Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker--one clay pot among many. Does the clay ask the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?
I. BY MURMURING AT HIS DISPENSATIONS.
I. THE MURMURER AGAINST PROVIDENCE. He is compared to a "potsherd among potsherds on the ground." "Woe unto him who, though made of earth, and with no intrinsic authority over others of his race, presumes to find fault with the Maker!" (cf. Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 18:1-6; Jeremiah 19:1, 10, 11; Romans 9:20-24). In the account of the Creation, the Almighty is conceived as making man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). Shall the clay, then, quarrel with the plastic hand of the Potter? How can the distance between man and God be better expressed than by the tautology, "God is God, and man is man"? or that he is Maker, man the made? "Since matters stand thus between God and us, let us consider what bands we are in, and what an irresistible grip has hold of us; and let that teach us, even for our sakes, to be quiet under it. There is, indeed, but one way of encountering an infinite power; and that is by an extraordinary (if it were possible), an infinite patience" (South). Is it natural, again, for the child to complain of its parents that it has been brought deformed or weakly into the world? Nor is it becoming of men to catechize and call to account Jehovah. "Are ye children of God? Then is it well with you; and to murmur against me is as if ye should renounce your sonship."
II. THE ABSURDITY OF MURMURING. To criticize the Creator is to assume a knowledge we have not got. We should be creators ourselves before we could say whether this or that part of the great world-work could have been otherwise executed. It is also to assume a knowledge of the clues of history, the springs of sudden events, which is not ours. And Jehovah reminds man again of his providential relation to Cyrus. His absolute unquestionable dominion and sovereignty over all things is the great argument for our submission to him. His dominion is founded on an inalienable title - Creation and Providence. It is reasonable that the first cause should be the Supreme Governor; and whatever has been made by God should also be commanded by him. He might have chosen whether he would have made the world or no; for he had no need of it to complete or add to his happiness, which was infinitely perfect within the compass of his own glorious being. Yet he was pleased, by the free motion of his will, to communicate and diffuse some little shadow of those perfections upon the creatures, and more especially upon his nearer resemblances, men and angels. A being essentially wise cannot do anything but wisely. Our ignorance of God's actions cannot make them or argue them to be unreasonable. He is more honored by our admiration than by our inquiries. Hence the necessity, the prudence, and the becomingness of submission, without murmuring to his allotments. - J.
Woe unto him that striveth with Ms Maker!
The strong word "strive," and the emphatic reassertion of the mission of Cyrus (ver. 13), as well as the connection with vers. 1-8, show that deliberate opposition to the Divine purpose, and not mere faint-hearted unbelief (as in Isaiah 40:27
; Isaiah 51:13
), is here referred to.
Those who were primarily addressed were at variance with God their Creator on two accounts —
1. Because He permitted His people to be led captive by their enemies into a distant country, where they were oppressed.
2. Because, notwithstanding the servants of the Lord spoke much concerning their liberation, the event seemed altogether improbable, and beyond even the power of God to effect.
II. BY RESISTING HIS AUTHORITY.
III. BY CONTEMNING HIS INSTRUCTIONS.
()If we duly consider the life of man since the fall, we shall find it to be one continued struggle. In the great and most momentous affair of religion, upon which our whole happiness depends, what a domestic war do we find within our own breasts! Happy are they who are successful in this spiritual conflict; and are so wise as vigorously to join forces with the Lord of hosts! But woe be to him who is of a party with the enemy, and "striveth with his Maker."
I. We will consider WHAT IT IS TO STRIVE WITH OUR MAKER. In general it is to resist His will, and oppose ourselves to His government, to struggle against the dispensations of His providence.
II. THE EXTREME VILENESS AND FOLLY OF SO DOING.
I. In general, if the height of ingratitude be a vile thing, and if to oppose and contend with our best Friend, who is infinitely wiser than we are, and loves us better than we do ourselves, and whose power too is so irresistible, that after all our strugglings His pleasure shall be accomplished one way or other, if not to our happiness, as He at first intended, then to our ruin, since we are resolved to have it so, — if this be a foolish thing, then to "strive with our Maker" does imply all the folly and baseness that a man can possibly be guilty of.
2. But more particularly, to strive with our Maker is a most vile and foolish thing, as it signifies —(1) Our denying obedience to His commands; for what can be more base than to refuse even our utmost services to that infinitely glorious and good Being who made us what we are!(2) Our murmuring at His disposal of us, and restless discontent at the circumstances He thinks fit to place us in.(3) Our being stubborn and refractory to the conduct of His Divine Spirit, and the guidance of His ministers, in things relating to His service and our own eternal salvation.
III. THE MISERABLE CONSEQUENCE of thus striving with our Maker. "Woe unto him."
1. As it signifies disobedience to His commands. For who can imagine but that a Governor so wise, and so powerful, and so just as God is, will in due time assert His authority, and secure His laws and government from contempt, by the condign punishment of those who have been so hardy as to resist and rebel against Him, and made no account of the plainest and most express declarations of His will? And when the Almighty shall proceed to do justice, who can withstand Him, or hope to avoid the stroke, but must sink under the weight of it for ever!
2. Nor will our discontents and murmurings at the Divine disposals escape without due punishment. For suppose that God should be so far provoked by our repinings as to throw us off from His care and protection, and leave us to ourselves, and in His anger comply with our foolish desires, and give us what we are so fond of, and which He sees will be our ruin, how sadly sensible shall we then soon be of the vast difference between God's government and our own!
3. And so for impatience under troubles and afflictions, suppose our outcries and strugglings and resistance should make God withhold His paternal chastisements, and suffer sin upon us without correction, and disregard us as desperate and incorrigible; what woe on earth could befall us greater than this?
4. What but the extremest of all woes can be expected from our rejecting those proposals of reconciliation to God, which are not only offered but pressed upon us daily by the ministers of Christ, and to which we are constantly moved by the workings of the Spirit of God within, upon our souls!
()I. SPECIFY SOME INSTANCES IN WHICH THE SINNER MAY BE CONSIDERED AS STRIVING WITH GOD. I hardly think it worth while to mention atheism, which opposes His very being, and tries to banish Him from the world which He has made. Some, indeed, have supposed that a speculative atheist is an impossibility. How far God may give up a man "to strong delusion to believe a lie," who has despised and rejected the advantages of revelation, it is not for us to determine, — but "if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" It is undeniable, however, that we have a multitude of practical atheists. That is, we have thousands who live precisely as they would do if they believed there was no God. They strive with Him —
1. By transgressing His holy and righteous law.
2. By opposing the Gospel.
3. By violating the dictates of conscience.
4. By refusing to resign themselves to the dispensations of His providence.
5. By the persecution of His people.
6. By trying to hinder the spread of His cause.
II. CONSIDER THE "WOE" WHICH HIS OPPOSITION NECESSARILY ENTAILS UPON HIM. This striving with God is —
1. A practice the most shameful and ungrateful. What would you think of a child who should strive with his father, reproach his character, counteract all his designs, and endeavour to injure his concerns? But such is your conduct towards God.
2. A practice the most unreasonable and absurd. For observe — in all the instances in which you oppose Him He is aiming to promote your good: His design is to make you wise, to make you holy, to make you happy; and the advantages of compliance will be all your own. Besides, can you do without Him? In life? In death?
3. Therefore nothing can be more injurious and ruinous. In striving with Him, you only resemble the wave that dashes against the rock, and is driven back in foam; or the ox that kicks against the goad, and only wounds himself; or the thorns and briers that should set themselves in battle array against the fire. To improve this awful subject let me ask — Whether you are for God or against Him? There is no neutrality here. We have been speaking of a striving with God which is unlawful and destructive — but there is a striving with Him which is allowable and necessary. It is by prayer and supplication.
()(ver. l 0): — That a child should so speak of father or mother is unthinkably unnatural and impious. And such are they who criticise God's method of saving His people through Cyrus.
PeopleCyrus, Isaiah, Jacob
PlacesCush, Egypt, Jerusalem
TopicsArgument, Clay, Contend, Contendeth, Cursed, Earthen, Earthenware, Fashioned, Fashioneth, Fashions, Former, Formeth, Framer, Gripped, Ground, Handles, Hands, Maker, Makest, Making, Nothing, Pot, Pots, Potsherd, Potsherds, Potter, Quarrels, Strive, Strives, Striveth, Striving, Vessel, Vessels, Wet, Wo, Woe, Working
Outline1. God calls Cyrus for his church's sake
5. By his omnipotence he challenges obedience
20. He convinces the idols of vanity by his saving power
Dictionary of Bible ThemesIsaiah 45:9
5212 arts and crafts
5216 authority, nature of
5575 talk, idle
5821 criticism, among believers
1130 God, sovereignty
5445 potters and pottery
8672 striving with God
LibraryHidden and Revealed
'Verily thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.... I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.'--ISAIAH xlv, 15,19. The former of these verses expresses the thoughts of the prophet in contemplating the close of a great work of God's power which issues in the heathen's coming to Israel and acknowledging God. He adores the depth of the divine …
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