Clay in the Bible and How God is the Potter and We are the Clay

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Clay in the Bible is a recurring theme. God is the Divine Potter. Humanity is His clay, and He holds all of us together in intricacy with His fingers ever so slightly extended towards whatever design may be needed next for our lives on this earth. It doesn’t matter how complicated things seem now- someday you’ll see their purpose revealed as God molds you according to His will for you.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)

Clay in the Bible

The variety of containers we use every day is truly amazing. From plastic milk and water jugs to glass jars or even wooden boxes; there are so many choices to fit each of your needs.  In fact, we rarely consider what a benefit they are.

The ancient Jews had a variety of different needs for their containers, and they simply purchased or made the appropriate size clay jar to suit. Whether it was decorative or common – all these pieces were created from dirt (clay) with water!

It’s no wonder the image of a potter and clay shows up so frequently in scripture – beginning in Genesis 2:7 where “hen the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Molded out of clay, we are, in a sense, pottery.  God physically shaped Adam from the clay of the earth and breathed life into him. We are all humans, a word that is similar to humus, meaning “earth” or ‘clay”.

In fact, the apostle Paul referred to our bodies as “jars of clay”.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

image of pottery on table with text Clay in the Bible: how God molds us iinto who ae are meant to be

It is one of the most powerful analogies in the Bible regarding our transformation and sanctification in the Lord has to be the analogy of the potter and the clay.

It is up to God to mold, transform, and sanctify us as we go through life on earth.

The Bible is an incredible book with many different stories, parables, and illustrations. When we read these analogies, they can teach us important lessons about life that apply to modern day society and us. Whenever God gives a specific analogy in one of those texts then this means there’s more than just what appears on the surface; you may have some digging ahead if want answers – which usually reveal themselves once You ask Him questions through prayerful meditation and Bible study.

When we look at how clay pottery is made, it helps us to better understand what God is trying to tell us in this analogy.

When God molds us, he transforms our life and, at times, this can be a painful experience.

God wants to grow your faith and make you more like Him. If we don’t spend enough time reading from the Bible, then He won’t have anything to work with!

His Word is the Key to Him Transforming Us

The reason why so many of Christians are not spiritually growing and being properly sanctified in the Holy Spirit is because they are not spending enough time reading and studying the Bible and using this knowledge in their daily lives.

The reason why so many of Christians are not spiritually growing and being properly sanctified in the Holy Spirit is because they are not spending enough time reading and studying the Bible and using this knowledge in their daily… Click To Tweet

Knowledge is the only thing that can fuel this growth process and it will be gained by reading God’s word in scripture. There are no shortcuts!

The clay is a material that can be used by the potter only when water has been added. In much the same way, God will not sanctify our lives until we first learn about Him and what He wants from us through His word!

If you truly want the Lord to mold and shape you into the person He wants you to become, you need to spend time in the Word – trying to understand, with the help of the Holy Spirit, all of the knowledge that is contained in it, and exactly how all of this knowledge can be incorporated into your personal life and walk with the Lord.

2. Center yourself on Jesus

The clay must be centered in the middle of a wheel before it can even begin to receive shape. The same is true for us; we need Jesus Christ as our central focus, and he will mold us into who we are to be according to His will.

So, what does it mean to center yourself on Jesus?

Giving yourself completely up to the authority of God is what it means for a person be properly centered in Jesus. You must allow Him full control over your life and actions, so that He may direct you every step along this journey called “life.”

Jesus has to become both Lord and Savior in your life. Too many Christians do not have Jesus as the real Lord in their lives.

God will not fully guide you to your divine destiny in Him, and fully sanctify you unless a person is first coming into this full surrender with Him.

It’s your all for His all.

Just like the potter cannot mold the piece of clay into the piece of pottery that he is trying to make unless it is perfectly centered in the middle of the wheel – in the same way the Lord cannot begin to properly work with us in this life unless we are perfectly centered in Him in this full surrender.

Jesus is the way, and if we try to go it alone our lives will fall apart. He provides guidance so that every day can be lived out fully in alignment with God’s plan for you and your divine destiny!

When Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing,” He was telling the Jews that their own efforts would lead them to failure. The only way for a person is through Him and if we try building our lives on what doesn’t come from Him, then it’s all just wasted time because no matter how hard or long one works at something without His guidance -they will end up laboring “in vain”

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 127:1 (ESV)

 

3. Sanctification takes time and is a Progressive Process

Sometimes life is tough, and we need patience with the Lord. It can be hard to understand how He works things out when they don’t happen instantly like in our fast-paced world, but being patient gives us a better perspective on what really matters–the future fulfillment of His will for your heart!

God’s love is a gift, but it can be difficult to understand. If we do not learn how He operates in our lives and times with slower flows of time frames, then eventually the joy will leave us.

When we push against God’s timing, we could end up marrying the wrong person; we could accept a job that diverts us from the destiny He has planned for us.  We waste time and could cause ourselves to go off the path He has destined for us.

Similar to how the potter must take his time when molding and shaping a piece of pottery out of clay, God, in His slow and steady manner, molds, shapes and transforms us.

It’s no coincidence that one of the fruits of the Spirit is the fruit of patience.

When life gets hectic, we need a little patience from God’s holy spirit. The Lord will provide the peace and tranquility that our souls crave when His spirit dwells within us!

4. God’s Hands Will Intimately Shape, Mold and Transform

Sanctification is a wonderful thing when we understand that it literally comes from the hand of God himself. He operates through His Holy Spirit on your inside and sanctifies you, making changes in who are because he loves us so much!

God’s own hand reaches down deep into our souls where the inner sanctification work is done. Molding us and transforming us into the person He desires for us to become in Him.

This is why we have to step out of the way and give God all of us so that the inner sanctification work can be done. He needs our full cooperation in order to be able to get that deep on the inside of us.

As God is transforming us and sanctifying us, we can experience some pain and unpleasant times.

As God molds us as the potter and the clay, He will be removing all of the bad and negative qualities from us and instilling all of the good, positive, and godly qualities that He wants us to have.

If we want to be rid of toxic qualities such as pride, arrogance, and bad tempers it can really hurt because our flesh loves keeping these negative emotions operating in our personalities.

As you allow God’s Holy Spirit to do this inner surgery work in your heart, He will shape and form it into the godly person he has called us all to become. True joy, happiness fulfillment awaits those who wait for their calling from the Lord.

image of potter shaping clay for the post clay in the Bible

5. God Will Mold You Into Your Fullest Potential

The potter doesn’t stop half-way through the creation of his pottery. The clay doesn’t simply give up and stop allowing the potter to mold it.

The same is true for the Lord.  We shouldn’t stop and refuse to move as we are half-way up the mountain.

He wants us to keep climbing and receive our full destiny in Him.

We need to continue to press on and let God take us as far as He wants to take us in this life. Too many Christians quit and bail out on the Lord as they are about half-way up the mountain. He is asking them to climb for Him.

As a result, they never find out how much further they could have gone with God had they just continued to press further on.

Once you start this process with the Lord, and truly give yourself to Him, allow Him to decide how far He wants to take you in this life, and do not be afraid if God really wants to stretch your abilities and horizons in the divine plan that He has already set up for your life.

Let God take you as far as He wants to go, and you won’t ever have to worry about having any regrets once you leave this life and enter into heaven for all of eternity.

The Lord has a plan for your life, and it doesn’t include giving up. If you stay focused on what He wants, then he will see you through – even if you sometimes get discouraged or scared!

6. God Has a Plan Your Life

God already has our lives perfectly planned out for all of us. He knows exactly what He wants us to do with our careers, in serving Him, who we should marry, how many children we will have, and exactly how to get to all of these specific milestones so we can make it through this life on earth.

When we put our trust in the Lord, He will mold us into who we are to become.

As with any potter’s works of art–the clay needs to fully give itself over so that it can be fashioned into what they desire; similarly, people must submit themselves completely before God if they want him molding and shaping them into beings exactly how He sees fit.

Since God is all-perfect and all-powerful and we are not – then it only stands to reason that we can fully trust God to build the “house” of our lives in Him rather than us trying to do it all on our own efforts and wisdom, or the wisdom and efforts of anyone else in our lives.

7. God Has Set Boundaries for Our Lives; We Aren’t to Stretch Beyond Them

As the potter transforms the clay into its purpose, the clay can’t make itself too tall or wide or something different from the plan the potter had for it.

If it does, it will break apart, completely unravel, and become weak, destroying what it was meant to be.

Though we are to press on and go as far as God will be wanting us to go in our specific callings, there is another side of the coin. We have also make sure that don’t stretch beyond what he wants or into positions which seem good for ourselves but aren’t according to His plan.

We need always trust fully Him with all these decisions since it’s only through being perfectly willing like this does one find true joy and peace.

If God is calling you to be a teacher, a ministry leader, a plumber, or a doctor pastor, – don’t try and stretch into other callings in life that He does not want you to be going into. If God is calling you to play center on His team, do not try and stretch into the position of the forward.

The key to success is staying in the boundaries that God has set for you. If we stretch beyond these limits, there can be negative consequences including a lack of favor and protection as well those other endeavors producing no fruit.

God has a plan for your life, and you need to respect the boundaries he sets up.

8. God’s Eyes Always Gaze Upon You

The potter’s eyes never leave the clay he is working on.  If he gazes away, the piece could be damaged or misshapen.

God is always with you, even when we feel alone. God never leaves our side, nor does His interest wane in what happens to us because of this one truth: He loves you so very much!

God has His eyes on everyone as He is omnipresent, but until you come into that full surrender with Him, He will not start to work and mold you as the potter and the clay.

What this means is that you can fully trust God to complete the work that He has begun in you.

9. God Will Always Be Molding and Pruning You

God will always prune or cut away things He does not want us to have in our lives. This could be a person who is influencing you negatively, as well as other distractions such like committing spiritual bankruptcy by hanging out with people whose influence will only hamper rather than help your growth into spiritual maturity.

The Holy Spirit will be working in you to help you get rid of any bad habits that are still lingering in your former self. Some examples include smoking cigarettes or overeating, and He will prune out these negative qualities in order to make room for good ones!

Though pruning may be painful at times, it is always for your own good in the long run. You will have more freedom and happiness when you go with God on anything that he wants to cut out of life or personality.

If you resist God on this pruning, you may never reach the heights, the calling, and the person that He wants you to become in Him in this life.

10. Allow God to Mold You Into the Person He Wants You to Become

You were created by God to be a unique person – unlike any other human that has ever lived. He can mold and shape you into the finished version of yourself, just as He wants!

God is the only One who has all of this knowledge and power to make us into His beautiful, godly saints.

Born into this fallen world, we are all flawed and corrupt. But through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be made right with God so he may use us to do his work on earth as well!

The Holy Spirit is already on the inside of us ready, waiting, and willing to do this type of inner work on us.

Just as the clay finds its highest purpose when it remains pliable in the hands of the potter, so our lives fulfill their highest purpose when we let our Potter have His way with us.

11. God’s Hands Can Reshape Our Broken Dreams

Most of us have felt, at one time or another, that we are broken, unredeemable or even unusable by God.  Perhaps we feel shame or guilt.  Usually, these problems are of our own making and our pain is self-inflicted.

This is when we need to bring our sin to God and confess it; lay it at His feet and surrender to the power of our Savior.  God can take our sins, our shame, our guilt, and mold us into someone that glorifies Him.

Clay in the Bible, More Scripture to Ponder

There are numerous more references to clay in the Bible and the potter and the clay.  Based on our discussion above about how “I (God) am the potter and you are the clay”, I encourage you to dive deeper into the below scriptures.  Verse mapping or Bible study can aid you in understanding these verses and applying them to your life.

In the midst of suffering, Job reminded God,

“Your hands fashioned and made me,
    and now you have destroyed me altogether.
Remember that you have made me like clay;
    and will you return me to the dust?

Job 10:8-9 (ESV)

Isaiah rebuked Israel for thinking that she, the clay, knew more than God, the Potter

You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
  “He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
  “He has no understanding”?

Isaiah 29:16 (ESV)

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
    or ‘Your work has no handles’?

Isaiah 45:9 (ESV)

Jeremiah lamented that Israel was once worth their weight in fine gold but now regarded as earthen pots.

The precious sons of Zion,
    worth their weight in fine gold,
how they are regarded as earthen pots,
    the work of a potter’s hands!

Lamentations 4:2 (ESV)

The Bible is filled with stories of God’s people being clay in His hands. He can reshape our broken dreams and make us into vessels that bring Him glory. We need to center ourselves on Jesus, the Living Water, and let Him begin to mold us into who we were meant to be. When we submit ourselves completely to Him, His Word becomes the beginning of His molding us into who we were meant to be. Have you surrendered yourself to God, and recognized the potter and the clay?

You may enjoy these highly recommended resources for deeper study:

The Potter and the Clay: God’s Masterpiece in the Making by Jenny Kaluza

The Potter’s Hands: A 366-Day Journey to Knowing God by Jason Lawson 

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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