7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. I am the Lord, who accomplishes all these things. 8 O sky, rain down from above! Let the clouds send down showers of deliverance! Let the earth absorb it so salvation may grow and deliverance may sprout up along with it. I, the Lord, create it.’” 9 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!” 10 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?” 11 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!
18 So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?” 20 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?” 21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?
Notes and References
"... The question therefore fits well in the context of the historical argument to this point in Rom 9, and Paul responds by “drawing on a traditional metaphor for God’s relationship to creation, and, more specifically, to his people Israel.” Specifically, through this metaphor, Paul argues that Israel has in fact resisted God, but despite Israel’s past disobedience, God is accomplishing his redemptive purposes through and for Israel by unexpected means. In this respect, Paul’s application of the metaphor is again consistent with the potter/clay passages in the prophets, particularly those of Isaiah. J. Ross Wagner points out that the potter passages in Isaiah 29:16/45:9 (particularly the latter) are in the context of restoration promises, continuing: 'Both of these Isaianic passages set the clay’s challenge to the potter in the context of Israel’s confrontation with God over his chosen means of redemption. Israel is portrayed as blind and deaf, doubting God’s wisdom and resisting his appointed means of redemption, either by relying on their own schemes for salvation or by questioning God’s plan of deliverance.' Significantly, the clay is not portrayed as passive in these passages but rather as challenging its maker, serving as a satirical image for Israel’s rebellion and accusations against YHWH. In this context, as with Jeremiah, the potter/clay images in Isaiah do not suggest that YHWH works irresistibly—the very rebellion that has prompted these oracles demonstrates Israel’s capacity to resist. Instead, these passages rebuke the stubbornness of the people, who should submit to their creator rather than resisting him ..."
Staples, Jason A. Vessels of Wrath and God’s Pathos: Potter/Clay Imagery in Rom 9:20–23 (pp. 1-22) Harvard Theological Review, 2022
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