The Potter and the Clay

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

God does not expect us to suffer in silence, during the tough times of life. Many of the Psalms, along with the Book of Job are filled with examples of complaints to God about human suffering.

When we are confused about what God is doing in the world, we can ask God questions about what’s going on. Jesus’s close followers asked him many questions about his actions. He was always willing to provide the answers.

God surprised his Hebrew children when he chose a pagan king, Cyrus, to deliver them from Babylonian exile.

They probably asked why didn’t God send a Moses-like figure or a king of David’s stature instead of Cyrus?

God Answers Questions

Whether it was Job, the Psalm writers, or Jesus’s disciples, God was willing to respond to complaints and questions. Frequently, God’s answer pushes us to deeper faith and trust. This was the case with the questions about Cyrus.

Woe to you who strive with your Maker,
earthen vessels with the potter!
Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, “What are you making”?
or “Your work has no handles”?

Woe to anyone who says to a father, “What are you begetting?”
or to a woman, “With what are you in labor?”
(Isaiah 45.9-10)

God’s answer to the “why Cyrus” question was not intended to silence their questions but to put them in perspective.

Just as it is foolish to imagine clay giving direction to the potter, so is it for humans to instruct their Creator. Similarly, it is unthinkable for a newborn baby to counsel its mother or father about the birth process.

Praise God that he is approachable. We can bring every issue to him, including questions and complaints. The Bible teaches us that we never have to suffer in silence.

On the other hand, our prayers connect with the Creator, who is all-knowing and all-powerful. We may question why something is taking place in our lives, but ultimately we must recognize that God’s purposes are best.

I don’t believe that God thoughtlessly gave us these words in Isaiah. He knows our pain and confusion when things go wrong in life. He knows that certain issues in life cause us to question and complain.

At the same time, God wants us to trust him. He is our loving Creator, who knows everything there is to know about life.

Confusion and complaint can be moderated by humble trust in God’s character of love and all-knowing nature. It may take time to understand perplexing questions in life, but God’s answer is always best for us.

The “Cyrus” Question

When God answered the “why Cyrus?” question, he made his awesome nature clear.

Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Will you question me about my children,
or command me concerning the work of my hands?

I made the earth,
and created humankind upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.

I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness,
and I will make all his paths straight;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,
says the Lord of hosts.
(Isaiah 45.11-13)

God’s answer is worthy of a slow, prayerful, meditative reading.

The LORD – This is God’s covenant name that was given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3.13-15).

God’s sacred name is “I AM WHO I AM.” One way to translate this name is “I will be what I always have been.”

As we bring the issues of our lives to God, we can fully rely on the fact that he IS and that he will always be faithful as he has been throughout history.

Holy One of Israel – More than any other prophet, Isaiah applied this designation to God.

When Isaiah received the vision of God (Isaiah 6.1-8), he realized the absolute holiness of the Lord.

Holiness means that God is the Creator, not a part of creation. Thus, he stands outside of creation as its Creator.

Holiness also has a moral quality. God is perfectly loving, just, righteous, and pure. We can depend on perfect love and perfect justice from the Holy One of Israel because that is who he is.

Maker – A grasshopper landed on the windshield of my truck a few years ago. It took a thirty-minute ride with me that day.

As I kept glancing at the bug, it dawned on me how perfectly God had made this insect. It had lungs, eyes, wings, strong legs, and beautiful coloring.

If the grasshopper had been squashed on my windshield instead of using it for transportation to Kansas, I would have seen it as an inconvenience to have to clean the mess from my windshield. Instead, it taught me about God’s greatness.

It dawned on me like the bug and I traveled, that no one but God can make a grasshopper. He is the maker of insects, humans, worlds, and galaxies. He is worthy of our trust and praise.

God is the One who used Cyrus to deliver Hebrew people from Babylon. He is the One who used a high school friend to share the good news of Jesus with me and change my life for eternity.

He is the One who uses different people and circumstances for our good and his glory. Praise the Holy One, our Maker, and the Great I AM.

About This Blog

Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.

I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.

Please email your prayer requests to me at or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.

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