The image of the potter and the clay, especially as seen in Romans 9, brings up the important question of how we seek to understand God’s actions. The fact is, of course, we often don’t. That shouldn’t be surprising, should it? Read Isaiah 55:8. As human beings, we simply are very limited in what we can know about anything, much less about all the ways of God.
This point, the limitation of human knowledge, is revealed by what has been called the “self-referential problem.” Look at this sentence: “The barber of Seville shaves everyone who doesn’t shave himself.” Does the barber of Seville shave himself? If he shaves himself, he can’t shave himself because he shaves everyone who doesn’t shave himself. But if he doesn’t shave himself, then he has to shave himself, for the same reason—because he shaves everyone who doesn’t shave himself. The answer forms an insolvable paradox that reveals the limits of reason.
Thus, if reason gets tangled in itself on something as mundane as whom the barber of Seville shaves, how much more so on something as profound as the nature and extent of God’s dealings in the world? What we do have is the Cross, which gives us abundant reason to trust in Him and His love even when what happens in His world makes no sense to us at all.
“To many minds the origin of sin and the reason for its existence are a source of great perplexity. They see the work of evil, with its terrible results of woe and desolation, and they question how all this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, in power, and in love. Here is a mystery of which they find no explanation. And in their uncertainty and doubt they are blinded to truths plainly revealed in God’s word and essential to salvation.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 492.
1 – What challenges does the idea of God’s absolute sovereignty present to us in regard to the question of evil? How does the great controversy scenario help us work through the tough questions, at least partially for now?
2 – What other symbols can you find in the Bible? Why would God use symbols anyway? What are the advantages of symbols?
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 6 – Symbolic Acts