in a way and see how the potential outcomes are changing. He can look at the whole breadth of human history, read every nuance of the present, and predict and direct the course of events. He has a definitive end goal in mind, and He can directly intervene to accomplish that goal, but I think our specific futures are in a state of flux, changing as we make decisions.

Time and Foreknowledge (Free Will, Part 2) | marissabaker.wordpress.comI’m perfectly willing to admit there are flaws and gaps in my theory, and it might even be totally worthless, but it is what makes sense to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts/ideas/theories if you’d like to share them. 🙂 I really don’t think we can fully understand how God relates to time and the future right now — we can just see glimpses and try to make sense of the clues we are given.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9)

In keeping with the fact that God’s thoughts are very different and much higher than ours, He has a unique view of time as well.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Pet. 3:8)

For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night. (Ps. 90:4)

This is very confusing for us, trapped in a single moment of linear time. We have imperfect recall of our own past, second-hand knowledge of history and other people’s lives, limited understanding of the present, and dim ideas about the future. Compared to us, God is indeed omniscient, even if there are what we think of as “limits” to His foreknowledge.

The Potter’s Hands (Free Will, Part 1)

A few weeks ago, a friend asked for my thoughts on “free will.” He’d written a blog post about the subject, and someone contacted him to say they didn’t believe in free will. The ongoing discussion has prompted a fascinating Bible study for me, and I think I’ll have to make this a two-part post to fit everything in.

The idea of predestination has a long history in Christianity. My understanding is it basically says God has foreknowledge of all things that will happen and predetermines who will receive salvation and who will not. The idea that God is all knowing would imply He knows things like how and when we will die and whether or not we’ll be in His family. And if He already knows the course of our lives, doesn’t that mean we don’t have free will?

Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory (Rom. 9:21-23)

At first, this scripture does seem to indicate that God determines our fates and we do not have free will because He shapes our lives. However, when we start looking at examples of how God deals with people, I think we see more evidence for free will than against it. While God does directly intervene to shape the course of some individual’s lives, we also have choices.

Dealing With Jonah

Let’s take the case of Jonah. If it looks like anyone in the Bible didn’t have freedom to choose his own path, it’s Jonah. He was told, “go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jon. 1:2). He decided that wasn’t a good idea, and we all know how God used a storm and a big fish to override Jonah’s decision and get him back on track.

So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jon. 3:3-4)

The people of Nineveh responded with repentance, and “God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it”( Jon. 3:10) The prophecy of Nineveh’s destruction still happened, but God changed the time-table to spare all these people who chose to repent (my study Bible says the destruction happened 100 years later). The Ninevites had free will.

And really, so did Jonah. God was determined to use him for the purpose of contacting Nineveh, but that didn’t stop Jonah from choosing to try running away and then choosing a bad attitude about God’s mercy toward Nineveh (Jon. 4:1-11).  Though God directly molded Jonah’s life, Jonah still chose how he would respond to God’s work.

Abraham’s Children

The life of Abraham is another example. In Genesis 15, the Lord promised Abraham a son and made a covenant with him. Then, after living in Canan for 10 years and having no children, Abram and Sari took matters into their own hands and conspired to create a son using Sari’s Egyptian servant, Hagar (Gen 16:3, 15). But this was not how God planned to give Abraham a son.

And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” (Gen. 17:18-21)

Though Abraham and Sarah did not act in the way God had intended, He worked with His peoples’ choice. God’s plan moved forward as He willed, but with the addition of Ishmael and all the consequences of his birth.

Ananias and Sapphira

A New Testament example of free will can be seen in Ananias and Sapphira. God does not tempt anyone with evil and does nothing for our harm (James 1:13), so I don’t think we can say that He set them up to fail or that they had no choice but to sin. This is born out by the wording in Acts when Peter confronts each of them about keeping back part of the price of the land they sold as a donation to the church.

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

Though Satan is identified as putting the evil idea in his head, the blame for choosing to do wrong is laid squarely on Ananias (and later on Sapphira as well in Acts 5:8-9). Both these individuals had the power to chose what they did with their possessions, and they chose wrong.

Authority to Plan

I think the point of Romans 9:21-23 is not that we have no choice, but rather that God has the authority to make decisions regarding how He deals with individuals and shapes future events. If we back-up and look at the verses leading to this point in Romans, Paul is talking about Israel. He covers the issue of Abraham’s children (Rom. 9:6-9), and then moves on to Isaac’s sons.

And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls),  it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Rom. 9:10-13)

This is not telling us that Esau had no choice when he sold his birthright (Gen. 25:29-34), or that Jacob had no choice but to steal Esau’s blessing (Gen. 27:1-40). Nor does it mean Isaac and Rebekah were fated to pick favorites and set up a rivalry between their sons. It means God has a plan and He was going to carry it out using or (in spite of) the good and bad choices His people made.

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Rom. 9:14-18)

God chooses who to work with and who not to. I suppose you could say there are elements to predestination in this, since God pre-determines which people He will call in this life, which will be nudged toward completing His will, and which will be left to “time and chance” and their own devices.

You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 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? (Rom 9:19-21).

In my mind, this is actually one of the stronger arguments in favor of free will. We have free will, and God has free will. He get’s to choose how He interacts with His creation, and to a certain extent we get to choose how we interact with God. Even being chosen by God doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll end up in His family — Hebrews 6:4-6 tells us it is possible to “fall away” and reject God’s calling. And if someone is not being called by God right now, that doesn’t mean He is ignoring the choices they make. It’s possible to get His attention (Matt. 15:21-28) and to call upon His name (Rom. 10:13).

Any thoughts or comments? Notice something I missed? Have a scripture to add? One closely related topic that might come to mind is God’s omniscience and the extent of His foreknowledge. That’s what I’m focusing on next week.The Potter's Hands (Free Will, Part 1) | marissabaker.wordpress.com