Unlimited: Who Are You?
Mar 20, 2023 542
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? (Romans 9:20-21)
During our lives we will often have cause to be anguished over our own flaws and weaknesses. It will be easy for us to question God and wonder why we were born the way we were born, and why we are the way we are.
The apostle here quotes a rich tradition within the Old Testament writings to address this issue. For example, he quotes from Isaiah 29:16, addressed to Judah:
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (See also Isa. 45:9.)
Who are you to talk back to God?
Paul is also quoting from Jeremiah 18, in which context God says that if he announces that a nation is to be destroyed and they repent, he will not destroy it, and if he announces that a nation is to be blessed and it turns to evil, he will not bless it (see vv.7–10.)
This passage is particularly important because it shows us that Paul’s quotations from the Old Testament, not only refer to nations and not individuals, but also that Paul isn’t teaching strict predestination. Instead, God’s actions are conditioned on the response of the nation.
In the difficult times of your life, have you ever found yourself challenging God, as Job did? What was it that brought you back to a humbler understanding?