If We Are God's Masterpiece, Why Are We So Broken?

Sin results in dust, but God has a restoration plan in place.

Thrive by Daniel Popper, photo: Marianna Smiley


THE BOOK OF Job is one of contrasts. You see the uprightness of Job juxtaposed with the evil of Satan. Job is wealthy and healthy one moment then brought to poverty and disease in the next. But perhaps the biggest contrasts we see are the stark differences between expectation and Job's reality.

Job's friends expect that only the wicked should suffer, so they blame him for his problems.

Job knows he's innocent, but he eventually gives up trying to convince his friends and instead starts petitioning God for answers. Job essentially holds the same expectations his friends have, which renders his downtrodden reality all the more puzzling considering his blamelessness. It's the classic, Why do bad things happen to good people? question that just about every human everywhere throughout time has asked at one point or another.

In the midst of these petitions, Job asks God the following:

Remember that you molded me like clay.
    Will you now turn me to dust again? 
Job 10:9, NIV

First, you gotta love the word "remember" as if God could forget.  As we saw last time, Job doesn't actually think God can forget, but in Job's limited knowledge, he cannot think of another explanation for his predicament. God must have forgotten the care he took to create Job when he molded him like a master potter molds clay.

Referencing clay is an overt allusion to the creation narrative in which "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" (Gen. 2:7). Here we see the creator formed us from the earth. I imagine him gathering up dirt and, as Job suggests, molding it like a potter does clay behind the wheel.

The potter metaphor suggests God took time and extra care to mold Adam just the way he wanted. Genesis 2:7 tells us he "formed" the man. This method of creation is unique to mankind; for the other aspects of creation, God simply spoke them into existence. What can we glean from this distinction? The creator fashions us just the way he desires. He takes extra care to ensure that mankind, made in his image, is his masterpiece. King David confirmed these notions centuries later when he wrote, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psa. 139:14).

You are God's masterpiece. You are an image-bearer of God—the pinnacle of creation. What does all of this extra care in the creation process tell us? Like a painter's masterpiece, you have immense value.

But if this is all true, why is there so much brokenness in the world? Why would God create masterpieces just to see them demolished?

Job asked the same question: "Will you now turn me to dust again?" In other words, Why bother taking so much care in crafting me only to destroy me?

Job, in his despair, conveniently neglected to acknowledge what follows the creation narrative: the fall of mankind. Prior to Adam's disobedience, no one would return to dust. But when the first couple ate the fruit, sin corrupted the flesh, and death entered the equation. In response to his sin God said to Adam, "Out of [the ground] you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:19).

Sin corrupted humanity such that sickness and death and entropy entered the equation of our lives. Prior, Adam and Eve enjoyed an imperishable existence in Eden. But like a virus sin infected its hosts, ultimately rendering them dust once again.

But why Job, whom even God said was blameless?[1] Despite being God's handiwork, all humans inherit the sin nature passed down through Adam. As a result, we are born into corruption. Second, "blameless" doesn't not mean Job was sin-free. Every human who reaches an age in which he or she is able to discern right from wrong will eventually choose wrong. As Paul wrote, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

Does this mean Job deserved what he got? Were Job's friends right? In one sense we could say yes because the consequence of sin is death. But in practical terms, no, of course Job did not deserve all of the tragedy that befell him.

Here's the thing about clay pots: they are fragile. Whether by a sudden fall or regular wear and tear, they are subject to becoming broken. Outside of Eden, humanity is fragile too. Although we are masterpieces, we reside in a corrupted world where moth and rust destroy.[2]

Yes, we are perishable because of the reality of sin, but God does not abandon us in this state. Instead, he has a plan to restore and rescue us.  He will one day transform us from dust into a new, imperishable creation. The apostle Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15:

The dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:52-55

I suppose the moral is this. God is not finished perfecting his masterpiece. Because of the corruption of sin, our bodies will pass away. But God will give us a new and immortal body, a transformation that will take away the sting of death and brokenness in our current reality.

We know this to be true because of the resurrection of Jesus, and in this event we place our faith and look forward to the day when death is swallowed up in victory.

And if you enjoyed this article, you might like my free Old Testament reading guide, How to Read through the Old Testament without Getting Lost or Dozing Off: A 90-Day Reading Guide with Notes.

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1. See Job 1:8.
2. See Matthew 6:19.

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