a topical sermon
you have your Bible, please turn to Isaiah (Isa) 29:15-16 and follow
along as I read:
Ha! You who hide a
plan too deep for the Lord,
are in the dark,
and who say,
“Who sees us? Who knows
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?
Shall the thing made say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of the one who formed it,
“He has no understanding”? (NRSV).
these two verses, the prophet is indicting and even ridiculing the
leaders of Jerusalem because they believe they can hide their plans
from Yahweh. Through his
use of the potter metaphor, the prophet indicates that those leaders
believe that their plans can even override or circumvent the plans of
The prophet makes clear that such a view is nonsense.
In fact, it is as absurd as clay arguing with a potter.
Imagine clay speaking up from the wheel and saying, “I
don’t like what you’re doing; so I’m going to make different
plans, I’m going to keep those plans secret, and my plans will come
to pass instead of yours.” The
plans of Jerusalem’s leader were as “upside down” as that.
please turn in your Bible to Isa 45:9-13 and follow along as I read:
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘He has no hands’?
Woe to him who says to his father,
‘What have you begotten?’
or to his mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’
“This is what the Lord
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
It is I who made the earth
and created mankind upon it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.
I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:
I will make all his ways straight.
He will rebuild my city
and set my exiles free,
but not for a price or reward,
says the Lord
need a bit of context here. God has chosen Cyrus, the ruler of the Persian Empire, as the
instrument God will use to free the people from exile and to rebuild
the city of Jerusalem. Some
of the people, apparently, are not happy with God’s choice of Cyrus. Was their discontent due to the fact that Cyrus was a pagan
king or was there some other reason?
We don’t know. The
prophet’s purpose here is to say to the people who are criticizing
God’s choice that they have no right to do that.
The prophet again uses a pottery metaphor, as well as others,
to make that clear. God
is the one who has shaped and is continuing to shape the Jewish
people. It is, therefore,
God’s right to decide what instruments will be used in that shaping
and forming process. For
the Jews to complain about how it is done is comparable to the clay
complaining because it wanted to be a jar with handles, but the potter
made it without any.
now we come to the passage that served as our Scripture reading; it
was from Jeremiah (Jer) 18:1-11.
You can turn in your Bible and look at that passage, or you can
turn to it in your worship handout.
The passage begins with the Lord
telling the prophet to go watch a potter working clay on his wheel.
As the prophet watched, the vessel “was spoiled.”
So the potter shaped it into a type of vessel different from
the one he was initially planning to make.
The point: God has
the same kind of power that the potter has.
God can change what he is shaping with regard to a nation.
God can have the purpose of shaping a punishing disaster for a
nation because of that nation’s evil; but if that people turn,
repent, and change their ways, then God will instead shape a blessing
for them. Conversely, God
can be planning to shape a blessing for a nation; but if that nation
turns to evil, God has every right to shape a punishing disaster
instead. Why does God
have that right? Because
God is the supreme, the divine potter.
The prophet also makes clear that the people need to repent
because God is already shaping a punishing disaster for them because
of their evil ways.
that in all three of these prophetic passages the point is submission
to the will of God. In
Isa 29:15-16 the people are charged to submit to God’s plans and are
indicted for seeking plans of their own that they think will overturn
or counter the plans of God. In
Isa 45:9-13 the people are charged to submit and accept God’s plans
to use Cyrus as the divinely employed tool to shape the people of God.
And in Jer 18:1-11 the people are charged to submit in
obedience to God’s word by turning from their evil ways before the
disaster God is shaping comes to pass.
Broadway church is on God’s wheel.
That wheel is turning, and God is shaping.
Broadway is just like clay in the sense that God will
have the final say concerning the experiences that shape us and the
form we are given. But
we, like the Jews, are different from the clay in the sense that
God’s shaping is in response to our obedient submission or in
response to our refusal to do that.
The clay on the wheel has no real will of its own; it is
unconscious and inanimate. But
Broadway is alive. We are
a corporate body of people called together by God. We are not lumps of clay.
These three passages of Scripture call upon us to submit to
God’s will, to obey God’s Word, to say, “yes” to God’s
the Broadway church as a body to do that, the members of this church
must do that. Our elders,
staff, ministry leaders, Bible class leaders, Growth Group
leaders––all of us must do that.
We must willingly submit to God’s will.
We must obediently step onto God’s wheel, bow down there,
allow God to place the potter’s hands around us, shape, and mold us
into all that God dreams of us being in the Kingdom of Christ Jesus
want Adam and our praise team to sing the song “The Potter’s
Hand” one more time. As
they sing that song you can kneel and pray, you can watch Mitch work
and reflect on the wonder and joy of God working on you in that same
way, or you can join in the singing of that song and allow the power
of it to make you clay in God’s hands.
Let’s submit to the potter’s hand.
singing “The Potter’s Hand] Please
look with me at the first two verses of “Have Thine Own Way,
Thine own way, Lord!
Thine own way!
art the Potter,
am the clay.
me and make me
I am waiting,
Thine own way, Lord!
Thine own way!
me and try me,
than snow, Lord,
me just now,
in Thy presence
you are here this morning and have a spiritual need or needs, the
potter is ready to place shaping, forming hands around you.
Come and bow down on the divine potter’s wheel.
If you need prayers, we will pray with you.
If you need counsel, we will seek God’s counsel and seek to
be God’s mouthpiece. If
you need to allow the potter to wash all of your sins away through
baptism, we will baptize you. Whatever
your need, please come now as we stand and sing.
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