Father and Potter, Child and Clay

By Mark D. Roberts

December 28, 2017

Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8


Isaiah 64 is a prayer in which the prophet acknowledges God’s greatness and Israel’s great sinfulness. Then Isaiah turns to ask God to forgive and help his devastated people. The beginning of this supplication acknowledges two crucial images of God: Father and potter.

A man sifting sand through his fingers.The Old Testament doesn’t often refer to God as Father. This was a distinctive emphasis of Jesus’s own ministry. But when the Jewish people thought of God as Father, they acknowledged him as the creator of Israel. Israel was God’s own child, in a sense.

The potter image reiterates this same truth. God is the potter of Israel because he formed her by his own hand. Thus both images, Father and potter, underscore the fact that God made Israel. Isaiah, therefore, asked God to bail out his people, not because they were deserving, but because of God’s unique role and responsibility with them. God alone had created, formed, and shaped his people.

As Christians, we also recognize God as our Father and potter. He is not only the one responsible for our physical creation but also the one who has recreated us in Christ. By confessing God as our potter, we offer ourselves as the clay. Our lives are in God’s hands so that he might mold us according to his will.

When we call God our Father, we go further than Isaiah 64. Following Jesus, we acknowledge God’s love for us as his children. The one who shapes our lives as the potter is also the one who loves us and welcomes us into fellowship with him.


What does it mean for you that God is the potter and you are the clay?

What does it mean for you that God is your Heavenly Father?

How do you experience God as potter? As Father?


Gracious God, you are indeed the potter and I am the clay. You have formed me physically and transformed me through Christ. I am part of your first creation as well as the new creation. Today I acknowledge with gratitude that you are my potter. Mold me, Lord, according to your vision for my life. Shape me to be the person you have created and recreated me to be.

What a wonder it is, O God, that you are also my Heavenly Father. Through your one and only Son, you have made me one of your children. You have saved me so that I might have intimate fellowship with you. Your love, dear Father, heals and transforms me. Thank you for being my Heavenly Father.

All praise be to you, O God, my potter and my Father! Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Work’s Ultimate Meaning (Isaiah 60ff.)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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