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God is the Potter, We are the Clay (Romans 9:19-29)

Pastor Heo, Romans: The Righteousness of God, Sermons

God is the Potter, We are the Clay (Romans 9:19-29)

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God is the Potter, We are the Clay

Romans 9:19-29 (Pastor Heo)

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” 29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”


God has absolute sovereignty. Last week we saw that God chose Isaac, not Ishmael. He chose Jacob, not Esau. This is not a matter of the actions of the person, but a matter of the grace of God.

This is a matter of his divine mercy and grace according to his Sovereignty.

God’s sovereign will seems to create a problem.

If God is sovereign, who can resist him? And if someone resists, what right has God to judge him?

  1. God had mercy on Moses, but condemned Pharaoh. Is this just?
  2. God elected Israel, but rejected Egypt. Is this just?

YES. (but why? – because it is GOD who did it.) God is not righteous because he is DOING something righteous. Rather, God is righteous always, SO whatever he is doing is righteous.

To this question, we must note three things. Let me go into detail about these THREE things next time.

#1 God is the potter, I’m the clay in his hands

v. 19-21 “19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”

A potter was a very common and necessary vocation in ancient times – since most cooking was done in various types of clay pots. Yes, the potter has every right to take one large lump of clay and use some part to make a delicate vase (for noble use) and some part of the same clay to make a pot just for common cooking and ordinary use. Neither vase nor pot has a right to complain and ask why the potter did this. The potter has every right to do what he wants. Like this, God has every right to do with us what he wants. So, we are stupid to question his will.

Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to him who quarrels against his maker… does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you thinking?'”

The clay has no right – it is absolutely passive in the hands of the potter. Nobody chose their own parents, blood type, DNA, birthday, race, birth place, etc. We should believe that these matters are in the hands of God. But these do not excuse our responsibility. So, even though we are the clay in the hands of God, we can resist him if we choose.

Pharaoh had great opportunities to know about the true God, but chose to rebel. God is absolutely sovereign, so we are privileged to have ANY relationship with him at all. So, we must remember all the time, God is the potter, we are the clay. But also, God is much wiser than we are. So no one has the right to complain and ask God, “WHY ME?”

#2 God has a purpose for you!

v. 22-24 “22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?”

God has a purpose. We can even see two times in this passage, “What if?”

God endured Pharaoh for a long time, with long suffering. In Exodus, “Yes, I have seen my people in misery in Egypt – I have heard them crying out.” The fact that God waited a LONG time indicates that God gave Pharaoh many opportunities to be saved.

1 Tim 2:4? “God wants all men to be saved and come to a saving knowledge of him.”

God wants ALL men (including KJE) to know him.

  • “God is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness.”
  • “God wants no one to perish but all to come to repentance.”

Yes, God prepares men for glory, but sinners prepare themselves for judgment.

  1. In Moses, God revealed his mercy.
  2. In Pharaoh, God revealed his power.

But since neither DESERVED mercy, God cannot be said to be unfair.

Yes, Moses and Pharaoh experienced the same things:

  • Moses & Pharaoh:
    • but Moses came nearer and nearer to God because of the wonders, signs, and miracles of God he experienced.
    • But Pharaoh went farther and farther away from God because of the SAME signs and wonders and miracles.
  • Sunlight:
    • We can see some things grow well in direct sunlight.
    • But other things die quickly in direct sunlight.
  • Weather:
    • Some people thank God for the sunshine, rain, snow.
    • Other people complain to God for the SAME sunshine, rain, and snow.
  • Sermons:
    • Even today, in the same church, some people are blessed and thank God for this sermon.
    • Others may be bored, complain to God, and watch his watch during the SAME sermon.

The very important point is – God has a purpose for us. Yes, we are weak in many ways, but we are all created in the image of God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are not meaningless accidents who have been thrust into this place at this time.

Still salvation is at hand – the news of the gospel is that God has for YOU a plan of blessing that began in eternity past.

Eph 2:10 “We are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ, to do good works, which he determined in advance for us to do.'”

Yes, we may wonder why we were chosen while others were rejected. The answer is that God is absolutely sovereign, and no one has any claim on his mercy. God prepared us in advance by his gift of salvation. God will show his glory in us when we are with him in eternity.

Yes, God has no obligation, duty, responsibility to show his mercy and grace to us. But he loves to do this.

We are all students before God. The main job of a student is to get knowledge and information. Remember, the best knowledge we can get in this world is to know God’s will for all of us.

#3 God is fulfilling prophecy

25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” 29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

  • Verse 25 is a quotation of Hosea 2:23.
    • This is a statement that says God will turn from the Jews and call the Gentiles as his loved ones.
  • Verse 26 is a quotation of Hosea 1:10.
    • It proves that God’s called people will be called “Children of God.”

As we know, Hosea was a faithful, merciful, gentle husband to a woman named Gomer. She was a faithless, adulteress woman. He named their first child Jezreel “God judges”. The next two children were not his own (they were from another man). But he named them Lo-Ruhamah “Not my people” and Lo-Ammi “Not my loved one”.

Hosea was faithful and long suffering with Gomer. This shows how long suffering and faithful God is with us.

The idea in the OT is the idea of the Remnant – to prove only a remnant of the Jews would be saved while the greater part would be judged.

Yes, we also should be found to be a part of the Remnant when Jesus returns. “I’m a Remnant.'”

  • 9:28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

This probably refers to the Tribulation in Revelation – when only a Remnant will remain in Christ during this time of trial.

The application today = only a Remnant of the Jews remain with Christ today.

Last verse (conclusion):

“29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.””

To emphasize this verse is to emphasize the unconditional grace of God in sparing the Remnant. This proves that God was not unjust in saving some and rejecting others. God was just fulfilling the OT prophecies given centuries ago. God would be unjust if he did not keep his word.

This also makes possible the salvation of the Gentiles – including you and me.

  • The last verse is quoted from Isaiah 1:9.

These two cities were destroyed by heavenly fire. If this had happened to us, we would still have nothing to complain to God. By nature,

  • “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23?)
  • “We were dead in our sins and transgressions”
  • “everyone is destined to die once and after that to face the Judgment.”

We are all destined to go to Hell.

“Unless…” (in the verse) – without the unconditional grace and mercy of God – we would be like Sodom and Gomorrah.

  • If I were lost, I would have nothing to complain to God.
    • But thankfully, I’m saved by the grace of God.
  • If I were to go to hell, I would have nothing to complain to God.
    • But thankfully, I’m guaranteed safety in Christ by the grace of God.
  • If we had nothing to eat, drink, no shelter, we would have nothing to complain to God.
    • But thankfully, we have enough by the grace of God.
  • If I had been killed years ago by sickness, typhoon, car accident, guns, I would have nothing to complain to God.
    • But thankfully, we are still alive and breathing by the grace of God.

“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.”

As long as we live, we have nothing to complain to God – we only must praise him. “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.” As long as we are breathing, we should praise him and give thanks to him. He is God all the time, good all the time, merciful, faithful, righteous.

  • “I think, therefore I am.” (Descartes?)
  • “I thank (God), therefore I am.” (Christian motto)

Let’s pray.

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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen
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