Isaiah 45 – Recalcitrant Clay

Isaiah 45 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint on zebra plate

Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint

Today’s PassageIsaiah 45

Now we’re actually ready for Isaiah 45. As happens entirely too often, now that I’ve gotten out my reading shovel and dug into the passage, I’m not sure what to carry back out for the blog post. But when in doubt, ask what the passage teaches you about God. There’s a bit in the beginning about God using King Cyrus of Persia without his knowledge, but the meat of the passage concerns God’s strength and how his provision for Israel will show that strength to the foreign nations, so let’s take a look at that.

As usual, God’s status as Creator is closely tied to his power over creation. He states, “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands and I ordained all their host” (45:12). God displays his power in making the world, humanity, and everything else in the universe. I like to think of this as the ontological priority of God. “Ontological” just means “concerning existence,” and when we say that God is ontologically prior to the universe, it means that he doesn’t need anything else in order for him to exist, but everything else couldn’t exist without him. It’s like God is on one level all by himself, and everything else is on a different, lower level.

Isaiah’s Jewish, though, not Greek, and he prefers to talk about God’s status as supreme being not with philosophical abstractions, but with metaphor and narrative. He imagines a recalcitrant clay pot, resisting its maker: “Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’” (45:9). The clay would be an idiot to think it has anything on the craftsman responsible for its existence–but that’s precisely what humans do. Time and time again, we ask God what he’s doing, calling into question what he’s doing to us, as if we were the ones at the top of the ontological ladder. And being a human myself, I’m sympathetic to us humans, us recalcitrant pots. I do this all the time!

Gotta leave for work now. See you guys tomorrow.


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