The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study
Chapter 45: The Potter, the Clay & the Sovereignty of God
by I Gordon
Just as a quick recap, at the start of this chapter God calls a
man, a chap by the name of Cyrus. Who is he? He was actually the
king of Persia. The one who would lead the Medes and the Persians
in conquering the Babylonians. Now this prophecy of Isaiah was
given in 700 B.C. Basically 150 years before Cyrus even came onto
this planet! And yet God here actually calls him by name 150 years
in advance. The Jewish historian Josephus actually recorded that
the Jews showed Cyrus this prophecy when he conquered Babylon the
fact that he was already written in their book... Boy would that
blow you away or what? So God in this chapter is fairly much
introducing Himself in a prophetic passage to Cyrus and He is
saying that He is God and He has a plan and that He has chosen
Cyrus specifically with a purpose in mind. Very much like you and
me - He has chosen us also with a purpose for our life. When you
get to verse 6 & 7 we read:
I am the Lord and there is no other. The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
So God here tells Cyrus about Himself. That He is the only God. That He is the Sovereign God. He is the one who is in control. He is the one that not only brings well being but scripture also says that He brings calamity. And that is all part of the sovereignty of God. Which brings us to verse 9 about the Potter and the Clay. Why do you think that follows on in this context?
 ↩ In this last week I heard of two stories about two different pastors in two different parts of the world. I will just tell you about them briefly. The first pastor was an American pastor and he was well loved by his church and his congregation. One day he got a virus and the virus attacked his vocal chords and he couldn't speak. He thought to himself - I will get over this, I will get better and will go back to work. But the days went into weeks and the weeks went into months. And he could not speak. The congregation really loved him and they obviously wanted to keep him as a Pastor so he stayed on for a year even though he couldn't give any sermons or minister like before. He just could not speak. After a year he thought that he would have to resign, which he did as he didn't think it was fair to the church to stay on. And for the next three years, it seemed as if times were pretty tough. His wife had to go back to work. This virus that had attacked his vocal chords had rendered him mute, apart from just a slight little voice. After three years his church actually asked him to come back just to teach an adult Sunday school. He said that he couldn't really speak, that he only had a slight, slight whisper but they said 'we don't care, speak right into the microphone, we will turn the microphone right up and we will listen really, really intently... We just want you back!' And so he agreed. They recorded his message so as you listened you were hearing the actual events of that day. You could hear him speaking in just a little squeaky voice, very quietly. And he was actually talking about the fact when it comes to God and healing, people go to two extremes. Some people say that healing is in the atonement so that if we have faith then we should be healed because Jesus died for all our sicknesses and he said that that is not actually biblical (and I agree with that). He said that other people go to the other extreme and say that miracles and healing died out in the in the first century and he said that this was not biblical and this I totally agree with that as well! He began speaking about the Sovereignty of God and as he did an amazing wonderful thing happened... as he was talking slowly but surely his voice started to come back to him! And he had to stop as he was in bewilderment as to what was happening. He knew that a miracle was actually taking place while he explained the Sovereignty of God. It was an amazing thing to hear and suddenly after a while the congregation started to realise as well that he was speaking normally and they all started to clap and he was miraculously healed. I believe he now has a ministry called New Voice Ministries. And it was just an amazing testimony of God sovereignly moving to heal this man. He was able to go back and pastor again. Just a fantastic wonderful story. A real tear jerker when you hear it happening believe me!
The other story that I heard, and it only came a couple of days after this, was of a pastor who lives pretty close to where I live and he was out mountain biking in the Redwood Forest with someone from his congregation and there was a path that split and he went one way and the other person went the other. This path joins back up and where it joins up the person who he was mountain biking with got there but the pastor didn't arrive. So he waited and after a while he double backed down the track and found that the pastor had actually come off his bike and had gone head first into a tree. That Pastor, at the time I heard about it, was on life support and he couldn't even breathe by himself. The signs are that he may be a tetraplegic. And when you hear stories like that you just think WHY! WHY? And it can shake your belief in the Sovereignty of God. But the fact is we don't know what God is going to do in this situation, but we do know that God is sovereign, that he has allowed it for His own purpose and that He can turn all things and work all things for good for those who love Him.
 ↩ In Stuart Briscoes book 'Captivity to Conquest' he talks about the Potter's wheel. Let me quote part of this here for I thought it was very good... 'Presently the wheel begins to turn and as it does the potter's hand moves and presses upon the clay. They give a little here and press a little harder there in order to bring the thought that is in his mind for the clay into reality. The two most important factors are the pressure of his hand and the speed of the wheel and he controls both of them. It is he who applies the pressure. It is he who regulates the speed. The plan that was in God's mind for you is brought into reality in exactly the same way. There are the same two deciding factors - first the pressure of his hand and secondly the pace of the wheel. The pace of the wheel is indicated by the way the Lord arranges your circumstances moving them at such a pace and in such a direction it enables Him to form a shapeless piece of clay into a vessel of His choice. And we know that all things work together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose. Yes providence is the handmaid of God's grace. The two are allies. The God of redemption is the God of circumstance. And he goes on to say - Are you feeling the pressure of God's hand and the pace of the wheel? When the pressure is greatest and the speed is fastest I believe it is because He has in mind the production of a very special kind of vessel. When He fashioned Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Peter and Paul - Oh how the wheel turned. Think about Joseph and the turn of the wheel in his life. Its revolving almost makes me feel giddy to think about it. A sheltered home and the wheel turns, a pit and then the wheel turns, the slave market and the wheel turns again. Potiphar's house with its luxury and temptation and the wheel turns. A prison cell - the wheel turns again. The Palace and ultimately his elevation to second in the land with Pharaoh. How the wheel turned in Joseph's life. Yet not one inch of it did move without the hand of the Master Potter being on the clay. For God was making a special vessel.
 ↩ I was watching television the other day and a lady who was a teacher in England decided to sneak a camera into her class just so that she could show what the classroom scene was like. So she had this secret camera and she was trying to get one of the pupils to do their work. She was just trying to tell this young girl to stop chatting and do what she was supposed to be doing and as she was telling this girl to do her work the girl replied - 'you can't do anything to me. I know my rights, you can't tell me what to do.' And that is partly the generation that is growing up - it's all about their rights. The Christian message is come to Jesus and die. Take up your cross and follow me. You know for a generation which is all about their rights and what's important to them, becoming a Christian and submitting to the Lordship of Christ and submitting to the potters hand is not an easy thing.
 ↩ Just from a personal point of view, I lost all sight in my left eye three years ago in a surfing accident. I damaged it really badly. At the time I took it in my stride and I really tried to submit myself to God's Sovereignty. Probably now, three years on I find myself more likely to be thinking - 'Why God?' or 'Why did that have to happen. What were you trying to do there? What was I to learn out of all of this and what good can come out of it?' And if I am not careful I find myself going down those tracks and start to doubt God's purpose in it all and why it had to happen. The clay starts talking back to the potter! But it's not good. The fact is that in this world we will have trouble and we need to submit ourselves under the Sovereignty of God because He is kind and He does care and when hard things and trouble come into our lives (and that is an absolute 100% promise of God) you need to believe that He has a purpose for allowing it.
 ↩ Speaking about the fact that the clay would say to the Potter that 'You did not make me' one commentator said 'For the Lord and His prophet this was absolutely absurd, but today it passes as high science.'