Summary: You’re in the Hands of the Heavenly Potter! Yield to him: 1) He has the power to squash; 2) He has the right to squish; 3) He has the grace to squelch
“You’re in good hands with Allstate.” So declares a popular insurance company. I wonder if Allstate clients would agree with their insurance company’s motto? For example has every Allstate client in the Gulf states received compensation for their houses and cars destroyed by the recent hurricanes, or were those events ruled “an act of God” and the losses not covered? If that’s the case, I’m sure Allstate clients don’t feel as if they are in very good hands.
Every Sunday in church we pray the Lord’s Prayer and confess that we’re in the hands of the heavenly Father. Is that a good place to be? It would seem so, after all fathers are to love and care for their children and who would do that better than God? While our text this morning describes God as “Father,” it also calls him “Potter” and says that we are clay in his hands (Isaiah 64:8). What does it mean for us to be clay in the hands of the heavenly Potter? Let’s find out.
Our text was written by the prophet Isaiah around 700 B.C. By this time the Assyrians had overrun most of Israel and Judah and had even laid siege to the great city of Jerusalem. As Isaiah watched the destruction he lifted his voice to heaven in an anguished prayer. He wanted to know why God seemed so distant from his chosen people. Isaiah wanted God to come down and intervene with his great power. The prophet put it this way: “1Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! 2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! 3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you” (Isaiah 64:1-3).
Isaiah knew that God was no wimp. As the heavenly Potter, God has the power to squash anyone or anything as easily as we can smash a clay jar. Isaiah knew this because God had shown that kind of power in the past. Do you remember how God gave the Israelites victory over the city of Jericho? After the Israelites had marched around the city for seven days God literally caused Jericho’s walls to tremble before him and then topple enabling the Israelites to take the city. Since God had that kind of power, and since he had used it for his people in the past, Isaiah wondered why God wasn’t causing the Assyrians to quake in their boots now? Why did God seem so distant from his people?
We often feel like that don’t we? When we look at the things we have to put up with in our life like sickness and the death of loved ones we often assume that God is distant and doesn’t really care about what we’re going through. Or when we see the violence in our world and in our city we wonder why God doesn’t just come down and squash these people who make so much trouble.
Well Isaiah hardly got this part of the prayer out of his mouth before he realized he had asked for something awful. In begging God to come down and deal with all that was wrong with the world, Isaiah was asking God to come down and deal with him. Isaiah confessed: “5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? 6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins” (Isaiah 64:5-7).
Like the drug dealer who calls the cops to report a break-in at his house forgetting that when the cops get there they’ll find the marijuana grow operation in his basement and arrest him for it, when we call on God to come down and deal with the ungodly we forget that we’re inviting God to scrutinize our lives and do you know what he’ll find? He’ll find that we are what’s wrong with this world. Really? Yes! Did you hear what Isaiah said? He said that all of our (not their) righteous acts (not bad moments) are like filthy rags. The best things that we do like the money we give for missions, the time we spend on church committees, the encouragement cards we send, the hugs that we give are all better off being flushed down the toilet and sent to the septic tank than being displayed before God. That’s the way God sees it because everything we do is soaked with the sin of pride and self-righteousness. In short we do “good” things so that we, not others will feel better.